Original Source: yearinthewild.com
I spent the past week at Malelane and Berg-en-Dal camps in south-west Kruger and at Skukuza, the biggest and most famous camp, further north. It’s been a pretty quiet week in terms of spotting plenty of wildlife, but I did have two amazing experiences.
The first was spectacular just because a leopard was involved (anything is guaranteed to be spectacular when a leopard is involved). On a sunset drive with field guide Peter Zitha, we spotted a big male leopard on the side of the road, gnawing on an old impala carcass. We watched him for a few minutes, when he got a huge fright, and bolted up the nearest tree and out of the bushes came five marauding hyenas. We watched the imperious leopard perched in a thin, dainty tree, looking irked as he stared contemptuously at the hyenas below him. After half an hour or so, we left the scene, to leave the leopard and hyenas to sort things out for themselves.
Then, this past weekend, I had the privilege of flying over Kruger with, Major-General Johan Jooste, the chief of anti-poaching who has been contracted for five years to sort out the rhino poaching scourge. I interviewed the general in detail, you can read my interview with him here. After spending a day with General Jooste and his team, my overall impression is that he is a man with a plan, and knows exactly what has to be done to sort out the poachers. He instills confidence, he is experienced, he is decisive, he is a team player, and he is an excellent communicator. It was a privilege to spend time him and his team.
In the chopper alongside General Jooste was pilot Iain de Beer, and Otch Otto, a senior member of the anti-poaching task force. We flew for most of the day, with the general as he visited, several section-rangers, who are spread out over the 20 000 square kilometre bushveld wilderness. The conditions were terrible for photography – probably the worst possible light! Cloudy, grey and dull with slight drizzle. Nevertheless, it was a highlight of my career, and it was special to see one of Africa’s most famous national parks from the air.
We saw plenty of ellies, a few rhinos, some lions, and of course lots of plains game, including a herd of about 600 buffalo! Enjoy the photos from the flight below as well as some others from my second week in the park.