Yesterday I visited the Kruger National Park. Though I realize how scarce rain has been during 2008, I wasn’t prepared for the consequences of the dry season inside the park.
It’s truth that I never saw so many different species, not only in variety but in quantity too. For the first time I can say I saw the Big Five in just one day… Not bad! I suppose the lack of water forces the wildlife to concentrate around places where there’s still some liquid available. Both Nkomati and Crocodile rivers, the large ones in the region, still have some volume of water. As for the rest, water is merely inexistent.
Lions are the lucky ones in terms of water. They can survive without it on condition that they have plenty of bloody meat available. If they are forced to look for water holes is because of prey not because of water. Well, we had two encounters with lions but we couldn’t get a picture of them because they are the same color dry vegetation is. Now we can see them, now we don’t! The second time it was a lioness that had just killed an antelope and immediately sought refuge in the bushes.
The second Big Five was the leopard, a particularly shy lazy exemplar. It must be rare nowadays because he created quite a stir around the tree where he was squeezed. Despite all the commotion, nobody could see his face. The third representative of the best wildlife still has to offer was the buffalo. Used to see them in large herds, Paul found quite odd this lonely guy bathing by himself in the Nkomati river.
We had five or more encounters with small and large groups of elephants. And to complete the Big Five we met a first rhinoceros and then another. The second one was the image of desolation itself, sadly starring at a small artificial pound in the middle of a completely dry river. As there’s a chair right in front of the place where the rhino was, I couldn’t help wondering how interesting it would be if we all could sit and experience the same sadness and hopelessness the rhino must feel.
That same sentiment invaded me when I was looking at the pictures of an exhibition organized to alert the visitants against poaching. The cruelty is above any written word!