Any regular Krugerite can tell you the area around Satara camp is Big Five country in the Kruger Park. And sure enough, on a recent five-day stay we’d ticked them all – more than once. We’d also had a small leguaan living in a tree next to our campsite and African scops owls calling every night. These sights and sounds are just as special to us as seeing the Big Five.
Because of the polygamous mating system and dominance hierarchy among males, whooping advertises status. The more dominant the male, the more effort he puts into his whooping, so he uses the symmetrical whoop more often than the usual two-note whoo-oop we all know so well. What they’re really saying to the females is, ‘Hey, look how much energy I have; I'm the guy you want as a mate!’
Three Stooges lined up on a bare branch, a big male sat on the ground with eyes closed and a smaller one sat on a branch with his hands in his lap as if he was meditating. Little ones, some still pink-and-wrinkly-faced, suckled, took a few steps within reach of mom’s arms, fell over and ran back to her, rode like a jockey on her back for a moment or two then clung on to her tummy for a short ride.
Later we watched a tiny giraffe whose short neck looked out of proportion to its long legs. It gave a spirited if inelegant dance performance, kicking out with all fours as it tried to get rid of redbilled oxpeckers that were being annoying while they carried out their free grooming service.
It’s sobering to think that the rhinos we saw on this visit to Satara might be among the last we see in South Africa, given the rate at which they’re being killed and the extreme measures now being taken to remove some of Kruger’s rhino to Botswana for their own safety.
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