This young giraffe in Pilanesberg National Park seems to practice his balance. It must be so hard to have these long legs and the long neck. I know I struggle on a daily basis to get my back and legs aligned, and I’m not nearly as tall!
From three months old, leopard cubs start to accompany their mother on the hunt. This one, though, was left to fend for itself during the day while his mother was… what? Hunting? Going to work? Shopping? I don’t know. At the end of the day he grew restless and tried his luck on some guinea fowls, who laughed at his attempts to catch them. There are a lot of skills a young leopard has to learn. They often do not leave their mothers until they are a year or a year and a half old. Some may even stay for longer than that.
With its strikingly yellow bill, the Southern yellow-billed hornbill is sometimes called the ‘flying banana’. Yellow-billed hornbills are solitairy creatures until the mating time arrives. At that time, the male will do anything for his love, such as bringing her small morsels of food and feeding her from his mouth, and bowing for her with his wings spread. The female then nests in a natural hole in a tree, closing the opening off with her faeces. She leaves just enough opening so that the male can feed her while she incubates the eggs. During this time she loses her feathers. If the male were to abandon her at this time, the female and the eggs would be doomed, as there is no way for them to acquire food. After 25 days the first egg hatches, and when the first chick is about three weeks old, the female leaves the nest in a new suit of feathers. From this moment both parents feed the chicks for the next six weeks. What a lovely family!
A small baby elephant crosses the road, chewing on a stick. Maybe his teeth are coming through? Actually, elephants are born with four small molars, which they will lose when they are about two years old. Unlike humans, who have milk teeth first and then change to their final set of teeth, elephants change their teeth troughout live. A long-living elephant goes through six sets of molars that replace the teeth that become worn out by chewing grasses and trees. The loss of their final set of teeth is a major cause of death among aged elephants.
A young cheetah looks back over its shoulder. Cheetahs are weaned at the age of six months, but usually stay with their mother for some time after that. After 17 to 20 months, the mother can have another litter, so that often marks the end of the time of the youngster with the mother. Although young cheetahs from as young as six months go after hares or young antilopes, they often are only able to bring down a kill on their own when they’re 15 months or older. The odds for cheetah cubs to survive into adulthood are not so good. Lions are major predators of juveniles. This particular young cheetah was left to fend for itself for just one day when it was killed by predators…
A group of impalas all looking in the same direction. We do too. Every now and then one snorts. We try to see what they are seeing, hearing or smelling. Then they all turn and run away. Something must have been there … but unfortunately in the thick bush we were unable to find out what. Another “invisible leopard” sighting…
Safari guides are generally not very impressed if we spot a tree squirrel. But we happen to like these cute animals. So even though we had hoped to find a leopard hiding under this bridge, we were happy to see the squirrel instead!