Leopard after the kill

This leopard had just caught a big bushbuck in Pilanesberg. I’m not sure how that was even possible, I’ve never seen bushbuck there, and he just catches one! He was still panting heavily in the shade of a bush. His kill was lying a meter off, too heavy to be carried up a tree. Later, that night, a couple of lions chased the leopard away and feasted on his kill. Such hard work, and so little joy from it!

The tongue of a giraffe

Giraffes have wonderfully long tongues to reach the farthest leaves on a tree. Did you known that a giraffe’s tongue can reach 50 cm? This giraffe was licking the salt stone at Pilanesberg Center, and felt the need to stick his tongue out at us!

Poor baby elephant

Life can be so cruel… This little elephant had been left alone by his family in Pilanesberg, and was wandering alone for a while, visibly getting weaker. This photo was taken this morning at Lengau Dam. When we drove past a second time, it was lying in the bush.

Later today a vet examined the poor little fellow, and discovered that he had a big lump in his throat. It was to deep for the vet to reach, and it obviously prevented the elephant from eating. The decision was taken to put him down. In the autopsy it was discovered that he had a big tree root stuck in his throat – a freak accident, one could say.

What a sad day!

Newborn springbok drinking

In some ways, it was a sad week in Pilanesberg National Park. A black rhino calf was killed by lions; a young cheetah was killed by a leopard; and a young elephant died after a tree root became stuck in its throat.

But the circle of life means that there is more than sadness in nature. We saw this newborn springbok lamb drinking his mother’s milk, ready to start a new life. Let’s hope it will be long and happy!

Leopard stare

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.

The lovely courtship of the flying banana

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!