Magical moments

This waterhole in Pilanesberg National Park is a haven for birds, and that is why we had parked our car there. Suddenly, all the birds flew up. I looked around, and there she was: a female leopard coming for a drink. What a magical moment! We sat in awe, my hands slightly shaking from the excitement. Fortunately I did manage to capture the moment before the leopard walked away again!

Winter colors

It’s winter here in southern Africa, with temperatures sometimes dropping to almost zero degrees. And still, some butterflies are on their wings, providing contrasting colors. I think this one is called the soldier pansy.

Photo taken in the forest at Kurisa Moya lodge, South Africa

My favorite

Of all the animals one might encounter on a safari, I think the leopard is my favorite. It’s strong and graceful, cat-like enough to seem cuddly, and threatening at the same time. Look at this one, glaring at me while still appearing so relaxed!

Photo taken at the National Zoological Gardens in Pretoria, South Africa

Happy baby elephants

In Southern Africa, elephants regularly fall victim to poaching or to conflicts about living space with farmers and villagers. Sometimes baby elephants are left orphaned when their mother is killed – elephants drink their mother’s milk until they are three years old. In Zambia, Game Rangers International rescues, rehabilitates, and releases orphaned elephants back into the wild. The youngest elephants are cared for at the elephant nursery in Lilayi, close to Lusaka. There they receive bottles of milk every three hours and are taken into the bush to learn to vend for themselves. Everyday between 11.30 and 13.00 hrs visitors can watch how the babies are fed – a lovely sight, as you can see in this photograph. When they are a little older, the elephants are taken to Kafue National Park to join other older orphaned elephants, to work towards reintegration with elephants in the wild.

An owl’s tale

Last weekend, a colleague found an owl hanging in a tree. It was strung up by its wings. Later in the day it was gone. Yesterday, we discovered this barn owl sitting in a tree. It was obviously weak and its wing was hanging by its side. Fortunately we got in touch with a someone with some experience in rescuing birds. He was able to catch it and take it to his home to care for it. After drinking and eating, the owl looks much better. Its wing is still hurt, but doesn’t seem to be broken. We hope that with rest and care the owl can be released back into the wild!

I’m happy that we were able to do something for this animal. But a concern remains: Why would someone hang a living owl up in a tree? That just seems very cruel. This situation reminded me of a quote by Albert Schweitzer that a teacher in religious education once taught me: “I am life which wants to live amidst of lives that want to live.” Let’s treat both people and living creatures with reverence!