I’ve never experienced anything quite like sharing a sunrise with the large game animals of Africa. Riding in an open air Jeep, we bounced along for three hours and encountered herds of giraffe, kudu (nice ears buddy!) wildebeests, and red hat antelope.
We also encountered two female as well as the one male lion on the preserve. The rains from the previous night left the “roads” muddy, forcing us to abandon the Jeep and push it out of the muck. Forget the need for caffeine when you’re hoping to get your vehicle moving while .
We also encountered a few zebra, oryx, water bug (another kind of antelope), gazelles, warthogs, plovers, and oh-soo-cute baby jackals.
According to our guide, Ansele Benjamin, all of the species except for the oryx were native to the Magaliesberg region. It was stunning to see giraffe gallop across the plain in the orange light of the early morning sun. Benjamin said the lions mostly fend for themselves by preying on kudu and water bugs as they want to allow the animals to live as naturally as possible. The lions were raised in captivity and aren’t fully up to snuff in hunting, so occasionally they are given meat. Invasive species of plants and trees that were brought in by farmers are being taken out to return the environment to its native state.
Most of the species had been driven out over the centuries because of farming and wars, including major battles of the Boer War in the early 20th century. Author Vincent Carruthers, who I had the privilege of hearing speaking, has written about how the region has played a major party in determining South Africa’s history because of the conflicts that took place between native, German and dutch troops.
Look for more pictures to come on Flickr.
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