|Richards Bay, South Africa, October 2009|
|Whales, dolphines and did I say WHALES! Way too many to count. They were breaching, tail & fin slaping, tombstoning or just crusing. One crusing boat inbound from Mauritius was struck by one and that's them pictured left being towed in by Sea Rescue. The photo on the right shows an anchor that was not secured and look at the damage. The photo above right is our first home in Richards Bay. This is the small craft harbor at Tuzi Gazi, where Customs, Immigration and Quarantine cleared us into South Africa.The photo bottom left is the Sea Rescue base at Richards Bay. They have been very busy this season, to date they have towed in at least seven cruisers. The photos below from left to right are: Bright yellow weaver birds nesting at Zululand Yacht Club, Phoebe & Drake making their own pizza at Dros Restraunt in the childrens play area. Jim receiving the Zululand Yacht Club Burgee from Commodor, Kirsten and Jim reciprocating with a Port Royal Yacht Club Burgee and Latitudes & Attitudes Burgee.|
|Two white rhinos walking down the road.|
|Picnic with Liz and Hans from Switzerland off s/v Rev De Lune|
|Phoebe and Drake with White Rhino|
|Our first day at an African game reserve was very rewarding. We rented a car and in company with Liz & Hans we toured the Hluhluwe/Umfolozi game reserve. These parks are located only an hour drive north of Richards Bay. We decided to stay overnight in Mpila Camp, thus enabling us to utilize one dusk & two dawn attempts to see the "big five". A term originally used by hunters, it refers to Africas greatest wild animals, which include: The Rhinoceros, Buffalo, Leopard, Lion & Elephant. We were able to see four out of the five. The leopard was the only animal that eluded us. From the photos I think you can tell that we were not dissapointed.
There are approximately 14 types of antelope within the park, we saw the Nyala, Wildebeast, Impala and Kudu. The dung beatles would cross the road in front of us, rolling the rhinoceros' poo into balls by using their back legs. The dung provides nutrients to the newly hatched grubs. The beatles break down the rhinos midden returning it to the soil.
The white rhino was the first species of rhino to be on the verge of extinction. By the turn of the century their population in Sub Sahara Africa, had been reduced to a single population of 20 animals in Umfolozi. These thrived under the intensive management and in 1961 they launced "Operation Rhino".
|Operation Rhino resulted in the relocation of more than 3500 animals to form new populations within the reserves of their former range. By 1991 the African population had risen to 5600, between six countries. Umfolozi is home to 2000, and supplied the original founders on which all other populations are based. The white rhino is not white in color, it travels in groups and loves to relax in mud wallows. They are grazing animals and are different from the black rhino as they have a wide square mouth and are larger. The black rhino is also not black in color, it is a dark grey animal and feeds on trees and shrubs, their lips are pointed, not flat. They usually travel alone and are more agressive than the white rhino. We did not see one in the wild, however, we were treated to seeing some in captivity, waiting to be transferred to other parks. A fellow cruiser did experience seeing a black rhino in the wild and has a large dent in the side of his car from the beast ramming his horn into the door.|
|On our second day at the park we were extreamly lucky to be stopped on the road by this male African lion. He was just kicking back in the sun. He stayed there for about 10 minutes and while we were looking at him, he never took his eyes off us. Later we rounded a bend and saw this giraffe bending down for a drink of water. It had been raining quite a lot lately so there were small ponds everywhere. When it's dry season these all evaportate and only the large watering holes remain viable. Because there was so much water it was unnecessary to utilize the hides at the larger watering holes. We just drove at a slow pace and encountered the various animals at random.|
|A baby black rhinoceros held in captivity. He was found in the bush, where his mother had perished. Quite tame to the game wardens, he poked his head through the cage to get rubbed. We feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to pet a Black Rhino.|
|Drake at watching the Nyala and warthogs in front of our room at Mpila Camp. Sunrise below from our room.|
|Giraffes were a favorite. They are very inquisitive and have an insatiabe curiosity. We could not get enough of them.|
|Sea Rescue is made up of volunteers with first class equipment. They do not charge a yacht that gets towed in, but as a courtesy it is nice to give a donation if you are. One yacht offered them $5.00, the captain was very clever and replied "If that is all you can afford, I think you need it more than I."|