Big game at Kruger Park

From Botswana we moved on to Kruger National Park, in northeastern South Africa.  Kruger is the largest national park in Africa, covering almost 20,000 square kilometers (220 miles long by 60 miles wide), and its inception dates to 1898, when the area was part of the Transvaal.  Vegetation consists of dense scrub woodlands with just enough savanna to be attractive to a wide variety of grazers and browsers and their predators–lions, leopards, cheetahs, and African wild dogs, as well as several species of hawks, eagles, and vultures.

Cattle egrets on zebras in Kruger Park, S.A.

Cattle egrets get a free ride around on the backs of grazing zebra

Touted as one of the few parks in which one can see the “big 5”, it attracts so many human visitors crowding the roadways to see the big game, it seems more like visiting a wild animal park in the U.S., instead of Africa.

Male lion sleeping near a road in Kruger Park, South Africa

We were lucky to see this large male lion snoozing near a road in Kruger Park, but we waited our turn in a line of cars for about 15 minutes to get a glimpse of him.

Young male giraffes "necking" each other

Giraffes were common grazing on the tops of acacia thorn trees. These two were bumping each other around with their necks trying to get access to fresh bone remnants, which they chew to obtain minerals.

Bull elephant at Kruger Park, S. A.

Who is going to contest this bull elephant’s right of way when he wants to cross the road. We learned to be wary of their flapping ears, as a signal for a potential charge.  Something took a bite out his left ear!

White rhino, Kruger Park, S.A.

This white rhino was content to just stand in the middle of the road, head down, doing nothing.

The white part of its name is actually a corruption of “wide” which refers to its wide, square-lipped mouth.  The rarer Black rhino is the same color as the white, but has a narrower mouth and usually stands with its head erect rather than down, like this one.

Elephant and white rhino at Kruger Park, S.A.

Double trouble. A protective mother elephant and two white rhinos in the road.

White-backed vultures near a lion kill

White-backed vultures signal a fresh kill nearby. We drove slowly through the area to find it.

Male lion guarding his kill

Here it is, with an adult male lion guarding his kill. He was too far away and too camera-shy for a good photo.

Lioness in Kruger Park, S.A.

Elsewhere 5 lionesses had just finished feeding on their kill behind this rock and were looking for a cool spot to rest.  One if them obliged the crowd of  humans congregated here by coming to the front of the rock for a photo.

Kruger Park really is rich in wildlife, but I thought the crowds of humans zipping along the roads and congested traffic in hotspots detracted from the whole experience.

Lining up to see lions at Kruger Park

Lining up to see lions at Kruger Park

Outside the park one evening right at sunset, we spied a big male lion stalking a lone and limping Cape buffalo.  It was getting too dark to see when we pulled away from that scene, but just as we rounded the next corner in the road, four lionesses passed right in front of our vehicle at a trot on their way to help with the kill.  Now that is a memory of our time at Kruger that will stick with me.

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