Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park – Wildlife

For such an arid area – average rainfall measures around 200mm per annum – the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is home to an astonishing variety of wildlife. Apart from a wide variety of desert-adapted plants and invertebrates, the Park’s lists boast 62 kinds of mammals, 274 species of bird (of which 78 are resident throughout the year), 48 sorts of reptiles (including 17 snake species) and seven kinds of frogs.

There’s three kinds of plants that really are characteristic of the Kalahari. The first is the Camel Thorns – huge trees growing in the beds of the Auob and Nossob River and about which we’ll be sharing more soon. Then, there’s the Gemsbok Cucumbers and Tsamma Melons; the fruits of which are made up of around 90%+ of water and both an invaluable source of moisture to all kinds of wildlife (including some carnivores).

At the one end of the scale there’s a multitude of invertebrates and small reptiles and mammals taking up their respective positions in the food pyramid. The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park allows a glimpse into their natural cycles and behaviours uniquely adapted to their arid environs.

The Kalahari might best be known for the grand variety of raptors that soar its airways, but birdwatchers will not be disappointed by the variety of other, less fearsome but equally fascinating, feathered fauna that find a home here.

The Rest Camps of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park are excellent places to look for owls, by day or night!

Predators, both large and small, abound in the Kalahari. Africa’s three species of big cat are often seen (though the leopard eluded us when we visited in June 2018), and is one of the main reasons people undertake the long journey to visit here.

The Gemsbok is so iconic of the Kalahari that both parks that today make up the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (Botswana’s Gemsbok National Park and South Africa’s Kalahari Gemsbok National Park) was named after it. These beautiful animals are of the most commonly encountered large mammals in the Park.

And while there may not be as great diversity among the large herbivores in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park as in some of Africa’s other great conservation areas, the antelope, giraffe and warthogs occur in such numbers that it belies the harshness of their environment.

We’ll dedicate the next few posts on our blog to discover some of the Kalahari’s residents in more detail.

 

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47 thoughts on “Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park – Wildlife

  1. naturebackin

    An evocative collection of lovely pics and so nice that you include some of the tinier forms of life too. Your posts are inspiring us to consider planning another trip despite the long journey to get there. So, thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      Thanks, Carol – inspiring people to appreciate and visit our wild places really is what our blog is all about! And eventhough it’s such a long trip to get there, I found driving through places and scenery we don’t often get to see very enjoyable – of course for you it is several hours more to drive than for us to reach Twee Rivieren.

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  2. Reflections of an Untidy Mind

    Beautiful photos, Dries. Such a diversity of plants and animals. Sorry, but I have dumb question. Is it winter time there? I’m assuming it is because the light is so soft. What happens to the big herbivores and predators in Summer? Is there a permanent water source? Regards. Tracy.

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    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      Thanks very much, Tracy, and you are spot-on about it being mid-winter here in South Africa now.
      There are dozens of windpumps and boreholes spread through the Park providing water to the animals and birds, but most of the animals in the Kgalagadi are actually perfectly adapted to living without regular access to water – after all they flourished here long before humans arrived and sunk the boreholes. In fact, most of the animals only visit the waterholes to access the salts crystalizing at the water’s edge!
      Summer is our main rainy season, also in the Kalahari, and then the landscape quickly transforms into a lush green, with rainwater filling puddles and pans in the riverbeds and dunes – then the living is easy for the Kalahari’s animals and most of the herbivores have their young. And of course where there’s so much prey animals the predators will never be far behind.

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    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      Ek sou so graag saam julle “regulars” wou gaan dat jy al jul geheime en spesiale plekke met ons kan deel, Dina. Dis darem so n spesiale plek.
      Wyl ons daar was was daar n enorme verskil tussen die dag en nag temperature (soos net die woestyn kan opdis) – snags bibberend koud en bedags warm genoeg dat die slange, soos die pofadder, aan die rondseil was. Ons het met tye regtig uitgesweet want ons het net gepak vir die winter. En dan weer het ons met n vorige besoek in n Desember-vakansie ook behoorlik verkluim een nag met n sterk suide wind daar by Nossob. Sal ons leer om maar ietsie van als in te pak volgende keer.

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      1. perdebytjie

        Mens weet nooit wat die weer gaan doen nie. Ons het al in die winter ook bedags amper verkluim. Die geheime plekke is maar net die boskampies en dan is dit maar geluk by die watergate. Ons hou die patrone van die diere dop en sorg dan dat ons met regte lig ons reg parkeer, voordat die ander mense opdaag.

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    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      Thanks very much, P J B.
      I worked on this and the previous post at the same time, preparing the photos and deciding in which gallery they should go, the research and the writing. All in all it took me about 4 days or so in between work and other commitments to finish them – I can’t believe that in 2 days from now it is already a month since we left home for Augrabies and the Kgalagadi!

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  3. Anne

    You’ve just about covered everything. Unless one has been there, one wouldn’t be able to appreciate the space … the silence … the arid beauty … and the sense of wonder that all these creatures you have shown here survive in that environment. This is a wonderful look at an amazing place!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      Thanks for the high praise and kind comment, Anne. Though your mentioning of the wide open spaces and the silence and all the Kalahari’s other special attributes has me very irritated with my little office now… šŸ˜€

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