Tag Archives: cape mountain zebra

Summertide Diary: Departing Mountain Zebra

3 January 2021

Today we had to leave Mountain Zebra National Park early, for we had a long way to get back home to Pretoria and had to beat the government-imposed curfew at that. It may have been only 12km from the camp to the gate, but still there was loads to see!

Very near the gate there’s a nice waterhole where even this early in the morning a procession of game was already congregating. The serenity of the scene was shattered when a mountain zebra love triangle got out of hand, but calm soon settled again.

During our time in Mountain Zebra National Park we were very lucky to come across a Black Rhinoceros cow and calf. For their protection I won’t be able to share where or when it was that we saw them, but being able to see more of these magnificent creatures was a privilege we were very grateful for.

And with that our summertide ramble came to a halt, if temporarily, as I had important start-of-the-year work to attend to back in Pretoria. As it would be some weeks still before the schools were due to reopen we did have another reservation in the offing, but with South Africa in the midst of a serious second wave of COVID-19 infections we weren’t at all certain that we would be able to take it up…

We posted a special feature about Mountain Zebra National Park following a previous visit, if you’d like to learn more about this special destination.

Map of Mountain Zebra National Park from the SANParks website (https://www.sanparks.org/images/parks/mountain_zebra/mznp-map.jpg)

 

Summertide Diary: Exploring Mountain Zebra (part one)

1 January 2021

As soon as the gates opened on New Year’s Day we headed for the Rooiplaat Loop, the sightings board at reception having indicated that Lions and Cheetahs were seen there the previous day. And we did not wait long – right where the road skirts the Park’s boundary fence we came across a big male lion, known as Nomad, patrolling his territory.

We supposed that it was the proximity of the big predator that made these Black Wildebeest so jittery!

It’s early morning in the Mountain Zebra National Park and there’s so much to be seen!

It was on the link road between Rooiplaat and Ubejane Loops that we happened upon these cute little Bat-eared Fox pups and their elders. More photos of them tomorrow!

Bat-eared Fox pups

Along the main road, between the two junctions with the Ubejane Loop, we saw this pair of unusually tolerant Secretarybirds – they’re normally quite nervous and move away from the road the moment a vehicle approaches, so this was a great opportunity to watch them in action.

At the southern junction of Ubejane Loop with the main road there’s a small earth dam filled with rainwater. By the time we arrived there at mid-morning Cape Mountain Zebra families were arriving from all corners, along with some other wildlife, to slake their thirst and it was wonderful to watch their social interactions before heading back to camp.

Back at camp there was time to kill either side of lunchtime, and thankfully there’s very much of interest around the accommodation and camping area.

Our route for the afternoon would first take us into the mountains along the Kranskop Loop before taking another jaunt around the Rooiplaat Loop.

A real highlight of our afternoon drive was an encounter with a group of three Cheetahs – one adult and two youngsters – on the Rooiplaat Plateau, just half-an-hour before we had to be back in camp.

 

We posted a special feature about Mountain Zebra National Park following a previous visit, if you’d like to learn more about this special destination.

Map of Mountain Zebra National Park from the SANParks website (https://www.sanparks.org/images/parks/mountain_zebra/mznp-map.jpg)

We’re at Mountain Zebra National Park now

Evening on the 27th of December 2017 finds us at Mountain Zebra National Park, where the battle to save the Cape Mountain Zebra from the brink of extinction was fought and won.

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Cape Mountain Zebra

Equus zebra zebra

The Cape Mountain Zebra is a smaller, and much rarer, cousin of the better known plains zebra. It occurs naturally only in the southern provinces of South Africa and is considered vulnerable, though the population is increasing in size thanks to dedicated conservation work at especially the Mountain Zebra and Karoo National Parks, both of which offers an excellent chance of seeing these beautiful animals in their natural habitat.

Mountain Zebras occur in small family groups of up to 15 animals, led by a dominant stallion, while young stallions roam around in bachelor groups after being ejected from the groups they were born in. Adults of both sexes are extremely protective of their young.

Mountain Zebras inhabit, as their name suggests, dry, rocky, mountainous areas and the surrounding plains and valleys (the latter being important as hiding places against cold weather). They are almost exclusively grazing animals and can stay without water for up to three days, though they prefer to drink daily if surface water is available.

Mares give birth to a single foal at any time of the year. With an adult weight of around 250kg and shoulder height of 1.25m, the Cape Mountain Zebra is slightly smaller than the plains zebra.

Mountain Zebra National Park

A rising star with humble beginnings.

The Mountain Zebra National Park had an inauspicious start. Proclaimed in 1937 near the small town of Cradock to protect the then critically endangered Cape Mountain Zebra, the reserve covered only 1,712 hectares and contained only 6 individual animals of its most precious charges.

Gradually the park was expanded, with much public support, and today the Mountain Zebra National Park is a grand showcase spanning across 28,412 hectares of scenic plains and rugged mountains. Located at the interface between the arid Karoo and the central grasslands, the Park is home to at least 680 plant species which in turn provide habitat and sustenance to a myriad of faunal life.

Here, the Cape Mountain Zebra was saved from the brink of extinction and today the Park houses almost 500 individuals, with thousands more now occurring in other National Parks, numerous state-owned reserves and on private land across their former range.

The Park is now large enough to accommodate many other large, charismatic mammals and visitors have an excellent chance of spotting cheetah, black rhino and buffalo among the other natural denizens of South Africa’s central plains – animals like the black wildebeest and blesbok (both species themselves having been virtually wiped out by the early 1900’s), springbok, red hartebeest, eland, kudu and gemsbok and birds such as the ostrich and blue crane.

The South African National Parks provide accommodation and camping in a picturesque rest camp in the centre of the Park while the Doornhoek Guest House, exclusively located some distance further, provides a luxurious alternative to the standard accommodation fare. This Victorian farmstead has been meticulously restored, is a national monument and has been tastefully furnished with all the modern conveniences while retaining its old world charm thanks to the antique period pieces used to decorate both the interior and farmyard.

In recent times the Mountain Zebra National Park has been growing in popularity, and deservedly so. Park management have introduced a number of unique guided activities, such as cheetah tracking and visits to San rock art sites. Spend a few days at “Bergkwagga” (the Afrikaans name for the Mountain Zebra) and it will be a firm favourite for you too!