We wish all our friends here at de Wets Wild a Merry and richly Blessed Christmas!
We’ve returned safely from our visits to Umlalazi Nature Reserve and Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park, and will be spending Christmas Day celebrating one of the cornerstones of our Christian faith with family here in Pretoria.
These pictures of the beautiful scenery in the Hluhluwe section of the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park were taken on our way home yesterday.
Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park is famous as the place where the White Rhinoceros was saved from extinction in the middle of the previous century. These animals, and their more cantankerous cousins the Black Rhinoceros, still occur in healthy populations at Hluhluwe-Imfolozi, but how sad that they again face a terrible onslaught from greedy humans for their horns, even here in their ancestral home.
The Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park supports over 400 species of birds, many of which have become exceedingly rare, even threatened, outside formal conservation areas like this.
Bird-watching along the reserve’s road network is very rewarding, and there’s always something of interest at the three hides located at waterholes around the Park, or at the picnic sites set in beautiful locations along the Hluhluwe and Black Umfolozi Rivers. It is in the camps however, among the accommodation units, that the birds are most accustomed to a human presence and easiest to photograph as they go about their feathery business.
Enjoy this gallery showing some of the 73 species of bird we managed to identify during our recent winter visit to Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park.
Moving along to the latter half of our winter holidays in the bush brings us to another of Africa’s oldest conservation areas (and another of our favourite wild places) – the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park.
This conservation area covers an enormous 960km² of beautifully unspoilt wilderness, and incorporates the Hluhluwe and Umfolozi Game Reserves that were officially proclaimed in 1895.
View of Hluhluwe Game Reserve along the Isivivaneni road
Waterhole at Mphafa Hide
View from Sontuli Picnic Site
A view over the hills of the Hluhluwe section
The sun sitting low on the Umfolozi horizon
We spent four nights in the Park – 3 in cottage #17 at wonderfully wild Mpila and the last in chalet #42 at the Park’s flagship tourist facility; Hilltop.
Mpila #17, Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park, July 2017
Hilltop #42, Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park, July 2017
Of course no visit to a Game Reserve would be complete without plentiful encounters with wild creatures, so let’s get started with a few small critters we came across (more to follow in the next two days).
Caterpillar or moth eggs on a twig at Sontuli
Leopard Tortoise hatchling, just a little bigger than a match box
While we get busy responding to the comments you left on the scheduled posts that published in our absence, here’s a small gallery of what you can expect when we report back on our trip in the coming days…
A selection of five common herbivore species form the base diet of most of Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park’s predators. Apart from the warthogs we showed you yesterday, the majority of their menu is mostly made up of impalas, nyalas, plains zebras and blue wildebeests with the more “exotic” fare consisting of primates (like the samango monkey), kudu, waterbuck, buffaloes and giraffes (we’ll share some pictures of the latter two tomorrow).
Looking at the excellent condition of the game following good rains just before our December visit, you’d be forgiven though for thinking that it is an easy life for a herbivore in Hluhluwe-Imfolozi!
Immature Impala male
Nyala ewe in Mpila Camp
Even Blue Wildebeest appreciate a beautiful spot, like Bhekapanzi Pan