With tourism being the lifeblood of the picturesque town, restrictions on travel imposed in recent months, however necessary to curb the spread of COVID-19, had a devastating effect on the local economy. As a registered NGO receiving no government support, the Dullstroom Bird of Prey and Rehabilitation Centre relies heavily on donors, sponsors and the visiting public to fund their very important work. Their tiny staff compliment is responsible for the rehabilitation of between 80 and 200 birds of prey every year, all of them injured by or negatively impacted in another way by humans, and then releasing them back into the wild when they’ve recovered sufficiently. Only non-indigenous birds, those whose injuries are too severe to permit a fully self-sufficient life in the wild or those that are hopelessly imprinted on humans remain at the centre permanently. The love and passion these people have for their job is absolutely inspiring. If you can’t visit them in person, please visit their website and, if you are able to, assist them in their efforts by making a donation (monetary or in kind). The way Libra, an immature Bateleur that was severely injured by a vehicle a year ago, seeks comfort from handler Magdali Theron in the picture below will leave you in no doubt just how vital the work of the Dullstroom Bird of Prey and Rehabilitation Centre is.
Libra and Magdali
Apart from the fact that it was our first chance to escape from South Africa’s heavily industrialised Gauteng Province in almost six months or that we were able to marvel at the most majestic birds of prey from close quarters, the trip was both long-awaited and memorable for another reason: being tutored by accomplished wildlife photographer Hannes Rossouw in the art of taking photographs of birds in flight. Thanks to Hannes’ unending patience and skill as an educator we hope we’ll be able to have many more images like these gracing the pages of de Wets Wild in future.
Ashanti the Verreaux’s Eagle (photo by Joubert)
Ashanti the Verreaux’s Eagle
Chewy the Harrier Hawk (photo by Joubert)
Chewy the Harrier Hawk foraging for a snack inside a log
Daphne, the Spotted Eagle Owl (photo by Joubert)
Daphne the Spotted Eagle Owl
Hali the Fish Eagle (photo by Joubert)
Hali the Fish Eagle
Jester the Harris Hawk (photo by Joubert) – not a species indigenous to South Africa
Jester the Harris Hawk – not a species indigenous to South Africa
Rooney the Secretary Bird
As you can imagine, after spending most of the daylight hours at the centre, we came back to Pretoria with hundreds of photo’s. In the coming days we will be using those images to tell you the stories of ten of the Dullstroom Bird of Prey and Rehabilitation Centre’s most charismatic residents. And be sure to look out for Joubert’s images in the mix; under Hannes’ expert tutelage his photographic skills have become even more impressive (I know, I am biased).
There’s so much more animal life occurring in the mountainous habitats of the Royal Natal National Park than the butterflies we’ve already shown you, many of them wonderfully adapted to the harsh environmental extremes at these altitudes.
Female Baboon in oestrus
Cape Robin Chat
Common River Frog
Common River Frog
Golden Orb-web Spider female with prey
Golden Orb-web Spider – male top left, female bottom right
Guineafowl chick (photo by Joubert)
Helmeted Guineafowl (photo by Joubert)
Guineafowl chick (photo by Joubert)
Mountain Malachite Damselfly
Mating Swamp Bluets
This African Wood Owl woke Marilize and me up for some bird-watching at 3am!
The mountainous grasslands and forested riverbanks around Mahai in the Royal Natal National Park are adorned by the most beautiful, though hardy, plants – a treat to even the most amateurish of botanists like me; so if you can help with identifying most of these beauties I’d be forever in your debt (I know at least that mushrooms aren’t plants, strictly speaking…)
With South Africa preparing for a nationwide “lock-down” of a minimum three week duration in the face of the global pandemic, we’ve returned from the Drakensberg grateful for having had a chance to recharge our batteries in beautiful natural surroundings. We’ll be sharing many more photos from our latest trip in days to come and hope that they’ll bring you as much joy as the memories will for us in these trying times.
Well, not really – our bookings were made long before the current health crisis and we opted not to cancel, figuring that it is nice to know that for a while at least we can breathe the fresh mountain air of the Royal Natal National Park again. So here we are.
We have a very basic trail camera that we set up for a few days along a quiet portion of the fenceline at Satara Rest Camp in the Kruger National Park, while we were visiting there over Christmas and New Year. It was quite fun flicking through the photos every day and seeing the variety of wildlife that come so close to camp, especially at night!
Blue Wildebeests hastily walking past the camp
All the hyena shots were just of their bums – they never walked slow enough!
Bewildered Blue Wildebeest?
Flock of queleas setting off the camera
Large-spotted Genet outside Satara’s fence
African Wild Cat at dawn
African Civet caught on our trail cam next to Satara’s fence
It’s really hard to believe that we’ve been home from the Kruger National Park for a week already. We’re still trying to adjust back to city life, would you believe!? Were still pining for Satara, our tent, our camping beds and almost daily braais (traditional South African barbeques)… So we’re going over our notes and imagining the 46 kinds of mammals, 195 kinds of birds, and myriad of insects, butterflies, scorpions, spiders, amphibians and reptiles we crossed paths with while camping at Satara for a month.
While we were on holiday many of you enquired after Joubert’s pictures of the trip, so here for your enjoyment and to ease our blues is a selection of his best photographs!