AfricaViews, Part 2

by Sedgwick Clark

By popular demand, I offer another baker’s dozen of Africa photos to tide over a humid summer. Our last two weeks of May were in South Africa’s fall season—very dry, with Kruger National Park’s brown grass sparsely green only near the river. The jungle foliage may have desiccated, but the bare bush gave us a better view of animals that, even then, blended into the background to an uncanny degree. In the morning the temps were around 40° Fahrenheit, and we dressed in five layers and bundled under blankets as the Land Rover whisked us to the bush to observe the changing of the wildlife guard. By 9 a.m. several layers had been shed, and at midday it was nearly 80°. Our late-afternoon return to the bush required that we dress in retrograde. The unexpected benefit of the season was that bugs were near nonexistent. Usually a magnet for their stingers, I didn’t get a single bite.

Photos: Sedge and Peggy Kane.

Once again, thanks to Stephanie Challener for her assistance in posting these photos.

Sunrise. The terrain is dotted with dead trees, stark and dramatic in the African sky. Peggy and our intrepid travel companions, Peter Clark and Jonathan Rosenbloom, would sigh in feigned frustration at my continued requests to stop the truck for a photo, but even Peter began snapping them after a while.

Our first day on safari began uneventfully. And then, as we turned a corner, there was a giraffe staring at us interlopers. We stopped. He stared. And when we stayed still he lumbered past us impatiently.

Look at those teeth! I was perfectly happy to let the camera do the close-up for this shot of a baboon demanding space for his family.

The most curvaceous horns in the jungle belong to the nyala antelope.

Talk about self confidence. This momma leopard allowed us to invade her territory without a flicker of concern. Of course she was well acquainted with the Land Rover and the respect of its inhabitants, but a foolish visitor might still be tempted to interpret her relaxed aplomb as an invitation. Not a good idea!

Mother elephant and child lunching in the bush. We were close up in this photo, but in many we took from afar we could barely distinguish the animals from their surroundings.


Tracking a leopard at night. We were on our way back to Lion Sands when, like a flash, a bush buck dashed across the road from the left, pursued immediately by a young leopard. We could hear a skirmish, but the buck got away and the leopard returned to the road, where our tracker pinpointed the cat in the spotlight. Our ever-competitive driver, Kyle, followed him into the bush, and we bumped and jostled in pursuit around the pitch black environs for nearly half an hour before returning to the camp.

Don’t tread on me. One of the Big 5 (a category of mammals most desired by hunters, including the lion, leopard, elephant, and rhino), the African buffalo is a very aggressive and dangerous animal, not to be messed with.

Not one of the Big 5 is the hippopotamus, perhaps due to its ungainly weight. This smiling hippo appears far happier in the cool water than did his grumpy, out-of-water sibling in last week’s photos.

A mountain goat oversees the perimeter at a goat cheese farm.

Only photos from the air could possibly capture the awesome immensity of Victoria Falls’ Seven Wonders of the World status. My photos were too close: It looked like merely another water fall. But Peter took a shot from the back yard of the Victoria Falls Hotel, where we stayed, and the cloud-like mist billowing in the distance suggests the falls’ wide-range power. Photo: Peter Clark.

It used to be thought that African elephants could not be trained. In fact, reported Robert Osborne last week when TCM showed all the Weissmuller-O’Sullivan Tarzan films in one day, MGM used the more docile Indian elephants, which have smaller ears, and attached fake, large ears to them! But the Elephant Back Safari program gives the lie to that old canard, for here’s Coco, with genuine ears flared, as Sedge and Peggy make friends with her before riding her. If you care to see us in Coco’s saddle, check out the photo in my May 30 blog, “Bwana Clark.”

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