Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Shepherd's Tree Game Lodge, the game drives. Pilanesberg Game Reserve. North West Province

This is Ruan who was the ranger for the two drives that I did during my stay.
Let me tell you the story of the $2 bill...
Ruan is new to the industry, having only recently attained the necessary age requirement.
That being said he was knowledgeable and friendly during the drives. 
I don't normally include rangers in my postings
 as they tend to move between lodges on a regular basis.
However his attitude and enthusiasm was contagious,
hence me starting off this posting with this story...
At the beginning of the drive he jokingly made mention
 that for every 10 wildlife images we took, we had to take one of him...
therefore THIS picture in order for me to fulfil my "quota".
"And the $2 bill"? I hear you ask...
After my final morning drive, he came to say  goodbye as I was having breakfast.
We chatted for a while about some of the topics we had shared at dinner the night before,
and then we shook hands and off he went to prep for his next guests.
He came back a few minutes later saying that he had forgotten to give me something.
He handed me this $2 bill saying that a guest had given it to him for good luck,
and he now wanted to pass it on to me.
I was so totally taken aback that I don't really think that I thanked him properly.
I did say that at some point I would find someone worthy of the bill
and that I too would pass it on.
Being gifted something of this nature has never happened to me before 
and I therefore wanted to share the story
as part of my experience at Shepherd's Tree Lodge.

I did not have to go on a game drive to see this Gecko,
it was sitting right outside my bedroom window.

"The eyes have it"...
I was wondering what this Baboon was thinking as it stared at us.

Purportedly the most dangerous animal on the African continent...
A rather sweeping statement as I have never heard of anyone being mugged by one.
However, if you come between it and the water, then there is every possibility
that it will do you some serious damage.

You have no idea of the actual size of an African Elephant
until it trundles slowly past your vehicle...

We discovered this Lioness in the fading evening light.
For some reason, many rangers refer to them as "female lions",
which is totally inaccurate.
Their species is divided into lions and lionesses,'
with the gender descriptions being very specific.

A rare sighting...a Caracal returning "home" after a night out.
It had crossed the road and was heading off into the grass as we arrived.
But I was able to get this "proof of sighting" image before it disappeared.

Bushveld alarm clocks...Crested Francolin.
They are really noisy, but their alarm call could signal a predator in the area
and a possible sighting or even a kill.

We discovered this lioness on our early morning game drive.
She had been drinking from the dam when we arrived,
but at a point she got up and started walking parallel to our vehicle.
When she stepped out of the long grass we noticed 
that her left front leg was inflamed and badly damaged.
I do hope that the injury heals and that until then the pride will take care of her.

We were not alone at the sighting,
as these vehicles were also from our Lodge

The Queen of all she surveys?

I had seen Black Rhino on a previous game drive,
but this White Rhino sighting was on International Rhino Day,
which made it just that bit more exciting.

Egyptian Geese with their brood of goslings.
Much like the Hadeda Ibis have made their home in the urban gardens,
this species seems to be found on almost every stretch of water in South Africa.

Now THIS is a proper roadblock...
This huge lion was lying in the middle of the road,
 not too far from Mankwe Dam.

He lay in the road for quite some time,
until he decided that there was one vehicle too many
and sauntered off into the thick grass just off the side of the road.

Is this a Zebra crossing?
Or just one standing still?

The epitome of Africa...the African Fish Eagle.
Its call is, for me, the iconic sound of our continent.

The Forest Gump of the plains game?
A Wildebeest wanders into shot...in the distance you can see the bird hide at Mankwe Dam.

The Arrow Marked Babblers have orange eyes,
like the example on the left.
The bird on the right is a Black-faced Babbler, with similar markings,
but very different eye colouration.

To quote Douglas Adams in A Hitchhiker's guide to the Galaxy...
"Goodbye and thanks for all the fish".
Well that is what this Great (White) Egret seems to be trying to convey.
Not a Pangolin to be seen, again!
It is my apex bucket list animal and once again it has eluded me.


To find out more about the Lodge,
visit their website:

Shepherd's Tree Lodge is the proud recipient of the 2017 Award.



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