We already know that elephants walk around the staff village. Not only do they come into our yard from time to time, but I also see evidence of their presence around the staff village on a regular basis. Dung, Lala palm branches left carelessly on the road, and every now and then they push over a tree. So we have to take the long way around the living quarters to get to town. We often see hyenas too coming back from camp at the beginning of the evening. I also find their tracks at our front gate almost every morning. Which made we wonder… what other animals wonder around the staff village at night??
A simple yet interesting way to figure that out would have been to set up the camera trap my friend from the US got me for my birthday. Unfortunately, I packed it ages ago and that specific box is at the bottom of a pile of boxes… So, I went about it the old fashioned way and I went for a few walks with the boys looking for tracks. (But note to self: as soon as we are set up in the new house at the gate, that camera trap is going up! Apparently that place is wild!!)
There is a little dirt road that goes past our yard and with the dry wintery weather the road is very dusty. Perfect to go and look for tracks. Apart from antelope, baboon and monkey tracks, I found a few very interesting ones!
Check out this track! I knew hippos walk great distances to get to good grazing at night. And the river is far from here! So this was a nice track to find for me.
And then look at this one! I had a little bit of help from Steven identifying this track. It is a porcupine! It makes a lot of sense now. We have a big sausage tree in the garden and it is carrying lots of fruit at the moment. The fruits are very hard, but I find some of them are being chewed on at night. It is the porcupine! The monkeys and baboons are very grateful. After the porcupine opens up the fruit, they finish the rest!
And then this is a track we found around the house a while ago… It can only be from a enormous rock python! Check the width of the tire and then the width of the snake track. I am glad he did not make his way into the house!!
Now, these are the tracks I found during my few walks outside our yard. I don’t want to walk around outside too much with the boys in tow. I have seen buffalo poop around the last few days and definitely don’t feel like bumping into one of those!
But let me also share another few pictures with you of animals I have seen and photographed during the day. All from our house and garden!
This was an amazing day. Early one morning, Steven and I were about to go to camp when we heard the Vervet monkeys. They were very upset, alarm calling and staying high up in the trees. They were all staring in the same direction. Steven and I looked at each other. Lion? Leopard?
So we got in the car and slowly drove past our house in the direction of where the monkeys were looking. There she was: a beautiful leopardess standing on a little termite mount, not even 40 metres from the house!
Now, a leopard sighting is exciting any day, but when you see one this close to your own house it is truly something special! She was very aware of all the insults the monkeys were shouting at her and she snuck off to a place out of sight, leaving Steven and myself in the car with our jaws on the floor and high fiving each other in excitement!
That afternoon, when the monkeys were doing their rounds at the living quarters, we heard the squirrels alarm calling. Could it be our leopard again? We quietly walked outside with our binoculars. Yes!! It was her! I cannot even begin to describe how seeing a leopard from your front door gets the heart rate up. Steven even found her resting on the stoep of the empty house two doors down that night! It is a day both Steven and I will never forget!
The next picture is of a much smaller visitor, the Dwarf Mongoose. Look at these little cuties! This family of mongoose also live around our house and had their babies at the back of our garage. Aren’t they adorable?
I have to say; my absolute favourite part of living in Kruger is seeing all this wildlife from the house. The bushbuck I see in our yard while I am cooking. And the elephants and buffalo that walk past the house while we are on the stoep or braaiing in the garden. The hornbills that fight with their reflection in our sliding door, and the squirrels that come and relax on the stoep on a hot day. Having all these animals around makes living here so very special! I would not change it for the world!