My family are so jealous. In all the years my parents have been going to Kruger Park they have never seen anything like it and we do go regularly.
It really is a once-in-a-lifetime thing and we managed to be in the right place at the right time.
I was very happy to witness something like that but I felt a sorry for the cheetah.
There are so many impala, it is not like they will miss one of them.
Most visitors to South Africa’s Kruger National Park hope that they’ll have a memorable wildlife encounter while exploring the popular game reserve. Earlier this week one couple certainly got their encounter when they were attacked by an elephant, leaving their vehicle completely demolished and landing both of them in the hospital.
The unnamed travelers were said to be of “Chinese origin” with at least one reportedly visiting South Africa from Hong Kong. The couple was reportedly driving through Kruger at 6:30 a.m. Monday morning when they came across an elephant walking in the road. For some unknown reason the elephant became agitated and attacked the vehicle. As you can see in the photo to the right, the animal was able to do quite a bit of damage to the car.
The couple was taken to a nearby hospital where the man is reportedly in critical condition having received multiple rib fractures. The woman that was with him had to be treated for a fractured pelvis as well. Both were later transferred to a hospital in Pretoria.
While visiting Kruger a few years back my travel companions and I came across a rather large and aggressive bull elephant walking down the center of the road. We gave him a wide berth, backing up several times in an attempt to avoid him. He made several moves to charge our vehicle as well and we only got around him when he wandered behind a tree and we were able to gun the engine to get past him. Even then it was quite the close call, as he charged one final time towards the side of our minivan. The image below is one that I shot from inside the vehicle that day.
Kruger is one of the few African national parks that you can actually drive through yourself without the need to hire a safari guide. Of course, I’d always recommend hiring the guide anyway, but if you do self-drive the park, definitely be careful. These two travelers are very lucky to be alive.
[Photo Credits: Associated Press, Kraig Becker]
Anti-poaching rangers on patrol in South Africa’s Kruger National Park shot and killed three men who were believed to be rhino poachers this past Wednesday. Officials indicated that the rangers were on a routine operation within the park when they came across the men who had reportedly crossed the border from Mozambique. A firefight ensued and the three poachers were fatally wounded.
This incident is only the latest clash between soldiers and poachers in South Africa. As illegal poaching has continued to increase across the country, these types of encounters have become more frequent. Rhino horns remain in high demand for use in traditional medicines throughout Asia and people are increasingly more willing to risk their lives to obtain the valuable commodity.
According to a government report released last week, 188 rhinos have already been killed in South Africa since the start of the year and 135 of those were poached in Kruger alone. The country is home to more than 18,000 white rhinos, which is nearly the entire population that remains in Africa. About 5000 of the more rare black rhino also live in South Africa.
As the value of rhino horns has increased, the level of sophistication shown by poachers has risen as well. Many now employ helicopters to spot the animals from the air and then use high-powered tranquilizer guns to knock them unconscious. With the creature safely asleep, they then land, use a machete or other blade to cut off the horn and are back in the air in a matter of minutes. The speed with which they strike makes it difficult to catch them in the act, which has frustrated South African officials.
With rhino population numbers already dangerously low across Africa, the continued poaching of these animals has become a real concern. If this trend doesn’t change soon, there is a real chance that the creatures could be gone from the continent before the end of the century.
A South African crocodile farm is facing a large problem after 15,000 of the animals escaped from the site and made their way into the nearby Limpopo River. The crocs made their dash for freedom when massive floodwaters forced the farmers to open their gates in an effort to avoid those waters from crushing the walls of the enclosures. Most of the animals made their way to the wild bush along the river, which could serve as the perfect home for the massive predators.
A spokesperson for the farm says that they have managed to capture several thousand of the runaway crocs, but they estimated that about half of the escapees were still at large. The farm staff is rounding them up as quickly as they can, but considering the large number of animals that escaped, it is a challenging job.
The escaped crocs are all Nile crocodiles, the species that is most common in Africa. Capable of growing up to 18 feet in length and weighing as much as 1700 pounds, they are the largest freshwater crocs in the world. They are also known for being voracious predators, attacking nearly any other animals (including humans) that wander into or near the waters where they make their home.
The Limpopo River is one of the great waterways of southern Africa, meandering for more than 1000 miles across the region. The river flows into South Africa‘s northeast corner along the border of its famous Kruger National Park, a remote wilderness that would provide plenty of prey for the escaped crocs. The predators are not unknown to the Limpopo, but until now their numbers have been relatively small. That could change if these animals are not rounded up.
Thanks to our friends at Outside Online for sharing this story.
[Photo Credit: Sarah McCans]
The South African government has released statistics on the number of rhinos poached in that country last year, and the news isn’t especially good. According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), a record number of 668 rhinos were killed in South Africa in 2012, representing a 50% increase over 2011 when 448 of the animals lost their lives to poachers.
Most of the rhino poaching took place inside Kruger National Park, one of South Africa’s most popular destinations for visitors. The 7500-square-mile Kruger is one of the top safari destinations in the world and one of the best places to spot wild rhinos. But its remote and rugged location also makes it difficult to police and combat poaching. As a result, of the 668 rhinos killed last year, 425 were claimed inside the park.
Rhino poaching has been on the rise in recent years because of the increasing demand for their horns in parts of Asia. The horns are ground up into powder and used in traditional medicines in places like Vietnam and China, despite the fact that there is no scientific evidence to support such uses. As the WWF report notes, rhino horns are used in such dubious remedies as hangover cures.
When poachers claim their prized rhino horns they typically shoot the animals with tranquilizers, knocking them unconscious for a time. While the creature slumbers, they then proceed to hack off their horns using sharp axes or knives to brutally accomplish their task. The rhino then bleeds to death from these wounds and their corpses are generally found by park rangers hours or days after they have been attacked.
These ever-increasing poaching numbers have put the rhino in jeopardy across Africa. Several species are critically endangered there as a result of these crimes.
[Photo Credit: Kraig Becker]