The state song of Kansas called “Home on the Range” goes something like this:
“Oh, give me a home where the Buffalo roam
Where the Deer and the Antelope play;
Where seldom is heard a discouraging word,
And the sky is not cloudy all day.”
It was based on a poem written by Dr. Brewster Higley according to this wikipedia entry with no cited sources, and is a bit amusing as there are apparently no real antelope in Kansas or anywhere in North America.
But I digress, this is more about what you might best describe as the bottom of “the bush food chain”. These perky, prolific, wonderful, innocent and kind looking impalas (there are several types of antelope) are like the KFC of the bush, if you will. Up top, several impala ewes with ears on alert while they graze in a field.
They are a skittish bunch, and understandably so, since everyone and their uncle want to pounce on and eat them. Thank goodness they seem to breed like rabbits, for it’s definitely now you see them, and now you don’t. :)
I thought to myself, nervous nellies with attention deficit disorder. Unkind, I know. They were actually very beautiful animals in all variations… up top impala ewes… we also saw a few rams messing around with mock fights on the nearby fields.
An impala ram.
One of these large nyalas (also a type of antelope) was standing just a couple feet away from us on the stone path to our villa one evening and when my flashlight panned across its large body Mrs. MM was so startled she grabbed me and nearly let out a scream, to the amusement of our porter. She probably wanted to make sure I was munched on first.
Some younger female nyalas in the foreground and a male in the background.
Other antelope varieties we spotted during the safari included large kudu bulls (this photo taken from 300 meters away while we were having lunch and the bull was across the river munching on leaves)…
…and a bushbuck (one of several walking and grazing around the Singita main lodge)…
…and waterbucks with their characteristic “toilet seat” marking of white fur around their rear ends. Now that you’ve seen the prey, let’s talk briefly about the predators.
“The Big Five” – Wherever you go in South Africa (and elsewhere in safari country), the talk is of seeing elephants, rhinoceros, lions, leopards and cape buffalo. To see all of them in one short trip is nothing short of a miracle. When asked, we listed buffalo as being the last on our wish list, since we have carabaos and tamaraws back home, so the search for those was our lowest priority.
“The Magnificent Seven” – Add to the Big Five, cheetahs, and surprisingly for me, packs of wild dogs. The latter one of the rarest of animals to spot these days, and sometimes they go 6-8 months at Singita without seeing them. Cheetahs are also tough to find, and they aren’t that plentiful either.
So I am sure you are thinking, what about the “Disney” and “Tarzan” type animals like giraffes, zebras, hippos, baboons, warthogs, etc.? Well, Mrs. MM definitely wanted to see giraffes and hippos more than cape buffalo so we were hopeful we would find some of those in the bush. Notice, all of the wonderful antelope up top would make many a jaded city dweller perk up in their seats and click away with their cameras, but this was just the “chicken of the bush”!!!
All photos in the South African posts are taken by Mrs. MM, MM and the young lady. We have over 4000 shots combined, so we won’t give credit for each individual shot. The photos were taken over several drives over a three day period.