Johanna Hagman visited Londolozi in January 2011 together with her family, including her grand parents and her cousins. This is an article she wrote for the WWF Panda Magazine in Sweden.
From WWF Panda Magazine, Nr 3-4, 2011
Published in Sweden by the World Wildlife Fund
Safari in South Africa
Johanna has been on an exciting safari in South Africa’s Kruger Park and seen lots of wild animals. Here she tells her own story about the wonderful journey together with her own great pictures.
The safari started at four thirty in the afternoon. It was a warm beautiful day in South Africa’s Kruger Park, i.e. the most diverse mammal population in the world.
We sat up in the jeeps and already after five minutes we discovered evidence of large animals. Mud could be seen on the nearby tree trunks and our guide told us that it came from elephants who had rubbed of parasites (and mud) on the trees. Soon thereafter we saw who had done it: an old elephant bull who had been a long time in the area (so the guides easily recognized him).
A common sight were the impala, a small but elegant kind of antelope, and we saw them often in large flocks of several hundred. Now darkness was falling upon us and all of a sudden we found ourselves in the middle of a large elephant herd with animals on both sides of the road. A four meter tall bull slowly but steadily moved straight towards the vehicle. We all went completely silent as the bull came right at us. An there, two meters from the jeep, it stopped, as if he was contemplating whether to attack or not! Luckily he turned away and started to eat from a nearby branch. It was quite scary.
But the adventure didn’t stop there. The guides took out their strong flash lights and shone over bush and trees (the animals’ eyes reflect the light at night). In the middle of the road we found a pride of 12 lion. They seemed unaffected by our presence as we carefully rolled by them. Like small pussy cats, but as soon as they yawned and showed of their razor sharp teeth, we were reminded that we were sitting just five meters from an animal that is built to kill…
Beware of the rhinos!
The next day we ventured out into the bushveld (a mix between savannah and sparse woodland) just before dawn, and saw a group of impala run past us in a frightful hurry. A group of wild dogs on the hunt! Within a few seconds the animals were gone. We barely caught a glimpse of the wild dogs, which are very rare.
After that we took a break in the middle of the wilderness. “Is it safe to get of here?” we asked. “Oh yes” said the guides. But when a couple of us had jumped down from the jeeps, my mother called out: “Rhinoceros!”. The adult male rhino, just 30 meters away, was probably as surprised to see us as we were to see him. After just a few seconds, when I had time to snap a few pictures of him, he jogged away from us. Those in the other jeep were a little paler than before.
Leopard tracking and a meeting with Tyson.
During our trip we visited two different places, both bordering the Sabi Sand River. The first place was a concession within the Kruger Park, the biggest national park in the world. There we saw all “the big five” (leopard, elephant, buffalo, rhinoceros and lion). The second safari, Londolozi, is a large privately owned reserve neighbouring the Kruger Park – the most leopard dense area in the world!
Already on the second day at Londolozi we sighted leopard. It started when we drove through an area full of impala, zebra and wilder beast. But on this day, on this spot, the animals seemed unusually nervous and the trackers (the tracking experts) in the jeeps identified several tracks on the dirt road ahead of us. Without a doubt they told us that these were the tacks from a large male leopard!
We drove around a couple of large circles in the area without finding any more traces of the leopard. After a while we gave up the search. Shortly thereafter we heard from the vehicles radio. Those in the other jeep had found the leopard, exactly on the same spot where we were just half an hour earlier. Vi drove back as quickly as possible and saw him walking on the track. He had an incredibly thick neck and had been given the appropriate name Tyson. We followed him for a while until he stopped and sat down just a few meters from us. After a couple of minutes he stood up and vanished into the vegetation.
The trip to Africa was a thousand times more interesting than what I had expected. The a bit too close rendezvous with the elephant bull, all the exotic bird species, Tyson and not least the rhinoceros during the “safe” break. An naturally all the giraffe, warthogs (not pretty animals), hippopotamus, crocodiles and all the other animals I have not mentioned. It was a fabulous experience and one which gave an enormous respect both for the animals and for those who are involved in animal conservation in South Africas natural reserves.
Age: 12 years.
Lives: Uppsala, Sweden
Member of the WWF Panda Club: Since 2006
Favourite animals: Leopards, wolfs and Swedish birds of pray (such as Marsh Harrier and eagles).
Best nature experience: If you don’t count the trip to Africa, it would be my first “real” dive of Martinique in the West Indies.
Hobbies: Karate, scuba diving and of course photography (both old fashioned black and white and digital).
Want to see: Whale during a dive; a leopard during a successful kill; cheetah.
Dream trip: The Great Barrier Reef outside Australia!
Text and photographs: Johanna Hagman courtesy of WWF Panda Magazine.