Minnesota Farmer


HluHluwe iMfolozi

On this trip to South Africa we again made a trip to the Hluhluwe iMfolozi game park near the eastern coast.  Our plan was to again spend two nights at the Hilltop Camp.  What was different this time was the presence of five members of the Ondini side of the Shetek Conference-Ondini Circuit partnership.

Hluhluwe iMfolozi game park was the private hunting grounds of Zulu kings and has been protected since before the white man came into the area.  Its rugged hills make it a tough place to farm so it remains a place for wildlife.

Hluhluwe map

We entered the park at the Nyalazi gate on the eastern side and made our way north to Hilltop camp.

We knew it was going to be a good trip for animal sightings when we were greeted at the gate by a lone elephant.  Spider monkeys, zebra, warthog, nyala, kudu and a rhino were all sighted shortly after we entered the gate.  The highlight of the drive up to Hilltop Camp was a lion sighting.

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Yes, there is a lion in this picture.  Just follow the drag marks in the ash and he is in there eating a buffalo.  Finding a lion in a game park is very hard. Their coloration is the same tawny brown of winter grass, they are made not to be seen.  We were lucky that three young males had killed that buffalo in the morning, and they were days disposing of the carcass just twenty feet off of the road.  Really, this was the highlight of the whole trip.  It was obvious that everyone wanted to see the lions, and that made them all the more determined not to be seen.  But dinner was there just behind a bush next to the road, so they stayed nearby.

Our friends from the Ondini circuit had never made a trip over to the park and were also excited.  This is an area that is out of reach of many who do not have the resources to travel as we do.

100_2933 The rhinos above and the wart hogs below were taking advantage of new growth and open sight lines.100_2937

They had been burning the old grass, so many of the hills were black with only the tallest trees untouched.  This new green drew animals into the open and made them easier to see.  Some of the fires had been recent as many logs were still burning.

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We even got to see a congregation of vultures, pied crows and an eagle, all looking hopefully around in the ash on this hillside.

While at Hilltop Camp several animals were found taking advantage of the protection of humans.100_2916Dik-dik and nyala grazed within a few feet of people.

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Spider monkeys posed on the ground or in trees while they waited for an unwatched, open, door or window.  They would dash in to seize food items left in the open, then race out to enjoy their booty while fighting off their fellow raiders.

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We got to spend quite a bit of time watching this herd of elephants meander across the meadow when we made a side trip to the Memorial Gate on the north side of the park.  My favorite picture of this trip is that of a giraffe.

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I was able to wait for this tall fellow to amble into position by this tree.  This is Hluhluwe in winter to me.  Tall brown grass, leafless trees and wild creatures posing on the hilltop for you to take a picture of.

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