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Monday, 1 October 2012

National Geographic Experience

So the next day we went to Pilanesburg to hunt some wild animals. It was a darn long ride out of the city area in Jo'burg and it's really interesting seeing the transition from city life to squatters and slums. The transition is like almost immediate. Some of these slums don't have electricity nor proper sanitation. Our guide Shane, was explaining to us how astonishing the crime rate is in Jo'burg. Apparently, cases of rapes, robbery and murder is high throughout the year but having lived in Jo'burg for almost all his life, he has never witnessed any sort of crime happening. He says many foreigners are afraid of stepping out of their hotels but he reckons it's perfectly safe to walk down the streets. Oh well.

So upon arriving at Pilanesburg, we got onto our open vehicle (I don't really know what's the proper term for this) and went on our adventure to hunt some wild animals.

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The guides for the wildlife tour were young chaps who spoke great english and had amazing knowledge about wildlife animals, or at least the animals they had in the area. They could answer almost every sort of question we had, but of course, at times ignoring certain idiotic questions such as "So is the Zebra white with black stripes or black with white stripes?"

Here's Lester with the handsome safari guides.
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Here's an idea of what wildlife is.

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The guides drove us around the wildlife area and it all depends on how lucky we are to catch the solitary animals like the leopards and cheetahs. It was cool watching a family of 6 elephants walk by, or a bunch of zebras and giraffes munching on grass. There were so many animals! These animals are used to vehicles driving around the area and they're not really afraid of us because we're only observing them and do not pose any sort of harm to them, though they tend to stay away from the paths. Or in the case where there's a head/leader in the herd, the leader will watch out for the rest and defend should we go too close.

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We had to trail behind this elephant for quite some time because he refused to get off the track and we coudln't overtake him cos you do not want to mess with this fella. When we finally overtook him, he flapped his ears wide open, raised his trunk at us and let out this roaring sound which means "I can attack you any moment".

Here are a few shots.

Family moving to find water source.
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I have no idea what animal this is, but a friend says it's a Gazelle.
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Below is a giraffe that got struck by lighting, probably while eating from the tree. Guide told us that this giraffe died over a month ago and amazingly, no animals have come by to eat it.
Point is, animals never eat cooked meat. Only raw.
So this giraffe's corpse is pretty much safe till flies and worms finish it up.
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We saw many other animals too and the tour lasted for almost 4 hours, from day till sunset. We had to wait for the sun to set cos that's when the lions will come out. It was so fun hunting the lions and you see the guides driving around, corresponding with each other via walkie talkie with updates on where they last saw a lion. We had to use torchlights to shine onto the grassland because if there's a lion in the area, if shone by a torchlight onto the eyes, we'll be able to spot it. We eventually found a herd of them and watched for a bit. I was waiting for them to mate but seriously, all they did was to laze around and play with each other. Lazy cats.

Couldnt take any picture because I didn't have a pro camera but it was still exciting catching them! Also caught a female leopard on the way out.

The Pilanesburg day-tour was really expensive and some other people on the safari tour with us were apparently there in Pilanesburg for days just to go on the safari tour everyday.

I felt like a Nat Geo cameraman for a bit and I think I kinda know how it feels like to snap an awesome picture of nature after hours and hours of wait. Too bad I only had a digital camera and the pictures I took were nothing like a Nat Geo picture.

The lion park and Pilanesburg wildlife was all I did in Jo'burg but I had tremendous fun there. Thanks to Lester, who was my companion on the trip and I think he was a major factor to the fun I had. Who would have thought that Jo'burg would be one of my favourite stations? :D

Till, next time!