Wednesday, 9 January 2013


Today, we are the first to drive out of the gate. I am sleeping a lot better at Mata Mata. There are no sounds of marauding jackals stealing from the campers. No campers swearing and chasing jackals in the middle of the night, but no roaring lions, either. It is a very peaceful campsite. Mata Mata is a border post with Namibia. There have been complaints in the past that the Namibian immigration officials throw raucous  parties, and run their noisy generator all night, but it is has been very quiet.

Spotted Hyena
We are overtaken by a young guy in a small car. The car rattles so much, it sounds like it may fall apart. These roads are also very corrugated. The young guy tells us later, that he is on a quest to photograph a leopard. I am also hoping to see the leopard. We have heard from others that there is a cheetah mom and two cubs that often hunt near the camp. I scan the riverbed. The Auob is wide and flat. It is good territory for a cheetah to gather speed and chase down its prey. New camps have been built along the Auob, and new roads have been built. For a long section from Mata Mata we travel through the  dunes.                                        

 We feel deprived of the riverbed scenery. Now, we are only able to travel to  four water-holes in a morning: Craig Lockhart; Dalkeith; Fourteenth Borehole and Thirteenth Borehole. Guess what, the Thirteenth Borehole is not working, so the animals are not coming to drink there. Noel mutters about being limited to three water-holes. He mutters that the Park has gone to the dogs, but soon cheers up when he gets his first photographic opportunity, and there is just enough early morning light. He photographs the Spotted Hyena running in the riverbed. It is our first sighting of  Spotted Hyena this trip.

 Near Dalkeith, we have a lucky sighting. It is African Wild Cat, and it is out in the open. African Wild Cats   ( Felis lybica ) are largely nocturnal, and will often sleep in a tree during the day. According to research, the African Wild Cat was tamed by the Egyptians some 3 000 years B.C. It features prominently in Ancient Egyptian sculptures, and was considered to be sacred. It has a distinctive sitting position because of its long legs. It is the forebear of the domestic cat. Inter-breeding with the domestic cat is able to take place, and therefore, populations of pure-bred African Wild Cat are rare today. Pure-bred specimens are only found in remote areas of Southern Africa. They feed on rodents, birds, reptiles and large insects.

African Wild Cat

"Teresa will love this photo," says Noel, referring to my friend who lives in Missouri, USA, and who absolutely adores cats. I send her this photo and her comment is "WOW !!!". 

This is not our last sighting of a nocturnal species this morning. They are far away, and lying in the shade, but Noel manages a few photographs, just for the record. We see Bat-eared fox ( Otycyon megalotis ), or as we call them " fat-eared boxes". The Bat-eared fox mates for life, and takes good care of its young. It is often seen at dawn and dusk, listening for underground insects, by ambling along with its big ears close to the ground. If a Bat-eared fox hears the rustle of a burrowing insect, it will use its fore-paws to dig furiously in an effort to find the little creature. Its prey consists mainly of termites, but they will also eat other insects and scorpions, small mice and berries.

The pair of Bat-eared foxes.

"You see," says Noel, when we get back to camp, "why you must get up early, and be first out of the gate." I just groan as I have had to get up just after 4.00 a.m. every morning.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for thinking of me, Noel! Yes, I like the photo of the African cat, though he looks like a long-legged version of my own cats.