Recently we embarked on yet another adventure into the African bush. We visited two game parks in KwaZulu Natal, namely Mkhuze and Ithala. Mkhuze had a wonderful water hole which did not once fail to be teeming with animal and bird life. Because of the recent rains in Ithala the bush was incredibly thick and that made it tricky to spot the wildlife. However, each park is beautiful and unique in its own right. The rains also brought on a wave of baby animals all fighting for survival in the heart of the harsh African bush.
The introduction of lion into Mkhuze has served two purposes, first to increase interest in the park, and most importantly to encourage natural culling. Ithala does not have any of these big cats and it is quite plain in their numbers of antelope. While both parks have both Cheetah and Leopard, and they to contribute to the natural culling cycle to an extent, their numbers are few and so they do not have a large impact. Also, larger lion prides require more food to feed the hungry mouths. This particular lion and her friend each caught a baby Wildebeest (also known as a Gnu), leaving the other animals at the water hole incredibly skittish and wary of the lurking danger.
Aside from the large abundance of animal life in these parks there is also a huge variety of bird and insect life, as well as a great many illusive reptiles. Unfortunately, due to the pet trade, there are few chameleons left in the wild, and we were thrilled to find this one plodding along.
The flora that makes up these parks is so varied and so beautiful that is also deserves a special mention. Fever trees were once thought to be the cause of malaria (as the name suggests), but what was only later discovered was that these trees, while providing beautiful shade and shelter from the sweltering sun, they were also always located near water – the breeding ground of mosquitos. Thus while the trees were blamed for the malaria fever, it was in fact the fault of the anopheles mosquitoes. The red beans are known to us as lucky beans and it is said that if you keep these in your purse it will never be empty (although that’s probably because it will always have a lucky bean in it, not necessarily a coin).