Kruger National Park Wildlife

Kruger National Park South Africa

The first time Annette and I visited Kruger National Park, was in September. We stayed in a Safari tent at Lower Sabie rest camp.

We were lucky to see all of the famous “Big Five” animals, during our first trip. The trip was only a mid-week trip of 4 days, and that really impressed me. I have never taken pictures of so many different species of animals and birds in just 4 days.

The highlight of the trip was the awesome sighting of the African Fish Eagle. This bird had stolen the lime light, and it entertained us for quite a while. Its’s calls will give you goose bumps for sure. What a majestic bird. It would swoop down from high up a tree, and with its fierce claws grab onto its meal. Just look at that claw, no fish will be able to escape those claws.

African Fish Eagle

The African Fish Eagle (Haliaeetus vocifer) is a fairly large eagle. It was hunting from a high perch on a waterside tree, where it watched for fish moving close to the water’s surface. Dark body and wings contrast with white head and tail.

The Eagle definitely also had some chicks to feed, as each time that he caught a fish he would fly away to return only a few minutes later to catch another.

This Fish Eagle flew past us with a fish in its claws, stealing fish from crocodile, well it almost looks like it.

On our first day, we were very lucky to stumble upon a beautiful Leopard walking down the road, and then came to a standstill on an ant hill. Of course, the camera’s clicked away and after a few seconds hundreds of photos were already taken between the four of us. What a great sighting! I think it is one of the most beautiful cats of Africa. It is said that a Leopard can drag its prey high up into the trees that is more than twice its own weight.

Leopard

This African Leopard (Panthera Pardus) was photographed close to Lower Sabie. He just crossed the road and then come to a standstill on top of an ant hill, staring right at us. These large carnivores are powerfully built with long bodies, relatively short legs, and a broad head.

The main attraction for most tourists visiting the Kruger Park, is mainly the big five, and of course the king of the jungle, the lions. Thanks to Debbie’s watchful and trained eye, she let us have our first lion sighting in the Kruger. One could only see the paw of a lion against a tree where dozens of cars passed. They did not see the lion’s paw at all and to our amusement, we were the only people there, spend a while, waiting for it to wake up. The Kruger is well known for its predators.

Male Lion

African male Lion (Panthera Leo). The mane of the male lion is a distinctive characteristic of lions as no other big cats have them. It makes male lions appear larger and mush more fearsome. The main role of a lioness is to go out and hunt, get food for the pride and serve the first meat to the male lion from freshly killed prey.

No wildlife park with predators, are without its scavengers. Blacked back Jackal, Painted dogs and Hyena were frequently spotted.  This Hyena with one blind eye, was my favourite. With blood all over its face and the blue-blind eye, it really is a scary little fellow. But they have a purpose in the wild, and they are good at it.

Hyena

Blood faced Hyena with one blue blind eye. The spotted hyena, also known as the laughing hyena or tiger wolf, is native to Sub-Saharan Africa. Hyenas are not members of the dog or cat families. Instead, they have their own family, called the Hyaenidae. While hyenas are known as scavengers, they are also excellent hunters.

Painted dogs or African Wild Dogs, is one of my favourite animals. They kept us entertained for a few kilometres, running on the tar road in the early morning rain with a few dozen cars following them. They were definitely out to hunt. It was our last day and we had several hundred kilos to drive back home, ahead of us. We had no choice but to leave the pack behind.

African Wild Dogs

An African Wild dog pack is led by an Alpha Male and Female who do most of the breeding. They are also called African Painted Dogs or Painted Wolf. With a success rate of 80% in all hunts it is Africa’s most effective predator. Wild dogs are high-stamina hunters and can keep up high speed chases for several kilometers.

Buffalo

African buffalo portrait in black and white. The African buffalo are large, heavy cow-like animals native to Africa. One of South Africa most aggressive and feared Mammals.

Nile Crocodile

Big Nile Crocodile lying with open mouth at Lower Sabie Dam. There is so much life in this dam, it is unbelievable. The Lower Sabie dam was full of fish and that attracted a lot of water birds. There were hippo’s and crocodiles sunbathing on the far side banks of the dam.

Hornbill-Southern-Ground

Southern Ground Hornbill, can get up to 50 years in age. Its eats, insects found on the ground. They also love, amphibians, lizards and snakes. Caught this one with a snake in its bill crossing a gravel road.

Kingfishers were everywhere. Giant Kingfisher, Malachite Kingfisher, Pied Kingfisher, they all were quite busy catching. Here is a Giant Kingfisher with its catch. It then hits the fish against the wall until it is dead before swallowing it.

Giant Kingfisher

The Giant Kingfisher is the largest Kingfisher in Africa. They are plus, minus 30cm in length.

There were various species of Herons’ as well. We saw Grey Heron, Green backed Heron, Squacco Heron and the Goliath Heron.

African Darter

African Darter busy swallowing a fish. Taken at Lower Sabie Dam in Kruger National Park.

Rhinoceros are very shy, because they being hunted down and declared as an endangered species. We were very fortunate to see two of them grazing, before they disappeared in the bush. It was a privilege to see this almost extinct, beautiful creation of God. It is just such a pity that mankind wants to destroy everything for his own gain. How can one kill this majestic animal just for its horn, which is by the way made of the same substance as hair or nails and a horses’ hooves’.

Rhino

The White Rhino, which is actually grey, has a pronounced hump on the neck and a long face. Rhino’s today is highly endangered in the wild, and are nearly extinct. They only have a chance to survive in protected areas such as nature and wild life reserves

Elephants in the Kruger Park are also in abundance. We had some wonderful sightings and took some lovely photos. They differ from the elephants in the ADDO National Park as their tusks are much bigger. The elephants in the Kruger are also more aggressive than the much tamer ones of the Addo.

Elephant

They do not like vehicles to be very close to them, and to be safe, rather keep your distance, especially when there is a mother and her calf in the vicinity. Do not get between them with your vehicle. Elephant are largest land mammals in the world, weighing up to 6000kg and measuring up to 3.3m at the shoulder. This Elephant was photographed at a gravel road, just behind Lower Sabie rest camp.

Warthog Family

Warthog family drinking water at a waterhole. They are the only pigs able to live in areas without water for several months.

Zebras grazing in a burned out filed

Zebra grazing in a burnt-out field in the park. Stripes on a Zebra are like finger prints on a human, and no one stripes are the same.

Young Blue Wildebeest walking on the gravel road

Blue Wildebeest Babies are born tawny brown, and begin to take on their adult coloration at the age of two months. Calves remain close to their mothers for a long period, and may continue suckling until the next year’s calf is nearly due.

Klipspringer

The Klipspringer is a small antelope found in eastern and southern Africa. This one was photographed on a ridge when we passed it by.

Impala – Rooibok

Impala portrait taken from a close distance. They are very tame in the park

What is a drive through the park without seeing the baboons? The baby riding on the back of its mothers back were very cute, just next to the road. They are very photogenic and one can sit for hours watching them. You will get some interesting and acrobatic photos. This little one looks like it is driving a Harley Davidson.

Baboon

Chacma baboon with her baby riding on her back. The Chacma Baboon is a large primate with a dog-like face and large, prominent canines. They are omnivorous and are common in South Africa. They are the largest members of the monkey family and are a highly social species.

The next day we spend some time at Lower Sabie dam. WOW! and double WOW!! again. We can easily spend the whole day at the Lower Sabie dam.

Baby Hippo

Hippos are the third-largest living land mammal, after elephants and white rhinos, with a mass of up to 2,5 tones. They have very thick skin that is virtually hairless except for the thick bristle-like hair on their heads and tails. Their powerful jaws are capable of opening up to 150 degrees revealing their enormous incisors.

Other water birds that we saw included the Three-banded Plover, White crowned Lapwing, Spotted Thick Knee, Hamerkop, Yellow Billed Stork, African Jacana, Black Winged Stilt, Grey Plover, Great Egret. I believe there were a lot more. But since it was our first trip to the Kruger, and with only 4 days, Debbie had so many things still to show us.

Yellow Billed Stork

The Yellow-billed Stork walking in the water seeking for fish. It is a large stork with pinkish grey-white plumage and black flight-feathers and tail. The long neck is greyish-white.

When the birds fly low over the water the fish jumped out of the water.

Grey Heron

The Grey Heron is the most common Heron species in South Africa and can be found all over Southern Africa.

Hamerkop

I also have a beautiful photo of a Hamerkop flying low over the water, where dozens of fish trying to get away in front of it

Three-banded Plover

Three banded Plover. They love the wetlands and freshwater inland dams and lakes, or where ever there is water.

Nile Monitor – Lizard

Nile Monitor lizard walking down the road at Kruger National Park

There were various other animals that visited the dam during the day to drink water. Like I mentioned previously, one can sit at this dam the whole day and you would definitely get some good pictures. Well, we did.

African-Jacana

African Jacanas walking next to the water with its very long toes. African Jacanas are sociable birds gathering together in groups near their preferred swamp-like habitats.

Another two Kingfishers that are quite easily spotted in the Kruger, is the Woodland Kingfisher and the Brown Woodland Kingfisher. Your chances to see them are better in the bush where they hunt insects.

Woodland Kingfisher

This is a medium-sized kingfisher, 20–23 cm in length, with a distinctive bi-coloured bill. This Woodland Kingfisher was photographed with a Centipede in its mouth.

Emerald Spotted Wood Dove

Emerald Spotted Wood dove is a bird of the family Colombidae

Red Billed Oxpecker sitting on an Impala

Red-billed Oxpecker love to hitch a ride on animals and feed on the ticks and other parasites found on the skins of these animals. It also cleans wounds on these mammals.

There are a lot of other animals and birds, especially the mammals – antelope, that I did not mention, which would make this post too long to read.

 Is it worthwhile to visit the Kruger National Park? For Sure. It is still today a very popular holiday destination for overseas visitors and locals alike. There is something to see for everybody’s liking, from insects, flowers, birds, to animals and the big five, A photographer’s dream…

Check out some more of my photos at 500PX and PhotoPixSA and the Trip Reports and Hiking Trails

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