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10 Things I learned about Port Elizabeth..... well, not really!

Happy Wednesday.

Well!  My post is entitled 10 Things I learned about Port Elizabeth - but really..... it isn't!  In fact, Port Elizabeth was just a passthrough for my most recent escapade.  No disrespect to Port Elizabeth, but I've been there several times and this time chose to visit a Game Reserve instead.  It was a very easy decision .... Port Elizabeth or visit with the animals in the bush?  Mmmm.... no contest :-).  So, I spent the night glamping and visiting with the animals instead.

We arrived at the reserve at around 1pm - right in the heat of the day.  We settled into our tent and rested up until our game drive at 4.30.  We hadn't been out long when we saw our first animals RHINO!  It's always a thrill to see rhino, especially as they are endangered due to poaching.  When you first see a rhino it's easy to understand why the first recorded drawings of rhinos show them with plate metal instead of skin.  Probably the most famous of all of the early depictions in Albrecht Durer's woodcut in 1515.  He had never seen a rhino, but was given a drawing and a first hand description and it was from those he carved his woodcut.

Here's the woodcut from 1515:

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And here's a photo I took: Rhino

So... some definite artistic license, but you can see why the folds of skin could be confused for armor.  They really are strange looking animals, but they are so majestic.  It's also obvious that we are looking at an animal that has evolved over millions of years.

Facts about rhinos:

  1. Their name is derived from the Greek words  rhino=nose and ceros=horn
  2. The common noun for a group of rhinos is a Crash
  3. They evolved over the last 50 million years - just after the age of dinosaurs
  4. Rhinos are the second largest land animal weighing up to 5,500 pounds.  They are approximately 11 feet long and 6 feet in height.
  5. Even though rhinos have skin up to 2 inches thick, they are very susceptible to sunburn so they bathe in mud baths to help protect their skin from the sun - and from insects.  You can see in my photo above, that this particular rhino had been mud-bathing earlier!
  6. There are 5 species of rhino in the world, two of which inhabit Africa.  The white rhino and the black rhino.  Although they are both the same color - grey!  The white rhino is said to have gotten its name from a mistranslation of the Afrikaans word "wyd" - meaning wide.  Eventually it was translated from wyd - which refers to the wide lip of the rhino - to white.  The black rhino has a pointed lip - and it is that feature that separates the two.
  7. Rhino horns are made from exactly the same substance as our hair and nails - keratin.  So, how the heck that can be confused for an aphrodisiac or a cure for cancer completely baffles me!  It would be cheaper for those idiots  who buy ground down horn to chew their own nails - and would have just the same aphrodisiacal or medicinal effect!
  8. Rhinos have very poor eyesight, but a keen sense of smell and hearing. 
  9. Rhinos have the second longest gestation period of any animal - 14-18 months.  They can live up to 45-50 years, but generally don't last longer that 25 years in the wild.
  10. Running rhinos can reach speeds of up to 30 mph and, strangely, when they run, they run on their toes!

In the photo below you can see that the rhinos may not be facing us, but they have at least one ear in our direction!!


Hopefully you learned something about rhinos!  The second animals we saw was a small herd of Waterbuck.


In this photo you can see a male and 7 of the females from his harem.  They are actually one of my favorite buck.  Their coats are fairly long and that white "follow me" marking on their rumps is so fun to watch when they are running away.  They also have the prettiest of faces - as you can see from this photo that I borrowed from a blog post from the Londolozi Game Reserve blog post.

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What a beautiful face!!!

Some facts about waterbuck:

  1. Contrary to their name, they don't live in water, but they are highly dependent on it for survival. They are usually very close to a water source.
  2. Males defend an area around a water source and will actively defend their territory.  Females are discerning and may move from one herd to the next depending on which male has the best water source!
  3. Males will usually have up to 10 females in his.. appropriately named harem.
  4. A female will generally give birth in the morning and will generally birth in that same location each time.
  5. Birthing will normally occur in a thicket and the young will stay there for about 2-4 weeks.  Babies are generally up on their feet within 30 minutes and are strong enough to run within a day.
  6. Males stay with their mothers and the herd until about the age of 3 when they are banished and sent off on their own.  Males only reach sexual maturity at around the age of 6.
  7. The Common Waterbuck is found in sub-saharah Africa in the central, west and south
  8. Older waterbuck are generally not a preferred food for predators as they secrete an oil which helps with their waterproofing
  9. When they are being chased by a land predator, they will run into a watersource far enough that only their snout is visible.
  10. They are also one of the heaviest antelope weighing between 300-600 pounds.  Males are generally about 25% larger than females and only the males have horns.

I'll be back with more of the animals we saw tomorrow.  In the meantime, I wanted to share one more photo.

Even though it was hot during the day, it does cool at night.  When we got back to camp there was a fire and cold libations waiting for us.  I finished a fabulous day sitting by the fire, listening to the sounds of the African bush and drinking a cold glass of Chardonnay.


The perfect way to end a perfect day!  I'll be back tomorrow with some more of the animals we saw.  In the meantime, warm hugs and prayers for those of you who need a little lift tonight





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Marina . . . . from far Africa . . . not to far now!!!!

My God!!!! You are so lucky to see all those things LIVE . . . and letting us learn from you. Thanks!!!!


Marina, so lucky... really... I never get tired of seeing animals in the wild and realize how lucky I am to do that... every single time!
have a fabulous Sunday

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