Oranjerus Resort ..

Arriving at the Resort we found wonderful accommodation for the two families… luxury… air cons.. and all the box and dices that one would need… right on the river edge…

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Our view of the river was magnificent….

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My son had decided it was time his city dwelling nephew, had to learn to fish… and he took to it like a duck to water.. the real pro…

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Even his Father got involved… with no luck, but there were others trying their luck as well….

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The Grand Daughters modelled for Grand Dad…..

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The Orange river splits up into so many different channels in this area that there are islands that people live and grow grapes on….. now that’s what you call flat lands….

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And then the sun set… to bring on the lighting of fires for the meal to come…

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Tomorrow we will go further….

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African Wild Dog

(Lycaon pictus) the African wild dog.

It is also known as, African hunting dog, Cape hunting dog, painted dog, painted wolf, painted hunting dog, spotted dog, or ornate wolf.

This is the largest African canid and, behind only the grey wolf, is the world’s second largest extant wild canid. Adults typically weigh 18–36 kilograms (40–79 lb.). A tall, lean animal, it stands about 75 cm (30 in) at the shoulder, with a head and body length of 75–141 cm (30–56 in) plus a tail of 30 to 45 cm (12 to 18 in).

The African wild dog may reproduce at any time of year, although mating peaks between March and June during the second half of the rainy season. Litters can contain 2-19 pups, though 10 is the most common. Weaning takes place at about 10 weeks. After 3 months, the pups leave the den and begin to run with the pack.

Females will disperse from their birth pack at 14–30 months of age and join other packs that lack sexually mature females. Males typically do not leave the pack in which they were born.

In a typical pack, males outnumber females by a factor of two to one, and only the dominant female can usually rear pups. This situation may have evolved to ensure that packs do not over-extend themselves by attempting to rear too many litters at the same time. The species is also unusual in that some members of the pack, including males, may be left to guard the pups while the others, including the mothers, join the hunting group.

The African wild dog hunts in packs and small groups. Like most members of the dog family, it is a running hunter, meaning that it pursues its prey in a long, open chase. Nearly 80% of all wild dog hunts end in a kill; for comparison, the success rate of lions, often viewed as ultimate predators, is only 30%.

After a successful hunt, the hunters will regurgitate meat for those that remained at the den during the hunt including the dominant female, the pups, the sick or injured, the old and infirm, and those who stayed back to guard the pups.

There were once approximately 500,000 African wild dogs in 39 countries, and packs of 100 or more were not uncommon. Now there are only about 3,000-5,500 in fewer than 25 countries. They have been decimated by stock farmers who believe they are vermin. In South Africa very few are found outside of protected areas…

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Sishen–Saldanha railway line, a record breaker.

A train of true significance.

When we recently visited my Son in Kathu I had the pleasure of observing a train being loaded with iron ore. 342 trucks each with 100 tons of ore, 34200 tons on its way to Saldanha Port, 861 km (538 miles) away.

Here are some interesting facts about the train…

Trains employing Radio Distributed Power (RDP) technology. These 41,400 tonnes total mass, 3780 metres (2.36 miles) long trains, that use 8 locomotives and 342 wagons, are the longest production trains in the world.

The longest and heaviest train that carried ore from Sishen mine to Saldanha Bay, was a 7,5km (4.69 mile) train of 660 wagons which carried 68 640 tonnes of ore.

Here are some interesting facts about the Port…

Significant capital has been spent to increase iron ore exports from the deep-water port to meet the growing demand. The infrastructure’s set to further expand as the port is gearing up to increase capacity on the rail line in the future. Current infrastructure at the port comprises two rotary tipplers, four stacker/ re-claimers, two ship-loaders and 25 conveying systems, providing the terminal with a capacity to load 10 000 tonnes per hour into a vessel.

  • Operating 24/7, the ore quay at Saldanha has two berths where two vessels of 310 000 DWT can simultaneously berth at the iron ore jetty.
  • From arrival to departure – including piloting, berthing, loading, draft survey and de-berthing; an ore vessel carrying 170 000 tonnes will be in Saldanha Bay for just 24 hours. A vessel carrying 210 000 tonnes will spend 32 hours in the port, while a vessel carrying 240 000 tonnes of ore will be there for 48 hours.
  • Saldanha Bay Port is bigger than Durban, Cape Town’s Table Bay, Richards Bay and Port Elizabeth’s harbours combined.
  • Saldanha Port Operations submits an annual Environmental Report in line with the Global Reporting Initiative. It respects that it’s located in an ecologically sensitive area, and takes all measures possible to manage the area responsibly.
  • In 2011, 37 100 000 tons of iron ore was exported by Kumba from Saldanha Bay to customers in countries and regions around the world. (approx. 1000 train loads of ore)And the few photos that I managed to capture… it is difficult to photograph a train of this length… but suffice it to say, it is long…

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and this is what they are loading… although it would be crushed to a smaller size than this piece of approx. 2.5 tons…

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Owlets of the Kruger National Park…

The African Barred Owlet and the Pearl-Spotted Owlet are fairly common to the South-East areas of the park. Not easily spotted in summer, due to their natural camouflage, much easier in winter when the trees drop their leaves.

These small Owls, only 20cm (8 inches) in height, sit low in the trees for protection from their natural enemies, it being more difficult for them to surprise them from above. The Pearl- Spotted Owlet has what looks like two eyes on the back of its head, fooling an attacker that they are looking at them even if looking the opposite direction.

The African Barred Owlet is distinguished by the bars on its head, and the Pearl-spotted has the spotted head.

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Flowers of the Aloe, and this pesky Marico Sunbird…

Here I was trying to get a photo or two of the Aloe that was flowering and this pesky little Marico Sunbird kept getting in the way. Please don’t believe that, this wonderful little bird would just not sit still long enough to get a perfectly focused photo, but I thought you might enjoy his colours anyway.

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Hornbills, Africa’s horned birds. Fascinating Characters..

Hornbills generally form monogamous pairs. The female lays up to six white eggs in existing holes or crevices, either in trees or rocks. The cavities are usually natural, but some species may nest in the abandoned nests of other birds. Before incubation, the females of all hornbills assisted by the male—begin to close the entrance to the nest cavity with a wall made of mud. When the female is ready to lay her eggs, the entrance is just large enough for her to enter the nest, and after she has done so, the remaining opening is also all but sealed shut. There is only one narrow aperture, big enough for the male to transfer food to the mother and eventually the chicks.  During the incubation period the female undergoes a complete moult, using the feathers to line the nest. During this period the male will continually feed the female through the small opening. When the chicks and the female are too big to fit in the nest, the mother breaks out, then both parents feed the chicks.

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redbilled hornbillred billed

crowned hornbill002-2The Trumpeter Hornbill, (Seen above right) is a medium-sized hornbill, with length between 58 and 65 cm (23 and 26 in), characterized by a large grey casque on the bill, smaller in females. The eyes are brown or red, with pink surrounding skin. Body mass is reported between 0.45 and 1 kg (0.99 and 2.2 lb.).. Distinguishing features include an all-black back, white belly and white under wing coverts (in flight, wings present white tips), and red facial skin.

The Trumpeter Hornbill is a gregarious bird, usually living in groups of 2 to 5 individuals, although sometimes as many as 50. This hornbill is a locally common resident of the tropical evergreen forests of eastern South Africa, where it feeds on fruits and large insects. Like other hornbills, the females incubate 4 to 5 white eggs, while sealed in the nest compartment.

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The Southern Ground Hornbill, is one of two species of ground Hornbill and is the largest species of hornbill.

It is a large bird, at 90 to 129 cm (36 to 51 in) long. Females weigh 2.2 to 4.6 kg (4.8 to 10.1 lbs.), while the larger males weigh 3.5 to 6.2 kg (7.6 to 13.6 lbs.). It is characterized by black coloration and vivid red patches of bare skin on the face and throat (yellow in juvenile birds, right hand photo). The white tips of the wings seen in flight are another diagnostic characteristic. The beak is black and straight and presents a casque, more developed in males. Female Southern Ground Hornbills are smaller and have violet-blue skin on their throats.

Its habitat comprises savannahs, woodlands and grasslands. It can be found in northern South Africa. The Southern Ground Hornbill is a vulnerable species, mainly confined to national reserves and national parks. They live in groups of 5 to 10 individuals including adults and juveniles. They forage on the ground, where they feed on snakes, frogs, snails, insects and small mammals. Juveniles are dependent on adults for 6 to 12 months.