The miracle of life in the bush...What a wonder!

And, there she was, Ms. Bushbuck, on the bottom step of our veranda with her precious newborn, proudly showing her off.
"Sighting of the Day in the Bush"
This newspaper article appeared in yesterday's local paper, definitely befitting a "Sighting of the Day in the Bush!
It's 4:30 pm and we just returned from Kruger National Park after an exciting and a harrowing day which we'll share in tomorrow's post.  All I can say is...WoW!

We recognized this mom based on her "dots" formation and how readily she approached us.  She's been visiting us every day over the past several weeks.
As for today's story, I wished I'd have prepared and posted it prior to leaving for Kruger since now as the evening wafts in, I'm a little bit off-kilter by writing this late in the day. 
When Tom and I discussed whether we'd go to Jabula for dinner tonight or stay in, get the post done and cook something easy for dinner, we opted for the later.  After sitting in the car for hours, the thought of getting ready to go out after I finish here isn't particularly appealing.
The baby wasn't quite sure what to do when she had never seen a pellet before.   She didn't partake, only watching her mom take them from my hand.

As we're sitting on the veranda, lightning, and thunder filling the skies above us, after it finally cooled after days of outrageous heat, we're content, especially after we came "home" to nine kudus, four warthogs and one male bushbuck all waiting for us. 
Now, for today's little story...a story of love and a wonderment...a story of nature at it's finest for us humble animal lovers who can't miss an opportunity to share a tender story of a birth, a life, and devotion.
She was curious as to what was transpiring and showed no fear.

It all began about three weeks ago (we've been here almost five weeks), when the most beautiful and friendly female bushbuck came into the yard to introduce herself.  Keeping in mind, most of the animals in Marloth Park of a species are hard to differentiate one from another when they often have almost identical markings and features.
But, this lovely young lady has some specific "polka dots" on her body that has made it easy for us to know it was her each time she's come to visit over these many weeks.
Another special aspect to "Ms. Bushbuck" has been her willingness and eagerness to eat the pellets from my hand even more readily than taking those we've tossed onto the ground, as we do for most species.  She lifts her head and makes eye contact with me as if asking, "Will you feed me?"  How can I possibly turn her down?
The baby hung around when we fed mom the pellets but soon lost interest and wandered a few meters away.

Unlike some female animals, she welcomes Tom equally and doesn't skitter away when he comes close.  She relates to him feeding her pellets as well but not quite as up close and personal as I do. 
Several times each day, she's stopped by and each time, we've both smiles at one another, happy to see her return.  About a week ago, we noticed she's stopped by at around the same time each early evening while we sit on the veranda winding down for the day with a glass of iced tea, wine or beer (for Tom).
Mom stopped eating to check on the whereabouts of her infant.

I feed her a few pellets which she accepts gingerly but without the usual enthusiasm, she exhibits during daylight hours.  After a few handfuls, she moseys off to the same spot in the bush in our yard where she settles in for the night, nestling into what appears to be the same spot each night, almost as if she's built a comfy spot to sleep.
Once darkness falls we could no longer see her there but we've sensed she still is.  We haven't wanted to startle her by taking a light out there to check.  In the morning, when we're finally outdoors by 6:00 and 6:30 am, she's be standing near the veranda waiting for us to come out.
By 9:00 or 10:00 am, she returns to see us, enthused for more pellets and a sip of water from the cement pond in the yard, not far from where she nestles at night.
We were thrilled and surprised to see Ms. Bushbuck returned with her tiny newborn.

One morning, while I was getting ready for the day, Tom was outside with her, feeding her pellets.  The warthogs tried to drive her away.  She nestled in, close to Tom's legs while he sat the edge of the veranda, looking for protection from the aggressiveness of the warthogs.  He didn't hesitate to make her feel safe.
Oftentimes, she returns a few more times during the day, only to repeat this same pattern in the evening over the past week.  We simply assumed she's become comfortable with us and sleeps nearby, most likely up and about in the mornings long before us.
Lo and behold, on Wednesday night, we never saw her return for the night but assumed we'd see her again soon.  Last night, after a 24-hour absence, she returned but this time...she wasn't alone...our hearts her side was the tiniest and I mean tiniest...little bushbuck we've ever seen.
At first, as they approached, the baby was a little hesitant.  But, mom, knowing she needed to nurse, wanted all the sustenance she could get.  She ate her fair share of pellets.

Sure, we can make all the assumptions we'd like about wildlife and their patterns and behavior.  And most times, we'd be wrong.  But, somehow, this time, we feel confident we are right.  Ms. Bushbuck returned to show us her precious tiny newborn.
Of course, we oohed and aahed over her shy baby, which undoubtedly she'd given birth to in that 24-hour time span we hadn't seen her and her response was to enthusiastically accept countless handfuls of pellets from me, all the while keeping a watchful eye on her little bundle of joy.
Periodically, the baby would wander a few meters away but mom never failed to take note and gather her baby back into the fold.  Together, they stayed with us for hours, mom nibbling, baby suckling and us, smiling from ear to ear.
She's a proud and happy mom, very young herself.

Tonight, it's blissfully raining in buckets and we don't expect to see them in this downpour.  But I assure you, we have no doubt, they'll return while we have the joyous opportunity to watch this little one grow and this loving mom nurture her along the way. 

Safari luck?  Perhaps.  Or, maybe we happen to be in the right place at the right time.  However, in our heart of hearts we'd like to believe that somehow, just somehow, our love of nature has put us in these divine situations because we belong here.
Thank you, dear readers, for sharing this magical place with us.  We couldn't be more appreciative and humbled. 
Photo from one year ago today, March 16, 2017:
The Esplanade, a walkway along the shore in Circular Quay in Sydney, Australia.  For more photos, please click here.

"We're off to Kruger National Park!"

With considerably cooler temperares today, we've decided to head to Kruger National Park this morning.

We look forward to sharing an exciting story with you once we return in the afternoon...a new life in the bush!

Please check back later!

The Crocodile River rarely disappoints spectators but, may disappoint wildlife...

Four waterbucks sunning on sandbars.
 "Sighting of the Day in the Bush"
Big Daddy Kudu resting in the shade on a hot day.
Every few days, we jump into the little car to drive to the Crocodile River.  Along Seekoei Street ( I dare you to try to pronounce that street name) there are several stopping points offering views of the Crocodile River which separates Marloth Park from Kruger National Park.

The river is a lifeline for wildlife that needs to drink and cool off in the often low water river during the less rainy periods.  Now, still in the rainy season, it isn't nearly as prolific as we'd seen when we were here for years ago.

Here's a photo we took yesterday of the Crocodile River (below).  It's been very dry these past few weeks:
In a good rainy season, these sandbars may be covered and the river may be flowing.  Now it stands almost completely still awaiting the next rains.  We took this photo yesterday from a sheltered brick overlook on Seekeoi Street.
Here's a photo we took four years ago of the Crocodile River  from a similar location shown on our link here:
 We took this photo on December 28, 2012.  Note how much more water there was in the Crocodile River than in yesterday's photo above.
From this site"The Crocodile river is 1000km long and it spans over 4 provinces and through Botswana & Mozambique. It originates north of Dullstroom, Mpumalanga, in the Steenkampsberg Mountains Downstream of Kwena Dam, the Crocodile River winds through the Schoemanskloof and down the Montrose Falls. It then flows eastwards past Nelspruit and joins the Komati River at Komatipoort.

The Crocodile River in Mpumalanga has a catchment area of 10,446 km2. Upstream it is a popular trout fishing place. It flows through the Nelspruit industrial area, the Lowveld agricultural area and borders the Kruger National Park. The decrease in the flow of the river is probably due to water abstractions for irrigated fruit farming."
One male and two female waterbucks resting on a sandbar.
Before we know it we'll be rolling into fall and winter here when it rains even less than in the current-soon-to-be-ending summer months.  We can only pray for rain to keep the wildlife thriving and in good health.  That's why, here in Marloth Park and Kruger National Park (and other parts of Africa) locals rejoice when it rains.
Of course, tourists may be disappointed when they come here in the summer months for a mere three or four days to discover it raining almost every day.  Fortunately, for us, we jump for joy along with the locals during a fruitful soaking rain.
Several oxpeckers are nearby as she lounges on the sandbar.
With the rains, comes the most valuable benefit of all...the growth and proliferation of green grasses, plants, and trees that many animals in this environment require for the sustenance of life itself.

For the first time, we'll be in Marloth Park during the dry season which we hear can be devastating for the wildlife.  Many homeowners in the area make a point of trying to feed the wildlife as much as possible during this period.  This is both good and bad.
A lone elephant at quite a distance.
Many homeowners in Marloth Park have homes in other parts of South Africa or other parts of the world.  If they come for a few week holiday, feed the animals and then are gone for many months to come, the wildlife who've become accustomed to their generosity while they're here, are left confused and deprived when their "supply" is no longer available.

With the best of intentions, we'll be gone a year from now and hope there will have been plenty of rain for those dear creatures we also favored with food while we were here.  There's no perfect solution.

The elephant is eating the lush green vegetation on the sandbar.
Most animals here in the park are omnivores thriving on the vegetation of one sort or another.  It's with this knowledge that all of us provide some nourishment when we can.  But, sadly its never enough and culling becomes a disheartening reality when there isn't enough to go around.

Yesterday, as mentioned above, we made our usual every other day jaunt to the Crocodile River, always hopeful we'll get a glimpse of the magnificent visitors to this scenic environment.

We always feel fortunate to see one of these stunning animals.
We stopped along the Seekeoi Street many times ending up at the brick lookout and for the first time since our return to Marloth, there were tourists there enjoying the scenery.  It isn't long before most visitors hear of this special spot and we've been surprised not to see others there before us, most recently.

A group of perhaps a total of 12 people, with iPads, tablets, phones, and binoculars in hand, busily took photos of the scenic surroundings which included a lone elephant and several waterbucks, who seem to frequent the river more regularly than many other species.

A female waterbuck stands to check her surroundings.
We stayed for awhile, chatting with the others people while taking several photos of our own.  No doubt, we were at quite a distance from the wildlife but made every effort to keep a steady hand while shooting the photos.

Back on the road, we spotted more wildlife, surprisingly out from under-cover on the extremely hot and humid day.  Overall, as usual, it was a good outing in Marloth Park. 

A type of goose we spotted, too far to identify.  Any comments from our bird enthusiast friends?
Soon, we'll be heading to Kruger again but we're hoping to do so after this extreme heat passes.  The AC in the little car isn't that good and we're more likely to see more wildlife on a day with more moderate temperatures.

Soon, we're off to Komatipoort to shop which will require five stops at various shops; the Spar Market, the pharmacy, the biltong shop, the meat market and the liquor store. 

May YOU have a stupendous day!

Photo from one year ago today, March 15, 2017:
It was one year ago today that we got together with dear friends Linda and Ken, who are from the UK and whom we met four years ago in Marloth Park.  We've since seen them here again, much to our delight and will see them again when they return from a cruise and other travel.  For more details, please click here.

A special day...It was 6 years ago today we wrote our first post...

Baby bushbuck is no more than a month old.
"Sighting of the Day in the Bush"

Bushbuck mom drank from our pond after eating the dry pellets.
When we recall posting our first story on March 14, 2012, which was 7½ months prior to our leaving Minnesota on October 31, 2012, it seems much longer ago.  Tom was still working on the railroad until the day we departed while I was entrenched in getting everything sold and making plans for our future lives of world travel.

At that point, we were totally committed and never faltered in that commitment, even when we encountered one obstacle after another.  Leaving one's home country for years to come proved to be a much more daunting task than we ever imagined when we conceived of the idea in January 2012.

Mrs. Warthog lays down to feed her two fast-growing piglets, most likely three or four months old.
My return to good health in November 2011 after a massive change of diet the prior August, prompted our decision a mere two months later.  Traveling had never been a priority in our lives with my poor health and our stringent work schedules.

Oddly, neither of us had dreamed about traveling and rarely discussed anywhere we'd like to go if we did.  Oh, we took a few trips, mostly shorter flights when I couldn't sit for more than a few hours on a plane but we were always anxious to get back home to family, pets, and friends.  How did this happen? 

Big Daddy Kudu visits almost daily.  Last night he stopped by while we were dining outdoors.  We no longer have dinner indoors when dining outside is heavenly.
How were we able to leave everything and everyone we loved behind to embark on this peculiar and yet enchanting lifestyle?  Besides the health aspect, I think both of us had a lot of responsibility at a very young age. 

Tom's first child, Tammy was born when he was 17 and my first son, Richard was born when I had just turned 19 (his 51st birthday is this week).  By the time we were each in our early 20's, we owned houses, worked long hours and had responsibilities many don't experience well into their 30's in today's world.

As the sun began to set, mom and baby bushbuck stopped by for a visit.
Our 20's and our 30's flew by in a blur.  When Tom and I met he was 38 and I was 43.  Like most parents, we were overworked and at times totally engrossed in our responsibilities.  We made mistakes as parents, as spouses to others and in life in general. 

Together, we formed a strong unit in continuing in our sense of responsibility in helping in the care of aging parents and others.  We never allowed ourselves to think of, or conceive of an alternate plan for the remaining years of our lives.

And then, with my returning health, we both, ironically and simultaneously had a powerful and unstoppable desire to "step outside the box" of our predictable lives.  Of course, most of our family members weren't thrilled we were leaving with no particular end in sight.  We understood that then and fully understand that now.

Their eyes leaned into a sound they heard in the bush.  Even the baby's instinct to watch for predators has kicked in at an early age.  Fortunately, there are few predators in Marloth Park, except for a few lions roaming around.
But, as time has passed we've become even happier and more fulfilled (if that's at all possible), in this nomadic life;  free, unencumbered and dedicated to embracing the world around us.

No, it's not always easy.  Today, the temperature will reach 98F (37C) and we'll spend no less than 15 hours outdoors in the heat.  With a bit of a hot breeze, the dry dirt roads scatter dust and dirt around us, making us sneeze and have itchy eyes. 

The mozzies bite day and night and yet...reading our posts, you can easily see how happy we are, we have been, here in Marloth Park and in many other countries throughout the world.

They both came right up to the edge of the veranda, looking for pellets.  Of course, we complied.
We're living a dream, a dream neither of us ever had in our old lives, a dream one can barely imagine as becoming real, manageable, and fulfilling.  So today, six years later we thank each and every one of our loyal readers for sharing this dream with us.

Documenting this journey has added more to our experiences than we ever dreamed possible.  Today is post #2052.  That's right. In these past six years, we've written 2,052 stories.  It wasn't until 2013 that we began posting daily along with more and more photos as time moved along. 

If seven years ago, someone told me I'd have to write a story every day of my life, I'd have said it was an impossible task.  Now, if someone said I couldn't write a story every day of my life, I'd say it was impossible not to.
A mongoose dosing on the bottom step after another wild frenzy over the sour cream in the cup.
As laborious or tedious as it may seem at times, particularly with such stories as the past several days, it's always done with love.  When one is motivated to perform a task out of love, it's much easier to do.  Should the time ever come, that we can no longer write here, it would be the time to stop traveling.

If anything, we almost feel as if we've just begun.  Our enthusiasm, commitment and desire to share our story is only enhanced as each day passes.  Please share our story with others who may glean a morsel of pleasure from it and please, dear readers, continue on with us...there's so much on the horizon.

Please click here for our original post on March 14, 2012.

May you find your joy and fulfillment.
Photo from one year ago today, March 14, 2017:
We "borrowed" this photo from Bob, our landlord in Fairlight/Manly.  The previous night, while dark and cloudy we spotted two cruise ships leaving Sydney Harbour heading out to sea.  For more photos, please click here.

Part 2...Yikes...We attended a full-day venomous snake handling course...Scary, but highly educational...

 Black Mambas are only black inside their mouths, not on their sleek skin.  They are considered one of the most venomous and dangerous fast-moving snakes in the world. Chris, our instructor held the Black Mamba as we took this photo. Tom handled one of these as shown below.  No, thanks, for me!

"Sighting of the Day in the Bush"
During yesterday's drive through Marloth Park searching for photo ops, we spotted this Hornbill, one of our favorite birds in the area. 
There are a known 184 species of snakes in South Africa.  In years past 151 species had been identified but now with the use of DNA, additional species have been discovered.

Obviously, not all snakes are venomous.  As for this area, referred to as the "lowveld," 60% of those species are found.  The lowveld is described as follows from this site: "The Lowveld is the name given to two areas that lie at an elevation of between 500 and 2,000 feet (150 and 600 meters) above sea level. One area is in the South African provinces of Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal and parts of Swaziland, and the other is in southeastern Zimbabwe. Both are underlain largely by the soft sediments and basaltic lavas of the Karoo System and by loose gravels. They have been extensively intruded by granites. Other resistant metamorphic rocks also occur; these commonly appear as low ridges or what seem to be archipelagoes of island mountains. The higher western margins of both areas testify to the degree of erosion resulting from the flow of rivers running east or southeast."
Tom was using the grabbers to grasp the highly venonmous Snouted Cobra.
In South Africa, you have a greater chance of being struck by lightning than being bitten by a snake.  Nearly all bites are on the extremities.  Annually, between 24 and 37, out of 100,000 population are bitten by snakes.  The mortality rate is between 1% and 2%, resulting in an approximate 98% survival rate.

With these statistics, its evident the likelihood of dying from a snake bite is rare.  However, in most cases, bites occur by accident (stepping on a snake), a surprise encounter while hiking and, when walking on one's property and, by other chance encounters.  
 Tom bending over to grasp the tail of the Snouted Cobra, keeping the head down in the grass, in order to place the snake in the container.
Many snake bites could be prevented by the proper response when they are discovered.  First off, snakes have no ears resulting in total deafness.  Instead, they respond keenly to vibrations.  That fact is why we've always heard when one has a close encounter with a snake, DON'T MOVE...STAND COMPLETELY STILL!  That still holds true today.

What would determine a close encounter? It may be different for many snakes, depending on their striking distance.  To be safe, if a snake is found within your immediate space, don't try to guess their striking distance.  Instead, STAND PERFECTLY STILL and wait for it to slither away. 
When "capturing" the Black Mamba it is imperative to immobilize the head close to the ground and raise the tail.  Tom managed to do this while it was desperately attempting to escape.  The Black Mamba is the fastest snake on the planet.
If a snake doesn't sense ANY vibration,  generally it will move away.  Obviously, if a snake is in another room or a distant area, get away as quickly as possible securing your space in a closed area where it can't enter.  Chris explained, "Don't bother to stand still if the snake is in the living room and you are in the kitchen!  Just get away as quickly as possible away from the direction the snake is moving.

If a person resides in an area where there are many snakes, it's wise to have an emergency number available in order to have the snake removed from inside your property.  If it's in your yard or another outdoor area it will move on...steer clear in the interim.

In Marloth Park, we can call Snake Removal at the following numbers: John Webb, 079 778 5359 or 071 480 6453 or Daniel Louw, 082 574 0186 or Field Security at 082 828 1043.
After over 16 years of snake handling experience, Chris didn't hesitate to handle the deadly Black Mamba.
In the event of a snake bite there are several vital steps to consider:

1. Immediately call Field Security at 082 828 1043 to arrange for the quickest means of transportation to a medical facility with anti-venom which may be by ambulance or helicopter.  Also, if no response call, Securicon Lowveld at 082 567 2350 or 086 111 1728.
2.  Don't attempt to "catch" or take a photo of the snake.  This could result in being bit additionally.  Immediate medical care is more important than the type of snake. 
3.  Don't drive yourself or have others drive you to a medical facility. Typically, trained emergency response staff has means of treating your symptoms en route to an appropriate hospital which ultimately can keep you alive until you arrive. (continued below photo)
Its only through years of training and experience that Chris can handle this dangerous snake with such skill
4.  Do not "cut and suck" the bite wound.  This has been proven to be totally ineffective.
5.  Don't panic - Although it is impossible to stay emotionally calm, one must attempt to stay physically calm.  The more the bite victim moves about, the faster the venom moves throughout their bloodstream.
6.  There's no benefit to using heat or ice.
7.  Do not use a tourniquet unless you are three or four hours from medical care and then, it's done so as a last resort.
A Black Mamba doesn't have black skin as most assume.  Only the interior of its mouth is pitch black.
There are two types of anti-venom used in South Africa today:
  • Polyvalent which contains antibodies of several types of snakes and is effective for most venomous snake bites.
  • Monovalent which contains antibodies for only one type of snake in South Africa - the Boomslang.
Chris and Tom were all smiles with the Black Mamba.  I'm glad my job was to take photos not handle the snakes, although I did take the classroom course and the test. 
Oftentimes, once the patient is in the hospital, the medical staff will immediately start a variety of life-extending procedures while they wait to determine if anti-venom is necessary. A small percentage of patients are allergic to the anti-venom which may result in severe anaphylaxis, which can be more deadly than the snake venom itself and may lead to death.
A the end of the course around 4:00 om, the Black Mamba was elongated while Chris held its mouth in place.
 It's easy to become terrified when reading this information but, for all of us in areas where snake bites are a possibility, it's imperative to know.  As laypersons, we cannot guaranty all of the information provided here today and yesterday would ensure safety from venomous snake bites. 

Please seek further information or attempt to educate yourself to the best of your ability by attending a course such as we've presented over these past few days or, other resources that may be available in your area.  For the lowveld, contact, Lowveld Venom Suppliers at 082 372 3350, by email at or at their website:
Marloth Park Honorary Ranger Sandra took a Facebook "live" video during the "hands-on" portion of the course.
Our special thanks to Chris and his staff and Marloth Park Honorary Ranger Sandra, who facilitated an extraordinary experience we'll never forget and have been excited to share with our worldwide readers.

In October, 2013 in Kenya,  Tom handled several non-venomous snakes  which may found here.

In the event you missed yesterday's Part 1 of this story, please click here.

Have a safe and bountiful day!
Photo from one year ago today, March 13, 2018:

Bob, our amazing landlord and new friend came running to tell us the Kookarburros were on his veranda.  We couldn't believe our eyes for this up close view of these huge beautiful birds.  Within a week they were coming to visit us, eating ground beef out of my hand. For more photos as we settled in to Fairlight, Australia, please click here.