Bones from a Kill

In 2009, during my seventh of ten trips to Kruger National Park I realized I had become so familiar with Kruger that, on occasion, I would stop roadside and remember seeing the very sight I was looking at from a past visit.  This park in South Africa is not small, it covers 7,332 square miles!  Regardless of the vast size though there are places so special they have become ingrained in my memory; forever if I am lucky.   

In 2007 I came upon a beautiful pond that was overflowing because of recent rains that left the sky a dull blue making the colors of the ground and trees stand out even more than usual. I was struck by the sight and took a few photos. In 2009 I was back in the park and stopped to look at a pond using my binoculars to see if any animals were present. I put down my binoculars and took a few photos.  The location struck a loud chord of recognition.  When I got back to the States and compared the photos there was no doubt it was indeed the same pond.

On that same visit in 2009 I went to Punda Maria camp in the far north of the park. It was my third visit to this camp; the first back in 2002 for lunch, the second in 2008 to stay in hut number one for two glorious nights and the third in 2009 staying in a fixed tent which was the ultimate visit to this camp. When I was there in 2008 I had the good fortune of watching a big scar-faced male lion eat on a buffalo carcass. For two days I drove to the location and sat for hours watching him devour his meal.  He kept the carcass from awaiting vultures, jackals and hyena by stashing his meal inside a mound of thorn bushes. In 2009, exactly a year later, on the drive up to Punda Maria on the H13-1 main road I remembered the event from the year before when, to my great astonishment, I came upon the bones from that kill. Again, I took photos not believing it could be true, but when I returned home to my computer it was indeed the same location and those were without doubt the bones from that buffalo.

This year I went to Kruger during winter instead of the normal summer trip.  This afforded me the ability to photograph my favorite baobab tree to compare the image with earlier shots.  You see now this has become a part of the fascination; the recognition of places, ponds and trees.

Kruger is a gift to South Africans and a gift to us too who happen to live on the other side of the world but get the great privilege to visit time and time again. I can’t wait until the next time to see what I can see; both new and again!