The cool air and golden light of dawn envelopes the landscape as we drive to Sesriem, gateway to Sossusvlei and those famous majestic orange sand dunes. The hour’s road trip was a precursor to the adventure which lay ahead. Deep sandy valleys opened up and the sight of colourful hot-air balloons floating through the soft pastels of the early morning added to the hue. Animals rouse and our first sightings are of these elegant desert antelope, the gemsbok (Oryx gazella). A family group pad down a dune while one lone animal waits ahead for the last to catch up and we witness their gentle greeting. A touching of noses, deep eye contact – they slip into step and side by side they carry on. To capture this fleeting moment adds to the memorable events of the day.
For more information on the oryx, a superbly desert adapted antelope species, i’ve added a link here.
Spring bustles along here in full bloom; the flowers in riotous colour. The Bontebok antelope are in the midst of their calving season and the adults are skittish and protective of their newly born fawns.
A skirmish between a Bontebok male and a baboon quietly foraging nearby turned into a surprising joust as the baboon strayed too close to a heavily pregnant Bontebok female.
A baboon strays too close to the Bontebok buck.
The charge as the Bontebok chases the baboon.
The pace picks up and the baboon flees.
The Bontebok catches up with the baboon and thrusts with his horns.
Ma Bontebok waddles to safety, heavily pregnant.
The newly born Bontebok young are on their feet within minutes of birth; up and ready to go.
The craggy landscape beckons and the late afternoon light casts a spell. Hiking along a ridge line above the coast from Olifantsbos (Cape of Good Hope Reserve) shadows and shapes merge – figures appear. Buck species like the shy Grey Rhebok keep a distance and then meld with the scenery. Red Hartebeest scamper behind boulders. Eland, the largest of the antelope species, show their majestic form. As they pass in front of the ochre coloured sandstone they blend with the rocks, and with a shift in imagination – like slipping through a portal to travel through time and space, a different realm appears. There was a time when animals were people and the San Bushmen captured scenes depicted in their rock art when Hare, Mantis and Eland had different stories to tell.
Table Mountain Sandstone
Sandstone boulders catch the late afternoon sun
Eland rock art
San rock art _ Cedarberg
It’s almost a year since a devastating fire rushed down this section of the mountain in a destructive path. The vegetation is recovering well and how wonderful it is to see this shy and timid species of endemic buck, the Grysbok on this rainy, drizzly-wet morning. All the more remarkable is that it is so close to the suburban edge. They are solitary animals, except during the mating season when they are found in pairs and here we see that this is a female (the male bears horns). This is one of the smaller species of antelope – it weighs in between 9 – 12 kgs. Residents in this area have occasional sightings and these close encounters leave the viewer with a sense of awe for these secretive little creatures.
September through to November is the birthing season for Bontebok (Damaliscus pygargus dorcas); this antelope species is endemic to the fynbos region and is found here in the south western Cape. It’s elegant colours blend well with the surrounding vegetation. Within a couple of hours of birth the young are fit to go.