Sighting of Black mamba and Meves Starling in Kruger National Park

Apr 2 2016
It was a scorching March afternoon when Gerhard Delport, wildlife photographer and party left the Ecotraining camp in the Makuleke wilderness area, Kruger National Park, South Africa. But not one of the 20 birders were really concerned about the Limpopo River heat as they were on their way to Crooks Corner - one of the must see places on the Makuleke bucket list…
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Gerhard says, “Following the road south east from the camp it did not take us long to get into the Mopane. And as is typical for Mopane afternoon heat, not even a bird’s feather stirred!” But luckily they were aware of a spot where a group on the morning drive found a zebra carcass with a wake of vultures circling.
The two vehicles split at one of the junctions and not long after they found the zebra carcass with a few white backed vultures still crowding around. “But what really enthralled us was the sight of a young martial eagle taking off,” says Gerhard. Moving on after the vulture sighting they were also fortunate enough to see a blacked backed jackal pair.  They are not often seen in the central and southern parts of the Kruger due to the bigger predators keeping them in check. Therefore it was a fortunate experience for us to see them in their natural habitat,” says Gerhard.
While enjoying the jackal sighting they could hear the Meve’s starlings clanging approximately 50 metres away. They were in a young acacia about 10 meters away from the road.  But they could not see any reason for the Meve’s Starlings to make so much noise. Unless of course there was a snake... 
“Johna our guide and course instructor got out of the open game viewer and moved a bit closer. He called to us to have a look,” explains Gerhard. He continues, 'It took some time and explaining to some of the group on where and what to look for. But once they spotted it, there was much excitement. Moving around the bush gave us a better view of this huge black mamba which diden't have a care in the world. He was oblivious to both the meve’s starlings as well as a bunch of birders with binoculars and cameras.


'The largest venomous snake in Southern Africa the Black Mamba is not a snake to be taken lightly but to have the privilege to see the black mamba like this was incredible,' says Gerhard. They are very fond of basking and will return to the same site daily if not disturbed. What makes this sighting so amazing is that a black mamba does not often allow a close approach, and will move off long before its normally seen. 'We could not wait to relay our story and photos to the other vehicle group,' says Gerhard.
'Arriving at Crooks Corner we were greeted by the resident hippo’s and crocodiles in the last remaining pools of the dry Limpopo River. 
It was an amazing experience to walk in the mighty Limpopo River and try and think of all those whom have stood here in this exact same spot the last 120 odd years. Another good day in Africa,' Gerhard conludes.

Commentary and photography by Gerhard Delport!


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