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South Africa wildlife III

This post is part of my occasional series of photoblog posts about the wildlife and nature I see while living in South Africa.

I’m very happy to be able to resume these wildlife posts! One of the hardest parts of the last year was having no free time to enjoy the amazing opportunity I have here to get relatively close to animals you’d normally only see in zoos, if at all, in their natural habitat. But that’s all ended, and now I can experience natural wonders again, and share them with you… As I’m always driving, I don’t usually get to share scenic views with you – it’s hard to take photos with both hands on the wheel! – so I’ve conscripted Dave to take a few landscape shots on his phone en route so you can get a better feel for our future adventures.

After Christmas, we made our annual cherry-picking pilgrimage to Ceres. You just can’t beat sweet, juicy cherries, straight from the tree, and it’s well worth the 5-hour round trip during the short cherry season, not only for the cherries, but it’s also a lovely drive, through farmland…

farmland

…and mountains…

mountains

…and then more farmland. This was our third trip to Ceres, but the wonderful (and frustrating) thing about wildlife is its unpredictability – you rarely see the same animals twice along the same route. In this case it worked in our favour – I saw my first Blue Cranes!

blue crane

The Blue Crane is the national bird of South Africa. It’s large and unmistakable, with its bulbous head, thin neck, and long wing plumes, and I’ve been hoping to see one ever since we moved here. Just look at that strange head shape!

blue crane

The first one we saw was flying, but luckily, I spotted this one in a field from far enough away that I could pull over to the shoulder and stop right next to it to take some photos – perfect!

It always irks me when I see these ‘do not feed the baboons’ signs, because I’ve only seen baboons once or twice in my almost 3 years here, and I’ve never been able to take a decent photo when I have seen them – only shots of rapidly-disappearing baboon backsides (not the ideal angle for a photo…)

feeding of baboons prohibited
Yes, the Afrikaans word for baboons is bobbejane – teehee!

Half an hour or so after seeing these signs, when I’d long given up on actually seeing any baboons on this trip, we scored another wildlife victory – and this one was really special…

baboons
Sorry the photo looks wobbly – it’s due to heat haze

A whole troop of baboons, in the middle of the road! They were completely unconcerned about the passing cars:

baboons

In fact, the big male sat himself down right in the middle of the road for a few minutes – I’m not sure what would have happened if a car had appeared in his lane…

baboons

It wasn’t until I looked at my photos that I noticed that almost all the baboons (except the big male) had babies clinging to their backs or tummies!

baboons

You do have to take care around baboons, hence all those ‘do not feed the baboons’ signs; they can be dangerous, and the males in particular are very large and can get fiercely territorial. The dominant male was very impressive, and got within a few metres of my car – luckily he was feeling laid back and didn’t try to charge us while I had the window down to take these photos!

baboons

What an amazing sight, to see them all out in the open, in the middle of nowhere, like this – don’t you think?

I really hope you’ve enjoyed this wildlife post! Please leave me a comment if so – I do love to hear from you…

17 Comments »

  1. Pat Stauffer said

    Wow, what an incredible adventure, and thank you so much for sharing. I am new to PlanetJune and I love you crocheting stuff, but now I have even more to look forward to. Just what is your “profession” and why are you in S Africa to begin with? Perhaps you already have this info posted somewhere and I missed it? Thank you and I will definitely share you with my friends!!

    • June said

      Hi Pam, and welcome! My ‘profession’ is crochet pattern designer (and craft book author) – PlanetJune has been my full-time job since 2009 :)

      My husband is an astronomer and we moved to South Africa when he accepted a position at the observatory in Cape Town – luckily, my job is completely portable as my business is online-based, so I can work from anywhere with an internet connection!

  2. Chrisie (CrochetChrisie) said

    Wow! Baboons in the wild, that’s amazing! And the blue crane is gorgeous. Thanks for sharing and I’m so glad you’re getting back to having ‘laid-back time’. :)

  3. thanks for sharing such lovely and relaxing and fun photos! it certainly warms up our 2degF weather here! :) (it’s rose 2 degrees in an hour lol)

    I agree with Chrisie- baboons in the wild?! So cool! and the crane is gorgeous! Glad you are able to relax some more! :) take care!

  4. .: petrOlly :. said

    Fantastic! :-) I so missed your wildlife posts and hope to see more of them this year :-)
    It is understandable why you can’t feed the baboons – 150m further down the road is a restaurant ;-)
    I wasn’t aware you drive “British style” in South Africa, too, cool ;-)

    • June said

      You can expect plenty more wildlife posts, now I have my life back again! I won’t set a fixed schedule and add to my commitments/stress, but there shouldn’t be any more 10-month breaks between posts, if I can help it ;)

  5. Judy Carlson said

    Incredible! Thank you so much for sharing these photos!

  6. Margo said

    Great photos. It’s hard to believe you have been in S Africa for three years, how time flies.

  7. Bec. said

    OMG such an amazing sight to see!!! One thing I’ve been wondering: do you go to zoos there? Do they have a bunch of North American animals? Squirrels, rabbits, deer, geese, the like?

    • June said

      The only zoos I know of are in Johannesburg and Pretoria (on the other side of the country) so I haven’t visited one, but our local bird sanctuary, World of Birds, does have a few N American imports that I’ve noticed: brown pelicans, Canada geese, and Hawaiian Nene geese :) And wild rabbits, squirrels, etc are found pretty much worldwide – even here!

  8. Jean said

    Such amazing photos! Love seeing everything through your camera and your descriptions.

  9. Katlyn said

    I love your wildlife posts! I am so glad that you have time to enjoy and take pictures again. What special pictures you got on this trip!! The crane really is beautiful, and I’m glad you finally got to see some baboons!

  10. Jo said

    That bird has a really elegant face. And those baboons do look intimadating.

  11. alicia said

    So glad to see your wildlife post back. Amazing photos. And I can’t imagine seeing baboon out in the middle of the road like that! Enjoy your wildlife adventures. And cherries :) I didn’t know South Africa had cherries.

  12. MorganAdel said

    Truly amazing photos June! If you happen to see any fur stuck on branches or fences (and feathers), baboon or otherwise, send it my way and I can spin it into yarn (and add feathers) and send it back to you for you to use in an extra special ami!!

  13. Laura said

    I’m so glad you’ve brought back the SA wildlife posts! I can’t tell you how much I enjoy them.

    My DH and I were just in SA (Christmas-Jan 16 – DH is originally from SA and this was our second visit) and we drove to Cape Town from Joburg (with DH’s family), and on our way back – through the Cape Winelands and Karoo – we got to see our first baboons! Also just crossing/hanging out along side the road, but we didn’t get pictures. We also saw meerkats. I would love to move to Cape Town sometime.

  14. Miriam said

    I enjoy everything on your website! I haven’t done any amigurumi yet (unless your reindeer antlers with ears count!) but I do love seeing the animal patterns you come up with. My husband and I love the natural world and now seeing your wildlife post from SA I’m so envious! And happy for you, of course. I have lived in New Jersey, USA for most of my life off and on and have been thrilled to see many birds and animals return that I haven’t seen since I was young. I often see blue and white herons on my commute to work these days and have seen wild turkeys near my office.

    Please keep posting about SA wildlife! Your website is a gem!

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Please note that I can only answer questions related to PlanetJune patterns and tutorials (see details), and I can only respond to questions or comments written in English. Thank you :) - June

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    June Gilbank
    Hi, I'm June. Welcome to my world of nature-inspired crochet and crafting. I hope you enjoy your visit!
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