Trip to Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

Trip to Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

Postby nattim » Sun Dec 30, 2012 2:28 pm

Well here we go again... We've just arrived back from an awesome 10 day trip to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier park. We only stayed on the South African side, but the sightings were amazing. Please forgive me if the details given in this post are not quite as detailed as you might want, I'm never certain if I am posting in the correct forum. Please feel free to move it if necessary...

I'm not going to go into too much detail about the trip but we had more reptile sightings than I've ever had in the Kalahari. I'm guessing it might be because it was our first trip in Summer to the park. The first snake we saw I am not going to post a picture of because my pictures were awful, it was moving too fast... It was about a 1m long dark brown mole snake in the reception parking for Twee Rivieren rest camp. I just kind of herded it away from the cars and into the bush next to the parking lot, I didn't want to risk anyone driving over it... So time of day was around 6:00, clear skies, around 20C, 18 Dec.

The first tortoise we saw was this cute little leopard tortoise, no bigger than my palm! Also in TR campsite, around 15:00, hot clear skies, ~38C, 17 Dec.
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We saw literally hundreds of these ground agamas. I don't have a book specifically on lizards and the reptile book I have doesn't go to species level. So any further info would be greatly appreciated. We saw this guys morning and afternoon, both on the ground and at the tops of little shrubs.
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Driving down the Auob river ~5km S of Mata Mata we nearly rode over this puffie lying in the road. When we reversed to look at him he went up into the S shape, hissed and then moved off into the bush, keeping his head high and hissing every once in a while... Around 8:00, 19 Dec, ~24C, clear sunny skies.
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On the 20 Dec, driving towards TR, opposite Leeuwdril water hole, this rock monitor was curled up in a tree. It was very hot, clear sunny skies, ~39C, around 14:00.
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I know it's not the greatest photo, but it was the best position I could get into.

On the 21 Dec driving back up to Mata Mata we were rewarded with two separate beautiful cape cobra sightings. We were alerted to the presence of the first one when a pale chanting goshawk was going beserk under a tree. We took a close look an noticed a beautiful golden cape cobra busy swallowing a mouse. We watched until the mouse was fully swallowed and other cars had moved off, then we were able to reverse and I was able to get this pic. So obviously the bulge in its stomach is the mouse going down. I unfortunately could not identify the type of mouse... It was around 16:30, again clear hot day, ~ 39C, about 8km S of Mata Mata.

The next cape cobra was literally about 5min after the last one. I noticed a dark snake crossing the road, we stopped and it hooded a little, I realized that it had to be a cape cobra! Unfortunately the only photo that I got in focus was this one after it had climbed up this tree and settled into this nook. Not a great photo, but with his colour it is really difficult to make him stand out...
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On the evening of the 24 Dec we were fortunate enough to go on a night drive from Mata Mata. We came across this beautiful puff adder lying in the road, fortunately we had a great field guide and he was driving cautiously and noticed the snake well in time. After much troubling with the flash and torches etc I managed to get this one OK pic. It was around 23:00, cool to warm evening ~23C, cloudy skies, nearly full moon, electrical storm overhead, again ~ 10km S of Mata Mata.
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The 27 Dec proved to be yet another fabulous herping day...
We set off from Nossob camp early around 17:30. It was a cool morning around 18C. About 25km S of Nossob we came across this puffie busy crossing the road. He was totally not fussed by our presence. By this stage I think it was ~ 21C, clear skies, 6:30.
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About 20min later, we saw another snake nearly 1.5m in length crossing the road. I wasn't able to get a clear shot of his head, so based on his size, colouration and movements I think it was a mole snake, but if I'm wrong please just correct me... He was just moving around and poking his head into all the holes he went past...
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In the afternoon we were just S of Melk Vlei picnic site in the Nossob river, when we say this magnificent rock monitor just strolling along towards the nearest water hole. He was quite a big one, and I'd estimate with his tail he was around 1.5m. It was swelteringly hot, ~41C, clear sunny skies, 12:00.
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That night in camp my husband and I decided to go looking for scorpions... We were peering down holes with our torches and very careful to scan the ground where we were walking. However, at one point I think we got a bit distracted by an owl's call, and next thing we just heard the menacing sound of hissing, just as Tim was about to take a step forward. Fortunately he jumped backwards in the correct direction, and we looked down and there was this gorgeous puffie, raised and ready to strike! He settled very quickly and I just followed him till he settled at the base of a tree. Seeing as were in a fully booked campsite, with lots of kids etc, we decided to inform the staff of the puffie's presence. About 3min later the ranger and his wife arrived. I was most impressed at their treatment of the puffie, they did use tongs, but the one's with the silicon head as opposed to those horrible metal tongs that seem to squash the snakes. The picked it up gently it didn't even struggle or his and placed him into a bucket. We asked what they did with the snakes and he replied that they just relocate the snakes to the air field about 5km N of TR. He said it must be booming with snakes by now... They kept the bucket open for me to get the next shot of the snake...
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Finally, I know scorpions belong on in a different location, but seeing as this is our trip these last two photo's are off the scorpions we did manage to see after our incident with the puffie. Again, I have tentatively identified this one as the Cape thick-tailed scorpion, but please don't shoot me if I'm wrong...
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This one we simply do not have a clue...
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And that was the end to our trip.
All-in-all I must say it was quite an adventure...
nattim
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Re: Trip to Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

Postby wadekilian » Sun Dec 30, 2012 5:42 pm

Puff Adders were definitely out and about during your stay, haha. Seems like the trip was well worth your while.
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Re: Trip to Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

Postby Nick Evans » Sun Dec 30, 2012 5:47 pm

Nice finds!

I think the first scorpion is a Parabuthus granulatus, and the second Opistophthalmus carinatus, but I'm not 100% sure.
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Re: Trip to Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

Postby shadowfoot » Sun Dec 30, 2012 7:18 pm

Awesome finds!
The first one is definitely P. granulatus, the second one I'm not so sure of but I would also say O.carinatus.
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Re: Trip to Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

Postby Mr Venom » Sun Dec 30, 2012 7:24 pm

Great photos and stories, sounds like you had an awesome time.

Thanks for sharing.
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