Monday, January 7, 2013

A few more animals - - Port Elizabeth

While we were in Port Elizabeth we had the chance to go for a day trip to Addo Elephant National Park and a cheetah breeding centre. This was done with the crews of three other boats. In typical fashion they were from all over the world: Brazilian, Welsh, and American, sort of along with the resident Canucks. All of these folks have much more interesting stories than we do. The Brazilian is running the affairs of two companies from his boat using email and phone. The Welsh couple did not set off to sail any great distance. They were bored and decided to sail to France for a change. When they there it was quite cold so they decided to go a bit further south to Portugal which was still cold so they went to the Canaries, Senegal, and the Cape Verdes. From there it seemed logical to go to go the Caribbean and the rest is history. They paid for their adult children to fly to the Canaries since they had not said goodbye. They tend to sail where the wind will take them on their Moody 33, rather than to a particular destination. Their longest passage was 95 days from Panama to French Polynesia. When they came to South Africa they did not bother stopping in Richards Bay or Durban, PE was their first stop. The American, sort of, is most interesting. It is a relatively young  man(early 30s)  and his 12 year old daughter and they are now on their second circumnavigation on a pretty basic Morgan Out Island 41 (eg no furling for the jibs). Dino makes documentaries for various travel channels around the world; we were interviewed for his next one about crossing the Indian Ocean. He is a dual US/Mexican citizen and said he really feels like a citizen of the world. He has no idea what he will do when he completes this RTW, especially as Sasha is getting older and is starting to feel the need to settle down in one place.

Addo is, of course, famous for its elephants. There were close to 60 at or very near this water hole. The group included both males and females which is unusual. Addo females are unique in SA in that they do not have tusks.
We found this buffalo wallowing in a mud bath. He was much bigger, almost rhino size, than any we saw in the other parks.

The main business of the cheetah reserve is to produce new cheetahs for release into the wild in national parks and private game reserves. Ola seemed to be the place's star. She is a six year old female and remarkably comfortable with humans. She loved to be stroked and purred. She licked  your arm for salt and her tongue felt like about 70 grit sandpaper.

I did not realize how large cheetahs are. They are actually a bit taller than leopards but much lighter, although I think Ola enjoys a pretty good life and may have a few extra pounds. For an extra 150 rand you can take a cheetah for a walk on a leash. I think this is a way that they can get people to pay to do a chore that needs to be done in any case.

The reserve also has a pair of leopards that were orphaned when their mother died. They will breed leopards for release when they get older. You used to be able to go into the leopard enclosure but now only the guide does because the animals are just too big and strong, but still friendly.

They also a pair of seven month old male lion twins, again as a result of the mother dying. The lions will not be bread because lions are not endangered in South Africa. In fact there is something of an oversupply. If you look at this guy's paws you get a sense that he is going to be very big. It was incredible to get so close to these great cats. They all are quite wonderful to see.

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