Great sightings in the Kruger National Park
When most people think of the Kruger National Park, they often think of the Big Five. But there is so much else to see too.
Black-backed jackals, though seemingly harmless, are skilled hunters. They can be found in most of South Africa and can survive in most habitats because of their adaptability. However, they are more likely to be found in open terrain as they are at less risk of being hunted by larger predators. Jackals are popular figures in African stories and often feature as sly, intelligent characters.
Spotted hyenas are known as hunters and scavengers. They featured in the Disney film, The Lion King, and spent most of their time 'laughing' – based on the call of the spotted hyena, which sounds like they are enjoying a good joke. This laughing sound is not the only one they make; they also howl. Hyenas are quite social animals, but are vicious and can often be seen scavenging on old carcasses, getting into fights over prime pieces of meat.
Flap-necked chameleons (like the one pictured below) are a sub-Saharan Africa native and their colour changes are generally shades of green, yellow and brown. They are often found among tree leaves, making them a somewhat difficult sighting in the Kruger. Their natural prey is small insects, which they catch with their remarkably long tongues.
Malachite kingfishers are some of the most beautiful birds you will see in the Kruger National Park. Adults are a bright metallic blue (see below) with bright red feet. The bills of the adult birds are a reddish orange, whereas younger ones have black bills. We love photographer Callie de Wet's comments on taking photos of these birds: De Wet says photographing these birds 'is like eating soup with a spoon – one never gets enough! I must have 1000s of images of this little flying jewel'.
The hippopotamus, or hippo, is one of the largest land mammals you'll find in South Africa, weighing in at around two tonnes. These herbivores are normally found near water with a nearby grassland so they can graze. They spend most of their days in the water trying to keep themselves cool in the heat of the African sun. Hippos are not known to attack unless they feel threatened or need to portray strength within their pods.
Accommodation options abound in the Kruger National Park – choose from bush lodges, camp sites and rest camps. Visiting the Kruger is a popular activity for visitors and locals alike.