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Well, I’m no stranger to overseas police encounters. I had one in South Africa here with the police shake down: https://www.kirkstravelstories.com/post/south-africa-dangers-part-2-shake-down





Yes, I know that 4 encounters make me an outlaw. But 5 makes me a fugitive! Anyway, here is a fifth one:


It was my third day in the park, so I was no stranger to the laws and regulations as they are well posted. Including speed limits. Now, I admit I’m a guy who pushes speed limits. In the USA the police give you an extra 10 above the limit, and that’s exactly where I set my speed controller. It has worked well for me.


But I’m more careful in foreign countries until I observe the traffic patterns. If I see a pattern that allows deviations, I will conform to the local deviant behavior. That has not always worked well for me as I posted in my Japan experience referenced above. But that did not serve as a teacher to this moment.


The posted speed limit in the park is a ridiculously low 40 km/hr (25 mph). Now I know there are animals in the park, but it’s a pretty open Sahara and normally you can see them from quite a ways if they’re coming to the road. The only exception is taking a corner which most people will slow down going around anyway.


But I began by observing the law and I did not exceed the 40 km/h speed limit. But I did observe what other people were doing including the park rangers. The park rangers in particular were going very fast in that park, I mean, I would estimate they were probably going 80 km/h which was twice the posted limit. Nobody was going 40 km/h, and if you did, I think you would have traffic backing up behind you. So, I didn’t consider to go the posted speed limit after the first hour or so in the park. Besides, the two days prior I never witnessed a single officer with the radar gun monitoring speed.

I think you can guess where this is going. Day three I encountered an officer with a radar gun. There was a lady officer and she was actually parked on the side of the road outside of her vehicle and she put the gun on me and immediately waved me over. I don’t recall my speed but it was probably in the order of 55 km/h so. Nothing crazy but enough to get pulled over.


She notified me of my infraction and I immediately began to protest. I told her I saw Park Rangers going through the park all the time much faster than me, so why wasn’t she monitoring them as well. She informed me that she would if she saw an officer speed, she would pull them over as well. I knew that was a bunch of bull.


Anyway, I thought I was being singled out. I was a little bit peeved at the situation and I think I pushed the protest probably further than I should have. But it was for a reason. Two minutes after our conversation about the park ranger speeding, one goes zipping past us at least 80 km/h. She was busy writing me the ticket at the time, but I interrupted her and pointed it out. She said she didn’t have the radar gun on them so couldn’t confirm what was the Ranger’s speed, but she would not admit the obvious, that he was speeding. That caused me to continue my protest, but it was to no avail.


Then I asked her how much the fine was and she told me it was a whopping $10. Immediately I calmed down and said to her, “Is that all?” I mean really…$10? After knowing that, I never used the brakes again! I can handle a $10 fine every 3 days to go a reasonable speed.


Having been conditioned to $200 - $300 US fines for speeding, I was not accustomed to these irrelevant fines. This is an example where there should be a two tier fine system. Not unlike the two tier property tax system we have in Florida. One tax for residents that get a tax homestead exemption, and a higher one for out of staters. So should their fines be. A lower one for residents for whom $10 is a lot of money, and a higher one for higher income tourists in order to be a legitimate deterrent.


Anyway, I’m not complaining!



Oh, one other aside, the lady officer asked me to exit my vehicle as she wrote me the ticket. All through that park are signs telling you never to exit your vehicle, and there are huge fines associated with it. I thought it was strange that I was still within the confines of the park and she was asking me to exit my vehicle. Odd things to do with so many wild animals around, but I assumed that she would just shoot the lion that was lurking in the bushes.



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I'll share with you now my most impressive photos.


On a trip to South Africa I visited Kruger National Park. I've actually been there on two separate trips. This place is so awesome and unique it was worthy of a second stop when I was visiting nearby Zimbabwe. It didn't disappoint the second time.


Kruger National Park is huge. You can take a guided tour through the park or you can self-drive. Given those options I will almost always self drive as I did here. Driving alone allows more freedom to explore and more privacy with nature.


Driving through the park is a bit like fishing. You can go some time without seeing anything, then you spot a great siting and bam, you caught one! That's how I viewed it. Some animals were more difficult to spot than others. The big cats were usually the most difficult to spot.


This post I will focus on one particular cat, the leopard. I have a hard time distinguishing between a leopard and a cheetah. They look so similar to me. I learned one of the things to help distinguish is their habitat. The leopard can climb trees but the cheetah cannot. The cheetah just doesn't have the claws for it.


I was very lucky in my travels through the park. I got some amazing photos. I'll share them with you now.


This was a rare shot of a leopard perched high in a tree surveying his prey. I was so fortunate to see this!



How cool is that!?


I thought at the time this would be the best viewing of a leopard on this trip. They are so hard to spot. But I was wrong! I actually was lucky enough to see a leopard with his prey.


The following photos are a bit more graphic. Unfortunately they are not as clear as the ones above. They're probably better viewed on a laptop vs a phone for the bigger image,




The first time I drove by this tree I only saw this dead deer hanging from it. It was a big curiosity for me as I had never seen anything like this before.


I took a few pictures but nothing was happening so I drove away perplexed. But the curiosity was too much and it warranted a second visit. About 30 minutes later I returned and the puzzling question was answered!




The victor returned to his prey. The leopard had dragged the deer up the tree! What a powerful animal. I wish I had caught him in the act!


But why? Why would he go through all that trouble to drag him up a tree?


As I sat there and watched from my car the answer became transparent.


Because of these scavenger hunters. The hyena.


Enjoy the videos of these freeloaders circling the tree as the leopard guards his dinner.





These pictures, although not high in quality, are likely the best I've taken on any trip anywhere. I say that because of their uniqueness. It may be more impressive to photo the Devil's Throat at Iguazu Falls in Argentina, but that's always there and can be filmed again. This scene cannot be recaptured, at least by me in my lifetime.

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Updated: May 11

This is a continuation of my series documenting the Big 5 at Kruger National Park. The Big 5 include the 5 most dangerous animals that have historically been hunted in the African jungles.


 

The Lion, the King of the jungle! Perhaps the scariest of the Big 5? But for me it is the elephant. I mean, after grabbing a tiger by the tail, why would I fear this kitty kat?:


These were among the most difficult to spot at Kruger National Park. All these photos were taken during my first visit to the park. My second visit I think I only had one encounter.


It's unfortunate I didn't have these Lion sitings during my second visit as my iPhone camera was greatly upgraded by then. I don’t recall which phone model camera I had for this trip, but it's obvious the resolution was not that great.


Regardless, here are some of the best photos of lions I got on this trip:

The lions were always traveling with others in a pride. The females outnumber the males in most prides. They have to since they do all the work! They are the principle hunters of the pride as well as care to the young. The male lion's life seems to be a good one!


I rarely saw much activity from them. Would have loved to seen a good hunt on their part. There were plenty of zebras they could feast on there.


Lions actually are helpful to the environment. By hunting zebra and wilderbeasts, they prevent overpopulation of these herbivores. Too many plant eating animals wipe out the food source and leads to starvation to all who rely on the green stuff.


Lions actually sleep up to 20 hours per day. They typically do their hunting at night. Likely the reason I never saw many while there.


Looks like a mirror image doesn't it?




There are only around 20,000 of these magnificent beasts today. There were likely hundreds of thousands before European settlers came. Not only has hunting diminished their numbers, but also the loss of natural habitat.


I see the same thing play out in my Florida neighborhood. As more and more land is cleared for buildings, the bear in particular are more visible in populated neighborhoods. They simply don't have food in their limited habitat and resort to garbage hunts instead.


I'm happy to see game preserves be the source of their habitats rather than zoos. Kruger National Park in South Africa is a rare gem




This was an early morning shot. My first encounter of my second day in the park. It is common for lions to claw trees to sharpen their claws. It keeps them pointy not only for hunting, but also for tree climbing



I was lucky to find a Lion so photogenic!


I saw these just after the entrance to the park that second morning. What a great treat! Never got a better shot of them after that morning. Not only do they own the jungle, but the road too. It didn't seem to bother them at all with the cars by their side.







These are really impressive animals to watch in the wild. Although I never saw them perform anything spectacular, just being in their presence was a huge treat.


But, I can tell you, I would never dare to grab a Lion by the tail like I did the tiger. Not even in a "controlled" environment.



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