LJ Swanepoel Art | Visiting a Nature Reserve – 18 Sept 2015
Lourens Swanepoel illustrates African wild life in a modern and minimalist style. Lourens also creates simplistic, yet captivating digital illustrations with Adobe Illustrator.
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Visiting a Nature Reserve – 18 Sept 2015

Nature Reserve Lake

Visiting a Nature Reserve – 18 Sept 2015


I will be writing as if today was 18 September 2015


After my few hours at work and my haircut, my friend and I went to a Nature Reserve to watch the sunset. We marvelled at the price being R48.00 per person after 16:00, but it actually is not a big deal. We got what we went for – peace and quiet.

We first went to the lake itself and quited down in the hide, gazing over the waters and soaking in the sound of the windy waters for about fifteen minutes. The view was outstanding, but not as good as the sound of the water. Our first encounter with animal life today, except for the many pied crows and other bird life, was the Blesbok. They were scattered all over the reserve just grazing in the fields. The Plains Zebra was our next sight. Then we hit the jackpot for the day – Rhinos. We saw them in groups of two and most three, and encountered them next to the road, grazing. It seemed like all the animals were grazing. Of the rhinos we saw about three groups and each group we observed had a calf. I didn’t take any photos, unlike my friend; however, the last group of rhinos had me interested more than the others.
They were a mother and a calf – nothing different than the previous ones. Then there was a shot I wanted to take with my phone camera, where the calf was by itself, grazing, and the sunlight was falling just perfect on its body; and then my friend drove the car forward and I lost it. Disappointed, I saw another shot, with the calf and the mother together. Not as good as the one I wanted at first. While taking a few pictures, I was moved more by the sound the calf made when it grazed the grass. It sounded like a high pitched “wheeoo,” using only its throat to make the noise. It was the most humbling and cutest sound I ever heard. It was like the calf was saying that it’s a satisfying meal, or that it’s at peace; or feeling sorry for the mother. I noticed the expression and behaviour of the mother. She was standing still, not moving anything except her head, slightly. Then I saw her eyes. She looked sad, or tired, or ill. It was like she wanted to lie down and rest, as if she had no more energy. My heart broke.
We then spotted a wound on her side and realized that it was the reason she looked ill. It was pain. My friend also said she looked very old. We turned around and headed back to another sighting at the lake. When we arrived at another hide with a stunning view this time, I managed to email someone dealing with the rhinos at this Nature Reserve, reporting the ill rhino. A while later a lady phoned me and told me that they were aware of that rhino (I was relieved), and that the vet was there yesterday for treatment. She also told me that the rhino was very old and that the baby is taking a lot from her. So, my heart was at ease and I was able to enjoy the sunset as much as my friend.
Just before dawn completely settled in, we heard some of the jackels we saw earlier as well. The sight was beautiful. Indescribable.

We left at 18:30 from the hide, the stars were peaking out. As we were reaching the end of the path from the hide towards the car, we heard large animals in the reeds. The builders of the deck thought well to wall the deck with planks, otherwise we would’ve been exposed to whatever wild animals were there at that moment. At first we thought it could be the Elands we saw as we entered this sight. Still wondering what’s walking behind the wall in the reeds, and seeing a gigantic silhouette with a pretty large horn between us and the car, we thought it might be more rhinos who were coming for a drink of water. Now, we don’t want to be seen in the open by rhinos, if they were rhinos; so carefully I wanted to observe whatever animal that was, because it broke the railing of the deck. Getting closer, we saw that they were Buffalos, about nine meters away from where we were standing, right between us the the car. It would’ve been amazing to go closer and observe them better, seeing what they were doing, and have some adrenaline rush go through me knowing we are standing without cover. But that idea crashed quickly when my friend said he’s going to scare them away with the camera flash, because he was afraid they would come onto the deck and block us in the hide – not that they would fit with those bodies and wide horns anyway… so he scared them off. Excitement gone. Nevertheless, the two buffalos stood a little father away in the grass and observed the strange creatures with the bright light as they got in their large box on wheels.

All in all, it was an adventurous two and a half hours, not far from where we stay and surprisingly still in this busy populated city.

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