Changing Ecosystems

By Natalie McManus

Today we left the private game reserve and headed to Lekgalameetse! Being at the private game reserve was a wonderful luxury. I was able to get some of the best sleep there since the trip started and saw many animal interactions that would have been nearly impossible to see in other places. I really enjoyed my experience at the private game reserve, but I was excited to leave for Lekgalameetse. David told us that there was a big change in the ecosystems between the two locations, but I did not fully understand how strongly it changed. While being in and traveling around Kruger the major ecosystem was a savannah. There were grassy plains, short trees, and lots of shrubs. The majority of colors were very tan and brown. Since it is the dry season here in South Africa there is no shortage of dust and very little water. In Lekgalameetse this all changed drastically.

The two photos represent what the ecosystem looked like throughout the majority of the trip.

The two photos represent what the ecosystem looked like throughout the majority of the trip.

You can easily tell how dry it is and that a savannah is the dominate ecosystem.

You can easily tell how dry it is and that a savannah is the dominate ecosystem.

The nature reserve we are staying in at Lekgalameetse is in the middle of tall, rocky mountains! I honestly had no idea that there were mountains like this in South Africa. They are different than the mountains that are in Colorado as there are many more trees and shrubs here which makes it very dense and hard to walk off of the path. It is very moist here and there is a river that is flowing through our camp which you can hear from our cabins. This results in a lot of ferns, mosses, and soggy ground. It kind of reminds me of a mix between the pacific northwest and Colorado!

This image was taken on our drive to Lekgalameetse. You can see the ecosystem start to change to have denser, greener vegetation.

This image was taken on our drive to Lekgalameetse. You can see the ecosystem start to change to have denser, greener vegetation.

This was taken from inside the nature reserve at Lekgalameetse. You can easily see the differences from being here to being in and around Kruger.

This was taken from inside the nature reserve at Lekgalameetse. You can easily see the differences from being here to being in and around Kruger.

While at Lekgalameetse we have been given a fair amount of free time. This was a widely needed thing as we have been very active and busy for the past weeks. The first day I took this time to go on a walk by myself and journal as a way to recharge. The walk was magical, but the place I stopped to journal was even more stunning. I found a big, accessible rock in the middle of the river. It was surrounded by large rock cliffs that had lots of chemical weathering which resulted in orange, white, and green discolorations. There were vines, shrubs, and even trees growing out of the rocks. The sound of the rushing water and birds chirping gave me a sense of peace and tranquility that I had not felt in a while!

This was the location that I stopped to write in my journal. You can see part of the cliff, but it extended about another 100 meters into the sky with another cliff on the other side of the river.

This was the location that I stopped to write in my journal. You can see part of the cliff, but it extended about another 100 meters into the sky with another cliff on the other side of the river.

Natalie Miller