Baboons, Dassies and African Penguins September 8, 2013
On my last entry, Lyn and I were in Namibia exploring the desert. We made our way south to Cape Town with stops at Sossusvlei, Fish River Canyon and Franschhoek. For my last entry in South Africa before flying to Mumbai, India, I thought I would tell you about our day exploring Cape Point, South Africa, an area south of Cape Town. It is not the southern most point of Africa, but it was a very interesting day-trip out of Cape Town.
Our first stop on the way to the Cape was Simon’s Town, where we saw the only nesting penguins in Africa. In 1982 there were two nesting pairs of Adelie penguins that had migrated to Simon’s Town. Since then the colony has grown considerably and is now a protected area. I never thought I would be seeing penguins in Africa, but considering the geographic latitude it makes sense.
Our next stop was Cape Point where we encountered baboons and dassies, also known as the Cape Hyrax. I made sketches of both of these animals. Nothing to fear from the cute little dassie, but the baboon is another story. In this coastal park there were several families of baboons that were habituated to human food. With all the tourists that visit this area the baboons spend a lot of time trying to steal food from unsuspecting tourists. It makes for great people watching and seeing there reactions to being robbed by the baboons.
As an artist, I found this small region of Southern Africa that we explored overwhelming with the many choices available to paint. I doubt I will ever finish painting everything I saw here, however in the next blog entry we are heading to Mumbai, India.
Dassie at Cape Point, South Africa
Baboon with Pringles
Adelie Penguins, South Africa
Fisherman at Cape Point
Sketch of Fish River Canyon,
Quiver Tree’s , Namibia
Quiver Tree’s at night in Namibia
Cheetah’s, Rock Paintings and Quiver Trees August 27, 2013
After leaving Etosha National Park our first stop was a farm that takes care of wild cheetahs. In some parts of Namibia the cheetah is considered a pest that attacks and kills live stock. This beautiful cat that can reach speeds of 110 kilometers per hour has lost its territory to cattle farmers in Namibia and was being hunted to extinction. In the 1980’s one farmer decided that there must be a better way than just killing them and so farmers started to bring him captured, wounded and baby cheetahs which he keeps in a fenced in area on his property. It is not the perfect solution however it has become a small eco tourism business he calls Cheetah Park. The cheetah’s are kept in a large fenced in natural area and are fed daily. He also has a few pet cheetah’s that live with his family in another fenced in area around his house. We camped on his property for the night and watched the farmer throw big chunks of meat to the cats from the back of a tractor. The next morning before leaving Lyn and I got the chance to spend time with the tame cheetahs at his house and this was my opportunity to get some sketch’s done of these amazing cats.
Our next stop was Brandberg Daures National Heritage Site at Brandberg Mountain. We took a small hike part way up the side of the mountain to see rock paintings that date back 2000 years. I had the chance to sit and sketch some of these paintings. It was an amazing feeling to sit quietly in the presence of this ancient rock art and in my own way commune with artists from long ago. In the early days of tourism to this site people would throw water at the rock art to help enhance the colours for their photographs. This caused a lot of damage to the paintings and some of them have faded quite badly.
After this experience we went on to a place called the Spitzkoppe Hills also known as the “Matterhorn of Namibia.” It is a group of 120 million year old granite peaks in the Namib Dessert. We had the time to go for a hike up one of these peaks. There was no trail and so it was more of a scramble up the side through cactus, huge boulders and the odd Quiver tree which has the look of a tree from a prehistoric time. The watercolour painting I have done at the top of this post shows the incredible colour of the rock in certain lighting conditions which in my minds eye could be what parts of Mars look like.
This painting was done from photographs of cheetahs at Cheetah Park. I changed the background to reflect its true habitat in Namibia.
These drawings are from my sketch book.
The cheetahs I was sketching were tame and so I was able to get very close. The experience was surreal.
Coloured pencil sketches of rock art done on location at Brandberg Daures National Heritage Site, Namibia
Coloured pencil sketch of the Namib Dessert. Sketched on location\
The tame cheetah’s were very gentle and were the farmers family pets.