No matter how many times you see new-borns on drive, it is always a thrill. The other night my guests and I were fortunate enough to have a fantastic sighting of one of our adult lionesses with her two month old cub. They were very relaxed with our presence, and gave us quite a show out in the open playing, allo-grooming and being just plain cute. My guests were on their first safari ever, and this is the type of sighting you wish for as a guide for any guests, especially first timers. The lioness was also calling all the time for her other two cubs. We have only seen her twice before, right after the birth, and about two weeks ago after she moved the cubs. Unfortunately, no other cubs appeared, but that is nature and one of the reasons why the big cats tend to have so many in a litter, mainly to guarantee that at least one survives. Shortly after this wonderful sighting we came upon our lone lioness with the nine month old cubs. These two are growing more and more every time I see them and they also gave us a great sighting – chasing each other around, jumping on their mother, and being kids.
Story by:Noelle Di Lorenzo-Kapama River Lodge Ranger
Today we decided we would go and look for a leopard as it was the only big animal my guests haven’t seen. There were some light drizzles of rain so I thought it would be a quiet day!
We went a long a road that had a couple of mud pans and only after 20 minutes drive we found 3 female white rhino sleeping next to the mud hole that woke up on our arrival. There was one big female and 2 sub adult females. it is not to unusual to see a group of rhino, but most of the time it is either a territorial male that walks alone or a fully grown female with a calf. When new calfs are born the females will chase away the older one and then they will look for new company, and that’s what we found 2 youngsters walking with a new older companion.
As we left the sighting we found fresh tracks of a female lioness as we followed them we came across three 2years old lionesses. The previous day they were found quite far from our location with an older female and another 2year old. As we found the 3 females the king of the jungle was found walking from their previous location. It seemed that he did not like the young females to join the older one so he chased them away and the 5 lionesses split up in smaller groups.
Story by: Hendrik Erasmus –Kapama River Lodge Ranger
Last night’s drive started with a sighting of our big herd of buffalo in the south of the reserve. It was still quite hot and they were competing for shade under some acacia trees. They were all very close and shoving each other out of the way to get some space! We were then fortunate enough to see a medley of general game in a big open area; zebras, blue wildebeest, impala and warthog. It was an impressive scene against the beautiful backdrop of the Drakensburg mountain range as the sun was beginning to set over Kapama. Also there perched in the tree tops were some marabou storks, a tawny eagle and a bataleur eagle. There are many hyaena on the reserve. We often see tracks, especially close to areas where the lions have made a kill. And we often get audio at night. But we rarely see them and if we do it is usually a short glimpse. However, tonight we were blessed with an amazing sighting of a male spotted hyena lying beside a mud pan. We spent a lot of time watching him doing not much at all!
This morning we were on a mission to find white rhino and were rewarded with a sighting of a “crash” of 5 rhino – females and their calves. Initially they were in the middle of the bush and we could only see ears and tails. But in cases like this patience is a virtue and after waiting a short while they meandered towards the road for a fantastic photo shoot!
Last night we were lucky enough to find a large male leopard – we followed him as he chased and killed a warthog. He ate his fill and then slept peacefully nearby. The solitary leopard is extremely difficult to spot in the wild. It is renowned for its sharp vision and keen sense of hearing, and for its unique ability to avoid detection . On this morning’s drive we went back to the site of the kill and relocated the leopard, but to our surprise and delight we discovered that he had been joined by a female leopard.
We kept our distance for a while to see what would transpire, and were rewarded with a mating show right in front of the vehicle. To witness leopards mating is a once in a lifetime experience. Leopards are solitary and only come together to mate. Male and female leopards come together to breed for only 6-7 days when the female is in heat. After mating, the male returns to his territory, leaving the female to give birth and care for the young alone. The birth takes place in a hidden lair after a gestation period of 3 months. So we hope that the mating was a success and that we may be lucky enough to see some young cubs in the not too distant future.
Also in the lodge today, some guests came across two male Boomslangs (snakes) fighting over a female who were eagerly watching them from a short distance away. Not something you see every day! The name “Boomlang” derives from the Afrikaans language, meaning Tree Snake (Boom -Tree) (Slang – Snake) . The Boomslang is predominantly arboreal and is a very placid snake. They are back fanged snakes and biting any surface bigger than a finger or side of the hand will most likely only result in a “dry bite” as the fangs are to far back in the mouth to actually pierce the skin. They do however have a Haemotoxic venom and are considered the snakes with the most dangerous venom in Africa. Luckily for us they will only bite if provoked and / or handled, and poses no threat to humans otherwise.
Story by: Sarah Sangste-Kapama River Lodge Ranger
Last night I went out to look for some lions. My guests were really looking forward to seeing one (or more). So I went out to areas where my fellow rangers had seen lions or their tracks that morning. I came up with nothing for a long time until me and Calvin found evidence of a lionkill being dragged over a road. The tracks were leading straight towards a drainage line where some lions were supposed to be, including a female with young cubs. Tracking on foot was not possible, those lions would be very serious if we would have come too close to their new offspring, so we decided to take the vehicles in. As Calvin moved into the bush I decided to go down the road a bit to check out a small waterhole there. Because if the lions have eaten, they might be hungry.
As I get to the water my tracker Steven get excited and points towards the inflow of the dam and there is an adult female with her two two month old cubs having a drink. One of the cubs was shy and moved into cover quickly, the other stayed with his mum to check out this new experience with curiosity. We were rewarded with a good few minutes in the sighting until the mother decided it was enough and lead her little ones away.
Story by: Roel van Muiden-Kapama River Lodge Ranger