I got back from my leave cycle on Thursday and the past four days has been great in the bush. The first night we went out to find the elephants who were hiding in the bush. As the sun set with our drink stop we heard the familiar sound of hyenas calling and of a male lion roaring far in the distance. The next morning we went out to look for buffalo and found a rhino on the way back. The general game viewing was great. From that afternoon it got more and more exciting as we were lucky enough to find a lioness and her one and a half year old cubs relaxing under a tree. We also found a white tailed mongoose drinking and a baby porcupine with its mother. The next morning we went out to go and look for the elephants and found the herd next to the road eating a variable bush willow. The baby elephant was very in a very playful mood and started mock charging his older fellow elephants, running up and down until he could run no more! We later heard that another game ranger had found a lion male chasing a leopard up a tree. We made our way there to have a look and after waiting patiently at the top of the tree the male lion eventually got thirsty and the leopard made its escape. So in the last four days we were lucky enough to see the big 5 twice, as well as African wild cat, white tailed mongoose, baby porcupine, a male lion roaring at the land cruiser and the most incredible general game ever.
Story by Frikkie Kotze, River Lodge Ranger
Once again as I have come to expect, my Kapama afternoon safari was filled with many amazing sightings. Just when I decided it was time to head back to the warmth of the lodge, I saw a blur of black and white go across the road. On closer inspection it turned out the be one of the most beautiful cats we are able to find in the bush, a male serval cat! The serval slowly made his way towards the land rover and stopped and posed for about 5 minutes which is extremely rare. Then the beautiful cat slowly turned and stalked away, in no hurry what so ever. This was truly a sighting to be remembered as well as cherished. Servals are very secretive, nocturnal cats that are rarely seen. They tend to live close to water in long grass with a vlei like area being there preferred habitat. They will normally prey on anything from game birds to rodents and even young antelope. This was a truly unforgettable experience for me and for my guests.
Story by Josh Beaton, River Lodge Ranger
We were busy tracking some lions when my tracker Friday whispered “nyari”. I immediately checked the direction of the wind with a blue-seed grass inflorescence. We were facing directly south and the wind was blowing from the south-east at a 10 o’clock position.
We stopped at about 80 meters from the herd. The older bulls on the fringes were staring at us intently with their noses in the air, straining to pick up our scent. They were alert, but unsure as to the nature of what was approaching them. We began our journey around the herd, keeping a distance of 100meters between us and them. As we went around the old bulls followed our progress. By the time we reached the southern end of the herd, the closest bull had picked up our scent,and snorted loudly. He threw his massive head to the right, commencing the anticipated stampede away from us. Within seconds the whole herd followed, thundering into the distance as a dust cloud emerged over them. I stopped and my tracker Friday made a joke “and I told you they would run!”
Buffalos are the animal that I am the most afraid of, especially the old buffalo bulls. They have an extremely acute sense of smell and I have a great deal of respect for them for that.
Story by Richard Venter, River lodge ranger
This morning we set off on a mission to find the elephants who were last seen towards the south of the reserve. After watching a wonderful sunrise we made our way to the area where they were last seen. On our way we were fortunate enough to see a small pod of hippos basking in the sunshine. We then sat at a beautiful big dam and watched a small herd of bufflao make their way to the water’s edge for a drink. We stayed at the dam long after the buffalos left and did a spot of bird watching. We saw a number of different birds including a big group of white faced ducks, a pair of Egyptian geese and a grey heron busy fishing for breakfast. Soon after some impalas and some waterbuck come to the water to quench their thirst.
We successfully tracked the elephants but initially we were unable to see them because they were static deep inside the bush. So knowing patience is a virtue in this instance we stayed in the area, listening to the breaking branches and seeing an ear or a bottom every once in a while! It is amazing how something so huge and immense can sometimes be so challenging to see. We stopped for a quick coffee and to stretch our legs. Whilst drinking coffee we saw a big group of blue wildebeest playing in an open area in the distance. They were later joined by a mother and baby giraffe. After coffee we returned to the area of the elephants. By listening to the breaking branches inside the bush we could ascertain in which direction the elephants were headed. This time our patience was rewarded as the whole herd crossed the road one by one in front of us. It was well worth all the hard work and patience and we returned to the lodge with big smiles all around!
Story by Sarah-Estelle Sangster, Ranger
Honey badger 1, Lions 0
After driving for the entire morning and afternoon in search of the ever elusive lions, missing them with only a few seconds, I felt like retiring and working in a zoo, now that in it self explains my desperation. Just before returning to the lodge after our afternoon drive, the lions were found, but as luck had it, we missed them by a few seconds. We drove around to the dam, and then luck came our way. We saw the lioness and the two one and a half year old cubs. Not only being lazy, as they normally are but they tried to catch a honey badger. It was an unbelievable experience. The smell, the sound, the adrenaline pumping and all your senses are working over time. That’s what makes a day of bad luck turn into the most awesome safari ever. The honey badger gave them a go for their money. It is true that dynamite comes in small packages.
P.S: The brave little Honey Badger has lived to see another day! 1 – 0 to the Honey Badger!