Over the last couple of days, we had some really great sightings. It is as if all the animals are just waiting for you to find them. With the sudden heat wave, you don’t have to look too far for rhino and buffalo, lazily hanging around the waterholes. A large lion and a lioness were having a feast on a zebra, and another lioness with her two youngsters were seen playing near one of the dams. Three separate leopards have been spotted two evenings in a row, and elephant sightings have fantastic! With all the excitement, and the fact that you never know what to expect, we, as rangers, can’t wait to go out on the next safari to see what nature has in store for us.
Maggie – Kapama River Lodge Ranger
This morning we once again braved the wet weather conditions and went on drive sort of expecting not to see too much. Boy was I wrong!
Not long after we left Southern Camp we happen upon a herd of Blue Wildebeest crossing the road, and noticed that two of the cows were in labour. As this is something few people witness, we decided to sit in the pouring rain and experience the birth of a brand new baby wildebeest.
Gestation period for a Wildebeast is roughly about 8 and a half months, with calves arriving from around September into December and even as late as towards the end of January.
It is truly an amazing experience witnessing a birth, even in soaking rain and see a newborn taking its first wobbly steps.
Westley Lombard – Southern Camp
One afternoon drive, we already had a great beginning with seeing two male Leopards having a territorial dispute. The older male Leopard ended up getting pushed out of his territory and the younger male won territory that he could finally call his own! A little while later we had found a pride of Lions, one male and two females lounging around like lions do!!! Finally we decided that this was too much action for one day and a drink was needed. We stopped at a waterhole, with the sun setting just behind it.
We had just served everyone with drinks and chatting about the day’s events, and all of a sudden my tracker Tully asked us to keep quiet! It was as if someone had switched the radio off, we were deadly silent! Not far from us we heard these strange snorting noises and Tully explained that this was very unhappy Impala’s. So we very quickly packed up to go find out what was
upsetting these Impala’s so much. Drove one block switched off the engine and listened, drove to the direction of the snorting and switched the engine off and listened. We found the Impala’s all facing the same direction and as we looked beyond them we saw this little white body lying on the ground. As we drove closer i could not believe my eyes, we had just witnessed Africa’s largest snake- the African Rock Python kill a young Impala.
Males can get up to 4.5metres and females 5metres and easily weigh 55kgs, that’s a lot of snake for some people to handle. Their diet is varied but they can consume small antelope, monkeys, fish, monitor lizards and even small crocodiles have been recorded. Today this Python had killed a young impala, and it was through the mothers distress calls that we had gotten this phenomenal sighting. African Rock Pythons seek prey with their heat sensors, ambush and then use strength rather than venom. As the animal exhales the snake constricts and with every breath until the prey is exhausted of oxygen. Once the prey stops breathing the Python then releases his grip and goes towards the head and starts to consume his hard earned prey. At this time the snake is at its most vulnerable to predators, so he swallows the prey surprisingly fast. Once the Python has devoured his prey he goes into hiding like a cavity of a tree or maybe an old Aardvark hole, so that the digestive juices can take over!
It just goes to show that the bush is extremely unpredictable, you never know what’s around the next corner and if you us all your senses you just might just get so much more…
Morah-Leigh Cooper-Ranger, Kapama Karula
It was another beautiful afternoon, driving along the river in the eastern side of Kapama when we saw a herd of buffalos. Not far from them there were several hippopotamus that where lying out on the bank next to the water. Regardless of the presence of the big game our attention was taken by a pied kingfisher that was trying to catch fish in the river. For a long time it dove and came out empty handed. However, after several attempts he was finally successful, and no less with a fish almost twice his size. He took off in the direction of a dry lead wood not far from the waters edge under which the hippos had been resting. As he flew over he dropped the fish. The hippos where terrified of the cold wet creature landing next to them. As it landed on the ground it jumped up and gave a loud, high pitched scream causing the hippos to dart back to the water. With the confusion of the hippo, the buffalo also became confused and headed with tremendous speed back into the bush which water birds took off in all directions. It’s strange to think, all this chaos for a tiny and kingfisher and his meal.
Kapama is an extremely unique and beautiful reserve, owing to the several lodges that are situated around the property. Each lodge is different to the rest and has its own unique qualities and facilities. The last few months Kapama has been building a fifth camp called Southern Camp which we are proud and excited to say opened today. For us the opening of the new lodge was not about the beauty of having a new camp but rather the dropping of the fences around the new piece of property and the movements of the animals from one side to the other. Animals require large spaces to move about and migrate to different areas of grazing when grazing in a certain area becomes diminished. The bonus of opening a new reserve to the game is that the property is in abundance with nutrient rich vegetation. Antelope will move in followed shortly by predators. On this particular morning we were blessed with all three of South Africa’s big cats, leopard, lion and cheetah, just 25 minutes into our drive. We as the rangers are excited to experience the new area and the game’s reaction to this space.