30 APRIL 2011
There is already a little chill in the air as the season changes into autumn. We’ve still been getting rain, good rain actually, with the total rainfall for the season standing very close to 800mm, pretty much double the average rainfall expected for the area. Average daytime temperatures hanging around the high twenties to low thirties with it dropping down to mid, even high teens during the night. On drive the sightings has been good as usual. A Lioness with a couple of young cubs has been seen on a regular basis around camp. It seems like every elephant herd has a few babies as well. The Wild Dogs hanged out around camp for a few days. We were even lucky enough to see them kill an Impala ram close to the Marico River one morning. Even though it will always be hard to see an animal loose its life, I always feel so privileged to see nature in its purest form. I hope the guests lucky enough to see things like that feel the same. Even with the bush being as dense as it is at the moment we’ve had a few good Leopard sighting during the month as well. I’m sure most of you have seen the pictures form our “trail cameras” that we’ve strategically placed around camp. We’ve had enormous success with the little cameras so far, getting pictures of Buffalo and Elephant almost on a daily basis, Lion and Rhino, even Black Rhino every other day. Leopard is seen on the pictures almost twice a week. And then on the odd occasion we manage to get pictures of very rarely seen animals like Aardvark and Honey Badger. As from next month the rain should stop, the smaller waterholes should dry up, the bush should get less dense and more animals are again seen coming to the lodge waterhole. I can not wait for what is in my opinion the best season for game viewing lying ahead of us. Until next time… Werner
09 APRIL 2011
In the last 5 days the trail cameras took photo’s of 3 different sets of Lion and managed to capture Leopard on 3 different occasions as well. I was shocked to see the time on the below Leopard picture as I took the camera down minutes after he walked passed. Always nice to see these magnificent cats during the day.
01 APRIL 2011
We’ve moved one of the “trail cameras” to a different location and placed it much lower to the ground at eye level for most of medium sized animals. It’s a bit of a risk as Hyenas love chewing on foreign objects but so far we’ve been getting good results. The first picture is of a Brown Hyena. Even though we’ve put the camera in a metal casing, he still loves to pass by and chew on the “bungy cord” we use to attach the camera to the tree with. The second picture is of a Black Rhino. He’s probably picking up a fresh human scent on the camera and the surrounding area as he passed by only a couple of hours after I put the camera up. When I took the camera down there was about 50 pictures of his nostrils.
31 MARCH 2011
Every guide has his or her favorite animal and they usually are the type of animals that are rarely seen. I can’t really say that I have one specific animal that I like but I do enjoy those rare animals, the ones which some people wait their whole lives to see or just at least get close to seeing. We had such a morning on the 20th of March. The drive started off slow and I remember thinking to myself, “this is going to be a slow morning”. We ambled along the less traveled roads doing lots of birding and suddenly came upon a White Rhino in the open. We viewed him for a while, totally relaxed to our presence like white rhinos normally are. The guests asked what is the difference between the black and white rhino and if they will also see a black rhino. I didn’t want to bring down the guests moral but explained that the Black Rhino are very shy and the chance of seeing one is very slim and that you probably have more chance of seeing a leopard than a black rhino. Point noted, we carried on with the drive. We drove through an area with very dense Acacia Black Thorn trees, perfect habitat for black rhino…I leaned back and told the guests this is prime black rhino area. As we came around the corner even before my words where cold there he stood, a Black Rhino, one of the most majestic and endangered creatures you can see on our planet. We where very lucky because he just stood there staring at us, almost just as intrigued by us as we were by him. We had loads of time to take some photos before he decided enough is enough and rushed off into the thickets. Pleased with ourselves we headed back with a picture of the amazing animal fresh in our minds. Little did we know our luck has not run out yet… We again drove alongside some thickets and all of a sudden spotted another Black Rhino. This sighting unfortunately was a typical Black Rhino sighting. He spotted us and ran of as quick as possible crashing through the thickets giving us just a quick glimpse of him. I could not believe our luck, within half an hour seeing two different Black Rhino! This is why people visit Africa, in hope of seeing something special or at least have the chance of that dream coming true! Well that morning for me and my guests it did. I’ve attached a picture of the first Black Rhino sighting and also a White Rhino for comparison. Until next time… Francois
28 MARCH 2011
Here’s a few more pictures from the “trail cameras”.
21 MARCH 2011
Nice to see a Leopard pass by one of the camera’s and Buffalo posing for a picture.
15 MARCH 2011
A few more pictures from the “trail cameras”…
28 FEBRUARY 2011
February was a fairly dry month compared to the couple of very wet months we’ve been having. We recorded just over 50mm of rain during the month so most of the smaller water holes and pans are drying up. Bad news for the animals I know, but good news for us as the animals are slowly coming to drink at the camp water hole again. Sightings have been good as usual during the month, but one exceptionally good Leopard sighting sticks to my mind. My tracker Paul and I decided to head to the southern sections of the park during an afternoon drive. We started the drive off with a few good Elephant and White Rhino sightings. About an hour and a half into the drive we spotted the silhouette of a Leopard draped over the branches of a big Leadwood tree. We were all so excited we could not wait to cover the 200m off road to get to the tree. Once there the young male Leopard was quite relaxed with our presence and our camera shutters started clicking away. Twenty minutes later the sun was down below the horizon and he decided it was time to come down for a night of hunting. To our surprise he went into stalking mode as soon as he got down form the tree. He eventually jumped into a wild raisin bush with quails flying in all directions. We lost visual of him and though he walked off. I drove up closer and asked Paul to look and see if he could see any quail feathers lying around. When we got to three meters from the bush Paul stopped me with a quick hand motion. We looked over the hood of the vehicle and saw him lying in the long grass snacking on the eggs of the quail. Once finished a few minutes later he stood up, licked off his lips, looked around at us for a few seconds and disappeared into the long grass. What an amazing day… Until next time… Werner
24 FEBRUARY 2011
After months of holding our breaths and keeping our fingers crossed that nothing would eat or destroy the trail cameras we had our first indecent. One afternoon I went to retrieve the pictures from the “Mateya1” camera to the east of the camp. When I got there I was shocked to find a few broken cable ties and a lot of damage to the Tamboti tree it was tied to. No camera … I started looking around and after an hour of using all of my tracking skills I found the camera all covered in mud and sand. After I cleaned it up a bit I managed to bend open the protective metal casing and got the camera out. I was surprised to see that there was actually pictures on the card getting images of the culprit, and even more surprised to see the camera still working after I reset it.
17 FEBRUARY 2011
Here’s a few pictures captured on the trail cameras of the secretive Brown Hyena. Below see some interesting facts about them. Habitat and Distribution: A wide range of habitats from savanna woodland to desert. Avoids areas with large numbers of spotted hyenas. Diet: Mainly scavenged vertebrate remains, also eats insects, eggs with a preference for ostrich eggs, reptiles, fruit, and tsama melons, which also provide water. Food is detected by smell and carrion can be detected from at least 14 km downwind. Very powerful jaws and crushing teeth allow bones to be broken open for the marrow; hyenas can digest bone and hide Reproduction: Litters of 1-4 are born at any time of year after a gestation of 90 days. Usually only one female in a group breeds. Mating is with nomadic or immigrant males from outside the social group. Weaning starts at 3 months but is not complete until 12-16 months. After 10 months cubs begin foraging for themselves, until weaning the adults bring food to the den. Permanent teeth erupt by 15 months; full grown at 30 months. Lifespan up to at least 16 years. Brown hyenas are sometimes killed by lions and spotted hyenas but are not eaten.