Well, it was a beautiful morning with a stunning sunrise, as per usual. As we started on our morning drive, my guests were all very jovial. They couldn’t wait to see what surprise and miracle nature had for them today, wondering what she would throw at us next. As I drove, I started talking with one of the younger guests. She told me how happy she was about our leopard sighting the previous day walking very leisurely past the vehicle, as well as the majestic lions lazing around like only kings do. She said the one thing she had left on her check list was spotted hyena. I explained to her that anything was possible and one never knows what nature has in store. It’s all a big surprise, I said, the beauty of nature is guessing what comes next. While I explained all of this, we caught sight of something moving far up ahead in the road. Two black-backed jackals were quite distinct, but there was a third subject that was a mystery. Heading forward for a closer inspection I realized it was a female spotted hyena staring into the distance. I looked at the guests and said, “Surprise!”
We stayed close to her, as it is a rare sighting even for seasoned safari goers. The female hyena was not in the least bit interested in us and had her eyes fixated on a nearby dam. We were not sure what she was planning, as she seemed edgy. Slowly, we crept towards her to see what held her interest so intently. Low and behold, floating in the water was a dead grey duiker. Deciding not to stay for to long so as not to disturb her off her impending meal, we backed slowly out of the sighting, allowing her to go about her usual business. Later that night upon passing the dam neither hyena, nor duiker, were any where to be seen.
We hoped she had had a great big duiker steak that night!
Warren Jacobs-(Buffalo Camp Ranger)
Something we all take for granted are Impala. One of the most common antelope species seen in our area. It is really great when you still have guests who appreciate these animals and are still excited when they see them.
Impalas range between 80 and 100 centimetres tall. Average mass for a male Impala is ±55 to 75 kilograms while females weigh ±35 to 53 kilograms.
Impala can adapt to different environments by being grazers in some areas and browsers in others.
Pheromones, we all have them, from the tiniest insect right on up to whales. Impala, one of the most common and overlooked species in our bushveld, use pheromones to alert their comrades of the approach of predators, to show the other sex they are ready for mating, and to denote whether or not the territory is theirs. Meta-tarsal glands represented by the two black spots just above an Impala’s back hooves let of such pheromones. Females within a breeding herd will jump in a spectacular arc and kick out their back legs ejecting a “fear scent” so that they, their young, and the rest of the herd can quickly run from the ominous presence of lion, leopard, or cheetah. Males during rutting season will use these glands as well showing that an intruder interested in stealing females is near. Impala are the only antelope species to posse’s meta-tarsal glands as they are mostly found on deer species in America and Europe
When Impala frightened or startled the whole herd starts leaping about to confuse their predator can jump distances more than 10 metres and 3metres high. The above photo is a clear example of that.
Noelle Di Lorenzo-(Ranger Kapama River Lodge)
The Spotted Eagle Owl
This Owl is one of the most commonly seen Owls on Kapama. They are nocturnal birds and take no offense at being viewed at night. They are medium sized birds with distinctive ear tufts and yellow eyes. Their ear tufts are for show and serve no real purpose. This bird of prey’s main diet is Invertebrates, small mammals, birds and reptiles. They prefer open scrub and low grassland – where there are suitable roosting posts! You may even find them in South African cities and towns.
Owls have developed special feather adaptations that enable them to minimize the sound made when flapping their wings:-
The leading edges of their primary feathers have stiff fringes that reduce noise whilst the trailing edges of their primaries have soft fringes that help to reduce turbulence.
There are many legends and myths surrounding these birds. On old Cape farms it was believed that if a Spotted Eagle Owl roosted on your roof at night, it would surely mean a death in the family. It didn’t matter where these deaths occurred, even in the next province; the poor old Owl always got the blame. The “hu-hoo” call can sound a bit ghostly!
Today we are again fortunate with warm weather and sunny skies with a forecast high of 26degC.
Ranger Story: Hailey Bunge (Kapama River Lodge Ranger)
What another eventful morning!! After an awesome Buffalo sighting, we took a slow relaxing drive back to the lodge. Just as we crossed one of the dam walls, one of my guests spotted 2 of our sub adult Lions lazing under a tree. We stopped to see if we could find the rest of the youngsters. After about three minutes, a Rhino cow and her 3-month old calf came walking towards the dam. The Lions immediately went into stalking-mode. Unaware of the eyes following their every movement, the Rhinos came closer to the water. Just as the cow started to drink, the action began… the Lions came charging straight towards them, with another 2 appearing from behind a bush. While trying to protect her calf, the Rhinos fled with 4 lions after them – the air filled with dust. Luckily the rhinos managed to escape, and the sulking Lions came back to the dam to wait for the next victim. What we thought would be a quiet relaxing drive, ended up with some cool action… It amazes me everyday how unpredictable, yet awesome, nature is!!
Maggie Oosthuizen-(Kapama River Lodge Ranger)
As the sun rose over the reserve this morning there was an unusual and very special sighting in store for Bronson as he approached a dam close to the lodge. A feisty young white rhino took the lead and took a short cut through the dam as the rest of the crash (collective term for a group of rhinos) followed behind carefully & slowly in single file. If there was a caption for this photo I think the young rhino might be saying “I won! I won! Hurry up slowcoaches!”
Whilst tracking a female leopard and her young cub on foot, Maggie heard the familiar sound of a predator feeding on bones and upon further investigation came across a spotted hyena scavenging on the carcass of a kudu bull. Whilst the sound of hyena at night is a common one, they are very illusive and so to see one, especially in daylight, was a rare treat.
Two herds of elephant were seen this morning and the calves in one herd were feeling especially playful. They were interacting with each other and throwing sand from the road over themselves – perhaps to cool off or protect themselves from parasites, or maybe just for the sheer fun of it! There is a young male elephant in one of the herds that we affectionately nickname “sticky foot”. He suffered an injury at birth and as a result one of his back legs is shorter than the other causing him to limp. In spite of this he still manages to keep up with the herd and this morning he was determined not to miss out on any of the fun.
And not to forget our wonderful and abundant feathered friends today was a great morning for eagle sightings. We saw a number of species of eagles this morning, including a mature bataleur eagle (directly translated this means marvelous face, short tail). He was perched on a dead tree in all his finery, scanning beneath him to see what he could catch for breakfast.
Sarah-Estelle Sangster- (Kapama River Lodge Ranger)