Normally, local guest are quite versed in the ways of the bush and just enjoy being out and about, trying out a new camera or lens, or enjoying a weekend away with family and friends. Amazingly enough, every once in a while you will come across a guest from SA who has never seen a lion…or perhaps has only caught a fleeting 100 meter visual once when they were driving in one of the national parks. Recently, a guest of mine visiting for a day drive had confessed that all she wanted to see was lions, and if possible, close enough for good pictures. Ok, we can definitely try for that, but as it’s the middle of the day our chances are smaller than on morning or evening drive.

Along we went, spying some stunning zebra and giraffe, a few impala and waterbuck, and some fantastically soaring white-backed vultures and tawny eagles. Then a call came through on the radio from a fellow ranger, at one of the larger dams on the property were two of our very large and beautiful lionesses; one at least two and a bit months pregnant. Excellent! As we approached my colleague pulled out and we were left to ourselves, the bright blue sky, and the lions just two meters off the road. My female guest was thrilled as were al the others joining us that afternoon. She had never been this close to lions before and could not get enough. Beautiful daylight pictures were taken of the two relaxing, allo-grooming, stretching, and cat-napping.

There is nothing better than giving your guests that one sighting they’ve been craving for who knows how long.

Ranger Story: Noelle DiLorenzo (River Lodge Ranger)

A visitor

Once again, clear skies here at Kapama. We really can not complain about our weather, when looking at other parts of the country where its cold and windy.

Last night we had another great elephant sighting. The herd was moving slowly from a waterhole towards the northern area of the reserve. On my vehicle I had a young girl by the name of Nina, she was so excited to see them as well as our calf which was born a couple of weeks ago. He really kept us entertained-trying to use his trunk but not managed to pick up anything. Two elder bulls were summing each other up, trying to discover which of the two are stronger.

We had a lovely meal in the Boma last night, when out of the corner of one of the rangers eyes(Maggie) -she spotted a civet. The civet was still quite young and was wandering about amongst the stones looking for something to eat. Not bothered with any of the guests,which in turn were staring in amazement.

Where are the Lions?

Hi all, once again.

I just had an amazing group of guests leave today, amazing family and friends all travelling together.
The reason for my title “where are the LIons?” is because we spent 4 whole game drives searcing high and low for these amazing cats, eventually when we were starting to lose all hope of seeing a lion. This morning, the guests
final day with us, guess what we stumble across? Yes the male lion
sleep soundly under a tree looking like he hadn’t missed us at all.

It turned out to be an amazing sighting, with massive smiles on the kids faces, even my tracker “Jeff” had a huge smile of relief on his face, i’m pretty sure that i had that same smile on mine!

Amazing times in the African bush once again.

The only thing predictable about nature is how unpredictable it is.

That quote comes true everyday for us game rangers here on Kapama, as you never know what animal or supprise is lurking around the next corner!

The Russet Bush Willow


Species: Combretum heroense
Afrikaans: Kierieklapper
Shangaan/Tsonga: Xikhavi

The Russet Bush Willow is one of the most commonly found trees on Kapama and in the Lowveld.

Bush willow’s/Combretum spp. all have four-winged pods. The Russet Bush Willow’s pods are brilliant russet-red in summer, changing to a light, coppery-brown later in the season. Their pods remain on the tree for long periods – often until July.

This tree is utilized by various animals in particular Kudu, giraffe, elephant, steenbok, impala and Nyala.

Humans also use parts of the tree:

  • Pods can be brewed in water to make a pleasant tea.
  • Straight branches are used to make “kieries” (walking sticks)
  • The wood is very hard and is used a support beams in mines. It can also be used for pick and hoe handles.
  • Russet Bush Willow wood is termite and woodborer proof and can be used for fence posts and furniture.
  • An infusion of the roots can be used to treat stomach problems.
  • The bark is used for heartburn and heart diseases.

Hailey Bunge (Kapama River Lodge Ranger)

Lion Sighting

All right everybody, we’re going to stop here for sun downers and a leg stretch. Please feel free to get off the vehicle to have some snacks and a drink or two…Then the inevitable question…What happens if the lions come? The response…Please don’t worry, if the lions, or any other animal happens this way I will take care of it, but there shouldn’t be any problem. They’re not that interested in us any way.

Explaining to guests that no, the lion will NOT jump in the vehicle, and please don’t worry, they probably won’t crash our sun downer stop…but please do not walk too far into the bush for a toilet break, is a common occurrence on game drive. Movies and internet blogs have given a misconception about the behavior of animals, especially lions, towards the unwary visitor. That’s not to say that incidents do not occur, of course they do, but 99.9% of the time nothing unsavory happens.

But, as Murphy is the ruler of the Bush with a very “interesting” sense of humor, and a fatalistic approach to any who say, “shouldn’t”, “couldn’t”, or the worst, “definitely will NOT,” you can expect to run into an interesting situation or two. So after getting out my drinks and snacks, reassuring two female guests that the lions aren’t around, and discussing interesting bush experiences, we carried on.

Ok everyone, we’re going to continue on with night drive now and head towards where the lions were seen this morning, (about a 20 – 30 minute drive from where we had stopped), and see if we can’t find a Civet, Genet, or Leopard on the way. Fifty meters down the road as my spotlight travels over a termite mound my brain screams, whoa that’s not right! Stop, pause, reverse, shine again. What? And there, lying flat out behind a small dead shrub, completely camouflaged and relaxed, is a rather large lioness, the one with the two small cubs. Great! Everyone if you look just over there behind that bush there’s a sleeping lion. Excitement and chattering as I off-road slowly over to where she laid so as to get a nice visual, and then silence as everyone thinks…Wait! We just had sun downers one minute from here….

See everybody, I told you the lions weren’t that interested in us…
Story by:Noelle DiLorenzo(Kapama River Lodge Ranger)