Noelle DiLorenzo – 17 September 2009 Story
This morning was the last drive of a four night stay for one of my guests. He requested that we please see zebra…oh and leopard if possible. Since he was the only guest with me for the morning, myself and my tracker were more than happy to oblige his leopard request as we had been tracking leopard on and off for days with no visual. I explained how the tracking would work and the guest was more than enthusiastic about the whole process. We picked up on some nice tracks of a male and female leopard who had been seen the previous night and who another ranger had been trying to locate that morning. We followed them into a thick area perfect for leopard with a dry river bed, large trees, thick bush, and of course, no access by vehicle. Just so the morning wasn’t a complete bust for my client, we stopped to view two sub-adult lionesses and then carried on with our search. Just as my tracker and I were starting to give up a sighting of one of our more relaxed male leopards was called through. We went straight there and were rewarded with a beautiful sighting of the male scent marking, walking, stopping and looking at us, and then carry on as if we and any other vehicle were not there. The look on my guests face as we left the sighting and the smile on my tracker’s and my own face more than made up for the slow morning and the previous mornings without seeing these elusive and beautiful creatures. Great ending for a stay at Kapama, great drive, great sighting, great experience for me and my guest…Oh, and we got an up close and personal encounter with a Dazzle of zebra just as we reached the lodge….Mission accomplished!
My game drive starts at morning tea that’s when I start the day with a glass of juice then while all the rangers are sitting deciding what is on the menu for drive its then when we decide what animals and in the different parts of the reserve each ranger will be driving.
After the tea in the morning we then set out to the vehicles all the guests decide where they are going to sit and get heated up by the blankets then we set off on the road by this time we know where we are going so the only thing that stops us from getting there is the spotting of any game along the way. This part is what game drives are made of, this part is where the most of the questions are asked and answered. During this section of the drive is another important part this is finding traces of what we are looking for. This means tracks, scrapings on the road maybe birds calling, squirrels crying or even vultures circling in the sky this takes a great deal of concentration and skill.
About halfway through the drive we then stop for a cup of tea, coffee or hot chocolate this is normally complimented by a rust (this is a hard sweet crisp bread) perfect for dipping into your drink. This is when every tree becomes a lavatory and the legs can have a bit of a stretch.
After the coffee we return to the road and keep trying to find the animals. By this time its normally a bit warmer and the animals are either laying in the shade of the trees or still moving a bit. In this part of the drive we normally find the one we looking for, always a bit of excitement here.
After a great sighting we take a slow drive back towards the lodge where there is a good hearty breakfast waiting. Then there is time to relax and build up the excitement for the next drive in the afternoon.
From me Brett enjoy your day and see you in the bush
So many of our guests travel a long, long way for their ultimate Safari experience in Africa and more specifically, here with us at Kapama Private Game Reserve. They spend hours on flights, waiting at airports and long transfers to come live their ultimate dream of seeing the Big 5 and all the other big and hairy creatures that we have at Kapama. But how many people take a second think at the smaller creatures which inhabit this Lowveld region of South Africa?
All the birds and insects, spiders and scorpions and finally the snakes and reptiles all have their part in this play on Mother Nature’s grand stage. The snakes and reptiles fill our thoughts with images of scaly, slimy, legless creatures that make your skin crawl and give you the urge to scream or run a mile in the opposite direction at top speed. I think they are very much a misunderstood group of animals that have earned their place here. Without snakes we would have a serious rat and mouse problem. Some species like the Boomslang live in the trees and just love to eat things like birds and their young, thereby controlling their numbers too. These animals are not out to bite people, you are far too big for say a Cape File Snake to eat! I can promise you that these creatures are more afraid of you than you are of them.
The energy required for a snake to manufacture the venom in its body is immense. Why would they waste it on you who he can’t eat because you are too big for him and, ultimately, he sees you as a predator who could seriously make his day a bad one. Their first instinct is to flee. “Get away from this thing that might do me harm!” and its this instinct that saves them 99% of the time. Most snake bites come from snakes that are being handled by people. The venom is used to immobilize their prey so that they can feed and only as a last resort for defense.
We have a golden rule here which is never handle any venomous snake without the proper training and equipment. Yes we do find these creatures around the lodges and we do our best to safely remove them when they are encountered by people around the lodge, releasing them back in into the bush a long way from the lodge and people.
We must remember that we are merely the audience here, visitors that should take nothing but photographs and leave nothing but footprints.
Until next time, be safe and bush greetings.
Story by: Paul Daniel
As the days get longer and warmer we are having some amazing sightings. In particular, I have had some awesome sightings of what are generally nocturnal creatures, during the day…!
One of the amazing creatures that I have seen often are Honey Badgers (Mellivora capensis).
These fearless little animals are fierce carnivores with a keen sense of smell and a sweet tooth for beehives. They are also notorious for their snake killing abilities. The males are a little bigger than the females. They are heavily built, with a broad head, small eyes, virtually no external ears, and a relatively blunt snout.
Story by: Hailey Bunge -Kapama River Lodge Ranger
Summer is back… with a vengeance
Before I had my week off, I was still doing game drives dressed in a jacket, beanie and gloves. But when I came back after one week, it felt like I missed a whole season. What happened to Spring, is a big mystery. With temperatures already in the 30’s, we’ve headed for an early start to summer. The great thing about it is that all the trees start blossoming, and the beautiful red, white and yellow blossoms are a welcoming sight after the dull winter colours. Now we’re expectantly waiting for the rain. The chameleons and snakes have started emerging from their winter slumber, and the migratory birds are also seen again. We are looking forward to a great summer, with lots of new babies and lush green vegetation. Will keep you updated on that.
Maggie Oosthuizen – Kapama River Lodge Ranger