Steenbok

img_3049In South Africa the Steenbuck is one of the most abundant small antelope species.
Only rams have slender upright horns, female have no horns. They are a rufous colour and have a gland situated in front of their dark brown eyes which is used to paste its scent onto plants and shrubs.

Rams and ewes defend and share a territory. They are mainly solitary, males mark their territories using a gland under the chin as well as with their urine.
An interesting fact about this antelope is that it is the only bovid which will scrape the ground before and after urination and defecation very much like a cat would cover its faeces.

The most common predators on Steenbuck are Leopard, Caracal, Wild Dog and Cheetah.

Predators vs Prey

The relationship between predator and prey is a very complicated one. The rangers at Kapama Main Lodge were extremely fortunate to witness some of this behaviour yesterday.

Firstly yesterday was not good to be an impala, since we found a young female leopard that had killed a male impala around the Mamba dam area. She was quite skittish at first but as the day wore on and darkness fell she became more relaxed and many of our guests watched as she devoured the carcass.

We were also privileged to see our pride of lions on an impala kill yesterday morning. Unfortunately for the lionesses the dominant male lion ate most of the kill only allowing the three young cubs to feed alongside him. But this is where it gets interesting. Not far from where the lions were feeding; the buffalo herd were having a drink of water at a nearby dam. The wind direction was just perfect and they picked up the scent of the lions. Luckily for the cubs the lioness saw the buffalo approaching and called to them so that they would have enough time to escape. The male lion however was too busy gorging himself on the Impala kill. Finally, at the last moment, he turned around and saw the buffalo who were by now at very close quarters. He just had enough time to grab what remained of the Impala carcass and run for his life, disappearing behind one of the dam walls with the angry buffalo in hot pursuit.

The score at the end of the day was Predators 2 Prey 1.

Dean Robinson
Senior Ranger

Life in the Bush

Hope you are all well. As the manager of Buffalo Camp, I can tell you that I surely miss being in the bush. We often take these things so much for granted that we don’t always realise what we are missing until we don’t have these privileges any more.

Being a ranger myself until recently, I can assure you that it is a complete different lifestyle here in the bush.

Our traffic is not nearly the same as that in the city. Trusts me, when I say that a herd of elephant or buffalo will keep you waiting as long as they want while they amble slowly across the road. They definitely have the right of way. The only difference is that we enjoy watching them and we are not in a rush to go somewhere.

Our gambling is also different in the bush.
Talking out of experience, there is often some form or other of gambling going on between the rangers. With our sort of gambling though we have nothing to lose and you can earn some confidence and respect.
Here are some examples of Bush Gambling:
• When do you think the first Impala baby will be born?
• When do you think can we expect our first big summer rain?
• Which ranger will be the first to spot the new lion cubs?
• How much rain did we have last night?

I can carry on and on!

Even though our lifestyle in the bush is different, our traffic and gambling are much more interesting and I can assure you that a lot of things are the same all over.

It all boils down to what we make of it!
Initiative, a little bit of imagination and respect (for nature) plays a big role in the bush!

Contributed by: Melanie Opperman – Buffalo Camp

Bushveld Gardenia

What a beautiful tree this is at this time of year. The flowers are creamy to yellow but only seen from August to December. They have grey-green fruits which are rough in texture. The bark of the tree is very smooth and grey in colour with patches of yellow from the bark underneath.

It’s believed to have magical powers and was often planted at the entrance of homesteads to keep away the evil spirits.

Loxodonta africana

Yesterday afternoon while out on game drive we came across a sighting where we witnessed some of the elephants eating the dung of the matriarch (the dominant cow elephant in a herd). So naturally the question was asked as why this happens.

For elephants to be able to digest their food, they need microscopic organisms. Calves often eat the dung of the adults to get the microscopic organisms into their system which helps them digest their food. Less than half of the adult’s food is digested, so the dung is rich as a food source for the youngsters.

Another strange thing that we also witnessed was one of the bull elephant, approximately 16 years old, also aating the dung of the same female. This can be due to the fact that there has not been rain yet and that these giants of Africa will do almost anything for some sort of food with nutrients. Even eating the dung of another elephant. It can easily be predigested since only between 40 and 60 present of what is taken in gets digested so a lot of nutrients go to waste.

Just for interest, the scrub hare is also well known for eating its own dung to get more nutrients from its food.

The term for this behavior is called “copraphagia”.

Armand Steyn