Saddle Billed Storks

You might think spotting a leopard is difficult until you try and spot a saddle-billed stork! It is estimated that there are less than 50 pairs of saddle-billed storks left in Southern Africa. That is less than 100 birds. These birds can be identified as individuals by the colour markings on their bills which form black and red bands over the upper and lower beak of the bird.  The width and pattern of these band differ from bird to bird. Saddle-billed storks are extremely territorial so on an area such as Kapama you may only have two resident pairs. We know of one pair that frequents the Eastern sector of the reserve and they are sighted from time to time during game drives. As you may well appreciate, these birds are therefore extremely rare to find. In South Africa they are mostly found in the areas adjacent to the Kruger National Park. The South African National Parks (SANPARKS) staff are currently busy with a census to try and determine the total numbers remaining of these amazing bird. Hopefully we may see an increase in their number in the future.

Armand Steyn

Ranger – Kapama Main Lodge

Elephant

Our Elephants are rare lately or should I say difficult to find! We are at the end of our winter so at this time of the year they move to feeding grounds in the south of the game reserve where the bush is thick and dense and there is more food for them.

We generally spend more time looking for them during this period and with a bit of hard work and good luck we still manage to find them. The young elephants calves are doing well and are becoming stronger and stronger daily.

We were fortunate to witness a reptile talk and demonstration today from arguably one of the top herpetologists in South Africa, Donald Strydom. He is the curator of the local snake park outside the town of Hoedspruit and always manages to present his talk and demonstration in such a way that the participants can’t help but fall in love by the end of his talk with all the snakes and critters they have seen, touched and even sniffed. Sometimes it is so exciting working in the bush as we are often involved in so many life enriching experiences.

By Johan Kruger

Questions and Answers – Lions

What is the purpose of the lions roaring?

Apart from communicating with members of the pride which may be spread over a large area, roaring is a way of warning other lions that the area or territory is occupied. Despite general belief, both males and females roar. Lions roar in different situations. It often appears to happen spontaneously, but is often as a result of a reply to a distant call that we as humans aren’t able to hear. Lions tend to call more often at night than during the day as sound travels further in cooler temperatures. A lion’s roar can be heard up to eight kilometres away.

Do lions have a repertoire of different roars?

Lions are capable of a very impressive variety of sounds such as moans, grunts, snarls, growls and roars. Cubs can make meowing sounds and can also purr. Grunts are mainly used by lionesses when calling their cubs.

Tim: Senior Ranger

Rain!!!!!!

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We are all eagerly waiting for the first rains to fall in the reserve as at the end of the past winter the bush is particularly sparse and arid this year. The insects and frogs must know that the long dry spell is at an end because all of a sudden the summer insects are showing themselves in force. They seem to know that the rain is on its way.

We witnessed some heavy rain laden clouds on the horizon during the last couple of days but unfortunately no rain has fallen as yet. Even the trees and flowers seem to know that the rain is imminent as they are all starting to bloom as well. Plant’s such as the blood lily are blooming in great masses throughout the bush. The first thunderstorm of the rainy season is always a great treat to us ranger’s and we always feel like the bush has been reborn and everything can start off fresh and new again. We continue to eagerly scan the horizon on a daily basis in the hope that the much needed rains will fall soon.

By Johan Kruger

Easy drive.

Today I decided to set out on drive and look in particular for our male lion. Late yesterday we saw his tracks going east but never managed to find him. So I set off with my guests in what we though to be the lion’s general direction. As regular visitors to this blog may have read, looking for a lion can be quite a long and drawn-out  affair. We were fortunate today because as we were driving east along one of the cut-lines we saw a familiar shape in the far distance. My tracker Steven spotted him walking straight towards us. All we had to do was stop, switch off and wait for him to come to us. How lucky is that? It can be that easy sometimes.

By Roel van Muiden.