Eland

eland-picture

Eland, Tragelaphus oryx, are the largest antelope species in Sub-Saharan Africa, as well as here at Kapama. Our herd used to be quite large, but over time our lions have compressed the number down to just one lone female Eland. Our large male lion can consume at most round about 25 kg of meat at a sitting, and with a male Eland weighing up to 950-1000kg, that’s a nice long weekend’s worth of gorging for our lion pride.

Eland are cousins of Kudu, Bushbuck, and Nyala. All are in the Spiral Horned Antelope Family and all are what’s known as “Track-on-Track walkers,” meaning they put one foot down and then the next foot on the same spot to minimize the amount of noise they make in the bush. Both male and female Eland have horns, the males are short and thick and the females long and slender. Eland can jump over three meters in height and are built to survive in most climates from desert to Bushveld, to Lowveld, and mountains.

Female Eland are a tawny color, sometimes going into a light grey as they get older. They have a small flap of skin under their neck on their chest known as a Dewlap, where as male Eland are a grey  hue, turning almost black with age and have a large Dewlap. The purpose of the Dewlap is to help with thermoregulation in arid habitats. The females give birth around the same time as each other, “Flooding the market,” and will form a cresh as the young reach a few weeks old. After a month or two the young form a juvenile herd that follows the adult mixed male-female herd from feeding spot to feeding spot.

By: Noelle DiLorenzo – Kapama River Lodge Ranger

Migration

For the last month we have been noticing a lot of the migrating bird species that are back for the summer, some for breeding and others for a nice summer holiday.

 

Some birds migrate all the way from Russia and others just fly to the equator.  We will never truly understand why they go to such great extremes, but some reasons why a bird would migrate are:

 

Breeding grounds

Food availability

Climate change

 

These are just three of the reasons that influence birds, but one big question remains and that’s how do they know when is the right time to migrate? Recently in SA, an early journey resulted in the death of  many swallows due to a very bad cold spell and then the question on every ones minds was ”what is going to happen to the population? Once again global warming was believed to be the cause.

That just shows that we don’t always realize what the influence of our pollution is on the world.

 

Armand Steyn

Ranger

Kapama Main Lodge

Babies

With the coming of the rainy season, so too come many new animals. The impala lambs seem to be being born by the hundreds, young vervet monkeys,  hanging onto mom for dear life as she climbs up and down trees. Everyday when we head out on safari, we never know what we might see, but a birth is something amazing. It usually happens early in the morning, thus giving the new born the entire day to “find its feet” before the predators go hunting again once it is dark. Year after year the comments from our guests are the same, it doesn’t matter what country they are from or what language they speak, the universal name for baby is aah!!! Closely followed by isn’t it cute.

Dean Robinson

Senior Ranger

Kapama Main Lodge

Mozambique Spitting Cobra

Returning from game drive yesterday evening I noticed a snake lying in the road on my trackers side. Warning him of its presence, I stopped and then discovered that it was a Mozambique spitting cobra or Mfezi. These snakes occur widely in the northern parts of Southern Africa and as the name indicates can spit venom into eyes with amazing accuracy from about two metres away, if not washed out immediately this can lead to permanent blindness. The venom is mostly neurotoxic (nerve affecting) with some elements of cytotoxins (cell destroying) and is one of the few medically important snakes in this area, after some minutes the snake slid off towards the lodge dam where it no doubt would hunt for the myriad of frogs that appeared after the rain. Leaving it be we closed down soon after.

 

 

Sebastiaan Jansen van Vuuren

Senior Ranger

Kapama Main Lodge

2x Kills

This morning I came across a very rare and amazing sighting. We found our four sub-adult lionesses had made two kills next to one another; the one was a young blue wildebeest which is quite normal for a lion but the other was a fairly young aardvark. Most of the body was still intact so it was really awesome to get up close to the dead carcass (as the lions had moved off) and see just how strange and extraordinary these creatures really are…
Story by: Calvin Du Plessis-Kapama River Lodge Ranger