A usual question posed to any ranger is, “What do you see when on drive and what is better, the morning, or the afternoon drive?” A great example that answers both of these questions are the drives I had last night and this morning with guests. The weather has finally started to turn from cold and rainy to sunny and warm. The veld is now green, the bird life has picked-up and most animals are giving birth. My guests and I started our evening drive with a fantastic view of The Drakensberg, followed by zebra and multitudes of giraffe and kudu. We then proceeded to a wonderful white rhino sighting consisting of three females of various ages just as the “Golden Hour” for photography started. On our way to look for lions we bumped a large herd of our disease free buffalo surrounded by some very active and curious Red-Billed Oxpeckers. Carrying on, with the light still fantastic and the sky changing slightly into different hues of orange and pink, we found two lion cubs and their mother playing and eating off a buffalo calf they had killed the previous evening. The cubs climbed trees and wrestled with their mother, intermediately eating bits here and there. A true Africa sunset accompanied our Sundowners, along with inquisitive giraffe, as well as Bush-Babies hopping tree to tree, and just after dark we got an amazing sighting of our big male lion lazy in the road looking his usual King of The Jungle self.
The following morning brought a Blacked-Backed Jackal pup playing outside the den while the parents ate a small breakfast. Then our herd of elephant playfully eating, drinking, and causing mischief in and around the bush, on the road, and basically in wonderful view for myself and my guests. Wildebeest, zebra, giraffe, steenbok, impala, duiker, and warthog were ever-present. After a restful and yet rejuvenating coffee break we witnessed an adult Gabar Goshawk bathing himself in a small pan, (not a usual sighting at all.) After which we bumbled along to one of our dams for a hilariously fantastic viewing of five Hippos, two small calves, two adult females and an adult male, lazily resting on a small island until Southern Masked Weavers startled the youngest calf causing all five to immediately plunge into the dam and grunt their distaste into the warm morning air.
All of what was mentioned above and more can be seen whilst on drive. As you can see both Evening and Morning Safari can be full of nature. One must just remember that NOTHING IS GUARUNTEED IN THE BUSH…one must just listen, look, smell, and hear all that it has to offer and your drives will be just a fulfilling and fun as ours recently were!
On a recent afternoon game drive while viewing a male and a female lion, I suddenly noticed hundreds of winged termites in the air, also called Alates. After heavy rains in the summer they emerge in their thousands, from two of these a new colony will eventually start, but there are a host of predators poised to take advantage of this windfall. Among them several birds like hornbills, buzzards, toads, frogs, predatory insects and even carnivores like Jackal. While in the lion sighting we saw a host of yellow billed hornbills and starlings on the ground feeding hopping around frantically picking up termites-exactly the reason why the termites swarm off in great numbers is to ensure the survival of a species one of the rangers commented on them as being “dinner on the wing”even!
Sebastiaan Jansen van Vuuren
Kapama Main Lodge
Whist out last night during the cold rainy weather, we did not manage to see a lot of game, however on our return to Buffalo Camp, we came upon an unusual sighting – an African wild cat (Felis silvestris lybica), foraging for food.
The cat was relaxed and did not pay much attention to us viewing him, as he was too interested in what he was stalking.
The Sand Cat (Felis margarita) is the species found in even more arid areas.
African Wildcats are on CITES Appendix II that mean species that are not necessarily threatened with extinction, but may become so unless trade in specimens of such species is subject to strict regulation in order to avoid utilization incompatible with their survival. The primary threat facing the African wildcat throughout its range is hybridization with domestic cats. Hybridization has been taking place over a long period of time, particularly in the north of its range where domestic cats arose thousands of years ago.
After a good 10 minutes of viewing, this beautiful cat was on his way and we were on our way back to camp.
Kobus van Schalkwyk
Ranger at Buffalo Camp
After the heavy rains we have just had, the winged termites known as Alates were abundantly found on Kapama’s Eastern section. We were driving past KK dam and came across a pair of Black-Backed Jackals who were feasting on these insects. My guests found it quite amusing as these very capable carnivores, were to them, snapping their jaws at absolutely nothing. These termites ( most of us know them incorrectly as “flying ants” ) are an extremely good source of protein and even humans can use them for food, if lost in the African bush. Certain birds of prey use these peanut butter flavoured “bugs” to boost their fat in-take for the long journeys abroad, when leaving Africa for other parts of the world.
Kapama Main Lodge
Today we were lucky that the rain stayed away for drive! Though it is still uncharacteristically cold for this time of year! So we wrapped up warm and were prepared with ponchos! Our first sighting this morning was that of a black backed jackal (one of my favourite animals!) carrying a dead spurfowl accross the road. Who knows if he caught it himself or whether he found it by chance. Jackals readily scavenge, and when we later found our dominant male lion with one of our lionesses lying bellies full next to a wildebeest kill, we saw another pair of jackals lurking in the distance waiting to steal some food! Jackals are omnivorous and will eat antelope, ungulate calves, insects, rodents, hares, lizards, snakes, and fruits and berries. They are not fussy eaters and take whatever is easy and readily available. When they do hunt, they are very successful indeed. Black backed jackals are also known to stash food supplies, sometimes burying supplies underground to eat later. Hence we often see them sniffing around trying to remember where they buried their food supply! We were also lucky enough to witness the mating display of a Korhaan which is very entertaining. The bird first starts to sing an elaborate song and make “popping” noises and then flies vertically up into the air about 20ft and tumbles elaborately back down to the ground.
Story by: Sarah-Estelle Sangster -Kapama River Lodge Ranger