On the morning of the 29th December 2009, we started off on our morning safari, with the intent of making our way to the Western section of the Kapama Game Reserve!
The only animals left to see, were the Hippo and the illusive Big “L” the Leopard!
We were all still settling into our positions and getting comfortable while driving, when my tracker “Willies” said in a calm voice, “there’s a Leopard”, of course we all know how elusive the leopard is and I think to myself “is it really?” So I go back to where he said he saw it, and, can you believe it, there she was, IMBILO (meaning – heart), lying in a tree without a care in the world after not showing herself for a good few weeks. It was fantastic to finally see her again!
While taking some pictures, I failed to notice that some warthog had come out of their burrow in a termite mound, very close to where Imbilo was lying in the tree. Of course as opportunistic as the leopard is, she lives up to her name and jumps out of the tree, in an attempt to catch at least one of the warthogs, unfortunately for her, the warthogs were a little more awake than she expected and they managed to get away unharmed!
It was an amazing sighting and we all hope to have many more just like it!
When we left the lodge this morning it was really warm and I thought it was going to be a very quiet drive, since most animals normally hide away from the heat. Halfway through drive however, we heard monkeys calling in a drainage line. One of my guests saw a lioness stalking a young giraffe and after we went closer we saw her sister still asleep not to far away.
When the lioness was about eight meters away, the giraffe saw her, and ran away in a cloud of dust! The lioness immediately changed direction and chased after some warthog babies about 100 meters away… she had missed three times when the smallest of the piglets changed direction and unknowingly, ran straight towards the sleeping lioness.
We have lost sight of the lions for a while, and after relocating them again a couple of minutes later, we found that the sleeping lioness had succeeded to catch the warthog piglet that was running towards her.
As we arrived she was busy pulling the warthog apart while the other lioness was watching her from a short distance away. She was licking her lips in anticipation, even though she must have known she was not going to get even a scrap of meat from her sister, because in the bush, it is all about survival and only the strongest and fittest will survive.
Story by: Richard Venter-Kapama River Lodge Ranger
What is a tusk? Why have tusks?
We all know what a tusk is, it is one of the words that are found in almost all conversations about elephants. There are also other species of mammals with tusks such as the warthog and also the bush pig.
The tusk is a canine tooth that grows constantly and this is also one of the bigger differences between tusks and teeth, in elephants these can get very large with weights of over 80 kg that is more than what the average human weighs.
So what are they used for? Elephants use them as foraging tools and not just as weapons, they strip bark of trees, dig for the roots of plants and also use them to break smaller branches, where with the warthog it is also used to forage but they will also use them in defense, if they are disturbed they will take off and run, then if cornered, they will use the head as a battering ram, this can cause serious cuts in soft skinned animals e.g. cheetahs, leopards and even lion could be injured. This truly makes a warthog a worthy opponent.
Kapama Main Lodge
This morning on drive, whilst hot on the tracks of a female leopard, we made our way towards the Nyala Dam area. The next thing we heard the impala giving alarm calls on the south western side of the dam. We quickly made our way around the dam to see if we could see any sign of what was scaring the impala. I switched off my Land Cruiser and Respect, my tracker, went on foot to see if he could find any sign of the leopard. As he climbed off, a pair of Egyptian geese made their way into the dam, another three geese then followed a little way off. The first pair was soon seen fighting and one was actually biting the others tail. It let out an almighty squawk and the adult male appeared immediately flying to its rescue, chasing the intruder from “his” dam. And all was calm on the dam again. Unfortunately the leopard was not found, but tonight is another chance to find her.
Kapama Main Lodge
As the silly season slowly disappears, the days have been long and hot!
The 21st December was the Summer Solstice. Having had the longest day in the year, the days will start becoming shorter until the Winter Solstice in June.
The last few days have been excessively hot and most of the animals have been hiding until later in the afternoon! This however has not barred some amazing sightings:
We have been fortunate with some excellent Lion sightings. Three lionesses where found lazing at a dam one afternoon and later that night the big male showed his prowess, roaring next to our vehicles! We have found two new lion cubs, after a lengthily absence of one of our adult lionesses – we will keep you updated.
One of our commonly seen male Leopards paid us a visit yesterday morning and we managed to relocate him last night. He killed a small Jackal and had satisfaction stalking the rest of its family afterwards . Later at dinner there was a buzz amongst all the guests – all excited after having seen this elusive creature!
Our Rhinos and Buffalo have been spending lots of time in the mud and watering holes! Lazing about and sleeping until late in the afternoon…
Story by: Hailey Bunge – River Lodge Ranger