Can I ride a zebra?

Once you see a zebra, you can’t help but notice how similar it looks to a horse or donkey with stripes. This is most likely why a lot of people have this question on their mind … “Why don’t we ride zebra?”  The answer is that the zebra cannot carry a lot of weight on its back and that makes it difficult for the animal to support a human rider.

 

Another reason is that they are stoutly built and much shorter than horses and this makes them less suited. In the past there have successful cross breedings with donkeys and horses, but unfortunately, (or maybe fortunately) the genetic trait of a weak back tends to re-occur more often than not.

 

One other thing quite often seen with large zebra populations is zebras with no tails. This was not caused by a narrow escape from lion or another predator, but most likely to be the result of a fight between two stallions. During a fight they rely on kicking and biting and if bitten on the right place, the tails nerves and cause it to fall off. It can also be bitten off completely during the battle.

 

Armand Steyn

Ranger

Kapama Main Lodge

Bushveld toiletries

This morning’s safari started out with not too much happening. After about half an hour of impala sighting after impala sighting I noted my guests becoming a little restless. While Jeffery my tracker was out following tracks of the male lion, I decided to show my guests some useful vegetation found all around us.

 

We started out looking at a Weeping Wattle (Peltophorum africanum) which was used by the local Shangaan people as toilet paper due to the softness of its leaves. A few comments were made about one or two ply tissue. I then showed them the Magic Guarri (Euclea divinorum), which is a small shrub with very wavy leaves. The branches of this tree are extremely fibrous, so by removing the bark and loosening the fibres, the branch makes a nice tooth brush. Now what use is a toothbrush without toothpaste?

 

Next was a Leadwood (Combretum imberbe), the ash of which is very white, indicating high calcium content. Mix it with a little water and put it on the toothbrush and your teeth will sparkle when you are done. Now all you need is some soap. This can be acquired by rubbing the leaves of the Devil’s thorn weed (Tribulus zeyheri) in your hands, which quickly start to form a slimy soap-like substance.

 

So there you have it, an entire toiletry bag in the bush.

 

Once I had finished, Jeffery returned with some great news, he had found the lions!

 

Dean Robinson

Head Ranger

Kapama Main Lodge

Animals interacting

This morning we set out on a mission to find the elephant herd, our attempt was in vain however as we tracked them and eventually found the herd on foot in the centre of a big block and unfortunately were unable to view them with the vehicles.  Towards the end of drive as it was warming up we were lucky enough to find our 300 strong herd of buffalo drinking water at one of the dams. It is always a privilege to watch animals interacting at a waterhole. The whole herd was trying to find space in what is a relatively small area of water. But buffalos have no problem with squeezing together in a small space. There were some submerged under the water and others playing and drinking. What made the sighting even better was a family of warthogs who also wanted to drink. One of the younger buffalos was playfully chasing them away every time they attempted to get near the waters edge! Eventually the buffalo allowed the warthog some space and the adult male rolled around in the mud before rejoining his family. After their stint at the waterhole the buffalo moved off again  in search of food. This evening we were very grateful to find that the elephants had emerged from the block. Two of the teenage bulls were locked together in a battle of wills, and eventually the matriarch had to step in to break up the fight. All the while with a calf underneath her belly, probably wondering what on earth was going on! We also saw our dominant male lion with one of the lionesses and her two 6 month old cubs. It is quite unusual to see these 4 lions together. It seemed as though the cubs thought it was a real novelty to have their dad around and they were intent on chasing him down the road. He seemed fairly unimpressed by their playful behaviour, but they carried on regardless, trying to jump on him and running down the road in pursuit of him. What a treat! Our drive finished off with a bushbaby running across the road in front of the vehicle and a pair of spotted eagle owls perched in a dead tree on the lookout for supper.

Story by:  Sarah Sangster-Kapama River Lodge Ranger

Exciting Happenings

On a recent game drive we set out to track the resident pride of lions, so we headed off to where the last known tracks had been seen. We were looking at a group of giraffe in that area when we heard vervet monkeys giving alarm calls just behind them, this often means that they have seen a predator, we started to circle the block and suddenly had two white rhino popped out of the block in front of us, we were joined by fellow ranger Freedom who had seen some fresh leopard tracks entering the area.We then left our trackers on the spoor while Freedom and I circled the block. Suddenly Freedom reported a lioness with three cubs behind me and after cautioning the trackers by radio to stay put, we followed the lions. The cubs saw the giraffe we looked at earlier and proceeded to give chase, killer instincts already showing! Needless to say the leopard was not seen as it probably heard the lioness call out to find her sister and high tailed it out of the area.

 

Sebastiaan Janse van Vuuren

Senior Ranger

Kapama Main Lodge

The funny side of guiding

We as rangers sometimes come across funny moments in the bush that makes for a good chuckle, two of these moments happened on recent game drives. We came across a pride of lions sprawled in the road, the dominant male lion was also present and lying down in the road. His tail was an attractive target for two of the young cubs who could not resist his swinging tail. This was not to his liking and he kept growling at them, however the temptation remained too strong until the male jumped up and sent them scampering.

Another funny moment was when we noticed an African harrier hawk land on a tree top, only to be dive bombed by a Fork tailed drongo time and again. All the Harrier Hawk could do was sway its head out of the way while being annoyed by a much smaller bird. African harrier hawks often raid the nests of other birds and so it’s not popular with most birds!

 

Sebastiaan Janse van Vuuren

Senior guide

Kapama Main Lodge