Three snakes in one day!
On a recent safari, I had the often asked question directed at me by a clearly nervous guest! “Do you have snakes here?”
This is probably the most frequently asked question we get as game rangers, I answered that although there are many snakes around, and we seldom see one.
This day was to be different, while watching a tortoise walk across the road, my tracker pointed out a Boom slang in the tree next to us. The name Boom slang literally means “tree snake”, as this is where it spends most of it’s time hunting birds, lizards and chameleons.
Next we came across a Puff Adder lying across the road, this snake accounts for the most bites on humans as it relies on its camouflage to escape detection, but often get stepped on, and then bites defensively.
By this time I could see the nervousness increase among some, “seldom seen?” Yeah right!
But it didn’t end there, on arrival back at the lodge, in front of the lodge main door; we came across a beautiful African Rock Python, soaking up the heat from the paving!
Goes to show that the African bush can deliver the unexpected very often!
While on drive the other afternoon our two large adult lionesses killed a fully grown zebra to feed themselves and the two new two month old cubs. A day later, they were still there, enjoying the fruit of their labors while the cubs wrestled, played, napped, and nursed. A full grown male lion can consume roughly 25 kg of meat at a sitting with females averaging about 15-18 kg. After consuming such vast quantities of protein most lions will take a rest and then head off for the nearest water. Having killed the zebra on the banks of one of our larger dams, the lionesses, with cubs in tow, indeed headed straight for the water but were acting quite nervous and alert and kept backing away. We pulled forward to try and get a better visual as they went back and forth in the bush when we noticed a three meter crocodile lounging at the waters edge. A croc that large and with cubs around is enough for any mother to become nervous and abort any attempt for a quenching drink. One lioness kept watch on the rather large reptile while the other herded the cubs farther up the banks to safety. A crocodile can launch itself about twice its own body length and has the ability to feel/hear ripples of animals lapping water from quite a distance.
A few months ago we posted a piece on pangolins, those ever elusive creatures that every guide still wants to see, or has seen once and will recount the tale over and over again. In the months since that post only two have been spotted; the most recent sighting being the other night. After a fantastic viewing of some of our lions, Patrick, one of our veteran guides, was leaving the lions on his way back to the lodge and there, in the open, was a pangolin. Due to the rarity of these beautiful creatures, he immediately alerted the other guides on drive and multiple guests were treated to a mammal “Lifer.” A Lifer is most often used for Birders, or Twitchers as they are most commonly called, but in the case of the pangolin, the term is quite appropriate as one may never see this beautiful and interesting mammal again. Now guests from the world over, and several rangers, will be telling the story of their pangolin sighting at Kapama for years to come.
A common question while out on game drive is “How old does that animal get to?” On a recent safari I think one of my guests was feeling a little old since they had just celebrated their 55th birthday and every animal we saw, she wanted to know how old could they become. So here are a few average ages of some of the more common mammals at Kapama Game Reserve.
Elephant 65 – 70 years old
White Rhino 40 – 45 years old
Lion male 12 – 14 years old
Lion female 12 – 16 years old
Leopard 15 – 17 years old
Buffalo 25 – 30 years old
Giraffe 25 – 28 years old
Baboon 40 – 45 years old
Zebra 18 – 20 years old
Hippo 40 – 45 years old
Human being 75 – 80 years old (average)
So the next time you start feeling a little old, just remember there is no substitute for experience and with age comes wisdom.
Kapama Main Lodge
It started 20 years ago as a research and breeding centre for the endangered cheetah and King cheetah, but now is a lifeline for a myriad of endangered species such as Southern Ground Hornbills, African wild dogs, smaller endangered cat species and many more species in dire need of protection. One can truly be thankful for people so dedicated and enthusiastic in saving and protecting our wildlife, like Mrs. Lente Roode and her team.
One of the cheetahs released yesterday was brought from Blaauwbosch, and was obviously not as used to human interaction as the one from the centre which was released with him, this made him a very suitable candidate for release as he will most probably avoid humans and hopefully stays out of trouble. The other was born and bred in the very successful breeding project and was at first not so keen to take advantage of his new found freedom. After a couple of minutes, walking around the spectators (all of which froze in anticipation) he lost interest and walked away as we got onto the vehicles. All in all a very exiting and successful release and Kapama is equally proud to have these magnificent creatures roaming freely on our reserve again.
These two cheetahs will be monitored for a wile to make sure they adapt well to their new environment after which they will hopefully become completely independent and enjoy a long and happy “wild” life on Kapama Game Reserve.
Once again thank you to all the sponsors and people who made this possible, especially the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre and all their personnel, we hope you may have just as much success for the next twenty years.
Warden – Kapama Game Reserve