Hungry Lionesses

On a windy morning 2 days ago two of our lionesses killed a young giraffe early in the morning, using the wind to their full advantage. This has provided us with lots of interesting viewing on recent game drives. When we saw the lionesses last night they were fast sleep not far from the giraffe carcass, bloated after having eaten lots of meat. They were almost oblivious to us watching them as they slept. This morning we returned to the area hoping to see them again but there was no sign of them or the giraffe carcass. We looked for tracks in the area and discovered that the lionesses had crossed the road east of the kill and walked towards the nearest dam for a drink to quench their thirst. We were unable to find them and presumed that they had gone thick into the bush to find some shade for the day. We returned to where the carcass was and discovered that some hyenas had dragged the carcass further into the bush. There were small remains scattered around the area. We were entertained by one sly black backed jackal fighting a group of African white backed vultures and one single hooded vulture for the scraps. It’s very interesting to see these scavengers interacting. Eventually the jackal won the fight and the vultures retired to the trees to wait for another opportunity!

Story by Sarah-Estelle Sangster, River Lodge Ranger

Gotcha..!

At last yesterday afternoon the weather had cleared a bit and took a turn for the better. As we set out for our afternoon safari, it was still a bit overcast, and windy but not nearly as bad as it was that morning. Soon after we left we located a herd of Buffalo lying in the inflow of one of our very scenic dams called Klein Kariba. They were soon joined by two Rhino, but they were a bit skittish and didn’t stick around for too long. We left the area and soon spotted another two White Rhino on the other side of the Munwana River (which is mostly dry during our winter). We left them and after viewing some nice numbers of general game, we stopped for sun-downer drinks.

We set out to find some lions afterwards, as with the bad weather we had this morning they kept themselves scarce and we were on a mission to find at least some of them. We were elated to finally located a small pride after some very intense tracking,  and we could at last show our guests  a big male and female with her previous years’ cubs. We also got word that another female has given birth, but more about that at a later stage when the cubs are old enough to follow up on without freaking them out.

Sebastiaan JV Vuuren

Ranger – Kapama Lodge

A windy morning at Kapama

At the end of last night’s game drive a heavy wind starting blowing across the reserve, bringing with it some colder weather. The wind continued into the night and when we arose this morning the conditions were still breezy and chilly. We set off from the lodge to search for elephants, knowing that it was going to be a difficult mission due to the weather conditions.

 

It is interesting to witness the behavior of animals in these weather conditions. Those animals which are preyed on by big cats tend to be extremely nervous and skittish because the wind interferes with their ability to sense the arrival of a predator. Some of the bigger mammals such as elephants and rhinos can be difficult to find, because like us they do not really like the wind and so search for somewhere to shelter deep into the bush until it has passed. So surprisingly elephants can be a real challenge to find even in spite of their immense size!

 

So thinking positive we headed straight to the area where they were last seen and starting looking for tracks and signs. As we drove slowly we looked for footprints on the ground and as we found the tracks we checked to see whether they were old or fresh. On seeing the first tracks I got out of the vehicle to show them to the guests and explain how to tell direction and freshness so that they could get involved and help in the search. Eventually we found some fresh tracks. We knew they were fresh because they were over the top of some vehicle tracks from the day before. So we began to follow them. As we continued we saw other signs that the elephants had been in the area – flattened grass where they had created their pathways through the bush and freshly broken trees where the outer bark had been removed and the inner flesh was exposed. And eventually we were rewarded for our efforts. As we rounded the corner we saw the herd standing close together in the road. As we were watching them carrying on with their daily routine, we noticed a boisterous young male running around and mock charging everything he could see – even a pile of dung on the ground! He is the youngest member of the herd and still only 6 weeks old.

 

Full of smiles we set off to continue our drive. We decided to stop for a coffee and warm up and whilst we were drinking our coffee a bachelor group of giraffes approached curiously. They gave us a fantastic display, challenging each other and trying to knock each other off balance by swinging their necks around. It looked as though they were dancing! Giraffes use their necks to fight when they are competing for females. This was not a serious fight – it was a training exercise! A small herd of zebra and some impalas also emerged into the open area. So after having to work so hard to find the elephants it was nice that some animals actually came to find us!

 

Story by Roan Ravenhill – (Ranger) Kapama River Lodge

Come wind or rain…

First thing I normally do after waking up in the morning is to go over to the window to check what the weather is like. This morning however, it didn’t look all that great. Wind, drizzle, cold, overcast…is just a couple of thoughts which went through my head.  Off-course the show must go on, and I got prepared to go down to the lodge wondering if my guests would feel up to it to go on safari in this “challenging” weather.  Six o’ clock however all of us were ready to take on the elements. I am driving a family from New Zealand with two children, and before leaving I suggested that they take turns in sitting in front to get out of the wind, since they are quite small still and the dashboard would protect them from most of the wind chill.

We left the lodge and started south towards Nyala dam following the tracks of the elephants which was around the lodge last night. We came across a breeding herd of Buffalo and were “entertained” by a specific female who seemed as if she was trying to smile at us. This was quite peculiar and equally funny to watch as she pulled up her lips and showed us her teeth as if someone had told her a very funny joke… or maybe the effects of the weather got to her. Not sure. They eventually disappeared and we carried on further to look for the Elephants.

We eventually found them not too far away on Gnu Alley but unfortunately we did not have a great sighting as they were hidden away in thick bush most probably also trying to get out of the wind and weather.

We also tried following up on some lions which could be a very demanding task in weather like this as they typically seem to hide away in drainage lines or low lying areas to try and combat the effect of the bad weather. This time they out “smarted” us and after watching some White Back Vultures perched close to a dam wile having coffee we decide that we would head back to the lodge.

Normally bad weather do have a bit of an effect on our game viewing as animals, like humans, would also try to get out of the wind and cold, making it a slight bit more difficult to find them. This however would not ever stop us from trying, and as always if we do find what we are looking for it feels just so much more rewarding and worth our wile.

Japie Bradley

Ranger – Kapama Main Lodge

A very busy bushpub

Yesterday afternoon we departed on the afternoon safari with some very keen Italian first timers, obviously very exited about their first game drive in Africa. Soon after we left we responded to an Elephant sighting at one of the waterholes called “Mamba dam”. At arrival we found a breeding herd all having a drink and a very small baby was comically trying to use its trunk, but without much success. Elephant calves are not born with the ability to use their trunks right away, and have to learn this by constant practice, in a very similar way us humans have to learn how to write.

Not long after we stopped we saw five Buffalo bulls approaching the same waterhole. One of the younger elephant bulls took exception to this and half heartedly made a mock charge. Naturally the mature Buffalo bulls weren’t bothered at all.

After a wile we decided to leave just in time to spot a Serval (Felis Serval) cross the road as we left the area. We were still contemplating our luck by finding two Big 5 sightings at one waterhole when we were informed by another ranger that two Rhino’s also joined the fray at the waterhole.

We returned to go and have a look and yes there they were, three Big 5 species in one go..!

We couldn’t have been luckier and my Italian guests couldn’t have asked for more.

We returned to the lodge very satisfied and ready for a fantastic dinner!

 

Sebastiaan Jansen Van Vuuren

Senior ranger – Kapama Lodge