Unfortunate Death

This morning’s Game Drive brought sad news to the Kapama family. We have been seeing large amounts of vultures in several trees surrounding an area where one of our very relaxed resident female leopards, Mbilo, had last been seen. A few days ago two River Lodge stations were present when she came out of a block with only one cub when previously there had been two. Mbilo was acting out of sorts and kept calling for the other cub but to no avail and she went off into the bush with just the one cub.

Then, this morning, a Buffalo Camp Ranger Jordan found one of the cubs dead near where Mbilo had last been seen. Several minutes later, Mbilo was sighted calling and calling for her cubs, and again, there was no answer. She traveled up and down most of the morning calling. By the time she was last seen she was still alone. At this time we are unsure of the last cub’s fate.

Later in the morning, our Head Ranger Liezel and Senior Ranger Kim, went to look to see what had been the cause of the cub’s death. It was decided by tracks seen around the cub and the size and placement of the wounds, and the tufts of hair removed, (as Leopard will do when they eat),  that another Leopard had killed him. This is not uncommon. Male Leopards, especially transient males and territorial males, will kill and sometimes even eat young cubs.

Hair tufts found at the scene

Wounds near the neck

All of us here at Kapama are saddened by the loss. But nature, as beautiful as it is, can sometimes be cruel. We are hoping that we will soon know whether or not the last cub is safe and sound with his mother.

By: Noelle DiLorenzo – River Lodge Ranger

Trailing End

The last Rangers from the Track and Sign group finished their Trailing Assessments on Friday. In then end we had three Rangers with a Trailing Level 1 and one Ranger with a Trailing Level 2. That gives the group, four Trackers and one Ranger with a full Level 2 Tracking Certificate, three Rangers with a full Tracker 1 Certificate, and one Tracker with a Trailing Level 1. Our assessor, Collin, told us when handing out our certificates, that he has assessed people who have been in the Guiding Industry for over 10 years and they were unable to complete a Level 1, so we all must be proud, which we are. A big thank you to Collin for taking his time to teach and assess all of us and a job well done to all nine of us for completing the course!

By: Noelle DiLorenzo – River Lodge Ranger

Happy hour at the waterhole…

Yesterday we were treated to one of the best elephant sightings I’ve had in a wile. First we came across a beautiful male leopard, proudly marking his territory. A magnificent sight to behold. After this we made our way to Mamba dam towards the central part of the eastern sector of the reserve and found a breeding herd of elephant swimming and rolling in the mud. On the far side of the embankment an elephant cow was creating a mud bath by using her feet to cave in the side of the wallow to make it bigger, when she was happy with the size she delightedly rolled around in her private bath. At a later stage her calf decided to join in the fun as some of the other elephant started crossing the dam with some of the younger ones having to use their trunks as snorkels in the deeper spots.

We then noticed a big buffalo bull approaching, and could almost see the disappointment and surprise in his face as he realized that his favorite waterhole was occupied by un-invited guests. By then there were only two rowdy elephant bulls still left, and the buffalo chanced a quick dip in a mud wallow but was soon unceremoniously chased out. The tables then turned a bit as another whole herd of buffalo came down to the waters edge, proving to much for the elephant bulls to bear and they left probably thinking that they are now outnumbered.

What a great drive it was! We returned to the main lodge anticipating a lovely dinner under African skies.

Sebastiaan Jansen Van Vuuren

Ranger – Kapama Main Lodge

Spotted Eagle Owl


Spotted Eagle Owl

Spotted Eagle Owl

Last night my guests and I were lucky enough to see a Spotted Eagle-Owl on drive. From a distance we saw it sitting on the road but as we approached it flew off into the bush. Luckily it landed on a dead tree right next to the road and we were able to sit there watching it watch us. We were nicely able to see the owls ability to turn its head for about 180 degrees. A lot of the owl’s adaptations are towards being silent as they are mostly hunters of mice and rats, and they are hard to hear/see in the long grass. Next to that their prey has very good hearing and will hear the owl if it makes too much noise. Therefore the owl does not have to move its whole body if it wants to listen in a different direction and its flight feathers are designed to make no noise when flying. This it proved as it eventually flew off.

By: Roel van Muiden – River Lodge Ranger

Game Drive in the Rain

My guest and I enjoyed a rather adventurous safari the other night. Just as we left the lodge it started to rain. It was not a very hard rain so all of us decided to carry on. After awhile, we found some fresh Elephant dung. As I was showing it to my guests we heard a very loud trumpeting coming from our south. Just around the corner to the dam, we were treated to a fantastic surprise, the entire Elephant herd was swimming and playing in the water, rolling around in the mud, and bathing in the rain. After about 20 or 30 minutes of watching their antics the skies opened up in a crash of thunder and pouring rain. The thunder was too much for the Elephant’s sensitive hearing and the matriarch gathered her family and proceeded to run into the bushes, but not before my guests were able to get some fantastic photos.

Elephant herd was swimming and playing in the water

Elephant herd was swimming and playing in the water

Thank you Fabio for sharing this great image with us for our Blog!

By: Noelle DiLorenzo – River Lodge Ranger