The huntress

The first two weeks that I have worked at Kapama have been filled with some amazing sightings and experiences, ranging from Lion kills to Pangolins. One of the highlights was when we found our large male lion and female dozing lazily in the road close to River lodge; we stopped the game viewer and watched as the loins enjoyed the last rays of the afternoon sun. After about five minutes the female began to stir as she yawned displaying her massive canines that can range from 6 to 10 cm’s, we could see that she was focused on something about 50 meters away. Before we could see what she was looking at, she sprang into action and headed straight for a termite mound and in an explosion of dust; we soon realized what she had killed a juvenile warthog. She had just proved again that lions don’t need to limber up before attempting a chase. The irony of it all was when the male just walked over, took the warthog from her and devoured the entire thing without leaving her anything for her hard work; she just lay down and started grooming herself, accepting her role as the huntress.

Story By: Tuhan Steyn- Kapama River Lodge Ranger

The Buffalo Herd at Dusk

This afternoon we were out looking for some game, we came across some fresh buffalo tracks. After following the tracks for a while, they led as straight to a small watering hole. The most spectacular sighting started to manifest. We were surrounded by a herd of at least 200 buffalo. Some were drinking water, others nearly submerged. The calves were playing and rolling around in the mud. The way the light reflected off the water and silhouetted the trees in the distance made for a magical experience

Story By: FW de Klerk

“Ingwe” weather

People always say that the weather in the lowveld area is always so nice and warm that we can’t really call our winter, winter. That might be true most of the time but this last week Mother Nature just showed us ones again how unpredictable she can be. We’ve been feeling the cold, especially on the game drives and we even had a few cloudy days somewhere in between.

It’s on days like these that the cats are usually a bit more active. My tracker turns around in his seat and says to me that this is “ingwe” weather. (ingwe meaning leopard) That always puts a smile on my face as that is my favourite animal. We’ve had some amazing sightings of lions and even the illusive leopard this week. We are so fortunate to be able to still see these animals in their natural environment. They are fast disappearing in their natural habitat and in some areas are even extinct.

This afternoon we saw a beautiful female leopard lying on a termite mound.  It looked like she was there just for us, posing for the perfect picture. We sometimes forget that we are actually in their environment and that we are there for them and not the other way around.  I savor every moment spent with these incredible animals and every time I get to see one of them, I consider myself lucky.

Story by: Marilize Minnaar-Kapama River Lodge Ranger

Close call

The afternoon safari started quite well with a wide variety of plains game and birds and an incredible sighting of a heard of elephant crossing the road in front of us, the matriarch keeping a weary eye on us while ushering the little one across. We were about to stop for sundowners and watch the sun disappear behind the Drakensburg Mountains when one of my guests shouted “lion!” It was a single female stalking some impala, and then, to our complete surprise, we noticed two other females crouched with just the black tufts on their ears showing, I turned off the engine and sat still and quietly and waited, then the impala started to alarm call and the chase began, one male impala was running for his life with one of the lionesses hot on his heels, it was a beautiful setting on the open plains with the sun setting but fortunately for the impala it out maneuvered the lioness and lived to see another sunset.

Rob Brouard, 08-07-2011.

African Fish Eagle vs. Grey Heron

This morning was bitterly cold but beautiful. After watching the sun rise over the plains we found some leopard tracks which we began following up on. The tracks took us up onto a dam wall with a spectacular view of the Drakensburg mountain range. As I was explaining the tracks to my guests
we heard the characteristic call of the African Fish Eagle, otherwise known as “the voice of Africa”.  At Karula we are very fortunate to be situated on the Klaserie River so the call of the African Fish Eagle is very well known to staff and guests alike. The African Fish Eagle was perched on a dead tree in the middle of the dam. Just as we took out our binoculars to take a closer look the eagle took flight towards us, allowing us an even better view. As it neared the water’s edge under the dam wall we saw it swoop down with it’s talons out and attempt to grab something out of our view.

Much to our excitement a large grey heron flew into view. We watched as the African Fish Eagle and the Grey Heron had a long and drawn out battle which resulted in a stand off between the two. The Fish Eagle had soaked his wings as he was hunting the heron and the heron, whose flight is slow and energy consuming was completely exhausted! We left them to recover and decided to return later in the morning to see if a winner had been declared.

Sarah-Estelle Sangster-Ranger, Kapama Karula