Elephant mania

Driving along one day trying to find some elephants for my quests, who really wanted to see at least one, I stumbled across some tracks of a lone bull in musth (it’s a word that describes a physiological condition in elephant males where higher testosterone levels, among other things, can make them aggressive in their preoccupational quest to find mates), I knew it was in musth because of the dribble mark that I found with the tracks (the dribble is urine that constantly drips out the penis, probably a way to get rid of excess testosterone that can be toxic to the system).

 After a few minutes of following the tracks we came across the lone bull. The guest’s were ecstatic to finally see an elephant.

But everything changed very quickly as this male started charging the vehicle. Viewing the elephant from a safe distance I realized that the bulls plan was to walk down the road. Making it difficult for me as there was no space to turn around. I reversed for 2km before I found a spot to turn around.

 Luckily we found a big breeding herd of elephants 30min after we left the bull alone. It was an awesome sighting with calves playing in the water and the females drinking.

 Everybody was very happy to see the elephants that they wanted to see. That was the end of a very exciting day!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Story by: Stefan De Weerd-Kapama River Lodge Ranger

A Lionesses stare

This morning on game drive, we came across two lionesses just off the road. Both mother and daughter seemed relaxed at first. They allowed the game drives vehicles fairly close. While watching these lionesses, the bigger of the two suddenly became alert. She had noticed some giraffe a way down the road and went straight into a crouch positions. With her ears flattened and her shoulders hunched she stared intently at potential prey. She became decidedly focused and not even the sound of the vehicles could deter her attention.

What amazed me was how when the one lioness became alert the other immediately followed her lead. She too became focused on the passing giraffe. This clearly shows a level of communication that we cannot understand. There is still much to learn about lions and the hidden means of communicating with each other through body language.

Cindy Viljoen

18/11/11

Venus

As it starts to get dark,look over to the west (where the sun sets) for the very bright
“evening star” Venus is so bright it can be seen in the twilight.Venus is the 3rd
Brightest object in the sky (after the Sun and Moon) venus appears so incredibly bright because it is completely covered by white cloud,it is also closer to the Sun,and comes closer to the earth than any other planet.It takes 7 months to go around the Sun,as opposed to the 12 months it takes Earth.
You will also see Jupiter rising above the Eastern horizon as another extremely bright star.It takes Jupiter almost 12 years to go around the Sun,causing it to go through a 13
Month cycle of visibility,it is visible in the evening sky for about 6 months of it’s cycle.It is the 4th brightest object in the night sky after the Sun,Moon and Venus and brighter than any night time star.Jupiter is the King of Solar systems,more massive than all the other planets put together,it is 11 times the diameter,and 300 times the mass of the Earth
Clive Carelse.

Feeding frenzy

A few nights ago we had our first rains for the season. The next morning was crisp and clear. And as we left for game drive, we saw hundreds of birds in the sky. A little while later we came across two Wahlbergs eagles sitting next to a termite mound. After rains, winged termites will emerge from the nest and fly off. They will eventually loose their wings and males and females will join up and find a suitable spot to start their own colony. These Wahlbergs eagles were catching them as they emerged from the nest, and after a while, more birds came to join this feeding frenzy. Hornbills, starlings, drongos, and several others were flying up and down catching the ones missed by the eagles from the air. It was an awesome sighting! It is amazing to see all the thousands of creatures emerging from their winter hide-away.

Maggie – Kapama River Lodge

Stars and Stargazing

Being out on Safari isn’t just about seeing game, birds and plant species. There is a entire world or should I rather say Galaxy to explore when out at night.
Let’s start out by getting a brief understanding of our night skies and what goes on in and around them.
Galaxy: A Large amount of interstellar matter all orbiting around a common centre, our own galaxy is called the Milky Way and was formed about 15 000 million years ago. It is estimated that the Milky Way measures about 100 000 light years from one end to the other.
Solar System: This includes all objects that are held in the suns gravitational field e.g. all nine planets, asteroids and comets.
A Light Year: This is the distance that light travels in a vacuum in one year. The speed of light is around 300 000 km/second, to simplify this we compare it to the sun’s rays that take about 8 min’s to reach the earth.
Difference between a Star and a Planet
Stars: A star is basically a light in its own, the easiest example of a star is our own sun, it is the closest star and also the only one that can be seen as a disc because the other stars are too far away.
Planets: Planets are like mirrors, revolving around the sun reflecting its light. The earth is a good example as it only revolves around the sun reflecting its light.

Story by: Tuhan Steyn-Kapama River Lodge Ranger