From childhood we learn about collective nouns for animals, for instance, a herd of cattle, a flock of birds, a gaggle of geese etc. But have you ever wondered what a group of hippos, or giraffes are called? Here are some interesting ones:
A Dazzle of Zebra
A Journey of Giraffe
A Pod (or raft) of Hippos
A Sounder of Warthog
An Obstinacy of Buffalo
A Murder of Crows
A Parliament of Owls
A Pride of Lions
An Implausibility of Wildebeest
A Crash of Rhino
A Leap of Leopard
A Herd of Elephant
A Troop of Baboons / Monkeys
A Coalition of Cheetah
A Clan of Hyena
By Maggie – River Lodge Ranger
Our journey began on an afternoon drive. It started off a little quiet so we decided to have a drinks break in a beautiful open plains area where the sun sets over the mountains. While chatting with the guests, we hear something and ask everyone to keep quiet. As we stand there waiting for that same sound, we hear it again – a male lion roaring not far away.
We start packing up and not long after starting to drive again we hear someone call in a lion sighting. It was our dominant male and a female heading towards the open plains where we had just had our break. We respond to the sighting and find them walking down the road towards us.
We switch off the vehicle and watch as they get closer. They pass the vehicle without even batting an eyelid at us. So we follow them into the bush and into the open area. We see the male lay down in the grass and the female going the opposite direction. We immediately thought that this is the perfect time for lions to hunt, and conveniently the perfect conditions – dark, with no moonlight to give away their positions.
We switch off all the lights as well as the vehicle and wait in silence. We wait for about five or ten minutes and we here the commotion. All types of plains game running in all directions in order to survive. We here the lions roar and we knew…they had caught something! We shine the light and start the vehicle as soon as possible. There they are! They caught a big male waterbuck. He was still standing while the lions hold on for as long as they can until their prey drops.
Finally, the waterbuck drops. He no longer has the energy to try and fight for his life. It is over. The lions have won.
This was my first kill at Kapama and what exciting and thrilling sighting it was!
It was a crisp Sunday morning when my tracker, our guests and I set out on our morning game drive. The previous day the guests mentioned their interest in the cheetahs that have recently been released into the reserve. So, we set off on our “mission”.
As we ventured into the new property of the reserve, my tracker picked up fresh tracks for the cheetahs and, of course, we decide to follow them. Close to where we were driving, another ranger called in a leopard sighting. However, I could sense that we were getting closer to these cheetahs so we carried on following their tracks.
Finally, we found the cheetahs! We had completed our “mission” and the guests were ecstatic, taking tons of photos. They moved on to drink some water at a dam called TK dam. This sighting was great! They were so relaxed. Then, all of a sudden, the leopard that was spotted not far away came out of the bush and chased the two cheetahs.
It was such a thrill yet we were all worried about the cheetahs as leopards are a great deal stronger. Luckily, we found the cheetahs again. They were a little shaken up but were doing alright. Fortunately for them the leopard disappeared into the bush heading in the opposite direction.
I am glad to point out that the two cheetahs have not been chased by any other cats again. Hopefully it will stay that way as they are an extremely vulnerable and extravagant species.
This short story is one that will give you an idea of what animals think of us and how they react to us in different situations.
We set off on our morning safari, our aim being to find our Moria pride of lions who occupy a large territory in the South-eastern and central parts of the reserve. It consists of three young but mature females, who are quite large and adept hunters, three cubs and a young male – his father, being the dominant male of the area, does not approve of his son who is no longer welcome.
Nevertheless, we found fresh tracks heading South from a well-used pan, ironically called Lion Pan. With my tracker concentrating on the tracks and me babbling on to him about whether or not all seven lion’s tracks were present, we were distracted and missed an interesting scene occurring on our left hand side. One of the guests let out a yelp of excitement, which I thought was a sneeze. To my surprise, as I looked in her direction, I saw four lions and a porcupine on top of a termite mound having a face-off.
The porcupine was not to be beaten, it seemed, until our presence was made, when he immediately retired into his home (a hole in the termite mound). This means that a porcupine would rather argue with four grown killing machines than put up with a ranger and a vehicle of interested guests who just want to capture the moment.
Porcupines are considered nocturnal animals that prefer to forage under the cover of darkness and return to their homes before the sun rises. However, in areas where there is no drought and they are not disturbed, they may forage into the morning. If the porcupine has young, it will not be long after birth before the parents will allow the young to forage with them.
This is when we realized where the cubs were and that they were occupying themselves with and this is why the father porcupine was so angry with the lions – they had killed and partially eaten one of his babies (the quills being too small and some too soft to do any real harm to the attackers). Still, the porcupine defended his home from these four persistent and hungry lions but left as soon as our presence was known.
So, we can conclude that, however intimidating lions can be, we are even more feared than the king of big cats.
Within the last week we have been blessed with some amazing sightings. We have seen something of everything. Some of the sightings included:
• Seeing leopards walking next to the vehicle, so close that we can almost hear her breathe.
• A leopard chasing two male cheetahs in the middle of the day.
• Being lucky enough to see a female lion killing a baby warthog.
• Finding three lion cubs of about a three months old playing with each other and testing their courage, coming as close as they dare to the vehicle.
• Getting the opportunity of being charged by a one week old elephant and seeing how clumsy it still is on its feet.
• Finding two porcupines after not seeing them for a while.
• Seeing a face-off between a hippo and a leopard next to the water’s edge.
• Having a fully grown male lion roaring two meters from the vehicle.
• A mother giraffe protecting her new born calf.
• Seeing a cheetah climbing a tree, something that they very seldom do.
And that is not to mention all the rest off the animals that we have found in the last week. This is all a strong reminder of why I love my job and the reason for being in this industry.
Stefan de Weerd