Beyond our expectations

This was one afternoon that I shall never forget. I had a Japanese family on my vehicle and we went out with the hope of finding lions, but not just any lions. We wanted to see them hunting. So we started to track some lions. We tried for about 30 to 40 minutes, and we managed to locate them in the thickets. They were hunting, and a few minutes later they started stalking a warthog. It was around sunset – the perfect time for them to hunt with the perfect cover.

We saw the whole plan unfold. One of the females went all the way round and started chasing the warthog towards the other two females. It was a superb chase. Zig-zag until, finally, they killed it in front of our car. After watching this exciting moment, as I left the sighting, a few minutes later, we witnessed another kill – a Small spotted genet killed a Southern yellow-billed Hornbill on top of Knob-thorn acacia tree.

Thais was even beyond our expectations for the day. We ended up having some celebratory sun downer drinks while looking at the beautiful sunset behind the Drakensberg Mountains.

Tinyiko – River Lodge Ranger
29/06/2012

A Blue Monday ends in horror

For all of the animals in the African bush it is a fight for survival, not knowing when a predator will practice his survival skills on an opportunistic prey. The “rule” is simple, stay alive or become prey!!! This is a story of a Lion kill and very bad luck for a young Nyala bull.

We were following our ‘handsome’ but fearless male & female Lions’ tracks when my colleague notified me on the radio that he had just witnessed a Leopard kill not far from where we were tracking. I decided to abandon the tracks and made my way to the Leopard kill…anxiety was setting in knowing that we are going to witness a Leopard kill! The Leopard is an elusive, nocturnal hunter which makes it difficult to spot.

Two hundred metres from where the Leopard had made his kill another Ranger said on the radio that something had “spooked” the cat and she left the kill to disappear into the bush…I was disappointed but still made my way. I drove slowly into the area hoping that maybe she will still be close by, when the big male and female lions appeared next to the vehicle.

The two Lions did not care about our presence and were walking in front of the vehicle. By this time Tim, the ranger from the leopard kill had joined the lock. Then a young Nyala bull crossed the road between the two vehicles. The Nyala looked like it was injured by the way he was walking and slowly crossed the road, which gave the lions just enough time to crouch and get ready for their attack!

The female was the first to give chase towards the Nyala and not long before she had it in her powerful claws, of course the male followed. We had just witnessed a kill fifteen metres away from the vehicle!

After inspecting the tracks from the Nyala we realized that this was the Nyala that the Leopard had caught. An animal or prey that has been caught by a predator normally dies due to Hypoxia – lack of oxygen to the brain. However, the leopard didn’t suffocate its prey for long enough so when the Nyala stood up from surviving a Leopard attack it did not have enough strength to survive an additional attack…

What a great way to survive one kill but unfortunately, he landed into the jaws of another predator! What a Monday.

Joe – River Lodge Ranger
27/06/2012

Watch this space…

On the 9th of June this year, we welcomed two newly-released female cheetahs onto our property. With female cheetahs being solitary animals (unless accompanied by cubs), they split up immediately and have been moving around all over discovering their new home. This has lead to a lot more interesting sightings for us as guides and our guests.

Following their every move, we were anxious to see how they were settling in, and how soon they would meet up with the two males. So far, so good! A couple of days ago, we found one of the males together with the older female. We haven’t seen them together since that day, but this is a good sign that they are now aware of each other. We hope to find them together again soon, and that we will be able to tell you about some new additions to the Kapama family in the near future. Watch this space…

Maggie – River Lodge Ranger
28/06/2012

An unforgettable day

After a three week disappearance of two of our pregnant female lions from the so-called Moria pride, we figured that they must be giving birth to their cubs. Lions keep their cubs very well hidden for around three months due to their vulnerability and their dependence on their mothers’ protection. Therefore, it was extremely surprising and impressive when myself and my guests witnessed a beautiful sight – mother lion carrying her baby cub in her protective jaws. We watched her as she carried it into a river bed which is a safe place to keep new born lion cubs.

Despite the excitement of all of us, the surprises were not over. Towards the end of our drive we saw another rare and exclusive creature, something that I myself have only seen four of in the last five years – a Pangolin! This is a smaller scaly ant eater that is extremely endangered due to the believed value of their scales. However, viewing one of these in addition to a new born lion cub was definitely an once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Nelson – River Lodge
26/06/2012

Displays of the wild

Before our morning safari I had told my guests that we would look for our pride of seven lions – one male, three females, and three cubs around five or six months old. However, I mentioned to them that we may not see the whole pride as two of the females had left the pride to give birth to their own young ones. Nevertheless, they were excited.

Before we got to the area where the lions were, we saw two spotted hyenas cross the road in front of us. Even though it was quick, it was an awesome sighting. This is quite a rare occasion as hyenas in our area are extremely shy.

As we carried on with our safari and got to the area where the lions were last seen, we stopped at a dam, only to find a male hippopotamus outside of the water. This is something that you do not see very often. Hippos are mostly seen lazing about in the water due to their extreme sensitivity to the sun. Interestingly, Hippos do almost everything in the water, except breathe and eat. Therefore, the only time to really see them outside of the water would be when it is dark. So this was definitely a surprise.

In addition to this, there was a female Hippo inside the water with her young calf. This male was not from around this area so she was expressing warning displays to him to ward him off from her baby. Warning displays of Hippos are very impressive. They open their mouths as wide as they can in order to show their rather large teeth to intimidate anything that seems to be a threat to them.

While watching this amazing scene, I see movement on the other side of the dam. I say to my tracker, “It’s a female lion”. So we drive to the other side and wait for her to come out. To our complete amazement, there she was – with a tiny cub in her mouth, possibly only one or two weeks old. My guests and I could not believe our eyes. We were the first ever to see the newborn lion cubs.

And what a sighting it was! She brought the cub into the road and walked right by us. She put the cub down, looked at us, and took it back into the protection of her powerful yet gentle jaws. It was as if she was displaying him to us, as if to say “yes, this is my baby, isn’t he just beautiful?” and yes he was.

This was just another day in the wild, showing that anything is possible at any time.

Kim Pretorius – River Lodge
25/06/2012