Playful times

Thanks to the rainy season, a lot of the animals seem more playful than usual. As we were searching for animals in the rain, we found tracking quite difficult. All the fresh tracks were covered by the rain, therefore, it is difficult to tell the difference between fresh and old tracks.

Luckily for us, someone had spotted our herd of elephants earlier on during the day, so we had a general area to search in. Finally, after searching for about two hours in the rain, we find one male elephant next to the road. After showing us his strength by pushing over a tree and eating off of it for about five minutes, he moved off into the bush.

We went around to another road to see if he would come out. But, instead of finding the male elephant, we found the whole heard of elephants, including younger ones, playing in a mud pool on the road.

This was an amazing sighting – the babies were rolling around in the mud, throwing the mud around on themselves as well as the others. Eventually, even the adults joined in on the fun and started rolling around, almost on top of the little ones.

My guests were ecstatic about this and felt that this sighting was well worth the long, wet drive. To be allowed into the lives of these majestic creatures and to see a different side of them is one of the best parts of nature.

Kim (KC) – Kapama River Lodge

Lights in the sky

Third safari and only one left of the big five to go. As usual, the only things we have left to see are those two elusive cats, the lion and leopard. The sun has been burning down, keeping all that moves in shadows of trees, big and small. Starting the safari we had little hope of spotting any of our desired animals, as the area they had been in the last few days were densely bushed and after the heat of the day, they would definitely be deeply tucked in under a tree and sleeping as if unconscious.

While we were moving towards the area, clouds moved in very subtly, almost unnoticed. That’s when the call came through that they had spotted the whole pride of lions in the same area as before. Mixed feelings flowed through our heads as we were happy that we knew where they were, but also stressed because of the density of the bush in that area. But we take the chance and hope for the best.

Getting into the area we saw them clearly from a distance away and the closer we got, the better it got. It ended up being in an old dam where the wall had broken, and the best position to park was on the old broken wall, giving us a bird’s eye view of all of them. Afterwards we saw some more lions on another open area and we were starting to feel more and more confident about what was to come.

Just as we moved out of the second sighting, the lightning started to dance above our heads. It started quickly and with scary ferocity. Being unsafe we made our way back to the lodge, amazed at the beauty of the lighting each time it lit up the cloud covered skies. It seemed to be a night where we might have missed the leopard, but we still saw two different dangerous, but amazingly beautiful things.

Jacques Beukes – Kapama River Lodge

Silver Lining

Going on safari means looking for wild animals and sometimes we focus on the more elusive animals such as leopards. As we started our afternoon safari, it was a good day and everyone was feeling good about the drive. However, as we looked to the mountains we saw some bad weather making its way. So I stopped the car and asked the guests if they would like to carry on if it started raining.

As we carried on with our drive, the rain started coming down quite hard. It made things very difficult to track as all the fresh tracks were covered with raindrops. Therefore, they could look quite old.

As we started to head back to the lodge, to our surprise, within forty-five minutes we had found four of the “Big Five”. My guests and I were both very surprised and pleased that a drive with miserable weather turned out to be very exciting.

John – Kapama River Lodge

Fun in the mud

It has been raining for the last three days and warthogs have been running around from one mud pool to another. They do this to cover their skin to get rid of the ticks and parasites, as well as to cool themselves down.

It was so impressive and exciting to see the largest mammals on land running to the same mud pool where the warthogs were playing. To see how much the warthogs respect the elephants was amazing – they just moved away and watched as the elephants rolled around in the mud expanding the mud pool.

A lot of mud was thrown over their body and in no time the elephants were reddish-brown from the mud. When the elephants finally moved away, the warthogs came back again to continue with their fun.

Nelson – Kapama River Lodge

The struggle for cheetahs

I was determined to show my guests some cheetahs – two males that walk together on the reserve. My tracker and I know which area they like so we made our way. We found some tracks and followed them until they went into a big block. We went around to check if they had come out. No luck.

One of my colleagues was also in the area so the trackers decided to walk in and see if they can find them on foot. So we drove around in that area just in case the cheetahs came out somewhere.

We were just about to give up when we got a call on the radio “come to the open area, they are mobile towards there”. As we got there, there they were, walking gracefully across the open plains.

Many of the guests that come to Kapama think that the cheetah is the same as the leopard. But there are quite a lot of differences. Mainly, their spots – cheetahs have got solid spots, whereas leopards have got rosette-like spots. The cheetahs have got the so-called ‘tears’ under their eyes. Another main difference is the size. In most cases, leopards are shorter than the cheetah but they are built for strength and therefore have a more stocky or muscular body. The cheetah on the other hand is built for speed therefore is very lightly built.

After viewing these two cheetah brothers my guests were very excited and thrilled as this is not a common sighting. We started making our way back to the lodge but took a different route than usual. Suddenly, my tracker told me to stop and reverse the vehicle.

Another cheetah! This time a female! We drove off the road to get a closer look and there she was, with all her grace showing off her beauty. She was rolling around in the grass playing with what looked like a strip of bark, most likely left over by the elephants.

It was amazing to see how she let us into her world and allowed us to see a different side of her – a childlike play that is not often seen in adult cheetahs.

This was a great drive that allowed all of us to gain new insight about these secretive and scarce creatures.

Kim (KC) – Kapama River Lodge