Going into the new year with open arms

The year has almost come to an end and what a year Kapama has had.

Just looking at the last few weeks there have been so many wonderful things that have happened on the reserve, from the birth of a new elephant calf to the addition of a new 800 hectares piece of land expanding the borders of Kapama even further. This new section quickly became a new favorite area for the elephants specifically, being much denser than the other areas they have been roaming around in the last few years, ideal for them to hide the little calf for the first few weeks.

There has also been an amazing sight of a leopard female with three little cubs in this area as well as a young male leopard who has made himself rather comfortable in a vacant territory in one of the older areas, showing a promise in growth with these elusive animals on the reserve.

Although 2012 is now at its end, it does make for the beginning of an extremely promising 2013, where in I’m sure we will experience just as many exciting and fascinating sightings and happenings as with this year.

Fare well 2012 and welcome 2013.

Piet – Kapama River Lodge

The Spotted Hyena

Hyenas generally live in family groups, or clans, led by a dominant adult female. The clan sizes can vary from three up to about fifteen individuals living within a defended territory marked by communal scat or dung middens. Another way of marking their territory is with secretions from a gland between the hind legs which they usually secrete on strings of long grass. Most of the time they do this at night, but sometimes they also roam around during the day.

A common misconception is that they are purely scavengers. However, they do hunt for themselves as well, mainly killing antelopes and on occasion buffalo and zebra.

They do not have a specific breeding season; they reproduce throughout the year, having between one and three pups at a time weighing around 1,5kg (the gestation period is around 110 days). They pups will generally be born in burrows or abandoned termite mounds.

The average life span of the hyena is around 16 years in the wild, but in captivity they can live up to about 25 years.

A very interesting and fascinating creature of the Bushveld.

Freedom – Kapama River Lodge

Honey badger

On safari this afternoon we set out from camp with the plan of looking for lions. On our way to the area where the lions were last seen, we went around a bend and bumped in to a pair of honey badgers. Honey badgers are very interesting and secretive animals. I will share some interesting facts with you.

Honey badger Mellivora capensis

They are well known for their ferocity. It is a very small animal with the heart of a giant and most other predators will be making a big mistake trying to kill it. They are small and stocky animals weighing in at around 12 kilograms, with very thick skin around the shoulders, most likely an adaption from resisting bee stings.

As its name suggests they love feeding on bee larvae, honey and a large percentage of small animals such as mice, scorpions, spiders, lizards, snakes and some larger mammals. They have strong foul smelling secretions that they use for scent marking and self-defense. They also make use of thanatosis (playing dead) to get predators away from them.

FW de klerk – Kapama River Lodge

A little snack

We set out this afternoon like any other day, not really knowing what to expect out of the African bush.

As we left the lodge we ran into some fresh rhino tracks so we started following them. After about 20 minutes of walking, my tracker called me to say he has got them. It was a very nice rhino sighting; down at the watering hole busy enjoying a mud bath.

As we left the rhinos to themselves, we saw a crocodile not too far away, so we sat for a while watching him. Then there were some Impala that walked down to drink water. This was truly amazing as we knew that some action was on the way. Not long after the crocodile got into the water and started heading towards the impala, there were some young impala also having a drink. All of a sudden we just saw one big splash and ‘boom’ there was the crocodile with a baby impala in its mouth.

This was truly something to see as we never expected it; so as I always say, Africa is one of the greatest places to be.

JT – Kapama River Lodge

The world of a leopard

Many guests come to Africa with the expectation to see a leopard. What they do not realize is that the leopard is one of the most elusive and secretive animals in the wild. However, we do try to find them one.

I had guests that were staying at River Lodge for four nights so luckily we had some time to find them all the things that they wanted to see. Within the first two days we had seen many different animals, including four of the “Big 5” and the cheetah. My guests were very pleased with all the sightings we had had.

We then decided to try find a leopard. Unfortunately, we had no luck. So we carried on with the rest of our drives as relaxed as possible with anything else we saw as a bonus.

On their last afternoon drive, we had found a baby warthog kill on the side of the road. We were not sure if it was a leopard that had killed it or something else. So we drove around trying to find some evidence of this shy creature. Finally, we saw some movement in the tall grass. As we drove closer, we see her head pop up – the most beautiful animal in Africa; the leopard.

We watched her in the grass for a few minutes, amazed at how well she camouflages. She then got up and walked away. We tried to keep her visual but we lost her. We drove around trying to relocate her again for about five minutes. As I looked to my right, I saw a few spots lying on top of a termite mound. There she was, high and mighty; extremely proud. We sat there and watched her clean herself and even play with a piece of grass, showing us a cub-like personality, allowing us into her world.

My guests and I agreed that this was an amazing experience; one that not even us as rangers get to experience very often.

KC (Kim) – Kapama River Lodge