The start

When arriving back from a week’s leave, I am always excited to get started with my first game drive for the month. So I took my new group of guests out with a large amount of enthusiasm. As we drove along we found some fresh lion tracks and decided to follow them. We didn’t follow for ten minutes and there they were in the distance. Unfortunately, we could only see the flicker of the tails so we slowly tried to make our way closer to them.

We watched the three lionesses for about twenty minutes then decided to go find some elephants. With the herd of elephants were two small babies play fighting. It was quite funny because they still didn’t know how to use their trunks. The mom eventually came along and stopped the fight and took the ‘kids’ to the watering hole for some water.

This was a fun drive and we all enjoyed it immensely.

Bryan – Kapama River Lodge

The Surprise

I got new guests one day and the first thing they asked me was “will we see a leopard?”. I replied and said that it is possible but I cannot give the odds of seeing one. They understood that the chances were slim but nevertheless, we saw some of our plains game such as impala, warthog, giraffe, gnu, etc. When we were on our way to our sundowner stop, to our surprise, we saw a leopard walking in the road – a big, young male walking towards our vehicle. He allowed us to view him for quite some time before disappearing into the thick bush.

What a surprise it was to see this elusive cat. My guests were, of course, extremely happy and excited.

Bryan – Kapama River Lodge

Drive to remember

We set out on game drive this afternoon knowing that there was a leopard spotted earlier the day, so my plan was to go there before all the traffic starts so that we could see if he is still around and enjoy the sighting.

So on our way there we come across what we call a Dagga boy (old male Buffalo) just relaxing in a puddle of water so we spend some time with him; just to find the leopard busy feeding on a female Kudu that he killed. This was truly amazing.

As we leave the leopard, I thought to go to a place that is perfect for a sundowner stop. On the way there we come across a female Rhino and her baby just feeding and relaxing. My guests were extremely happy with what they had seen in such a short time.

Finally, we get to our drink spot and everyone grabbed a glass of wine when all of a sudden we hear a lion raw not too far away, so we pack up in a hurry head to the side that we heard the lion raw. Then we find the king of Kapama in the road busy walking and roaring. It was truly amazing and I could not believe our luck; 4 of the big 5 spotted and very good sightings of all of them.

All that I had to say was “welcome to Africa” and “expect the unexpected”.

JT – Kapama River Lodge

Uses for the Buffalo Thorn

Buffalo thorn
Ziziphus mucronata
This tree is implemented in various cultural rituals and beliefs. It is also a very useful tree; most of the plant can be used in one way or another. I will share some of these uses with you:
• Trees are planted around homesteads for thorny protection.
• Fruit ripen into red berries and are utilized by humans, birds and monkeys. Berries also get dried and cooked into porridge
• Seeds can be used at a replacement for coffee in desperate situations
• The tree has a hook thorn on one side of the branch and a straight thorn facing forward, which resembles your past and future. Locals believe that the hook thorn tells you to put the past behind you and the straight thorn tells you to move on and keep looking forward and never backwards
• Branches from the tree are also used in burial rituals where it is believed that the branch can carry the spirit of the deceased in a case where the person had passed away far from his home. The hooked thorn captures the spirit and the straight directs it to heaven.
• It is bad luck to cut these trees down after the first rains and drought is believed to follow
• The roots can be used to treat diarrhea and dysentery

FW – Kapama River Lodge

Battle of the Giants

On a beautiful clear and pleasant afternoon on Kapama Game Reserve we had an epic sighting building up which culminated the moment we arrived. My guests and I found  a big bull Elephant bull (around 30 years of age) and a younger bull (possibly late teens) having a bit of a tussle.

The older bull was clearly much bigger, so as we watched I didn’t expect this to go on much further than a few pushes and shoves before the younger bull would retreat from the bigger much more dominant bull. To my surprise the younger bull however wasn’t going to give up and the bigger one now had an aggressive teenager to deal with.

We were parked quite a bit further than the minimum distance for these big animals as from past experiences I knew that when two elephants really get into it, trees and anything else in their path will be demolished. Sure enough after a big shove from the older bull the teenager swung around and saw us at the end of the road. He gave us an exhilarating mock charge and I had to quickly give him some space.

He stopped charging after a short distance and I knew he was just a bit frustrated for not being able to dominate the bigger bull. As all this was happening the older bull then started to display a behavior I’ve heard of but not yet actually seen.  He was kneeling down and it looked like he was injured. The younger bull noticed this and tried to shove him while he was down. As the teenager was close enough again the bigger bull quickly rose to his feet and gave the youngster a proper hiding.

It seemed as if the older bull “faked” injury and submission to lure the younger one back so the fight could continue. All my guests and I left that sighting with plenty to talk about at the dinner table.

Mike Duncan Powell – Southern Camp