More than one surprise

We set off on our afternoon safari a little earlier than usual –it was my guests’ first drive but I decided to try and find the infamous and secretive leopard. We went to the area where a young male leopard had been seen that morning. One of my fellow rangers had found tracks going far north from where he was so we followed for a far distance.

Finally, the other ranger found this young male leopard at a small watering hole. Unfortunately, by the time we got there, he had moved off so we stayed in the area to try and find him again. Eventually we had a brief visual in the block so we went off the road to try and follow him. When we caught up with him finally, he was on top of a termite mound marking his territory.

He was so relaxed and came walking right by the vehicle. We followed him again until he lay down. As we were watching him and talking about how shy leopards usually are, he stood up and stared in one direction so I told my guests to keep quiet and we’ll see what happens. He walked to the other side of the car into long grass and started chewing on something hard. I told my guests he was probably chewing on a tortoise – leopards often play around with them and then eventually eat them from the belly.

After a few minutes, the “tortoise” came out of the long grass, only to show its true identity – a pangolin. A pangolin is similar to the armadillo, an ant eater, and is an even rarer sighting than a leopard. So to see them together in the same sighting, and interacting was unbelievable – something that others would only dream of seeing.

My guests and I were very happy and had a relaxed drive after experiencing something so exciting.

KC – Kapama River Lodge

Rhino Tracking

On the morning of Tuesday 21 March, we set out with the mission of finding some rhinos. Sometimes these animals prove to be easy to find, and other times very difficult to find. We had an idea of where they had been the day before and went straight to that area.

On our way there we found very fresh tracks leading north across a big road. We started following the tracks and saw a couple of places where they had been going across the roads. We had to establish which the last tracks were, as going in the wrong direction can lead to complete and utter failure.

It took us roughly two hours of intense tracking to follow the tracks as they circled back and forth. Eventually finding the newest tracks crossed south again about 50 meters away from where we first found the tracks. Ten minutes later we found 5 rhinos leisurely feeding as they made their way ever so slowly towards a waterhole for a drink. It was an amazing feeling to watch these magnificent animals and know that all the time spent tracking them was worth while.

As the other rangers drew closer to the area to have a look at them we decided to leave them and give other guests a chance to have the same experience. We left the sighting with a smile, but then unexpectedly found two more rhinos not far from where the first ones had been – suddenly wondering why it hadn’t been so easy the first time around.

While still looking at these rhinos, another ranger called yet another two rhinos in roughly the same area. So we ended up with 9 rhinos, roughly around the same area as we had been tracking for such a long time. That also seemed to explain the abundance of tracks and many different directions the tracks were leading us into. At first it seemed like time wasted for spending time on an animal that could easily have been found, but then it also shows how unpredictable nature can be, making the same task look both easy and difficult at the same time. It all then just seems to unfold, depending on how you dance the rhino dance.

Jacques Beukes – Kapama River Lodge

Best of both

This morning we started our game drive with the plan of looking for a big male lion and if we were lucky enough, to see a leopard.

We found a few fresh leopard tracks early in the drive and started to follow up on the signs. After a bit of following we came to an area were we saw that the leopard was chased away by a few hyenas, so my tracker Steven and I could not find any more tracks so we left the area.

Just after we left the area we heard on the radio that someone has found a big male lion, so excitedly we made our way to the area so we could see the “KING” of the beasts.
Just before we reached the location of the lion, I heard on the radio that there was a leopard in the tree, the leopard was chased up the tree by the lions, and so even more excited I couldn’t wait to get there.

When we pulled into the sighting my guests were so happy to see the lion that they didn’t notice the leopard in the tree until I pointed it out. My guests didn’t know where to look, at the lion or at the leopard.

It was amazing to see how these big cats were looking and snarling at each other and to see which one will give in first.

It was great to be able to get both of these amazing animals in the same spot. It was the highlight of the day and could even be the highlight of my year.

Stefan de Weerd – Kapama River Lodge

What a great course

For the last three days, myself and a few other rangers and trackers participated in a course – the first subject being tracks and signs, and the second being trailing. Colin Patrick was the leader of the course and he made it extremely enjoyable – it was a great way to learn.

The trailing part of the course was the most difficult. In order to pass, you need to find a track and stay on it without losing the tracks or signs. It looks easy when a professional does it but when you’re doing it yourself it is tough, especially through different types of terrains.

Regardless of the difficulties, we thoroughly enjoyed the course. So, on behalf of myself and the others, a great thank you to Kapama and Colin for the wonderful experience.

Bryan – Kapama River Lodge

Weights and lifespans

Adding to my previous story on the 3rd of May 2013 about the gestation periods and the amounts of young that are born, I would like to give you the next set of numbers for these animals and also things that we as ranger should know as it is asked by a lot of people.

In the list below I will be giving the weights of these animals and then also there estimated live spans:

Animal: Body Weight: Lifespan:
Vervet monkey M- 6kg F- 4kg 12
Baboon M- 33kg F-15kg 18
Pangolin 5 – 18kg 12
Porcupine 12 – 18kg 15
African Wild Dog 20 – 30kg 12
Blacked backed jackal 7 – 10kg 10
Honey Badger 8 – 14kg 20
Dwarf Mongoose 350 – 400 grams 6
Spotted Hyena M- 60kg F- 80kg 20
Lion M- 190kg F- 130kg M- 10 F- 14 (18)
Leopard M- 90kg F- 60kg 21
Cheetah 40 – 60kg 16
Elephant M- 7 tons F- 4tons 50 – 60
White Rhino M- 2000kg F- 1800Kg 40
Giraffe M- 1200kg F-800kg 28
Impala M- 65kg F- 40kg 12
Blue Wildebeest M- 250kg F- 180kg 18
Waterbuck M- 260kg F-250kg 17
Nyala M- 115kg F- 60kg 15
Kudu M-300kg F-210kg 18
Zebra 300 – 320kg 20

Stefan De Weerd