Our Feline Filled Morning

One morning, we left the lodge for the last morning drive for the guests. They hadn’t seen any cats at all, and I heard that there were lions that were seen around a dam the night before. I decided that we would try and find them again, so we followed the tracks until we found them. It was three females with a young male cub. We stayed there for a while, waiting for the next ranger to come and view them. Once we had left, we drove down the road, when all of a sudden; a cheetah crossed the road in front of us! Wow! From seeing not a single cat to seeing 2 in an hour! We had to stop for a drink to calm our nerves. After the nice, warm cup of coffee, we were all warm and our nerves were gone. I then heard over the radio that they had just found a leopard not too far away from where we were, so I decided to take a stand by for it. We slowly made our way to the leopard, and after viewing it for a while, we decided it was breakfast time, and made our way back to the lodge for breakfast.

Story by Bryan (River Lodge)

The Catch of the Day

My guests had seen all of the big 5 and we were looking for one more special sighting. We decided to go and look so we drove around for a while. We were lucky enough to find hippos out of the water, sleeping on the bank of a dam (or as I like to say, catching a tan). As we were watching the hippos, all of a sudden down, came a fish eagle and snatched a fish out of the water. It flew to the nearest tree to eat the catch of the day. What an incredible sighting – something I will never forget!

Story by Bryan (River Lodge)

A Great Show!

It all started one morning when we left the lodge in search for lions. I heard that the big pride of 13 were around in an open area the night before, so I went straight there to see if I could find tracks to see which direction they had moved to during the night. I received a call on the radio that someone had found them – they had just chased a leopard up a tree and stole its food. As the leopard jumped out of the tree, the male lion chased the leopard away, giving one of the females a chance to get the food and run away with it. When the male got back, he saw one of the females eating what he had stole. He tried to get it back but every time he got close the female would run away with it. We had such luck that we had found the lions and got a great show out of it!

Story by Bryan (River Lodge)

Cape (Temminck’s) Pangolin (Manis temmickii)

The Cape Pangolin is a small mammal covered in tough scales that consists of keratin like human hair and nails. These scales serve to protect the animal as they roll into a ball to the head and soft belly on the inside. They feed on ants and termites, hence the nickname “scaly anteaters”. They have a very long, sticky tongue that is able to lap up the termites and ants in small cavities. The tongue is attached near the pelvis and last pair of ribs and when it is extended, it’s longer than the body and head. When retracted, the tongue will rest in a sheath in the chest cavity. They also have strong claws on the front feet that enable them to dig into the nests of their prey and to dig holes to rest and sleep in.

Because of poaching for illegal wildlife trade and habitat destruction, these amazing animals have become one of the most endangered mammals in the world. They are so rare that it is unknown how long they can live in the wild, but have been recorded to survive up to 20 years in captivity.

They have very poor eyesight and locate their food by a strong sense of smell. Thus pangolins can forage for insects even in the pitch black darkness, when lions and leopards become inactive. Very little is known about the pangolins behavior as they are nocturnal and very secretive. They are known to have special muscles to close the nostrils and ears to protect against attacking insects. They also have a big appetite and serve as a natural form of pest control as one adult pangolin can eat up to 70 million ants and termites per year.

Story by Jacques (River Lodge)

Bush Skills

A couple of days ago, my guests asked me to do a guided walk, specifically to go out and look for one of Africa’s notorious Big 5. They were really interested in experiencing the bush at a more in depth level than from the normal way – on the back of a game vehicle. After the morning game drive and a lovely, filling breakfast, we set out to an area where some rhinos were seen on the morning drive. It was a fairly cool morning, and the rhinos had moved swiftly away from where they had been seen earlier in the morning. Given, my friend and tracker, had the opportunity to show all of us his amazing tracking skills by following a track for a long time, and being able to find the animals we are looking for. Given told us that they had been feeding intensely during the early hours of the morning. How do you know that, the guests asked him enthusiastically? He turned around and explained to them how the grass is broken off really close to the ground, and the way the rhinos had moved in the area, suggested that it had been breakfast time. After this more difficult tracking exercise, we realized that it looked as if the rhinos had started to move in a more direct line, indicating that they might have been looking for water or a place to rest in the warmer parts of the day. We eventually found the sleeping rhinos at the in-flow of a dam. As we started to head back for the lodge, I appreciated the skills our trackers have, and the amazing gift of being able to walk in nature.

Story by F.W (River Lodge)