A bushwalk full of excitement

After a lovely morning game, drive my guests wanted to be a bit more adventurous out in the African bush and asked if we can go out on a bushwalk. After assessing the weather and situation, we decided that the conditions were good enough for a walk. We proceeded to the vehicle and I gave my standard briefing in which I always mention that the walks are there to have a look at the smaller aspects of nature, and not to see how many of the Big 5 animals we can encounter, as this is obviously a risky situation at best.
We set of into the middle of the reserve to one of my favourite walking areas and it didn’t take long before we started to find some amazing little things. One of the most interesting being a matrimonial dung ball rolled during the previous rainy season, an artefact one comes across very rarely in this good of a condition. After spending some time explaining the making and purpose of the dung ball, we continued along the single animal trail cutting through the Knobthorn and Marula thicket. The wind started to pick up a bit and I decided to change direction to keep the wind in our favour. Barely 100m after this decision, we noticed tracks heading in the same direction as what we were walking, and not just any tracks – we were following the same pathway as the king of the jungle, or at least 8 kings and queens of the jungle.
We spent a bit of time talking about the possibilities and risks involved having these mighty animals in the area, but being a rather hot day and a watering hole no more than 500m away from us, my tracker and I were convinced that the lions were sleeping in the cool sand next to the water, and with the direction of the wind we were completely hidden from their senses. We gave the guests another briefing, just to ensure that everyone knows what we are about to attempt and exactly how we were going to do so.
We were about 60m away from the water’s edge, when a baboon gave an alarm call which made everyone stop dead in their tracks. After a couple of minutes, we could see the big male baboon sitting guard in a big Jackalberry, but he was not barking at us – he wasn’t even looking in our direction – his eyes was set on something else, something at the water. Thanks to the help from the baboon, we had an even better idea to the location of the big cats so we decided to widen the walking circle and came towards the water at a bigger angle. Moving through the bushes as quietly as we possibly could, we came to an opening overlooking the dam, and there in the shade we saw them – 8 lions having a late morning sleep in the cool sand. The wind suddenly changed direction and one of the younger lions picked up our scent. He nervously started to look around and this behaviour created a chain effect with the rest. Using the cover we had to our advantage, they were able to smell us but not see us, so before that changed we decided to back out of the area and make a loop back to the vehicle, along the way continuing to look at the smaller aspects of nature.
We don’t go looking for the big animals on walk, but it is a treat to be able to view these magnificent animals on foot. It always makes you realise how small we actually are, and a little bit of adrenalin has never been a bad thing.

Story by Piet (RiverLodge)
2013/09/21

Lion VS Honey badger

One evening, while out on a night drive, we were fortunate enough to see our biggest pride of 13 lions. There was quite a commotion and they seemed to be concentrating hard on whatever they were doing. They seemed to be teasing a honey badger. We watched in awe as the battle continued for almost an hour. Honey badgers are notorious for being quite feisty, and full of bravado, as well as being strong and tenacious. There have been reports of them fighting with buffalo and male lions, and they do tend to bite at the scrotum of the enemy.
In the Kalahari, a honey badger was bitten by a very venomous snake (a Cape Cobra). The Honey Badger was out for a few minutes, before it got up and moved off.
Our lion pride eventually gave up the fight that night, as they could see they were fighting a losing battle.

Story by Clive (River Lodge)
2013/09/18

African Colours

In my opinion, the most beautiful time of the day is just when the sun is coming up, over the horizon, when the world is waking up to the first rays of sunshine. I haven’t been at Kapama long, but even the sleepiest guests seem to appreciate the colours that the sun paints over the bush.
We drive through the bush, and guests are so excited at every animal we pass. One of my most memorable drives to date has to be when we came across a large herd of buffalo. I really enjoy watching these animals, who in turn watch us as we take photographs of their magnificent horns and visiting ox-peckers. As my guests were in awe of just how massive the herd was (it just seemed to keep growing and growing with every turn we made), my tracker, Alfie, suddenly told me to stop and reverse. He had spotted something in the tree, just above some very curious buffalo. As we followed their gaze, we spotted Alfie’s favourite (and the one of the most notoriously difficult to find) animals – a leopard. Every time we see one of these precious animals, he gets just as excited as the guests do (admittedly, so do I, but he is like a child who has just been given a chocolate bar). The leopard didn’t seem too bothered by the rather large beasts below her, and was more concerned with her catch of the day – a young warthog that she had dragged up the tree.
As we watched her, she suddenly became quite anxious, and decided to make a break for it. With cameras clicking, and flashes flashing, down the tree this beautiful animal came, and ran away faster than we could keep up! At the same time, the buffalo had gotten such a fright that they bolted in the opposite direction… Quite a wonderful site – like a mini great migration with buffalo, instead of wildebeest! We decided to keep track of the leopard instead, who we eventually tracked down, laying flat under a tree. Her meal long forgotten, she paid us no mind as she dozed sleepily. My guests were ecstatic! They had never chased an animal through the bush and after a round of applause for Alfie and his keen eyes, they tried to get me to follow some wandering impala through a Knobthorn thicket.
We wound down with some coffee before heading back, and there was much excitement and big smiles as the guests compared photos.
As we drove through the now well-lit bush, my eyes took in all the different colours of the trees, grasses, animals and birds that seemed to look brighter and more alive with every passing moment, and with every ray of sunshine that covered them. Everyday, I wake up and remember just how lucky we are because we live in one of the most beautiful places on Earth.

Story by Angie (River Lodge)
2013/09/16

Two for One

A few days back, my guests and I set out on our morning safari. We had seen some incredibly lucky sightings the day before, being treated to a leopard feeding on an impala, as well as an awesome sighting of the elephants, with the youngsters all playing near our vehicle in the road. We set out this morning, trying to track down the remaining members of the Big 5, focusing on following the tracks of the lion pride. We eventually found our way onto some very fresh tracks of the lions, and together with a couple other vehicles started trying to pinpoint them down. After about 15 minutes, one of the other vehicles helping us managed to locate them in a nice open area not too far away. When we got there, we couldn’t believe how lucky we were! Instead of seeing the lions, all we could see as we were making our way closer was a female rhino and her young calf standing quite alert. When we got a bit closer, we could see all 12 lions sitting in a circle surrounding the rhinos! It was amazing to watch the interaction between these two species. The young cubs, thinking they were a lot bigger than they are, kept trying to push closer to the rhinos. Eventually after a lot of snarling, the mother rhino had had enough and gave chase to the lions. It was an amazing sighting to see, watching these usually fearless lions tuck tail and bolt in every direction!

Story by Kevin (River Lodge)
2013/09/10

The Slender Mongoose (Galerella sanguinea)

The Slender Mongoose is a small, light brown to dark red brown predator that, as the name suggests, is quite long and thin. They mostly live alone or in pairs and hunt during the day, making them diurnal. Their diet consists of rodents, reptiles and birds. They will also eat insects and other invertebrates. As small as they are, it has been reported that slender mongoose can kill a black mamba, which is considered as Southern Africa’s most dangerous snake.
A male would have a home range that would be large enough to overlap the home ranges of several females that he would then approach if he can smell that she is in heat. The male does not take care of the young. When the youngsters are old enough, they would all go their separate ways and find their own home ranges. They are found almost all over the sub-Sahara Africa, but mostly prefer the savannah and open woodland areas. They become less prominent in dense bushed areas. They make dens in old termite mounds and would sometimes share it with other mongoose species like the white tailed mongoose as the latter is nocturnal.

Story by Jacques (River Lodge)
2013/09/08