Python vs Lion

On a pleasant night safari the other day my guests and I were coming towards the end of the safari drive, when out of the blue we happen upon one of the rarest sightings I have ever experienced. It all started earlier during the drive when we found  the young Southern Male lion fast asleep at Sunset dam. This male normally likes to associate with the youngsters and lionesses of the Moria pride (named after one of the areas on the reserve). Later that evening on the way to the lodge I thought I would go past Sunset dam again and sure enough found the same magnificent Male lion heading towards us in the middle of the road.

I pulled off the road and allowed this massive cat to pass mere meters away from the vehicle. The guests loved the thrill and exhilaration to have such an powerful animal go past this close, and also the fact that he trusted us enough to actually come this close, without paying us any notice. We followed him down the road and he then suddenly veered off his direction clearly showing signs of having picked up on a smell needing closer investigation.

At first we thought he might have picked up a females’ scent and as he moved closer to a bush  pandemonium broke loose. He suddenly launched himself into the air behind the bush with a massive African Rock Python biting him on the muzzle. With enormous power he flung the python of his nose and darted back into the road. You could see that this was quite an unpleasant surprise for him and after a few rubs he continued down the road. African Rock Pythons can reach a length of about 6-8 meters and grow up to about 50 – 70 Kg in weight. This is pure muscle and they are extremely powerful snakes.

Obviously this would be quite a hearty meal for a Lion but I am sure this male would think twice before taking on such a powerful reptile again. We couldn’t help but smile when it struck us that this is probably the best example of the age old saying  ” don’t bite off more than you can chew…”

Ranger Mike Powell

Southern Camp

 

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

The experience of a lifetime

Female leopard

The female leopard ran for safety into a tree and waited for the scavenger to leave the area

This evening started off quite cold and we did not expect to see much. It was an overcast evening and it got dark earlier than usual so we stopped for some drinks. Just as we were about to pack up the drinks we heard the call of a Leopard in the area. I asked the guests to jump in their seats so that we can try find this amazing animal.

We drove into the bushy area where the sound came from but we could not find her. Alfred, my tracker, and colleague, Kim, decided to make our approach back to the road with the hope that we might find her there. She was in the middle of the road and then moved off into the bush and we then followed her and lost her.

We found the female Leopard again and she approached a warthog hole. She tapped with her feet at the entrance of the hole and out came about four warthogs, one big female with her little ones. I am not sure how many they were. Everything happened so quickly. They were all over the place and confused the Leopard.

She missed three of them, one actually ran straight into her face and she didn’t manage to catch it. But, eventually, she killed one right in front of us and another just a little further away. After all this exhilarating excitement, we found a spotted Hyena coming along. It stole one of the Warthogs the leopard had killed so the female leopard ran for safety into a tree and waited for the scavenger to leave the area. She then slowly got out of the tree and made her way to the other kill which, during all this commotion, she managed to hide away from any threat. Finally she could enjoy her feast in peace and silence.

This was truly a once in a lifetime experience and we will remember this moment for the rest of our lives.

Janco Du Plessis
23/04/2012

An unpredictable day in Africa

One afternoon drive, we already had a great beginning with seeing two male Leopards having a territorial dispute. The older male Leopard ended up getting pushed out of his territory and the younger male won territory that he could finally call his own! A little while later we had found a pride of Lions, one male and two females lounging around like lions do!!! Finally we decided that this was too much action for one day and a drink was needed. We stopped at a waterhole, with the sun setting just behind it.

Young male Lion

Young male Lion

 

We had just served everyone with drinks and chatting about the day’s events, and all of a sudden my tracker Tully asked us to keep quiet! It was as if someone had switched the radio off, we were deadly silent! Not far from us we heard these strange snorting noises and Tully explained that this was very unhappy Impala’s. So we very quickly packed up to go find out what was
upsetting these Impala’s so much. Drove one block switched off the engine and listened, drove to the direction of the snorting and switched the engine off and listened. We found the Impala’s all facing the same direction and as we looked beyond them we saw this little white body lying on the ground. As we drove closer i could not believe my eyes, we had just witnessed Africa’s largest snake- the African Rock Python kill a young Impala.

Males can get up to 4.5metres and females 5metres and easily weigh 55kgs, that’s a lot of snake for some people to handle. Their diet is varied but they can consume small antelope, monkeys, fish, monitor lizards and even small crocodiles have been recorded. Today this Python had killed a young impala, and it was through the mothers distress calls that we had gotten this phenomenal sighting. African Rock Pythons seek prey with their heat sensors, ambush and then use strength rather than venom. As the animal exhales the snake constricts and with every breath until the prey is exhausted of oxygen. Once the prey stops breathing the Python then releases his grip and goes towards the head and starts to consume his hard earned prey. At this time the snake is at its most vulnerable to predators, so he swallows the prey surprisingly fast. Once the Python has devoured his prey he goes into hiding like a cavity of a tree or maybe an old Aardvark hole, so that the digestive juices can take over!

African Rock Python - Phot by Morah-Leigh Cooper

African Rock Python - Phot by Morah-Leigh Cooper

It just goes to show that the bush is extremely unpredictable, you never know what’s around the next corner and if you us all your senses you just might just get so much more…

Morah-Leigh Cooper-Ranger, Kapama Karula

The huntress

The first two weeks that I have worked at Kapama have been filled with some amazing sightings and experiences, ranging from Lion kills to Pangolins. One of the highlights was when we found our large male lion and female dozing lazily in the road close to River lodge; we stopped the game viewer and watched as the loins enjoyed the last rays of the afternoon sun. After about five minutes the female began to stir as she yawned displaying her massive canines that can range from 6 to 10 cm’s, we could see that she was focused on something about 50 meters away. Before we could see what she was looking at, she sprang into action and headed straight for a termite mound and in an explosion of dust; we soon realized what she had killed a juvenile warthog. She had just proved again that lions don’t need to limber up before attempting a chase. The irony of it all was when the male just walked over, took the warthog from her and devoured the entire thing without leaving her anything for her hard work; she just lay down and started grooming herself, accepting her role as the huntress.

Story By: Tuhan Steyn- Kapama River Lodge Ranger

Karula Earth Hour

Earth Hour started in 2007 in Sydney, Australia when 2.2 million individuals and more than 2,000 businesses turned their lights off for one hour to take a stand against climate change. Only a year later and Earth Hour had become a global sustainability movement with more than 50 million people across 35 countries/territories participating. Global landmarks such as the Sydney Harbour Bridge, CN Tower in Toronto, Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, and Rome’s Colosseum, all stood in darkness, as symbols of hope for a cause that grows more urgent by the hour.

In March 2009, hundreds of millions of people took part in the third Earth Hour. Over 4000 cities in 88 countries/territories officially switched off to pledge their support for the planet, making Earth Hour 2009 the world’s largest global climate change initiative.

On Saturday 27 March, Earth Hour 2010 became the biggest Earth Hour ever. A record 128 countries and territories joined the global display of climate action. Iconic buildings and landmarks from Asia Pacific to Europe and Africa to the Americas switched off. People across the world from all walks of life turned off their lights and came together in celebration and contemplation of the one thing we all have in common – our planet.

Earth Hour 2011 took place on Saturday 26 March at 8:30PM (local time).  At Karula, being a contemporary, unique and innovative lodge, we decided that to pledge our support against climate change we would go one step further. From the time the guests returned from safari (7:00PM), throughout dinner and until they went to bed (8:00PM) there was not one single light burning in the lodge. This doubled the standard blackout to two hours. So as not to inconvenience our guests, we lined the pathways and dining area with twinkling lanterns which bathed the scene with wonderfully romantic flickering lights. Each one of our guests commented on what a wonderful idea it was and on what a statement it made for the environment. This was exactly our aim and even if only a few people were impacted by this gesture they will create a ripple effect reaching hundreds, thousands and eventually millions of people… Together we can make a difference.

Cameron Pearce – Head Ranger, Kapama Karula