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
A good sighting of a snake in the wild can be quite a rare event, and as it is so difficult to spot snakes in the wild it is somehow always an exhilarating experience for guides and guest alike.
Most of our snake “sightings” are mostly met with a scream from someone, and soon afterwards the excitement will set in. This morning we were driving along in search of animals when we spotted a snake sailing across the road ahead of us. We pulled up alongside the spot the snake went of the road and entered the bush. A bit disappointed we thought our changes of spotting him were spoiled, but in true style my tracker spotted it again a short distance from the roads’ edge. Having the opportunity to identify the snake was very cool, and me and my tracker immediately new this was one of those you do not want to mess with… a Mozambique Spitting Cobra.
The snake rose up above the grass and spreaded it’s hood in true cobra style with the distinct black bands on it’s throat clearly visible! The rest of the body is a lighter brown colour and it is quite difficult to miss-id this snake with its aggressive demeanor.
It kept it’s defensive pose for longer than I would have expected, making us understand clearly to stay away from him, before disappearing into the bushes.
Mozambique Spitting Cobras are fairly widespread in our region and because of their aggressiveness and bad temper they have quite a bad reputation amongst most people here and in local villages. Luckily their warning signs are loud and clear and only a fool would dare to not take heed… If not you would probably be met with a stream of venom from the fangs aimed directly at your eyes. This in itself would be a very uncomfortable and painful experience. Most people however understand their behaviour and they are suprisingly enough responsible for very little snakebite incidences around the area!
Should you get bitten, a deadly cocktail of cyto- and nuero-toxic venom would be injected through hypodermic needle like fangs and cause you severe pain, discomfort and gradual collapse of your whole neurological system. Luckily it is quite a “slow working” venom and you should have ample time getting to a doctor who should be able to reverse the effect of the bite. You should make a full recovery unless you develop a massive allergic reaction to the proteins in the venom, in which case death might be a very real possibility…
As always it is normally a VERY good idea to stay away from snakes you encounter, even more so if you don’t’ know which type they are. If you understand the warning signs, do not ever ignore them as they are there for a reason, and these will save you a very unpleasant trip to the emergency room.
Westley Lombard – Senior Ranger
Kapama Southern Camp
Yesterday morning my guests and I witnessed an incredible sighting. We heard audio of our large male Lion and went to investigate. As we got visual of the male and our largest Lioness we noticed a large male Leopard up a tree. Lions and Leopard do NOT get along. Lions will kill Leopard and Leopard cubs and Leopard will kill Lion cubs.
The two Lions were under the tree harassing and roaring at the Leopard. About three minutes later a Crash of three Rhino wandered into our sighting, a male and two female, and started chasing the Lions away. The Leopard jumped down out of the tree and tried to jump into another tree but missed. As the Leopard missed the Lioness grabbed the Leopard by the rump and the Rhino came and chased the Lion off again.
The Leopard ran off, perused by the Lions the whole while. He climbed another tree trying to escape but only reached a small branch where he was very uncomfortable. The Lions started roaring again and the Leopard jumped down and there was nowhere to run, being caught between both Lions. The male Lion caught the Leopard but the Leopard fought back. Then again the Rhinos chased the Lions and the Leopard managed to escape and run off into the bush!
An incredible, once in a lifetime sighting at Kapama that my guests and I will never forget! (Thank you Sebastian for the FANTASTIC photos to add to our story!)
(Above: My VERY happy and excited guests.)
By: Michael Mabuye – River Lodge Ranger
The relationship between predator and prey is a very complicated one. The rangers at Kapama Main Lodge were extremely fortunate to witness some of this behaviour yesterday.
Firstly yesterday was not good to be an impala, since we found a young female leopard that had killed a male impala around the Mamba dam area. She was quite skittish at first but as the day wore on and darkness fell she became more relaxed and many of our guests watched as she devoured the carcass.
We were also privileged to see our pride of lions on an impala kill yesterday morning. Unfortunately for the lionesses the dominant male lion ate most of the kill only allowing the three young cubs to feed alongside him. But this is where it gets interesting. Not far from where the lions were feeding; the buffalo herd were having a drink of water at a nearby dam. The wind direction was just perfect and they picked up the scent of the lions. Luckily for the cubs the lioness saw the buffalo approaching and called to them so that they would have enough time to escape. The male lion however was too busy gorging himself on the Impala kill. Finally, at the last moment, he turned around and saw the buffalo who were by now at very close quarters. He just had enough time to grab what remained of the Impala carcass and run for his life, disappearing behind one of the dam walls with the angry buffalo in hot pursuit.
The score at the end of the day was Predators 2 Prey 1.
Last night was great, as we drove around one of the corners-there he was, a Civet. The best time to see these animals is usually early mornings or late afternoons. Ocassionally they have been spotted during the day at waterholes. You may find them on their own or in pairs.
They have a huge range of food from insects to the largest prey- a scrub hare or guinea fowl. They have regular latrine sites known as civetries. One of their most favoured food sources are millipeeds.
Story by: Richard Brune-Kapama River Lodge Ranger
We started our game drive this afternoon on a very successful note by finding a beautiful female Rhino with the cutest little calf and the herd of African buffalo that we originally set out to see.
So I decided to take a drive past a wildebeest that had been killed a couple days back by the lions. The reason why we did this is that the lions had left almost half of the kill before moving off. So we got there only to discover that the vultures and jackals had decided to pull in and have a snack before sunset, so we left the area to go and enjoy a spectacular sunset with a drink to go with it all.
After the drinks break we headed past the kill one more time and luck was definitely on our side as we not only found our solitary lioness with her young cubs heading towards the kill for a bit of dinner but also the big male lion on a mission to patrol his territory further done the road.
Story by : Calvin Du Plessis- Kapama River Lodge Ranger