This afternoon, we had a breeding herd of buffalo with many calves that moved through the southern parts of the reserve. For the majority of the females, the 11 month gestation period is now over. Now that the bush is lush and green, there is enough food and water for a few big herds. Herds of buffalo don’t stay in one area as they are always moving from one area to another looking for good water and good grazing areas. All the bachelor herds that we had wandering around last couple of month have now seemed to have moved back to the breeding herds. Our trusted old dagga boys are still around, always close to waterholes or mud pans to keep them cool in the harsh African sun.
Story by Clement (River Lodge)
It was on a late morning walk, when everyone was walking with their heads up after viewing a breeding herd of buffalo at one of the dams, when suddenly, one of my guests was trying to tie his shoe laces, and one of the grasses draw his attention. With a flower with a light blue colour, he called me to have a look at this beautiful plant on the ground. I immediately I started to think of names that this plant might be, like Benghal Wandering Jew, Blue Mouse ears, Venus Bath and many other names of this lovely blue wild flower belonging to the Commelinaceae family. During this time of the year, in this area, we have 25 different species in Southern Africa and in Brazil. There are 3 of the Commelina species that are poisonous to humans. This plant it is well known from Southern Africa to countries far like India, Tanzania and Islands of Philippines, Madagascar and Mauritius, where the plant have been used as a cure for fever, swollen glands, leprosy, dysentery, sore throats, sore eyes, infertility, burns and many more ailments.
Story by Kallie (River Lodge)
It was a very overcast morning with a gust of wind or 2 swirling in the bush when we went out on drive.
We originally decided on trying to go for lions as the weather conditions were suited for them. But no lions were anywhere to be found! A little bit later on in the drive, we found a dead giraffe that looked like it died because of old age. Even though this is something we as rangers see often, what made this carcass so special was the fact that over 80 vultures were feeding on this carcass.
With some fighting going on, and these scavenging birds scattering to find a spot to forage some food, they suddenly stopped and ran into the open. Next moment, the sun came out and immediately, almost as if they were in sync, they all turned their backs and opened their wings to soak up the sun. And then, as quickly as it appeared, the sun disappeared they all ran back to the carcass and continued feeding.
This was definitely the highlight of my day as it just goes to show that a little bit of sun goes a long way.
Story by Rassie (River Lodge)
In one of our quieter times, not too long ago, we decided to drive towards the den where the hyenas keep their young. Because it was a quiet time for most of the lodges, there were no other safari vehicles in the area and we had the sighting to ourselves for more than an hour. Normally the traffic of vehicles entering and leaving will disturb the movement and behavior of the animals. This did not seem to be the case today. They did look at us for a while when we arrived there, but afterwards, they seemed to be relaxed with us and just went about their daily business. Mother grooming the youngsters, youngsters playing and bullying each other – all behavior which one would not normally see with these very secretive animals. Even the older juveniles took part in a bit of the play. This, once again, proves that they are not the vicious animals they are believed to be. Even though they are dangerous animals with an immense bite force, they can control how they use those jaws.
Some of the other myths about hyenas that are not true are: –
? They do not eat everything they see – even though they do eat carrion, it still needs to be quite fresh;
? They do not only scavenge off lion and leopard kills. Hyenas are very successful hunters and are very capable of catching and killing their own prey if they need to;
? They will not go mad and eat themselves from the back just because they smell blood. They will however try to lick the wound the same way dogs do to keep it clean and stop infection;
? They are not dogs; and neither are they cats, for that matter. They are biologically closer related to cats than to dogs, but they are in a complete different family. The hyena family only has three members in Southern Africa – the spotted hyena, the striped hyena (also known as the aardwolf) and the brown hyena.
Story by Jacques (River Lodge)