December 2005

When the rain does come, it comes with a BANG! On the 6th of November we had a cloudburst which filled up all the dams and waterholes within a few hours. So now, we have a new environment! Even a hippo has taken up residence in the biggest dam, much to our delight. He has moved south from the Olifants River, probably chased out by a dominant bull when the river levels were getting perilously low! The elephants are very happy about the full dams and take lengthy baths on the hot summer afternoons.



Elephants playing in Boetebessie Dam


We have had a couple of bull elephants coming into the camp at night lately, when everyone is asleep. The sound of branches breaking wakes up the rangers, who have a double problem – convincing the elephants to move out of the Lodge as peacefully as possible and not waking the guests, sound asleep at 02h00!

Our baby lions are giving us endless entertainment and our guests are taking home pictures to remember. As their mother is unperturbed about the Landrovers, they have absolutely no fear of these “Green Machines” and get up and come over to them as soon as we arrive. They are growing quickly and we watch them help themselves to a bite of wildebeest before settling down for some mother’s milk.



A lion cub yawn

 

Lion sightings have been absolutely spectacular over the last month. The York Pride, now comprising 11 individuals, spend most of their time together and provide memorable experiences. The Mohlabetsi Pride are becoming more and more confiding and we often find them at either one of our Lodges. The adult female in this group should be giving birth to a new litter of cubs any day now. Judging by her movements, it should be in the rocky area to the east of Safari Lodge and there are a few ideal nurseries there.

Birding has become wonderful now that the insects are out. Tony found 6 species of cuckoo on a morning game drive – Diederik, Klaas’s, Striped, Redchested, African and Great Spotted. Not bad for a morning’s work! The Woodland Kingfisher has arrived with all of their hustle and bustle. Their characteristic calls ring out morning, noon and night and they take on all and sundry in their quest to get nesting as soon as possible. The different weaver birds are also frantically building their basket nests and the Redheaded Weavers delight in attaching their homes to the power lines, which result in power outs due to shorting as soon as the winds blow in the storm.
 

 

Redheaded Weaver building

 


James bagged himself a new “lifer” at Big Dam – a Dwarf Bittern. This reclusive species often turns up after the first rains. This dam is becoming a little like “mini Okavango”. Some time spent there could yield a Hippo, a couple of Crocodiles, Fish Eagles and other water birds. The background sound of Water Dikkops and Redbilled Buffalo Weaver all add to the ambiance.

The browsing animals are very content now that all the trees are covered in foliage and flowers. This makes up for those lean times that they have had to endure. The late rains will result in lesser than usual flowers, seed pods and fruit



A giraffe feast


Every season, there is an animal, bird, plant, insect etc that does exceptionally well, due to the climatic situation. Right now, it is the time of the Cicada. In South Africa, we call them Christmas Beetles, because of the incessant, loud buzzing noise they make during the hot summer months. The fully grown nymphs emerge from the soil to coincide with the rain. They have been growing to adulthood underground, feeding off the sap from roots and only live a few weeks as adults, their sole purpose being to find mates and reproduce.

We wish you and your families a wonderful Festive Season! This is always a very special time in the Bush for us because of all the new baby impalas, wildebeests and other plains animals. As the temperature climbs into the 40’s we learn lessons from the hippo on how to lie immobile in the water for long periods of time! We will do our best to keep our lions away from Santa’s reindeer when he comes to deliver our gifts!

Merry Christmas, Gesiende Kersfees, Matswalo A Morena and Kuvelekiwa Ka HosiJesu