Kambaku Wildlife Highlights - March 2013
As we approach the end of a hot and busy summer we are welcomed by crisp mornings and cool evenings on drive. Early morning wake ups have become a little bit harder in the late morning darkness but as soon as the birds start chirping and the sun appears over the horizon we start to appreciate and take in the wonders of our surroundings. With little rain throughout March the bush is already starting to clear up and waterholes are already starting to dry. Most of the natural pans have been reduced to hard, crispy mud as Buffalo bulls and Rhino now have to revert to the bigger dams for their daily mud-bath. The weather has been fair with an average daily temperature of just below the thirties, cooling down to early twenties at night for a more comfortable sleep.
Game viewing has been consistent right throughout March with a definite highlight being the Wild Dogs. We have frequently had the opportunity to view the pack of 29 as they played, hunted, ran and relaxed. Many people have dreamt of seeing Wild Dogs in their natural habitat but due to their susceptibility to numerous diseases and habitat destruction by man, the numbers of these dogs have been dramatically decreased over the years and sadly the African Wild Dog has been placed on the Red Data List as Critically Endangered. For a lot of South Africans who have been going to the bush their whole lives this is always, when asked, the ultimate to see. That is besides the White Lions of Timbavati of course.
The Giraffe Pride is doing well with the two White Lions still fit as a whistle. We have seen their tracks as these cats moved around a lot during the night but only managed to spot them once or twice.
Both the males of the Ross pride have been mating with females and were hoping that we will have some more cubs in a few months’ time.
The Ross pride has been frequenting the Timbavati, moving through Kambaku and its neighbouring properties. They are all looking to be in good condition and seem to be doing very well as a pride.
The herds of Buffalo have still been very elusive but we were lucky to see them a couple of times as they passed through the area. Last winter was very good for Buffalo viewing and we are hoping that this winter will yield some more Buffalo herds in the area.
Leopard sightings have been good as always with Leopards being spotted regularly. A young male Leopard took the risk of a free meal when he snuck in after the Lions were done on a Giraffe Kill! Shortly before we spotted this Leopard there were three Lions feeding off the Giraffe and no longer than ten minutes later the young Leopard came sneaking in. He had a good feed and we left him when he was still on the kill.
Moving away from big five, we were very excited to have a female Cheetah with her 5 cubs this month! These spotted felines are very elusive and to see a female with five cubs was very lucky. We saw them over a period of two days and they were very relaxed with the presence of the vehicle.
We have once again had some amazing reptile activity. A sighting really worth mentioning was a 2m Blkack Mamba that we found sunbathing in a Marula Tree. We sat with the snake for about 20min and just as we were about to leave it started hunting. It stuck its head into a cavity of the tree and emerged a short while later with a baby tree squirrel. The mother, alarmed by the desperate calls of the babies, came rushing to distract the snake but her attempts of running over the long body of the snake were unsuccessful and the snake once again emerged with another baby.
Another spectacular moment was a Water Monitor hunting and eating Catfish in a dried up dam. Fish Eagles had taken the opportunity before and cleared out most of the fish but this Water Monitor got his share of a large fish in the end.
Snakes have been fairly active this month as most of them would be trying to eat before settling down for winter. The snakes in this area do not hibernate as believed by many people but merely become more inactive. This is due to the warm temperatures experienced, even during the middle of winter when a normal day could reach temperatures of 25 degrees. The snakes just slow down their metabolisms to conserve their energy.
The Hyena den has become active once again and many pups are seen. There were three large females thus far and one of them looks heavily pregnant which means that we may soon have some new pups.
Kambaku Wildlife Highlights - December 2012
We have had a superb festive season to end another fantastic year at Kambaku Safari Lodge. There have been so many exciting things happening throughout the year and we would like to share some of the recent happenings around the lodge during December.
It was in November that we had Bryce, Nicola and Paityn’s 1 year anniversary at Kambaku Lodge and many will agree that the changes they have brought onto, not only the lodge but to all staff, family and friends have been only positive and for the better. As the proud owners of Kambaku they have put in uncountable hours in insuring the comfort and enjoyment of both staff and guests. Some of the changes that happened this year include the installation of solar panels so that Kambaku no longer relies on any form of power except the sun. This makes the lodge even more environmentally friendly and reduces the impact on the natural surroundings considerably. We are very proud of our clean, naturally produced electricity!
December has been another great month and even the weather has played its part in ensuring amazing game drives. The temperatures have been averaging mid 30’s during the day, dropping down to the mid 20’s in the evenings and we have had 100mm of rain. This of course is not ideal for the environment but did help in providing some quality time out in the bush as far as game viewing is concerned. Game drives have been consistently excellent with some spectacular sightings for our guests. Most of our guests staying for two nights or more saw the whole big five and a lucky few got to see the White Lions and wild Dogs on top of it all!.
On the evening of the 2nd of Dec, after hearing the lions roaring close to camp we were joined by three lionesses of the Ross pride at the Kambaku waterhole. Soon afterwards the whole pride joined them for a drink. One of our guests opened her door and was surprised to find a lioness standing right in front of her. For the rest of the evening we heard lots of activity around the lodge of lions and hyena feeding. The next morning we tracked them down and found them at a nearby dam with bloody faces.
There are days in the bush that just blow your mind, and the 21st and the 22nd December were two of those days. On the 21st we started off with a couple of buffalo at Kambaku dam. The two dagga boys were enjoying the cool water in the heat of the day. Later on we stumbled onto an unbelievable sighting of the Giraffe Pride of lions including the two White Lions. During the night/early morning they had managed to kill a buffalo bull near Kambaku dam, and had been gorging themselves the whole night.
The next highlight was a brief sighting of two cheetah males. What a blessing seeing two of the rarest animals in the reserve. These fast cats were walking right down the middle of the road and we were able to spend some time following them before they disappeared into the thick bush.
The next day we once again found the Giraffe pride down at Sunset dam who had relinquished their buffalo to the Ross Pride, who were efficiently finishing off the remains.
All the Giraffe pride lions were looking very well fed, and were obviously not that fussed with the loss of their kill. On the way down to the plains we spotted the Sunset male Leopard moving through the bush. He demonstrated how graceful Leopards can be by skillfully climbing up a huge Knob Thorn tree. It was the cherry on top and finished a great drive with a magical setting. On the way home we stumbled onto three rhino in the dark and decided to leave them be.
On the afternoon of the 22nd December we had another exciting moment in time when we found an African Fish Eagle that had killed a Barbel (Catfish). We watched as it fed and then took flight carrying its catch with it.
Another highlight was seeing a crocodile kill at Kambaku dam on the 23rd, the unlucky victim was an Impala. An antelope as big as an Impala will keep a Crocodile well fed for quite some time.
The morning drive of the 24th was the kind of drive that people dream about all their lives. We left camp with the knowledge that the lions were in the area as we had heard them just before departing. We soon found their tracks as well as the tracks of the herd of Buffalo they were hot the hoof of. We followed the tracks and soon afterwards found the Ross pride feeding on a young calf not far from camp. A little later we found the Wild Dogs on the hunt and were thrilled to watch them chasing after bush buck. The speed at which both animals moved through the riverine was astounding. We finished off the drive with a second buffalo kill that the Giraffe pride (including the two White Lions) had made at Kambaku dam!
The following day the Giraffe pride were still at Kambaku dam finishing off their Buffalo. We enjoyed having the White Lions on the property again as it is always an honour to see them. When the Lions moved off we had some exciting interaction between Hyena and Vultures as they battled over the remains of the Buffalo carcass.
The pure strength and dominance of the Hyenas saw them secure the remains of the carcass but this did not come easy as they were heavily outnumbered by both Hooded and White Backed Vultures. We found the tracks of the Giraffe pride leaving Kambaku Dam and set off on hot pursuit, we were lucky enough to catch up with them on the far southern end of the property.
Another highlight of the month was on the morning of the 29th when our guests enjoyed seeing a herd of Impala with their babies. Unluckily for the impala the peace was shattered by a pack of 29 Wild Dogs on the hunt, who then successfully brought down a baby Impala right in front of our vehicle. It is often very difficult to keep up with Wild Dogs as they hunt because they kill so quickly it is difficult to get good footage of it, but the guests will remember the excitement and the adrenaline forever.
We had some good luck with reptiles too this past month. We had a beautiful Eastern Tiger Snake at the lodge as well as the local Spotted Bush snakes controlling our Foam Nest Frog population. On drive we managed to see on more than one occasion, Black Mamba, Boomslang, Snouted Cobra, Mozambique Spitting Cobra and a +/- 4m African Rock Python to top the list.
For our Birding enthusiasts this has been a good month as all the migratory birds are here and the males of the different species are wearing their beautiful, colourful breeding plumage. Birds of prey have been numerous and we have enjoyed quality sightings of Steppe Eagle, Wahlbergs Eagle, African Fish Eagle, Tawny Eagle, Black Chested and Brown Snake Eagle’s, African Hawk Eagle, Martial Eagle, African Harrier Hawk, Steppe Buzzard and Red Footed Falcons.
|Sightings count this month:|
Kambaku Wildlife Highlights - August 2012
The past month has been an absolute pleasure in the bush. The bush has opened up and has allowed us to find more of the smaller animals like genets and civets that are not so easy to find in lush vegetation. The weather has been consistently cool in the mornings and evenings but the rest of the days have been fairly warm for winter. Most of the smaller watering holes have dried up completely and we have managed to do some spectacular game viewing at the bigger dams as most animals have become reliant on them. There have been highs and lows for game viewing this month and here are some of the better sightings we were able to enjoy on drives.
On one of the morning drives we set out to go and see a female Leopard. When we arrived she was walking through the bush and it seemed as if she was following something. We watched as she climbed onto a fallen over tree for a better look at her surroundings and noticed that she had in fact spotted a Grey Duiker not far away. We watched as she silently walked downwind of the Duiker and started stalking. Suddenly she burst into a sprint and after the cloud of dust settled she was already suffocating the little Duiker with phenomenal skill. It only took a couple of minutes and the duiker lay motionless in her powerful jaws. Two Black-Backed Jackal responded to the cry of the Duiker immediately and, noticing them, she decided to head for the riverbed about a hundred metres away.
Lions have been around Kambaku camp on numerous occasions and we have seen their tracks in the mornings reminding us of their almost constant presence. Our luck improved when we returned from evening game drive and found the whole Ross pride walking right past our doorstep.
Lions weren’t the only visitors at the lodge. A massive herd of Buffalo 300+ strong came to drink water at our waterhole a couple of times and a female Cheetah with her cub also came into close proximity of the lodge itself. Elephants frequently came to drink water and feed on the trees surrounding the lodge. Two Side-Striped Jackal established their territory and included Kambaku as part of it!
Writing about special sightings for the month is always difficult as there is so much to write about and every sighting we have is special and unique in its own way. One that did stand out however was when we were watching a female Leopard with an Impala in a Marula Tree. She was completely relaxed and went down to the ground for a more comfortable sleep, thinking that her hard work was safe up in the higher branches of the tree. Moments later a slightly bigger male Leopard leapt into the tree, grabbed the Impala and ran off with the female’s hard work!
On another occasion we were casually sitting watching a Female Leopard hunt when out of nowhere a Lioness came running at her in full force. The Leopard managed to shoot to safety in a nearby tree while the lioness walked around at the bottom, very upset that she had missed her target.
Another big cat encounter happened when we were watching a herd of about 400 Buffalo. Knowing that there were lions around and with the nervous behaviour of the Buffalo, we sat there in high hopes, waiting for something to happen. After quite some time there was some strange behaviour from a group of Buffalo that were huddled together and it looked as if they were congregating around something. When we got a bit closer we noticed a female Leopard sitting in a small Red Bushwillow, just high enough to be out of the bigger Buffalos’ reach. We watched as they charged her and how she was trying her best to intimidate them by showing her teeth and every now and again snarling at them. When this did not deter the Buffalo, she striked at them with her sharp claws. Still not succeeding, she picked a gap and made a sprint for the riverbed, not to be seen again (see this video on our Facebook page)
The big cats were definitely not the only interesting moments on drives. We were fortunate to see a whole variety of small cats. Serval was one of them. On one of the night drives we found a Serval as he was on the hunt for rodents.
An African Wild Cat was seen crossing the road and when we got a little bit closer found three kittens sitting huddled up on a low branch. A rare spectacle indeed!
Finally before I write too much I am just going to say one last thing. On one morning drive, on return to the lodge we found a pack of Wild Dogs as they headed straight for the lodge. They came to rest about 400m from the lodge, which enabled us to see the young pups they had. It was nice to get some pictures of them as they’re difficult to keep up with, let alone photograph, when they’re on the move.
Kambaku Wildlife Highlights - July 2012
Game viewing has been terrific at Kambaku over the past month. Breeding herds of Buffalo, usually consisting of hundreds, have come to drink water at the waterhole, constantly attracting lions to the lodge. Elephants have frequented the Mopani forests outside Kambaku and a Rhino bull has included Kambaku into his newly established territory. The nights are filled with Hippo, Hyenas and Jackal calling while a female Leopard has been spotted and heard on numerous occasions. This is to highlight but a few of the wonders of the bush at Kambaku Lodge.
After the recent discovery of a White Lion cub in close proximity to the lodge, we’ve had continued success in seeing it. Timbavati is the last known place where White Lions are still found in the wild and being able to see at least one of these rare animals at Kambaku regularly, is a great privilege.
Not only was the white lion cub seen, we also managed to see an older white lion from the Giraffe pride right in the corner of our property.
To highlight a few more interesting sightings:
African Wildcat and her babies!
Leopard and hyena fighting over Impala (That Leopard Killed).
Mashatan pride at the lodge.
Big male Leopard sleeping in a tree outside the Lodge.
Hyena with three pups.
Big male Lions with a kill.
Leopard hunting a Steenbok.
Ross pride on Giraffe kill.
Mashatans hunting buffalo.
3Males from Giraffe Pride on Buffalo kill.