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Rangers Bush Diary

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Kambaku Wildlife Highlights - December 2013 & January 2014

zebra


The saturating rains have turned the bush into a wonderland for all the young wildlife, we were lucky enough to capture this tender moment between a caring zebra mother and her young foal. Hope you all enjoy the images and stories, please don’t forget to watch the Video Highlights and turn up the volume for the sounds of Africa.

sunset

 

 

Reflections of a stormy summer’s day over a waterhole.

 

sunset


 

The silhouettes and sunsets are also spectacular on a clear summer evening.


Lions - Giraffe Pride

Our most sought after pride have made more frequent appearances over the festive season, most notably on Christmas morning, giving our guests a surprise “White Christmas”.

Giraffe Pride

As you can see both white lionesses are in sublime condition and looking better than ever.

Lion

The coalition of 4 males that have broken away from the Giraffe Pride have been seen frequently on the Kambaku River Sands property. They have also spent some time further to the north seeking out the Ross pride females and there has been further mating.

This battle scarred brute to the right is the largest and most dominant of the coalition of 4.

 

Mating No Love Lost Tease

Some of the mating action.

As usual, no love lost between the pair.

Enticing the boys to come and find her, seeVideo Highlights for the audio of her impressive roaring display.


Ross Pride

The whole pride has not been seen on our traversing area for months due to the presence of the 4 coalition males. We hear that the rest of the pride are now a lot further north with the 2 ageing Ross males and some new cubs. For the sake of the cubs, let’s hope the Ross males are strong enough to keep the 4 challengers further south.


Leopards - Marula

She is still covering a wide area but seems to have secured a territory just to the north, she is scent marking heavily and is possibly ready to have her first litter soon. She is still spending much time up her favourite tree but has lost a little of her playful nature of youth as she enters the next phase of her life.

marula

Leopards - Thumbela

The blue eyed beauty surfaced only a few scarce times, she seems to be spending more time east of our boundary due to pressure from her mother Rockfig Jr.


Leopards - Nthombi

We ventured up north a few times to view this dedicated mother, she continues to work hard and provide for both of her 1 year old cubs.
One of her cubs hanging out while mom is off on the hunt.

nthombi

Leopards - Rockfig Jr

She has been seen a lot recently and is covering much ground advertising her presence, hopefully this will result in some mating and a new litter for her this year. See Video Highlights of her with a chorus of frogs in the back ground. The 2nd image is of an Impala snack hoisted to safety.

rockfig rockfig

Avoca (Ghost) Male

His usual secretive self while securing his massive territory, we didn’t manage to find him on a kill but had a few great sightings of him marking his territory.

A handsome new young male leopard in the area, we are not sure of his origins after analysing his spot pattern, let’s hope he sticks around.

Avoca Avoca

Cheetah
impala

We were fortunate to come across this mother and her 2 tiny cubs moving through our traversing area.

Hopefully we see them again soon when the little ones are bigger and stronger…there are lots of lions around!


 


Wild Dogs

Our viewing of the painted dogs has again been simply outstanding recently. The large pack of around 30 dogs has been causing havoc in the Timbavati, taking their toll on our impala population.

It is chaos watching them hunt and a real thrill for guests, seeVideo Highlights of the impressive contact calling when one of the dogs got lost and was trying to locate the rest of the pack.

Hyena

Elephants
elephant


The elephants are in abundance and we have had some large Kambaku tuskers around, this large chap was harassing a breeding herd and we all wisely moved out of his path.


Other Interesting Sightings

The large herd of buffalo has been prolific as usual and are proudly showing off some new additions. A new born buffalo calf, all ears and teeth.

Buffalo Calf
Kingfisher

 

With some dark storm clouds looming in the background, it was time for this woodland kingfisher to catch some of the last afternoon light to display his dominance of this territory.

Lizard

 

The warmer weather has brought the reptiles out to bask such as this rock monitor lizard. He is keeping his beady eye out for a hungry martial eagle.

 


Scorpion

 

A shiny burrowing scorpion emerging from his burrow, hoping for an unsuspecting insect to wander by.

 

 


Scops Owl Pangolin Hippo

The perfect camouflage… see if you can spot the scops owl!

What a new year’s gift, a rare pangolin sighting, in the day time...

Enticing the boys to come and find her, See Video Highlights for the audio of her impressive roaring display.

See Video Highlights here and be sure to turn up the volume!



Kambaku Wildlife Highlights - November 2013

impala


Saturating rains have transformed the bushveld into a rich green, some welcome nourishment for the impala ewes as they nurse their newborn little lambs that are dotted all over the landscape.

The image to the right depicts, 'Like Mother Like Daughter '.

Zebras

 

 

Some excited zebras charging in towards a waterhole to quench their summer thirst.

 

rhino


 

The sun drops below the Drakensberg mountains, hardly noticed by this white rhino who probably wished he had better eyesight to take in this stunning scene.


Lions - Giraffe Pride

Our most sought after pride arrived in style during the month and proceeded to take down a buffalo bull which provided some incredible viewing for a few days.

They have also spent some time further to the north seeking out the Ross Pride females and there has been further mating.

 

lions lions

This naughty character filled face belongs to the younger of the two white lionesses who possesses more yellow eyes than her older sister.

 

Lion

The coalition of 3 young males we are now referring to as the River Sands males have also been seen frequently on the Kambaku River Sands property.

 

See Video Highlights here of the males as he snuck up on an unsuspecting hyena that tried to sneak in on their old buffalo kill, this was a very lucky hyena indeed!


Ross Pride

The whole pride was not on our traversing area for much of the month due to the presence of the 3 River Sands coalition young males. No sign of the Ross males for a while, have they been chased off for good by the 3 young challengers??


Leopards - Marula

She is still covering a wide area but seems to have secured a territory just to the north of us, she is scent marking heavily and is possibly ready to have her first litter soon.

leopard leopard

Drawn to the aptly named “Reflection” waterhole for a drink after a hot summers day, this waterhole lies on the core of her territory.

Here she is gazing into the falling darkness as her nocturnal instincts awaken after a hot summers day.


Leopards - Thumbela

The blue eyed beauty surfaced a few times towards month end and created some real excitement as it seemed she had lactation stains and suckle marks...does the 4 year old heir to Rockfig Jr have a hidden litter? Watch this space…


Leopards - Nthombi

We ventured up north a few times to view this dedicated mother, she is working hard to provide for both her 8 month old cubs and they are looking very healthy.

marulapride

Leopards - Rockfig Jr

Quite scarce at times but when she is found she never fails to put on a show, here she is posing on a termite mound as she scouts for potential prey.

rockfig rockfig

Young Male

Here is the young male cub belonging to the shy Twin Dams female, he was quite happy up on his perch as mom slinked off into the thick bush where she is happiest!


Avoca (Ghost) Male
Machaton

 

His usual secretive self while securing his massive territory, we were lucky though to find him
mating with an older female late in the month.

SeeVideo of the mating and be sure to turn up the volume! of the mating and be sure to turn up the volume!

 


Cheetah
impala

The mother and her 5 sub adults to the right passed through for a few days and provided some phenomenal sightings, especially of teamwork at an impala kill.


Zebras

 

This image tells an amazing story of their teamwork.

They were all taking turns feeding on a small meal of an impala ewe while the others looked in all directions for any approaching danger.

What a team led by a superb mother and mentor!


Wild Dogs

Our viewing of the painted dogs has been out of this world this month.

The pack of 10 is was seen a few times during the month and the 4 sub adults are looking healthy and strong and are contributing more to the hunting activities of the pack as they learn.


Hyena Hyena Hyena Hyena

Motion blur, on the hunt!

There is always time to play in the summer puddles in between bouts of hunting.

This is an older male showing off his bloated belly, he was staring at an impala ewe and her new born lamb close by but just didn't have the hunger or the energy for the chase with such a full stomach.

There have been a number of sightings of Hyenas on various kills, here is a sub adult with a huge buffalo leg.

There was also another pack seen which consisted of 8 adults led by a young alpha male and female, possibly a split form the huge Orpen pack of over 20 dogs.
Hyena sightings have been consistent and we have a very active den site with some young and very playful cubs. There was an amazing sighting of the whole clan interacting at a waterhole, only to be disturbed by some thirsty elephants.

See Video Highlights here and be sure to turn up the volume!


Elephants
elephant


As usual there were some up close and personal elephant encounters, this mischievous bull elephant kept some keen first time safari goers on their toes as they enjoyed their first ever game drive!

Thanks to our guest Stefan for being quick to capture the moment and for sharing this image.

 

elephant


 

A wobbly legged youngster stuck in the sand.

 


Interesting Bird Sightings

It is not too often we get to see the scarce White Headed Vultures, let alone a pair of them posing in perfect light and then flying right over our heads, what a treat for the birders.

vulture vulture
Owl

 

A southern white faced scops owl protects her newly hatched chick from the morning sun.

bateleur

 

This majestic female Bateleur, a master scavenger and opportunist, arrived first on the scene of the crime and snuck off with a tit bit just after the 6 Cheetah had moved off their impala kill.

 


bateleur

 

A rare sighting of a pair of Great Spotted Cuckoos while mating.

The cuckoos are currently very vocal and active as they search for potential host parents.


See Video Highlights here and be sure to turn up the volume!



Kambaku Wildlife Highlights - October 2013

wildebeest


The first thunder storms have lit up the night sky and transformed the dry winter landscape into a lush green wonderland of new plant and insect life as we await the first antelope births. Many migrant birds are back, the most noticeable are the very vocal cuckoos and raptors such as the Steppe & Lesser Spotted Eagle’s taking advantage of the termite emergences.

The last rays drop over the Drakensberg as the wildebeest relish the tasty new growth.


Lions - Giraffe Pride

Our most sought after pride was again fairly scarce during the month, presumably mostly in the south of their territory. The white lionesses were not seen at all during the month of October, let’s hope the summer rains bring them to the north more often.

The coalition of 3 of the young males have also been seen on a few occasions, they are getting stronger and more confident by the day as they venture further and explore new ground.

coalition brotherly love

Ross Pride

The whole pride was not on our traversing area for much of the month, possibly due to the presence of the 3 “Giraffe” coalition young males here for a while. One of the lioness did however seek out these 3 “Giraffe” boys and was seen mating with all of them.

Lion Pride Giraffe coalition Playtime

A rare view of the bigger of the 2 Dominant Ross males, they were both scarce during the month

All the lionesses and 2 sub adult males on patrol on Kambaku property during the month

There is always some time for play between sisters, the hunt can wait for a little bit...


Machaton Pride
Machaton

 

This pride is still in disarray after some of the sub adults were killed a while back.

The lioness with the 3 young males has been seen on a few occasions and they are looking very healthy again.

 


Leopards - Marula

She is still covering a wide area but seems to have secured a territory just to the north of us, she is scent marking heavily and is possibly ready to have her first litter soon.


Here she strays from her favourite tree to perch up a huge Jackalberry tree with a good view.

The right image is of the stunning Marula in golden light.

marulapride marulapride

Leopards - Thumbela

The blue eyed beauty surfaced a few times towards month end and created some real excitement as it seemed she had lactation stains and suckle marks...does the 4 year old heir to Rockfig Jr have a hidden litter? Only time will tell…will keep you all updated.

She did have a little scuffle with her mother during the month, possibly due to the territorial pressure of having to provide for some cubs?

marulapride

Leopards - Nthombi

We ventured up north a few times to view this dedicated mother, she is working hard to provide for both her 6 month old cubs and they are looking very healthy.


Leopards - Rockfig Jr
Rockfig


The wily and ever so experienced stalwart of the north was seen a few times, unfortunately without her 2 cubs that were born in July.
This confirmed our worst fears, she now has to start all over again after losing her litter!
We don’t know what happened, it could have been any of the many dangers faced by young cubs on a daily basis.


Avoca (Ghost) Male

He has been up to his usual antics of disappearing for a while and then announcing his presence in style! Some our guests were extremely privileged to witness him stalk, pounce on and eventually kill a warthog.

avoca avoca

Here he is just after the kill with a bloodied chin, catching his breath

The stance of a dominant male in his prime


We have also had some special sightings of the two six month old cubs (one male & one female) of the shy Twin Dams female leopard to our west.

The cubs are becoming very relaxed with vehicles and we have been working with them while the shy mother is out hunting.


Cubs1 Cubs2 Cubs3

“Twins”, big brother confident and out in front with little sister in the background

Big brother curiously comes out to give us “the look”

Big brother, up close and ever so curious

Jambo

 


A rare view of the sometimes shy, younthful (18 months old) Jambo female

 


Wild Dogs

The pack of 11 exploded onto our turf a few times this month, the 5 sub adults are looking as healthy as can be. Here is an amazing scene below of the “Stand Off” as the adults simply strode up and took on an implausibility of wildebeest, with no luck (For the dogs).

marulapride

Hyena sightings have been consistent and we have a very active den site with some young and very playful cubs.

See Video Highlights for some great footage of the cubs at their den and some interesting behaviour.

There is some unusual footage of the elaborate head to tail greeting as well as some footage of aggression and dominance behaviour around a buffalo kill.

Alpha female Baby hyenas
Dominance

 

This sunset sighting of a huge high ranking spotted hyena female provided a great opportunity for a silhouette shot of her impressive profile.

Her thick neck and full belly accentuate the confidence in her stride.


Other Sightings
baby elephant

Young elephants calves are always so special to observe.

While trying to keep us with his mom while crossing a sandy riverbed, this little guy battled without 4x4 engaged on his wobbly little 2 week old legs.

Be sure to have a laugh at the amusingVideo of the little calf trying to climb the river bank


new horn Tank

The female rhino and her young calf are faring well, he is now feeling more like a rhino and is starting to grow a small horn

The “Tank”, a dominant male in his prime and most likely the father of the little one to the left

terrapins

 

The birds are not the only ones to benefit from the abundance of termites, the terrapins hit the jackpot at a waterhole next to an emergence.


lizard

A usually skulking transvaal girdled lizard, basking in the sunshine with a belly full of termites. They can be distinguished from other girdled lizards by the long scales at the base of the neck.

See Video Highlights Here



Kambaku Wildlife Highlights - September 2013

waterhole


As temperatures have soared, the Kambaku waterhole has become an even more popular afternoon meeting place, among guests and wildlife alike.

The rains have yet to come and the bush is very open allowing for some phenomenal game viewing.

 


Lions - Giraffe Pride

Our most sought after pride was again fairly scarce during the month, presumably mostly in the south of their territory. The white lionesses were not seen at all during the month of October, let’s hope the summer rains bring them to the north more often.

The coalition of 3 of the young males have also been seen on a few occasions, they are getting stronger and more confident by the day as they venture further and explore new ground.


giraffepride giraffepride1

Ross Pride


The whole pride is faring well and were all together for a few days lazing around a waterhole while digesting their buffalo kill.

 

The two dominant males are still looking strong, but time will tell if they are able to hold onto the lionesses with the threat posed by the younger coalitions of males in the area.

 

 

playtime   Ross Female2

It was playtime for the Ross cubs as temperatures cooled down in the evening

 

Mother and cub bonding time

Another coalition of three big young male lions were found snooping around the area during the month as well, they are believed to be from the Caroline pride to the south.


Machaton Pride

This pride is still in disarray after some of the sub adults were killed. The lioness with the 3 young males has been seen on occasions but they look quite skinny.

One of the other skinny young Machaton males has joined up with 2 nomadic young male lions, these 3 have also been viewed a few times. Let’s hope they stick together and form a coalition.


Leopards - Marula

She is still covering a wide area but seems to have secured a territory just north of us, she is scent marking heavily and is possibly ready to have her first litter soon.


SeeVideo Highlights of a fantastic sighting we enjoyed of her stalking some impala rams.

A change from her usual resting place high up a marula, here she finds comfort in the cool sand with such elegantly crossed paws.

Scarred Lion

 

 

Here she is posing again on a termite mound.

 

 


Leopards - Thumbela

 

The blue eyed young lady surfaced a few times and we had a real memorable sighting of her late one afternoon.
She inherited those stunning eyes from her famous grandmother, Rockfig, and at almost 4 years like Marula, is looking to secure a territory.

 

 


Leopards - Nthombi


We ventured up north a few times to view this dedicated mother, she is working hard to provide for both her 5 month old cubs and they are looking very healthy.

Here she is perched up a marula tree calling softly for her cubs at dusk.


Leopards - Rockfig Jr

She was rather elusive this month most likely due to her spending much time in hiding while looking after her very young cubs.


Avoca (Ghost) Male

As elusive as always this month but we did manage a brilliant sighting of him while he was avoiding a male lion close by.

He then decided to stalk some warthog and this provided some great photographic opportunities, usually he is on the move and difficult to follow. The hunter’s eyes focused on a warthog below.


Ross Female1 Ross Female2


The proud old "Argyle" male also turned up far south of his usual hangout.

This grandfather is around 11-12 years old and his battle hardened face and worn teeth tell the stories of his tough life as a dominant male in years gone by, what a character!

We have also had some special sightings of the two five month old cubs (one male & one female) of the shy female leopard to our west.

The cubs are very relaxed with vehicles and we have been working with them while the shy mother is out hunting. The young female cub at home in the middle of the dense foliage of a young schotia (boer bean) tree.


Wild Dogs

Two different packs entered our traversing area this month and we had some fantastic behavioural sightings of the pack greeting and muzzle licking.
On another occasion we followed the pack on the hunt and they curiously trotted through a buffalo herd, much to the disapproval of the buffalo. See Video Highlights.

Hyena sightings have been consistent, this big female spent the afternoon in a waterhole digesting her meal. She had also cached some leftover bones under the water to conceal the scent and save for a later snack.


Ross Female1 Ross Female2

Other Sightings

 

A new addition to our precious rhino population, we estimate only a few days old when we first saw it in this image.



 

Saddle Billed Storks Noctural Creature Dash

An elephant cow with a severely deformed right tusk, she seems happy and healthy enough though.

The bright orange eyes of the white faced scops owl.

An African civet joins us for our “Phuza” stop


Noctural Creature Noctural Creature Dash

The massive ears of a serval, alert for any danger or potential meal, a good spot in the long grass.

A brief moment of motherly dedication very rarely seen, thanks to our regular guest Brian for the image.

A very rare sighting of a relaxed African wild cat


 

Many of the birds of prey are busy raising nestlings, this young white backed vulture was begging for some of the spoils from the mother’s full crop.

Shake off heat

 

 

Verreaux’s eagle owl on her nest, see Video Footage of another great sighting of a Verreaux’s eagle owl being told to “go away” by a grey go away bird.

 

See Video Highlights Here


Kambaku Wildlife Highlights - August 2013

Shake off heat

As the harsh African sun begins to heat up and bake the already parched earth, thirsty wildlife is drawn to the remaining waterholes.

The scent of spring is in the air as the colourfully adorned Sjambok Pod and Tree Wisteria trees are in full bloom, adding some rich colour to the dry landscape.

Dust and a little smoke in the evening sky created some dramatic sunsets and game viewing has been phenomenal.

Here on the right is one of the Giraffe Pride males shaking off the heat of the day as the sun drops below the horizon.


Mating
Lions - Giraffe & Ross Prides

Interesting dynamics are unfolding in the Southern Timbavati as the coalition of 5 young male lions from the Giraffe Pride have ventured north and seem to be pushing their father’s (The 2 Ross males).

One of the Ross Pride females seems to be in oestrus and has been mating with a few of the members of the Giraffe Coalition in the last week.
To the right the moment of passion, as the last rays of afternoon light paint the scene.

Scarred Lion

SeeVideo Highlights for some great footage of the mating behaviour, kindly shared by our guests, Erika, Diana & Sean.

There has been a lot of vocalisation and a confrontation is imminent, these 5 could become a force to be reckoned with!

This is the biggest member of the coalition, sporting a few fresh scars!


One of the Ross females has also recently introduced 2 young cubs to us, they look about 3 to 4 months old.

We enjoyed an especially memorable sighting of the whole Ross pride in the dry Zebanine river bed feeding on their buffalo kill.

Ross Female1 Ross Female2

Machaton Pride

This pride is still in disarray after some of the sub adults were killed.

The lioness with the 3 young males has been seen on occasions and they are looking healthy.

One of the other skinny young Machaton males has joined up with 2 nomadic young male lions, these 3 have also been viewed a few times.

Let’s hope they stick together and form a coalition.


Leopards - Marula Female

This stunning young female has given us some incredible sightings during the month, most notably when she killed a steenbok and we witnessed her dragging it off and up her favourite tree.

Favourite Tree Killed Steenbok

She is covering a wide area looking for a secure territory and was seen scent marking heavily, possibly she is ready to have her first litter.

Mating
Rockfig Jr Female

She unveiled a litter of two tiny eight week old cubs in August, after giving us a brief glimpse of them she seems to have moved the den and we wait to see if they are ok. We also enjoyed an especially memorable sighting of her when some uninvited guests then made an appearance after smelling her impla kill, the three hyena came storming out of nowhere and chased her up a tree. Here she shows her dissatisfaction with the three scavengers below her.


Avoca (Ghost) Male

Male Cheetah Tree Lounging

This imposing male covers such ground that we only get to see him a few times a month, when he is here he announces his presence in style with his confident marking and thunderous roaring!

See below image of a young hyena he killed and stashed up a tree for all to see. A message to all the local hyenas from the powerful dominant male, “Stop following me around, or else…”

Tree Hyena Hyenas

Along with these relaxed leopards we have also had a few glimpses of the fairly skittish “Jambo” female and her 2 independent sub adults (+- year and a half old, one male and one female).

We have also located a new hyena den which has provided some fantastic viewing of the unusual behaviour of these fascinating yet often misunderstood predators.

SeeVideo Highlights for some great footage of the cubs begging for milk, kindly shared by our guests, Erika, Diana & Sean.


Cheetah
Cheetah

We welcomed a coalition of two males and a lone female to our western traversing area for a week during the month.

It was a blessing to be able to view the rarest of the big cats and watch some of their behaviour, including a near successful hunt!

 


Other Interesting Sightings

Buffalo Fight

The buffalo herds have been a joy to watch and one morning we were lucky enough to view a brutal battle between 2 large bulls. Luckily for the weaker one (on the right in the image), he decided to back down and concede defeat.

SeeVideo Highlights of the fight, thanks to Maria and Frank for the great footage.

 

To be at a waterhole with a parade of elephants is one of Africa’s finest scenes and we have been treated to a number of these priceless moments of social interaction and excitement.

The young bulls usually have the most fun, right in the deep end so to speak, as the rest of the parade has moved off.

Elephant Walking Elephant Splashing

A pair of juvenile saddle billed storks have been seen regularly at one of the waterholes and bode well for the future of this colourful, endangered bird.

The smaller nocturnal creatures have been very active, here is a lesser bushbaby that delighted our guests with his leaping ability.

We were also lucky enough to enjoy a few rare Serval sightings, this one paused briefly before dashing off into the bush.

Saddle Billed Storks Noctural Creature Dash

Video Highlights - watch video here

Remember to turn up the volume for the full sound effects!


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

Kambaku Safari Lodge

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!.

Kambaku Safari Lodge

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.


 


Kambaku Wildlife Highlights - August 2012

Kambaku Safari Lodge

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:

Honey Badgers
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.