The Big 5 highlight of the week was Salayexe, the female leopard, and her cub playing on Marula Bult. The cub is growing into a very energetic and playful girl now and keeping her mother very busy!
Monday, 13 May 2013
Tuesday, 14 May 2013
Wednesday, 15 May 2013
Thursday, 16 May 2013
Friday, 17 May 2013
Saturday, 18 May 2013
Sunday, 19 May 2013
The Big 5 highlight of the week was to see the two Majingi male lions and the three Tsalala lioness resting on Madash Road!
Monday, 6 May 2013
Tuesday, 7 May 2013
Wednesday, 8 May 2013
Thursday, 9 May 2013
Friday, 10 May 2013
Saturday, 11 May 2013
(26ºC, 15mm rain)
Sunday, 12 May 2013
The Big 5 highlight of the week was to see nine wild dogs hunting and killing an impala on Wetpatch open area.
Monday, 29 April 2013
Tuesday, 30 April 2013
Wednesday, 1 May 2013
Thursday, 2 May 2013
Friday, 3 May 2013
Saturday, 4 May 2013
Sunday, 5 May 2013
(23ºC, 3mm rain)
It’s raining again, but this time it’s raining leaves! Summer is slowly disappearing, as autumn starts to take command. The vegetation is now taking on a whole new colour. No more bright greens can be seen, just yellows and browns, with some of the leaves also turning red. What a beautiful sight! With autumn comes the colder mornings and evenings, but being in the Lowveld, the temperatures are nothing compared to some other places in South Africa. In our area, the temperature mainly drops to around 3-5°C. The late morning temperatures rise again to between 18-25°C. So the temperatures are still comfortable in winter time. Our guests have been treated to some great game viewing this past month. It’s not just the guests that endure getting up for the early morning game drives that get rewarded with great sightings, though. Sometimes guests that decide to sleep in are also spoiled with great sightings right on their doorstep. Twice this past month we had wild dogs chasing bushbuck around the open area in front of the Luxury Suites. Then the other morning we had hyenas making a kill on the flood plain, right in front of Zebra Suite. Whilst enjoying our lunch the other day, we were all entertained by a massive bull elephant playing around in the riverbed. Even though having a meal at the coast whilst staring at the deep blue sea is great, nothing beats lunches in the bush with wild animals coming to drink water, grazing lazily or even chasing each other around. Seeing all the day to day wonders that nature has to offer is what roots you to the bush. What a blessing!
Please remember to share your photographs of your EP holiday with us. You can send them to firstname.lastname@example.org
A lot of readers that follow our weekly sightings have asked for a map to indicate our traversing area in order to better understand the movements of the animals. We have loaded a map of our western traversing area onto the website and as soon as a map of the eastern area becomes available, we will also supply this. This map includes the following properties: Elephant Plains, Simbambili, Arathusa Safari and Arathusa Private. You can view the map at the bottom of our Game Drives and Bush Walks page.
Once again it has come to that time of the year when Etienne, Marlet, Tersia and I, make the long journey down to Durban. You might ask why? Well, it is Indaba Tourism Show time again. Can you believe it? It doesn’t feel as if a year has passed since the previous one. We are all very excited to get down there and get the ball rolling. I know I’ve mentioned this on previous reports, but for those of you who are not sure what Indaba is I’ll briefly explain. It’s Africa’s biggest tourism marketing expo, where all the role players in the industry come together under one roof to market their products. Anything from accommodation, tour operators, tourism service providers etc. exhibit at the show. It’s amazing to see the amount of work that goes into building the stalls. Some of them are double storey, or have amazing artwork done to them. Some lodges even go as far as setting up their stands to replicate the actual lodge. For most of the year, we are in contact with our agents over the phone and via e-mails. Indaba gives us the opportunity to meet with them in person, discuss new opportunities and to make new plans for the future. We also get to meet new, upcoming agents and explore different travelling markets. It is exciting to have the opportunity to be part of this. For our agents receiving this newsletter, our stand will be situated in the DEC building, number B07. Please drop in and say hello if we do not already have an appointment scheduled with you.
We have been waiting a long time to get Wi-Fi activated at the lodge. Over the last few years, we have tried installing it on a number of occasions. But on most attempts we always used to hit a glitch somewhere in the system. John Oliver, the same gentleman that got Africam at the lodge going, was staying at the lodge for over a week. He worked the whole day and late into every night, in order to make sure that all the settings and connections were correct. After all this hard work, we were able to pull it off. With all the ups and downs I am now glad to report that at long last, we have Wi-Fi hotspots around the lodge. Being out in the bush makes it difficult to have technology on your doorstep. But we’ve managed to overcome those problems and I am sure all our guests would be super excited with this new addition.
The search for a new Spa therapist proved to be quite a challenge, but after a fair amount of interviews, I am glad to say that we’ve found the perfect lady! Her name is Evelyn Viet. She is from the Cape and has a very bubbly personality. Another plus is that she can actually speak French, something that comes in very handy in the lodge industry. Her first day kicked off with a bang and she was fully booked in a matter of minutes. As the saying goes, throw them in at the deep end! By the end of the day she knew her new workplace inside out. The Spa has had its busiest month since we opened its doors and we are looking forward to Eve enjoying a long and happy career at Elephant Plains!
To all our guests who celebrated their birthdays this month, we hope you had a fantastic day filled with love and laughter. May your future hold many more joyful days to come! This month we had a lot of birthdays at the lodge. Simon was the first to celebrate his birthday on the 3rd. He is the guy who looks after the gardens around the Rondavels. He takes a lot of pride in his job and you will usually find him working the ground with a smile on his face. Mohamed also celebrated his birthday on the 3rd. He is the friendly face that you will see around the main area. He doubles up as a barman / waiter and his friendly chatter entertains all our guests. Then Etienne celebrated his big day on the 13th. Etienne has taken Elephant Plains under his wing for the past 15 years and made it grow into the wonderful lodge it is today. On the 18th Janine had her birthday. Janine is one of the ladies you will meet first when arriving at lodge, as she works the front desk. So, on your next trip to Elephant Plains, the lady who welcomes you with an ice cold welcome drink and a big smile would be Janine. She treated us all with a lovely birthday cake – one of the big reasons we all get excited when her birthday is around the corner. On the 30th Joyce, one of our cleaning ladies, celebrated her birthday. Joyce also loves babysitting our younger guests, so many of you will know her personally as she often looks after the babies when their parents go on game drive. I trust that you all had very good birthdays, and hope you will spent many more here at EP!
I now hand you over to our head chef, Linda Van Heerden, for the very delicious recipe of the month. For those of you with a serious sweet tooth, you’ll be in for a treat with her Millionaire’s Squares.
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Mix the flour and sugar. Add the melted butter, until it starts coming together. Press into a greased baking tray and bake for about 15 minutes. Spread the caramelized condensed milk over the biscuit and bake for another +- 10 minutes, until the caramel has bubbled up a bit. Allow to cool. Cut into slices and set aside. Melt the chocolate and allow it to cool slightly, spread thinly over the caramelized layer. Serve and enjoy!
Well, that’s all from my side this month. Have a good one!
What an incredible month we had! Sightings were great and with the autumn colours that are appearing, the bush is looking lovely! Temperatures are really dropping fast and we already brought the blankets back onto the vehicles. We will also shortly bring back the hot water bottles as it’s really a chilly start during the early morning game drives. This month we also changed our morning game drive times from 5:30 am to 6:00 am, as the sun now only rises after 6:00 am. The bush really came to life this month, with one sound that overpowered all the other noises of the bushveld. This is the snorting and grunting sounds and clashing of impala horns, as rutting season is in full swing. These male impalas are definitely not holding back in the fight for dominance and the right to mate. This time of the year the males from different antelope species will also reunite with the female groups for mating season. Unlike the impalas though, they do not have the very vocal rutting sounds, but will still fight for dominance. With all the good sightings that we had this month, we also had some sad, unexpected turns. But more about that later… The average maximum temperature for April was 27 °C. We were also blessed with another 100mm of rain this month.
With all the amazing leopard sightings we were once again spoiled rotten, but with all the excitement there was also a very sad day. Xivambalana, the sub-adult male leopard and son of Kurula from her previous litter, killed Ntima’s little cub. We are unsure of how many cubs Ntima actually had, but my heart goes out to this old lady as she once again lost all her cubs. It just shows you how tough nature can sometimes be. Males would often kill a female’s cubs if they did not sire them, in order for the female to come into oestrus quicker. Salayexe and her little female cub are doing great. The little cub is getting really bold as she attempts to stalk everything that moves, even playing a very dangerous game with hyenas. Normally when a hyena approaches a leopard cub, the cub will run for the nearest tree. Well not this little one! She would first hiss and snarl and have a stand-off with the hyena and only when the hyena charges closer, would she jump up and get into the safety of a tree. The moment it loses interest, she would get out and start stalking it again. Salayexe usually leaves her behind when she goes hunting, because the little one is sure to spoil the whole hunt as excitement would make her chase after the prey too early. Poor Salayexe lost four kills to hyenas this month. This happened either because the little one dropped them out of the tree, or because it was too big to hoist up in the first place. What we’ve found this month was that all the leopards killed more male impalas and that they are sometimes a little bit too big to hoist into a tree, making easy pickings for the hyenas. The reason why they killed more males this month is due to the rutting season. Big males will leave the safety of the bachelor herd to look for a harem and challenge the dominant male. This makes them an easy target. Shadow and her two cubs are looking fantastic and I’m so glad to see she still has both cubs. Moya and Kwatile were rarely seen this month, but when we did see them there was no disappointment. Moya is a stunning female leopard and I for one didn’t really think that she would make it in the big league, with the likes of Salayexe and Kwatile bordering her territory and always looking to expand their own territories. Despite lacking experience, this young cat is still a formidable force to be reckoned with. Against all odds she has made it this far. Growing more in confidence, she has settled well into her territory. Kurula is still off the radar and all that we can do is to be patient and wait for her to come and show us her new bundles of joy. Mvula, the big male from the east, is pushing west into Tingana’s territory. In this process he is also pushing all the young males out of his turf into Tingana’s turf. Xivambalana, Kurula’s son from her previous litter, is getting pushed more west, as well as Lamula. Lamula is actually going very far into Tingana’s area and he means business as he is scent marking all over Tingana’s scent. Lamula is bigger and stronger than last year and it looks like he is ready to take on Tingana. The stage is set and it is just a matter of time before these two warriors will battle it out. It looks like Tingana knows he is loosing territory bit by bit and that is why he is on the move a lot. Lamula, Xivambalana and Mvula are not the only problems Tingana faces. The young male from the west is also pushing more eastwards. Only time will tell how this situation will play out.
We were very fortunate to see the Styx, Tsalalas and all four Majingi male lions this month! Let’s start off with the Styx pride. Tragedy struck this pride again as they walked into the Tsalala pride one evening and a huge fight broke out. They lost one of the small cubs in the fight and another one was badly injured. The rest of the pride members got a few cuts and bruises and were a bit shaken after the ordeal, but nothing too serious. The little one that is injured is still moving with the pride, but it looks like he might be in some pain. We keep our fingers crossed that this little one makes it and the pride doesn’t lose another cub. Territorial disputes like this one is common and it’s not just the males that will fight with each other. Females will also defend their territories and their cubs against rival prides. The Tsalala pride on the other hand is looking great and is in magnificent condition. I think out of all the lion prides in the Sabi Sand Wildtuin, the Tsalala pride is most probably the smallest, with three big females and one sub-adult. Despite being the smallest pride, these three females are quite the force to be reckoned with! BB is still looking good and going strong. She’s definitely got a few years left in the tank and that’s really a good thing for the pride. All four of the Majingi male lions came into our area and stayed here for a while, before moving on again. To our surprise the black maned Majingi male later linked up with the Tsalala females and they came back into our area. They stayed for a few days, with full bellies before moving on again. One morning early we heard two males calling close to the lodge and we knew that they couldn’t be too far. On drive we came across two of the four Majingi males tucking into a buffalo kill. Nothing went to waste as they stayed at the kill until there was almost nothing left – just a few scraps for the vultures and some bones for the hyenas.
Still the big breeding herds are nowhere to be found. With winter approaching fast, food is getting scarcer and that will lead to the smaller buffalo herds joining forces to form bigger herds. Overall, herds of buffalo don’t stay in one area for too long as they get driven by food and water supplies. Some of the females still have small calves of a few months old and some of the other females with bigger calves are coming into oestrus now. With the females coming into oestrus, the dominant males that left the female herds a few months ago have returned to the herds. The dominant males leave the herds to fatten up and get themselves ready for mating season, which is starting now. When the males enter the female herds again, they have to fight for mating rights. A big dominant male will have anywhere between ten and fifteen females that he will mate with. Even the really big males can’t attend to all the females and sometimes some of the younger males might also get a change to mate, without having to fight it out beforehand. The old dagga boys are once again alone and we see them on a regular basis. Being alone in the African bush is surely the worst thing for an old buffalo. Lions will not hesitate for a second when they spot an old buffalo bull on its own!
We’ve had very good elephant sightings this month. While having breakfast or lunch, you would often see elephant herds walking over the open area to quench their thirst with nice fresh water at the waterhole in front of the lodge. Also with all the rain that we had this last month there is still a lot of water in the dams. We saw some really nice big breeding herds on drive, ranging anywhere from forty to about sixty animals, including a few tiny calves. As a rule of thumb, when a baby elephant can fit under the mother’s stomach, that baby is still under a year old. We were also very fortunate to see a really big bull with some very impressive tusks. Because there aren’t many big tuskers around anymore, it is extremely special to see one on drive. He was later joined by two younger, smaller bulls. It is common to see the really big bulls being accompanied by a few younger bulls. This old man is like a mentor or teacher to the younger bulls and will keep them in line when testosterone levels runs high and rage takes over. Although elephants have a very unique social structure, the males don’t stay with the herds. At the age of about thirteen years, the males need to leave and will then look for their own home range, close to the female herds.
This was to see all four Majingi males resting together on Tamboti open area. What a treat it was to see all four of them together as we normally only get to see one or two of them, joined by some females.
Did you know?
It will take a baby elephant roughly six months to learn how to fully use his little trunk.
I hope you enjoyed this month’s report. See you out on game drive soon!
Summer time is great! Your skin feels supple and alive. But as winter approaches, your skin can easily become dry and start feeling itchy.
You must take care of your skin during winter season in order for it to look glamorous and attractive. The cold months may be pleasant for many of us, but at the same time it demands a special type of pampering for this outer layer of our bodies, which tends to become dry and crack during winter time.
Therefore going the extra mile to pamper the skin with moisturisers and emollients is imperative.
TIPS FOR SKIN CARE IN WINTER
1. Moisturise your skin generously. Replace your water-based products with creams. And besides facial skin, also apply cream to your hands, elbows and feet. Look out for vitamin E enriched products. This will prevent itchiness and loss of water content from the skin.
2. “The top layer of skin cells are either dead or old and can easily make your skin look dull,” says Doctor Norman. Exfoliating gets rid of the dead skin cells and reveals newer, healthier-looking skin.
3. Avoid prolonged baths, hot showers and the use of harsh soaps. These will take away the natural moisture from your skin.
4. Winter sun can still damage your skin. Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen to your face and hands (if they are exposed) about 30 minutes before going outside. Reapply frequently if you stay outdoors for an extended time.
5. Don’t lick… your lips. If you do, you’ll only chap your lips even further. Keep a lip balm in your purse and apply it when you’re tempted!
NATURAL HOME REMEDY FOR DRY SKIN
To make this ultra hydrating mask, mash a ripe avocado into a creamy pulp and stir in a tablespoon of organic honey. Massage the mask onto your face using your fingertips and allow it to set for 15 minutes. Rinse away with warm water and repeat weekly for best results.
These winter tips are not only excellent for keeping your skin glowing through the cold months, but will also be beneficial for whatever season you are entering.
And remember to always keep hydrated – drink plenty of water!!!