Elephant Plains Game Lodge

Rangers’ Report November 2011

This month started off on a high… the arrival of the babies! Impalas, blue wildebeest and warthogs are just some of the herbivores which will give birth during the start of the rainy season. The first babies arrived on the 5th of this month and they just kept coming from there. Although we have not had a lot of heavy rain yet, the effect of the 66mm we did get is showing! With the rain, also comes the heat. Our days are getting quite hot now and with an average max temperature of 32?C we are feeling the heat of summer! With all the aspects of summer being here, the Woodlands Kingfishers got all excited and we now have them calling overtime during the day and sometimes even during night time! The frog choir in the fishpond next to reception is entertaining our guests with their beautiful sounds during the evenings.

Elephants

Hyenas cooling down in Rampan by Morné Fouché

Hyenas cooling down in Rampan by Morné Fouché

Even though some breeding herds have moved out of our area, we still have our fair share of good elephant sightings. With the rainy season here, all trees are wearing their new green leaves, including the Mopani trees. Elephants are very fond or these trees and as soon as the new leaves are visible, they will move to an area where there are plenty of these trees. At this stage we see a lot of young males who have been kicked out of the big breeding herds. These young males are now unsure of where they fit in, as they are no longer welcome with the breeding herds or with the older males. The young males get kicked out of the herd at a certain age (usually between 12-15 years) and then they will sometimes link up with other young males or with an old male who is willing to have him tag along, learning the tricks of the trade.

Buffalo

We had good sightings of a generous sized breeding herd during this month and we are also still getting a visit from the old bulls every now and again. Overall, the dominant bulls are in great shape, with all the nice green grass. Whenever you see them, they are either eating or resting and cooling down in a mud wallow. Buffaloes have massive cheek teeth and broad incisors with a prehensile tongue, which gathers and bundles grass before each bite. This enables the buffalo to feed efficiently in longer grass. Buffaloes are ruminants, meaning they have a 4 chambered stomach. Their diet mostly consists of grass, but they will also eat herbs and leaves which will make up 5% of their diet when there is not enough grass to eat.

Lions

We had some fantastic lion sightings this month! We saw the Tsalala females, Nkuhuma males and also two of the big boys, the Majingilane males. By the looks of things, the Tsalala pride has split up. BB rejoined her two older daughters and their cubs. The one older daughter also lost her tail and she now looks just like her mother! The four younger Tsalala females are still moving around in order to avoid the Majingi males. The youngsters are doing really well for themselves, now hunting and killing big and small animals. This might be why BB left them, as she knew she did her part and it’s up to them to do the rest. It can also be that she is coming into oestrus and she doesn’t want to put their lives at risk when looking for a male to mate with. It is unknown at this stage if they will join up again, but the bush always holds some unexpected surprises, so you never know!

Leopard

Breeding herd of elephants drinking water by Morné Fouché

Breeding herd of elephants drinking water by Morné Fouché

Salayexe is looking really good. It can’t be long before she will give birth and she now even looks a bit uncomfortable when walking around. The father of the cubs is not Tyson as we predicted, but a new young male who came into our area and claimed a small territory for himself. Tyson has actually been very scarce the last few months and he is seen more in the south at this stage. Mafufunyana was seen in our area, again moving around in his old territory. It really looks like the old worrier is coming to the end of his reign. It will be sad to see him go one day, but this is how it works in the wild: survival of the fittest. Kurula is a good mother and she has done very well with raising her cubs. They are a year old now and their chances of reaching adulthood are looking good. Kurula is still maintaining her 100% success rate as she has raised both her cubs with all three litters successfully, touch wood. With the first litter it was the two girls: Thandi and Shadow. The second litter, two boys: Nduna and his brother and now one of each – this is remarkable if you ask me!

Special Sighting

This month we actually had more of a special merge taking place, rather than a special sighting. The young Styx male lion joined forces with the four young Tsalala females. It looks like the four young females realized that a male will be a good asset to their group and as they say, the more the merrier!

Did you know?

The word ‘tadpole’ is derived from the Greek words “tad” meaning toad and “pole” meaning head. Come to think about it, a tadpole does look like a small frog head, with a little tail…

Hope you enjoyed this month’s report. See you out on game drive soon!

Morné Fouché

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