Elephant Plains Game Lodge

Manager’s Report January 2013

Wild Photo of the Month

Wild Photo of the Month by Eric Leboucher, Voiron, France

Wild Photo of the Month by Eric Leboucher, Voiron, France

Here’s to new beginnings in 2014! I truly hope that everyone had a wonderful holiday time with family and friends and that you returned home safely, rested and ready for 2014!

Breakaway pride cub by Morné Fouché

Breakaway pride cub by Morné Fouché

This is the first January in a few years’ time that I don’t have to mention how we got flooded during the month. I thank my lucky stars that all went smoothly and the drastically heavy rains chose to give us a breather this year. However, there were still two days during which we received some very good rains. The main Manyeleti River did not come down in flood, but the smaller Pungwe River was in flood for a few hours the one morning. It was a bit tricky for a 4×4 to go across, but it was doable. There was just one problem, though… We had two sets of guests that were driving sedans and wanted to leave early the morning. But there was no way that they would have been able to cross in their low vehicles. So we sat it out and gave the swollen river time to calm down. At 9:30 we decided that the smaller cars would now be able to be towed through. Devon and I towed the cars through the river in reverse, so as to prevent water pushing up into the engines and air filters. Both cars got across easily and with no hassle. The month of January was also quite hot, with some days where temperatures reached into the middle 40 °C.

Elephant female by Devon Becker

Elephant female by Devon Becker

The sightings have reached a point of almost becoming unreal during the past few months. Our January guests were once again treated to various lion, leopard, wild dog and cheetah sightings, to name but a few. I don’t want to speak to soon, but it seems as if there might be one or two cheetahs that are possibly considering making part of our traversing area their home, which would be awesome! The reason I am saying this is because we have been viewing them more regularly than in the past. So let’s hold thumbs for this! On one of the morning drives, our vehicles had just left the lodge when they bumped into the Breakaway pride of lions and all their cubs, feeding on a zebra kill on our airstrip. There is no better feeling than to start your drive with a bang, then knowing that for at least the next two days, feeding lions are going to be a stone’s throw away from the lodge!

This month we will be saying goodbye to Braam, who was our maintenance manager. His passion has always been to get involved with anti-poaching, so he is leaving us to pursue his dreams in that field. We would like to wish him good luck with his future endeavours. Anti-poaching is a very important part of the industry and I do hope that he will be happy with his new career path. We have not yet found a replacement for Braam, so you will have to stay tuned to next month’s report to see who gets to fill his shoes.

Trapcam photo of the month - Hyena drinking water

Trapcam photo of the month – Hyena drinking water

With the trapcam picture for this month, I thought that I would show you a night time shot. The trap cam has an infrared light with a motion detector. This is so sensitive that it can even pick up movement at night. We always get great day time shots of diurnal animals, but have not yet posted a night time shot of a nocturnal animal. Well, here we go! The trap cam picture of the month is of a hyena drinking water late at night. Hyenas have the reputation of mostly being scavengers. Well, that’s not true at all. Hyenas have loads of stamina and strength in their front shoulders. They also hunt down their own prey by running them down, until the prey cannot go anymore. Once they get hold of the prey, they would start tearing the animal into pieces. I know that this sounds very harsh, but when you come to think of it, it’s quick and relatively painless to the animal, unlike being suffocated over a couple of minutes. Lions are known to take up to 30 minutes to suffocate a buffalo. I hope you enjoy this trap cam photo of the month!

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 happy and joyful days! At the lodge, we had no birthdays this month.

I now hand you over to our Head Chef, Linda van Heerden, for this month’s delicious recipe.

Mushroom Bruschetta

Mushroom Bruschetta

Mushroom Bruschetta

Ingredients

200g Button Mushrooms, sliced
½ Onion, diced
1 tbsp. Thyme
1 tbsp Garlic
2 tsp Butter
1 tbsp Olive Oil
Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper
½ French Loaf
3 tbsp Basil Pesto
Parmesan Cheese for garnish

Method

Fry the onions in the butter and olive oil mixture, until they are just tender. Add the mushrooms, thyme, garlic, salt and pepper. Sauté until the mushrooms have cooked and all the liquid has evaporated.

Slice the French loaf into 1 cm slices, brush with garlic oil, then toast in the oven until it is golden.

Spread the basil pesto over the bruschetta, and spoon the mushroom mixture over this. Using a vegetable peeler, make parmesan shavings. Drop the shavings on top of the bruschetta. Add a rocket salad that has been dressed with salt, pepper, olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Serve and enjoy!

Well, that’s all from my side this month. Have a good one!

Wayne Dovey


Rangers Report January 2013

Hippo bull by Louis Liversage

Hippo bull by Louis Liversage

We started the year with some great sightings, similar to 2013. We had a few wonderful sightings of a male cheetah and then a few days later a female cheetah with two cubs blessed us with their presence for a number of days. We were also very fortunate to spend time with the wild dogs again this month. The weather was really unpredictable, though. We would start the drive with sunshine all around, only to have rain in the middle and end off with clear, open skies again. We experienced some extremely hot and humid days, with an average maximum temperature of 31°C. We also had 81 mm of rain.

Leopard

Xivambalana by Morné Fouché

Xivambalana by Morné Fouché

Like usually, the leopard sightings were great this month. As far as territories go, there seems to be some major changes emerging on the horizon. Salayexe is still looking good and we saw a lot of her this past month. The core of her territory stretches over our property. As far as we can tell, it looks like this beautiful cat has developed a belly over the last month or so. It would be so wonderful if she is indeed pregnant once again. Hopefully in the next few months, I can report that we have new cubs. Kurula came to visit us. She also made a kill while being here and brought the cubs over. I could not believe my eyes when I saw the “not so little anymore” cubs after we haven’t seen them for a while. They are almost old enough to be pushed out by their mother. There is a male and a female cub. Now, out of any litter of cubs, you will find a skittish one and one that is very relaxed. In this case it looks like the female is the shy one, with her brother being the adventurous one. Everything still looks promising for Kurula and she still has her 100% cubs raising record, thus far. Thandi was also out and about, still making kills for her son Bawuti. He will also have to leave mom’s side not long from now and then her focus will return to mating again and raising a new litter of cubs. Thandi has expanded her territory further west and she and her mother Kurula have the two biggest areas of all the female leopards in our traversing area. Kwatile was also seen once or twice this month and the last time we saw her she was lactating and had suckle marks. That is really good news for us. All we can now do is sit and wait. When the cubs are big enough, she will bring them out from their den site to show them off to the world. Moya was also out and about and she killed a juvenile kudu. Although she did give birth, we haven’t seen the cub/s yet. The young male leopards Wabayiza and Xivambalana are looking good and growing up fast. They are also getting bulkier by the day. These two young males are really pushing the boundaries, as they are still roaming inside Mvula’s territory. For how long he would allow this, remains a mystery. Lamula is in really good shape and it looks like he could take on the world. Lamula might get a challenger very soon as the Anderson’s male and the young Robson’s male are both moving more into Lamula’s territory. To make matters even worse, Tingana is pushing more south as well, putting even more pressure on Lamula. While Tingana wants to expand more to the south and east, Anderson wants to expand more east into Tingana’s territory. Out of all the male leopards, Mvula is the biggest and oldest, with the biggest territory and with only one potential challenger, Tingana. The young Robson’s male is growing in confidence and he is buying time getting bigger and stronger, while waiting for the opportunity to challenge one of the males for a territory.

Lion

Elephant by Morné Fouché

Elephant by Morné Fouché

What a wonderful time we had with all the lion sightings this month. We were really spoiled and we couldn’t ask for more, or better. The four Breakaway pride lionesses and their nine cubs came to visit us again. They stayed in our area for a long time. The females managed to bring down a big zebra just off of our airstrip and they were feasting on it for days. The cubs are looking stunning and they are growing up fast. The eldest ones are estimated to be between 8-9 months of age and the youngest should be around 6-7 months of age. I really hope that all nine cubs will make it to adulthood. So far, so good! You can see that these four ladies are really good mothers, as they learned from the best. The Styx pride is also looking really good and very healthy. The female with the tiny new cubs is moving the little ones in and out of our traversing area the whole time. They are now older that two months and will start moving around with mum and the rest of the pride. More good news is that the other big female is also pregnant and it’s not going to be too long before we will have more cubs. Both these females have mated with both the Matimba and Nkuhuma males, but not with the Majingilane males. I just hope that these females don’t walk into the Majingilane males, as they will definitely kill the cubs because they are not the fathers. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that great things will happen to the Styx pride this year, as the last couple of years were not the best for this pride. The Majingilane male lions really kept a low profile this month, as we only saw them once when they came into our area to scent mark and left again the next day.

Buffaloes

Male cheetah by Morné Fouché

Male cheetah by Morné Fouché

We did not see any of the big breeding herds this month. As buffaloes are really bulk feeders, it is crucial for them to be moving all the time, in their continuous quest for enough food and water supplies. The old buffalo bulls are still out and about, spending their days lying in the water or mud wallows, or just relaxing somewhere in the shade. The dominant males that have left the herds last year to fatten up have all returned to the herds and started challenging the last of the older dominant males for mating rights. These big and strong males will have between ten and fifteen females that they will mate with in this coming mating season. A female coming into heat will be closely guarded by a dominant bull, to keep the other bulls away. Females are often evasive, thereby attracting the attention of other bulls and this would then lead to the bulls fighting for mating rights. Females will have their first calve at the age of about 5 years, whereas the males will become dominant only around the age of between 7 – 8 years.

Elephant

Wow, there was really no shortage of elephants this past month. The reason why we have so many elephants is because it is the start of the marula fruiting season. When you find a herd, they are sure to be under, or next to a few marula trees, having a field day with all these little fruits. The marula fruit is very high in vitamin C, at least six times more than oranges. When the fruiting season starts, the elephants can be very destructive when it comes to getting the fruits. We also had a few big male elephants in musth, following the females groups around. We were also very fortunate to witness two of these heavy weights having a standoff, complete with heads up high and ears open. After the standoff they started displaying their strength by pushing over a few trees each, in order to impress the ladies. With all these big male elephants around, the breeding herds are getting a little more stressed out with their presence. We also came across a small bachelor herd of young male elephants moving around in the area. They were obviously kicked out of the herd as they were becoming too old to stay with the family unit.

Special Sighting

The special sighting was to have the whole Breakaway pride, with all nine of their cubs, feasting on a full-grown zebra on our airstrip.

Did you know?

The gestation period of an elephant is 22 months.

I trust that you enjoyed this first report for 2014. Hope to see you out on game drive soon!

Morné Fouché


Big 5 Sightings 03 to 09 February 2014

The Big 5 highlight of the week was to see one Styx female lion and her three cubs resting in the Mholowati River

 

Styx lion pride cubs - Dawie Jacobs

Styx lion pride cubs – Dawie Jacobs

Monday, 3 February 2014

(30ºC)

  • A breeding herd of about ten elephants feeding on Safari airstrip
  • Two buffalo bulls feeding on Wetpatch open area
  • The Styx lion pride resting south of Wors Crossing
  • One buffalo bull resting at Big Dam

 

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

(32ºC)

  • One elephant bull feeding on Seepline Road
  • Lamula, the male leopard, moving south on Leopard Drift
  • Three buffalo bulls resting in the water at Serengeti Pan
  • A breeding herd of about ten elephant’s drinking water at Serengeti Pan
  • One Styx female lion and her three cubs resting in the Mholowati River
  • Tingana, the male leopard, with a warthog kill on Drongo South
  • Kwatile, the female leopard, moving west on Wessels old driveway
  • One elephant bull feeding at Wors Crossing
  • Three buffalo bulls resting at EP open area

 

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

(33ºC)

  • Xivambalana, the male leopard, feeding on a juvenile kudu kill on Shirombirombi
  • Four Styx lions resting at Treehouse Pan
  • A breeding herd of about ten elephants feeding on Rhino Ring North
  • Lamula, the male leopard, moving west on Seepline road
  • Three buffalo bulls resting on Madash Road
  • Another breeding herd of about twenty elephants feeding on Horseshoe East
  • One buffalo bull resting at Big Dam

 

Summer sunset in the lowveld - Dawie Jacobs

Summer sunset in the lowveld – Dawie Jacobs

Thursday, 6 February 2014

(31ºC, 4mm rain)

  • Tingana, the male leopard, feeding on a warthog kill on Bushcamp West
  • One buffalo bull feeding at Leeukuil Pan
  • A breeding herd of about ten elephants feeding on Shortcut to Wetpatch
  • One elephant bull feeding in Shirley’s Crossing
  • Another breeding herd of about twenty elephants feeding on Marula Bult South
  • One buffalo bull feeding on Kuala Bear Road

 

 

Friday, 7 February 2014

(29ºC, 10mm rain)

  • Xivambalana, the male leopard, still feeding on his kudu kill on Shirombirombi Road
  • A breeding herd of about twenty elephants feeding on Wetpatch Road
  • The Robson’s male leopard moving west from Kudu Drift
  • Four buffalo bulls resting on A-main
  • Another breeding herd of about ten elephants feeding on EP driveway
  • Shadow, the female leopard, resting next to her impala kill on Mafufunyana Road

 

Saturday, 8 February 2014

(30ºC)

  • Shadow, the female leopard, and her two cubs feeding on an impala kill on Mafufunyana Road
  • Two buffalo bulls resting at Kimbians Crossing
  • One elephant bull feeding at Simbambili Dam
  • A breeding herd of about five elephants feeding on Kudu Drift
  • One buffalo bull resting at Knobthorn Pan

 

Xivambalana the male leopard - Dawie Jacobs

Xivambalana the male leopard – Dawie Jacobs

Sunday, 9 February 2014

(31ºC)

  • Xivambalana, the male leopard, moving south from Wessels old driveway
  • A breeding herd of about ten elephants feeding on Gowrie Main
  • Tingana, the male leopard, moving east on Methlowani Road
  • Two buffalo bulls resting on Tamboti open area
  • Another breeding herd of about ten elephants feeding at Tamboti open area
  • One buffalo bull feeding at Rhino Pan

 


How stress effects your skin

Stress is part of our everyday lifestyle, that is a given. But did you know that stress can also have an effect on your skin? It causes a chemical response in your body and that is why your skin sometimes becomes more sensitive and reactive during stressful times. With stress, your body produces cortisol, causing your sebaceous glands to produce more oil. This can make it hard for your skin problem to heal.

Stress can effect your skin

Stress can effect your skin

Stress can also cause the following skin problems:

• Eczema

• Hives

• Skin rashes

• A flare-up of fever blisters

After a long and stressful day at work, most women don’t feel like doing their normal skin care routine, which can aggravate skin problems even further.

Here are some simple, easy steps that can help your skin during stressful periods:

• Make time for you skincare routine at night. Cleanse, tone and hydrate. If you leave a mask on for 10 minutes, it also gives you also time to switch off and relax.

• Regular exercise is very good, not just for your skin, but for the rest of your body too.

• Make time for yourself and do something that you enjoy and that will help you to relax – book a day with friends at a spa and get a facial that will also help with your skin problem.

• Yoga is wonderful method for relaxing.

• Last but not the least ENOUGH SLEEP is also very important. Aim for at least 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep a night.

Spoil yourself with a skin mask

Spoil yourself with a skin mask

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SEA SALT SCRUB to calm irritated skin:

• 1/8 cup coarse granules of sea salt (do not use normal table salt)

• A drizzle of apple cider vinegar (non-filtered, organic is the best) – it acts as an astringent

• 1 to 2 teaspoons finely chopped mint- mint may help with any inflammation present.

Combine salt and mint in a small bowl and drizzle enough vinegar to soften the mixture.

Stir to form a thick paste.

Gently massage into skin and rinse well with warm water.

 

 

 

 

 


Big 5 Sightings 27 January to 02 February 2014

The Big 5 highlight of the week was to see Bawuti, the young male leopard, having a stand-off with a buffalo bull at Jaggi Pan

Bawuti, the young male leopard, and a buffalo bull - Louis Liversage

Bawuti, the young male leopard, and a buffalo bull – Louis Liversage

 

Monday, 27 January 2014

(26ºC, 22mm rain)

  • One elephant bull feeding on Rhino Ring North
  • One buffalo bull feeding on Rhino Ring West
  • A breeding herd of about twenty elephants feeding on MMM North
  • Four buffalo bulls feeding on Shirley’s open area
  • Xivambalana, the young male leopard, resting west of Chitwa Chitwa airstrip
  • Two elephant bulls  feeding at Boundary Pan
  • Another two buffalo bulls resting at Serengeti Pan

 

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

(28ºC, 8mm rain)

  • Bawuti, the young male leopard, resting at Jaggi Pan
  • A breeding herd of about ten elephants feeding on Konkoni Road
  • Salayexe, the female leopard, resting in a tree on Marula Bult
  • One buffalo bull resting on EP airstrip
  • One Styx female lion resting east of Ingwe Pan

 

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

(30ºC)

  • Two elephant bulls feeding on Wetpatch Road
  • Two buffalo bulls feeding on Big Dam Link South
  • Another two buffalo bull resting in the water at Big Dam
  • A breeding herd of about forty elephants feeding on Marula Bult Road
  • One buffalo bull feeding on Rhino Ring South

 

Elephant bull - Louis Liversage

Elephant bull – Louis Liversage

Thursday, 30 January 2014

(34ºC, 6mm rain)

  • Three elephant bulls feeding north of Mnisi Mati
  • Salayexe, the female leopard, resting at Ntoma Crossing
  • Thandi, the female leopard, feeding on a juvenile bushbuck kill west of Mapogo Road
  • Bawuti, the young male leopard, resting in a Marula tree on Chitwa/Annette’s cutline
  • One Styx lioness and her three cubs resting south of Ingwe Pan
  • Four sub-adult Styx lions resting on the northern side of White Cloth open area
  • Mvula, the male leopard, moving north on MMM North
  • Three buffalo bulls resting at Knobthorn Pan

 

Friday, 31 January 2014

(29ºC)

  • A breeding herd of about ten elephants feeding on Simbambili/Safari cutline
  • Lamula, the male leopard, mating with Moya, the female leopard, at Big Dam
  • Another breeding herd of about twenty elephants feeding on Seepline
  • Three buffalo bulls resting on EP open area

 

Saturday, 1 February 2014

(31ºC)

  • A breeding herd of about twenty elephants feeding on Mfesi open area
  • One Styx female lion resting with three cubs south of Worst Crossing
  • Two buffalo bulls resting on Marula Bult Central

 

Buffalo bull - Louis Liversage

Buffalo bull – Louis Liversage

Sunday, 2 February 2014

(34ºC, 16mm rain)

  • Salayexe, the female leopard, feeding on an impala kill on Simbambili firebreak
  • Two buffalo bulls resting in the water at Gaby’s causeway
  • One elephant bull feeding on Kudu Drift
  • Another elephant bull feeding on Ngala open area
  • The Styx lion pride resting at Ingwe Mati
  • Wabayiza, the male leopard, resting in a tree on Little Gowrie driveway
  • A breeding herd of about ten elephants feeding at Baboon Pan

 


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