The Big 5 highlight this week was to see a female cheetah stalking a blue wildebeest calf. Her plan was to separate the calf from the rest of the herd, but after running a few meters with a cheetah on its heels, the calf got away unharmed.
Monday, 11 March 2013
Tuesday, 12 March 2013
Wednesday, 13 March 2013
Thursday, 14 March 2013
Friday, 15 March 2013
Saturday, 16 March 2013
Sunday, 17 March 2013
The Big 5 highlight of the week was when we saw 3 of the Majingi male lions with 2 females of the Tsalala pride, BB and one of her daughters.
Monday, 04 March 2013
Tuesday, 05 March 2013
Wednesday, 06 March 2013
Thursday, 07 March 2013
(34ºC, 22mm rain)
Friday, 08 March 2013
Saturday, 09 March 2013
Sunday, 10 March 2013
The month was a very short, but productive one, with the lodge being very busy and game viewing being out of this world! The guys saw the wild dogs on our open area a few times and also had a lot of lion sightings. The Tsalala Breakaway Pride has been moving around the airstrip and the driveway on a regular basis. Hearing the lions calling at night close to camp has been great. People always think that it’s a sound you get used to after living in the bush for a while, but that is not true at all. Every time I hear the deep roar of a male lion, it gives me goose bumps. Hearing the sounds of the African bush is what keeps reminding you why you are here and not out there in the concrete jungle with cars and sirens, continually buzzing in your ears. Sometimes you might hear people talking about the three ultimate sounds of the African bush. Well, of course it’s the male lion at the top of the list, second would have to be the African Fish Eagle and thirdly the hippopotamus. Another amazing sound to hear at night is the spotted hyena, especially when they are feeding, giving off laughing sounds that pierce through the African night. Also don’t forget the low grunts that remind you a leopard is walking past nearby. One interesting sound that one can hear during the heat of the day is the very loud buzzing sound of a Cicada. As the heat of the day intensifies, so does the volume of the male Cicada.
The main entrance to the lodge is now looking very impressive as the area around the entrance and fountain is now a beautiful circularly paved area. There is now proper drainage for water racing down from the airstrip’s side and we believe that this project has been a great addition to the lodge.
This is the last month of working at EP for Richard, as he will be joining Roxanne in Dullstroom to run their new restaurant. We wish him all the best and hope it will be a great success. We have been very busy doing interviews and searching for the right candidates to replace the two ranger’s positions, as well as the spa therapist. One of our new rangers will be Devon Becker. For the past couple of years he has been working as a trails guide for Eco Training. We are looking forward to welcoming him onto the team. We have decided to offer the other rangers position to Dawie Jacobs. For the past two years Dawie has been working as a junior ranger at EP, learning the ins and outs of the industry. We believe that through hard work and determination, he has proven himself to be a valuable staff member and we are looking forward to watching his career as a fulltime ranger unfold 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 happy and joyful days! At lodge itself, we had a number of people celebrating their birthdays. Morné celebrated his birthday on the 1st. Morné is our Head Ranger. You should all know him as he writes all the Rangers Reports. I have been teased by the staff for the past three years after turning 30. Well, now I am glad to say, we have a new member in the 30 + club. I would like to be the first to welcome Morné Fouché to our elite group! Derrick celebrated his birthday on the 2nd. Derrick is Morné’s tracker. He is one of the old school trackers as his whole life has been spent tracking animals. As a youngster he had to follow his father’s cattle around. Some days whilst the cattle were feeding, one would go missing. He then would have to go and track the cow until he found it. If he was to return home with one cow missing, he would be in serious trouble. Therefore his skill is immaculate and we celebrate him for this. On the 24th Marlet celebrated her birthday. Marlet is one of the owners who is very involved in the day to day running of the lodge. If you read all the replies to TripAdvisor and posts on Facebook, you will see her name appear a lot.
I now hand you over to our head chef, Linda Van Heerden, for the recipe of the month. Her Cranberry Muffins are delicious and they will compliment any occasion: breakfast, high tea, low tea… any tea of the day!
( Makes 12)
Sieve the flour, baking powder and salt together, add the sugar and dried cranberries to the flour mix. Mix the oil, egg and yogurt together. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, being sure not to over mix the dough. Spoon the mixture into greased muffin pans and bake for +- 20 minutes at 180 °C until a testing needle inserted comes out clean.
Well, that is all from my side this month. Have a good one!
I know I say the same thing every month, but this month was once again full of excitement! We had wild dogs in our area, as well as a female cheetah and her cubs that made their appearance when we least expected it! We had some lovely rain this month with a total of 65mm. Although it is not as much as we had in January, with the soil still saturated from the previous rains, this was enough to make off-road driving tricky and very slippery at times around some of the areas we normally drive with ease. This month we had a lot of zebra and giraffe sightings as well, due to all the green grass and trees with their full coat of green leaves. The bush is still very lush and there are still many water puddles that formed with the rain. All the animals are obviously in a very good condition! We’ve already noticed a slight drop in the morning temperatures, which is a result from the ground being very saturated. The cooler mornings did not really have a big effect on the daytime temperatures and the average maximum temperature for the month was 30°C.
We were very fortunate to have a nice big breeding herd of about 400 buffaloes moving around in our traversing area this month. One of the main reasons for the buffaloes visiting our area is due to all the water being available to them, everywhere, at any time! What made their visit even more special is all the newborn calves within the herd and there are a few more pregnant females due to give birth at any time now. When a female buffalo that is part of a breeding herd is about to give birth, she falls behind the group a bit as they can not walk as fast and as far as the rest of the herd. This makes them an easy target for predators as they do not have the safety of the rest of the herd around them. Apart from the breeding herds, we also saw a few bachelor herds moving through our area and there is of course always an old bull or two, soaking in the water puddles or having a mud bath.
Marula season came to an end this month and the majority of the marula trees have shed their fruits and where there were still some fruits hanging in the trees, the baboons, monkeys and elephants made sure to feast on them till there were no more left. We have not seen very big males with, or following the breeding herds, but there were some very nice young males who entertained us with their typical “I am in charge” behaviour. These young males will be forced by the matriarch to leave the herd when they reach the age of between 12 to 17 years. The breeding herd normally consists of old females, their siblings, female offspring and a few young males. Once the young males leave the herd, they might form bachelor groups of up to 30 males, or they will join up with other older, bigger males. Although these young males have a very good self-esteem while part of the breeding herd, they do feel very vulnerable and insecure when on their own, almost like when a teenage boy leaves the house after school.
This month, the lion sightings brought us a lot of excitement! The four breakaway lionesses of the Tsalala pride are getting bigger by the day and with the cubs, the pride is also growing in numbers. At this stage, we are unsure of how many cubs there are, as we have only seen one till now. We saw the three other lionesses walking with a Majingi male, so we are hoping for some more cubs. It is strange how at first, we were hoping that the young females would stay out of the Majingi’s way as they could have been killed and now, we are actually grateful to see them together as they are mating and this will bring more cubs! This just once again shows that nature works in a very strange, but wonderful, way. The old female of the Tsalala pride, BB, came to visit us a few times by herself and we also saw her two older daughters on our airstrip, also with three of the Majingi males. We were surprised with a visit from the Nkuhuma pride this month as well. We had three females with their 8 month old cubs in our area for a while, but it was not long before they moved on again.
This month was a spotty affair, as we had leopard sightings all over the place! Salayexe and her cub were seen very often and the little one is making every sighting an unforgettable one with her playful personality. It is unreal to think that this little cub is actually not that little anymore, as she is already 8 months old. She has now reached the age where anything and everything that moves is prey and is constantly busy chasing or stalking something. Shadow and her two cubs are doing very well and she is now also getting very relaxed with the vehicles moving around her. She is no longer hissing or growling at the vehicles and her cubs are also following her relaxed behaviour. We have not seen Karula’s cub or cubs yet and are therefore are not sure how many she has. She still has suckle marks and this is evidence that she is feeding 1 or 2 or maybe 3 newborn bundles of fluff, somewhere where they are safely tucked away in their den. Ntima was not seen a lot this month, but for a new mother being kept busy by her small cubs, this is normal. Yes, she is also a new mother now! We know where she has her cubs hidden away, but we are avoiding her den site as we do not want to disturb the new mom with her tiny cubs. We are giving her time to bring them out for us to see, but, hopefully this will not take too long. Tingana is also doing well and looking good. This big bully now realized that it is actually much easier to steal food from the females than hunt for his own food.
We were very fortunate to see a female cheetah, accompanied by three small cubs. It’s always so special to see a cheetah in the area as cheetahs need wide open areas to hunt in. What made it even more special was that she had three lovely cubs with her. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that she will raise these cubs to adulthood.
Did you know?
Elephants communicate with each other over vast areas by using infrasound.
Monday, 25 February 2013
Tuesday, 26 February 2013
Wednesday, 27 February 2013
Thursday, 28 February 2013
Friday, 01 March 2013
Saturday, 02 March 2013
Sunday, 03 March 2013