Elephant Plains Game Lodge

Manager’s Report November 2011

I can’t begin to describe how hot it’s been during the past month. We’ve had some rain, but we are still in need of some heavy rains – especially to fill up the waterholes for the summer. The heat is so intense that the newly formed grass is already starting to turn yellow again. The animals are still looking great and it is that time of the year when impalas are the centre point of attention again. Yes, it’s baby boom time in the bush! It is interesting to know that impalas usually wait until the first November rains before giving birth. Most of the herbivores have little ones running around, so one hears a lot of “oh shame” or “ah cute” from the guests on game drive.

WILD PHOTO OF THE MONTH

Stalking Leopard by Jacqueline and Ronald Boevé, Netherlands

Stalking Leopard by Jacqueline and Ronald Boevé, Netherlands

It’s bigger and definitely better! You’ve guessed right. We’ve made our waterhole on the open area bigger. If you where watching the webcam on the twentieth of this month, you would have seen the TLB working on the waterhole. You might ask: “Why?” Well, we said: “Why not?” We’ve had guests staying at our lodge, asking where exactly the waterhole is located as it was difficult to see from the lodge. We also noticed that when a big herd of elephants came to drink water, most of it was finished by the time they left. As some of you might know, the Kruger National Park is closing up some of their waterholes and making others bigger. This is not a bad idea at all. In the past when there were no man-made waterholes, the animals had to walk longer distances in search of food and water. But in the last few years it was thought to be a good idea to attract animals to certain areas by creating artificial waterholes and dams. Extensive research on the subject has shown that this is not ideal. Yes it did work, but some would say it actually worked too well. The animals stopped moving around and stayed in the same areas. This resulted in overgrazing, which left large areas barren. So by closing some of the waterholes, animals will need to move around once again and not overgraze certain areas. We have gone the same route as Kruger. We have stopped pumping water into some of the existing waterholes and have made the waterhole in front of lodge a bit bigger, so as to compensate in this regard. We also made them deeper. Over the years waterholes fill up with mud, causing it to no longer hold water very well. The TLB was used to remove all the old mud from the bottom and in the case of the open area waterhole, to enlarge it and use the mud to create a dam wall. Whilst we had the TLB here we also did a lot of road maintenance. For seven days we had it on site, fixing both dams and roads. As for the roads, most areas are very sandy, so when we have a lot of rain, the water flowing down the road will pick up sand particles and wash them away. Every second year or so, we make mitre drains, consisting of a speed bump with a drain next to the speed bump, diverting the water flow off the road. This helps prevent our roads from washing away. It is a lot of hard work, but it was great fun to get out into the bush for the week. We had some excitement when elephants had fun chasing us around the yellow TLB!

As you have read, we were hard at work this month, with everything that we are trying to complete before the big summer rains. We also have a team of eight professional bush clearers working on our open areas. Again, some might ask why we are removing bushes and alien shrubs. Sometimes, if the balance is not 100% percent, you will find that some alien plant species will take over an area, smothering the indigenous species. Over the past few years the open areas have been taken over by spike thorns and other alien plants. This particular species will grow in thick walls, not allowing animals to move through them, leaving an area that is underutilized, with no animals around. The other downside is that spike thorns itself have a very high tannin content, making them very bitter. Most animals will not eat this plant unless they are forced to during times of serious drought. So by opening up the vegetation we will start seeing a lot more plains game moving around the lodge and northern sectors of the property. In the past, controlled fires used to sort out these plants, but we are not that keen to burn this area. Firstly, it weakens the grass and secondly, we are not comfortable having a fire so close to the lodge. It is better to get a team of professional bush clearers to cut out all the unpalatable vegetation, leaving all the better tree species to flourish.

Congratulations to our staff members who celebrated their birthdays during the month of November. May the year ahead be filled with good health, happiness and all the best!

Louis celebrated his birthday on the 21st of this month. He is our barman and you would have noticed him serving drinks around the lodge.

Feitah celebrated her birthday on the 23rd of this month. She is little Etienne’s nanny and always has a smile on her face.

This month Chef Linda shares a delicious dessert with us.

Treacle Tart, served with peanut praline and coffee liqueur cream

Treacle Tart, served with peanut praline and coffee liqueur cream

Treacle Tart, served with peanut praline and coffee liqueur cream

Crust:

  • 500g soft butter
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 cups cake flour

Cream the butter and sugar, mix in the eggs and flour and press into muffin pans.

Filling:

  • 630g golden syrup
  • 12 slices of white bread, crumbed
  • 2 zested lemons
  • 1 ½ tbsp. lemon juice

Warm up the sugar, mix with the bread crumbs (the mixture should be thick, not runny)
Add the lemon juice and zest. Spoon into the crust and bake at 180° C, until the crust is golden and the treacle is still sticky.
Add a dollop of coffee liqueur cream and peanut praline, serve and enjoy!

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

Wayne Dovey

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