Wild Photo of the Month

by Heini Wehrle, Switzerland

Welcome to the land of the green! Photosynthesis and precipitation are wonderful combinations that cause the vegetation to transform from brown to green. The Sabi Sand Wildtuin currently looks like something you read about in fantasy books. The impala females are bursting at the seams. They are due to give birth any day now. During this time of the year they are very weary, with a few extra kilograms added to their slender bodies which tend to slow them down a bit. I love impalas, but unfortunately, because of their abundance in the bush, they quickly get swept under the rug when there are larger, more well-known animals around to view. Entering this time of the year, they do get far more attention, especially the moment their lambs start arriving. They are the sweetest things under the African sun. As they are all being born around the same time, they grow up being the same age and size. Playful is not even the right word to describe these youngsters when they start running around and playing with one another. I can sit and watch them for hours, whilst they bounce and jump around with the odd collision as they run into each other. It’s very entertaining!

BB the lioness and her cub

BB the lioness and her cub - Photo by Willie Woest

As the days march on towards the end of the year, they are gradually warming up. Some days have been nearing 40 °C. For the people in the northern hemisphere, the heat is currently averaging around 104 ° Fahrenheit. So if you need to work on your tan, then Elephant Plains might just be the ideal place to do that. Whether you choose to bask in the African sun in the privacy of your luxury suite sun deck, or to share the rays with fellow guests around the main swimming pools, the choice is yours! Add to that some animals coming to the waterhole to quench their thirst, while you are lying next to the pool, watching them. What about Walter, our barman, taking your drinks order at the same time? It doesn’t get any better than this… Just remember the sunscreen!

We called in the Back Actor to help us out with a bit of work that needed to be done on the property. The pan west of the airstrip had filled up with mud over the past seven years, mainly caused by sheet wash erosion. The pan was not holding much water, leaving it empty early into the dry season. So we removed the excess mud that had washed in. This mud that was removed from the pan was placed on the existing wall, to reinforce it. Kraaines is now looking great and brand new, waiting to be filled to the brim with some hard summer rains.

Trapcam photo of the month - Blue Wildebeest drinking at Bushcamp Pan

Trapcam photo of the month - Blue Wildebeest drinking at Bushcamp Pan

On the funny side of things, we had some of our ranger’s do a bit of catfish wrestling this month. In front of our African Health Spa, there has been a massive pool of water since the floods at the beginning of the year. But with the summer heat this pool started to rapidly dry up. Inside the pool was some massive catfish that got trapped there when the water subsided after the floods. So before all the water dried up, the guys started operation “save the catfish”. Picture this: a bunch of guys splashing around in a very muddy pool, trying to feel for slimy catfish bodies. The thought process was that they were not that big and would therefore be easy to catch, but to our surprise, most of them were four feet in length. We would obviously like to think of ourselves as rugged rangers. Well, not whilst wading around in muddy water, having slimy fish brush up against us! I must say that there were some very high pitched sounds coming from the guys. It’s the funniest thing under the sun seeing our rugged rangers covered with mud and slime from head to toe, splashing around like youngsters at a foam party, whilst trying to save and relocate these odd looking fish. With a happy ending I am glad to report that we managed to relocate 16 catfish from this pool. Because Kraaines, just west of the airstrip, has been fixed, we could not think of a better place to relocate the catfish to and they seem very happy with this arrangement.

As mentioned in last month’s report, our head chef Roxanne decided to move on and purchased a coffee shop in Dullstroom. Linda has now taken over the role as head chef. After a lot of interviews with some very promising candidates, we managed to pull a gem from the big rock we were chipping at. Our new chef is called Annika Fourie. She is 22 years old and originates from an area not too far from here, called Burgersfort. We are looking forward to welcoming Annike to the Elephant Plains family and we hope that she would have a long and successful career with us!

I was back in the saddle doing game drives for a few days this month. All I can say is that it rocked! On the morning of the 25th, Connie and I found Salayexe sleeping in a small tree overhanging the eastern bank of the dry Manyeleti riverbed. And guess what was lying behind her? Oh yes, it was her cub! As we stopped to watch them, the cub jumped up and started to play around. After a while Salayexe joined in with the playful game of running up and down trees, sometimes even falling out of a tree. Oh my word, the sighting was out of this world. And the best part was that there was not one vehicle close by, which meant that I had the whole sighting to myself. In the fourteen years that I’ve been guiding in the bush, I can truly say that this was one of the five best sightings I’ve ever had. Salayexe and her cub once again reminded me why I love the African bush and being here in the Sabi Sand Wildtuin so much. She made my morning, she made my week, heck she even made my year! She will always remain my favourite leopard. I truly do hope that the cub will reach adulthood. Just seeing how aware it’s of their surroundings, makes me sure that it would.

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 itself, we surprisingly didn’t have any birthdays. There is, however, a very special lady whose birthday was celebrated on the 6th. Margie Swart, one of the owners, celebrated her birthday this month. We don’t get to see her very often as she lives in the Free State area, only making the journey to the lodge about once or twice a year. We hope that her day was an unforgettable one and that she will be fortunate enough to see many more years filled with love and laughter!

I now hand you over to our new Head Chef, Linda Van Heerden, for the delicious recipe of the month. If I read through this recipe I see it as an ideal salad to be served next to your swimming pool on a hot summer’s day!

Summer Melon & Ham Salad

Summer Melon & Ham Salad, served with Wholegrain Mustard Dressing

Summer Melon & Ham Salad, served with Wholegrain Mustard Dressing
Serves 8

  • ½ Bag mixed Lettuce Leaves
  • ½ Baby Watermelon, chopped into cubes
  • 100g Feta, cut into small cubes
  • 250g Sliced Ham
  • 20ml Wholegrain Mustard
  • 20ml Lemon Juice
  • 20ml Olive Oil
  • 1 teaspoon Thyme
  • 2 tablespoons water (optional)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste


  • Remove the hull and seeds from the melon.
  • Cut the ham into thin slices.
  • Mix the wholegrain mustard, lemon juice, olive oil and thyme in a small bowl and add some water, if you would like a lighter dressing.
  • Put the ham, feta and melon in a bowl, pour the dressing over and ensure that all the ingredients are well coated. Chill.
  • Place a nest of the lettuce leaves on a plate and place the mixture on top of this.

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

Wayne Dovey