Wild Photo of the Month

by Joshua McPhail, Elephant Plains Guest

by Joshua McPhail, Elephant Plains Guest

Spring is in the air and with that came some amazing sightings! It is almost as if the bush has awoken after a deep winter sleep. The rangers found a hyena den with the cutest pups as occupants. They are full of energy and entertain our guests for hours on end. We also had a male cheetah that spent nearly three weeks moving around our traversing area. At first we thought that he might just end up staying because he was continuously seen over such an extended period, but sadly he moved on again. Cheetahs need very large open areas to be able to reach top speeds of ± 90km/h. In our area, the vegetation is very dense and more ideal for leopards, so we don’t have resident female cheetahs. There are some females that move through our area as their home ranges, but they always move back to their core territories after a while. We also had a great wild dog sighting this month! Those of you who regularly watch the Africam webcam might have seen this. They came down to drink water at the waterhole in front of the lodge on the afternoon of the 19th. Now normally they run up and down, only spending a few seconds in one area, but as they got to the water they slammed on breaks and spent some time, drinking and playing around. I was at the lodge and when I heard over my handheld radio that the dogs were drinking water, I ran to the viewing deck to go and see these very special endangered animals playing around right in front of our camp. What a wonderful sighting! I was also able to be back in the saddle doing game drives for a few days this past month. We had some amazing sightings and it was great to be able to see all the new animals in the area.

Morné and Tersia

Morné and Tersia

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Tersia and Morné on being Mr and Mrs Fouché. I was privileged enough to be part of their big day as Morné’s best man. Everything was perfect: the weather, the venue, the ceremony and reception. Seeing that Morné did not even for a second consider running for the hills, made me realize that Tersia means the world to him. He stood proud and tall and could not wait for his beautiful bride to walk down the aisle. The look on a groom’s face when he sees his bride walking down the aisle is priceless; with a sparkle in the eyes and a slightly nervous smile. I was only the best man, yet Tersia took my breath away. She looked like a princess from a fairy tale story and I can’t imagine how Morné felt when he saw her for the first time. From all of us at Elephant Plains, we hope you both have an amazing life’s journey and many happy years together.

Trapcam photo - Salayexe

Trapcam photo – Salayexe

It was a very sad day when we heard about the passing of Gogi, the Styx female. For those of you who are not sure who this great lioness was, she was the lead female of the Styx pride. When I first started at Elephant Plains nearly eight years ago, she was only second in charge of the Styx pride. She was still in her prime and strong minded. As time went by the old lead female passed on and Gogi was quick to take over this roll. The survival of the Styx pride is due to this brave lioness. Pride numbers dropped from eight to four females when the Mapogo males took over and ended up taking the lives of nearly forty lions; females, cubs and males. She had a no nonsense attitude towards all the other prides, neither males nor females intimidated her. With the two turn over coalitions that happened during the past five years, the Styx pride nearly vanished all together, but one brave hearted lioness was not going to let this happen. She stood her ground and the pride came to have great respect for her. They did exactly what she expected of them. After a while they became one of the more successful prides in the area and even managed to raise three cubs: two males and one female. Just as the pride started to take shape, Gogi also started getting old. She was estimated to be around 17 years old, which is a good, long life for a female lion in the wild. Sadly one night she curled up behind Gowrie Dam wall and fell asleep, never to wake up again. Legends make history, and that was Gogi – a legend who survived the joys and hardships of the harsh African bush. Her life story will be told around camp fires in the Sabi Sand by rangers for many years to come.

Breeding herd of elephants by Dawie Jacobs

Breeding herd of elephants by Dawie Jacobs

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! We had three staff members who celebrated their birthdays this month. On the 5th Linky celebrated her big day. She, however, is not at lodge for the next few months as she is resting at home, waiting for her little bundle of joy to be born. We all wish her the best of luck! Sophia celebrated her birthday on the 11th. She is one of the cooks that work in the kitchen, helping to prepare the meals. Onnie celebrated her big day on the 16th. As a waiter, she is one of the friendly faces that you will see around meal times. I do hope that you all had fantastic birthdays!

The webcam provided cyber safari goers with some excellent sightings this month. It is truly amazing to see what walks around at all hours of the night and what sort of curiosity animals have towards the camera. Sadly all the night pictures are not of good enough quality to post, but we can normally tell what animals they are. We’ve had porcupines with babies, honey badgers, and white tailed mongoose. We even managed to capture a hyena dragging its leftovers back to a den sight for her little ones to feed on. The Africam alerts on Facebook have also been very helpful, making it easier for enthusiasts who cannot watch the cam 24/7 to quickly log in the moment there is some action. The trap cam that we set up in the bush also yielded some nice photographs for the month. This month, Salayexe was caught on camera while patrolling her territory.

I now hand you over to our Head Chef, Linda van Heerden, for a mouth-watering Cinnamon Rolls recipe.

Monthly Recipe – Cinnamon Rolls

(±15 rolls)

Cinnamon Rolls

Cinnamon Rolls


  • 1 cup warm Milk
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/3 cup melted Butter
  • 4 ½ cups Flour
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • ½ cup Sugar
  • 10g Active dry Yeast


  • 1 cup Brown Sugar
  • 2 ½ tsp Cinnamon
  • ¼ cup soft Butter


  • ¼ cup Butter
  • 1 ½ cups Icing Sugar
  • ¼ cup Cream Cheese
  • ½ tsp Vanilla Essence


  • Mix the flour, salt, sugar and yeast together. Slowly add the warm milk to the eggs, taking care not to curdle them. Add this to the melted butter and mix the two together. Knead the dough. Let it rise in a greased bowl for about an hour, until it has doubled in size.
  • Combine the brown sugar, cinnamon and butter. Roll dough out into a rectangle and spread the butter onto this. Sprinkle the cinnamon mixture over this. Roll dough up and cut into 3 cm pieces. Place flat in a baking dish and cover with foil. Allow to rise until nearly double in size. Bake with the foil on until the dough is cooked, for about 20 minutes. The rolls will still be pale in colour.
  • Whilst in the oven, mix the icing. It should be spread onto the cinnamon rolls, and then the foil should be placed back until the icing is melted. Serve warm and enjoy!

Serve and enjoy!

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

Wayne Dovey