Wild Photo of the Month

Wild Photo of the Month by Joshua McPhail, Elephant Plains Guest

Wild Photo of the Month by Joshua McPhail, Elephant Plains Guest

Just when we thought we could pack away our warm clothes, we got hit with a massive cold front. It is no surprise that one can always make conversation about the weather – there is always something to say about it! We had temperatures of 43°C the one day and it plummeted to 14°C the next, while raining. Oh, what lovely rain we had! I am glad that the rain we received did not come with aggressive lightning, though. On the Friday night the temperature was still 32°C at 23:00, with a very warm wind behind it. Should we have received a lightning strike under these circumstances, we would have had our hands full. But all ran smoothly and the clouds moved over from the south like a thief in the night. It started raining softly at 02:00 in the morning without a rumble of thunder, or flash of lightning. Soft rain is a lot better than a cloud burst. At least we know that all the rain we received settled nicely into the ground, injecting fresh moisture into all the plant roots. With a cloud burst, the rain pours down rapidly and ends up running off. This is known as sheet wash, with very little water seeping into the ground. The three days of drizzle we received definitely kick-started the vegetation! I always try to remind myself to carefully watch the vegetation each day, trying to spot the exact moment when it starts turning green. But time and again after the first summer rains you wake up one morning, finding that the bush has transformed overnight from the dull brown colour, into a lively tapestry of green! Nature is truly amazing.

Styx pride lions by Dawie Jacobs

Styx pride lions by Dawie Jacobs

Our rangers did their Advanced Rifle Handling assessment this month. Every two years, we get an evaluator that comes to the lodge to examine the shooting capability of our rangers and trackers. Let me tell you, these guys can shoot! It’s not easy at all. The first part of the shoot is very basic and you have fifteen seconds to complete it. You are blindfolded and have to load five rounds from the pouch on your belt into the magazine of the rifle without dropping any rounds. Once you’ve completed this you have to unload the rounds from the magazine and place them back into your belt pouch, again without dropping them. Should you drop a round, you would fail the exercise. Then comes the grouping at 15 meters. On your own time, you need to fire three shots at one target that has a circumference of 7cm. Next comes the 15, 10 and 5 meter groupings where you have 11 seconds to shoot once at each of the targets, attempting to hit them all in the bull. After this exercise come the harder ones. At a 10 meter target, you are given three rounds in the magazine and three in your pouch. The trick is that one of the rounds in the rifle is a dummy. So while shooting the three rounds at the 10 meter target, you will at some stage hit the dummy round. You then need to eject the dummy round as quickly as possible. Once all the rounds are finished, you then need to reload the three rounds from your pouch and fire a fourth shot at the target, ending the exercise. The second last exercise is to shoot at two buffalo targets, having to hit the brain. You have a target at 12 meters and one at 8 meters. The brain is as big as a lady’s fist. Even if your round skims the line, it will not count. This is quite tricky when you have the clock running against you. The last exercise is a target of a lion on a sled that is pulled towards you at high speed. You have to give a whole list of commands to your “guests”, shout at the lion, then drop to one knee and shoot a brain shot. Once that has happened, you have to keep group control and investigate the target. Only once you know your target / lion is dead and you have made your rifle safe, can you call out to end the exercise. I am proud to say that our guides did really well!

Trapcam photo - Herd of buffaloes at Bushcamp pan

Trapcam photo – Herd of buffaloes at Bushcamp pan

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!

With this month’s Trapcam photo, we were lucky to catch a lovely herd of buffaloes, while drinking water at Bushcamp East. We first tried something different by placing the camera facing down Bushcamp East Road. In the past we’ve had some lovely footage of animals patrolling the area, while walking along the road. You would be surprised as to how many animals walk the roads to travel from point A to point B. Most times, your territorial animals walk on roads, as they make great boundaries. Other animals walk on roads as there are no trees or obstacles in their way. We once had Salayexe and her previous cub caught on camera like this. But our luck was out this time around! Murphy’s Law: all we had were hundreds of photos of game drives vehicles driving past, so we quickly repositioned the camera so that it faced the water and voilà! A lovely breeding herd of buffaloes.

I now hand you over to our Head Chef, Linda van Heerden, for her delicious recipe of the month.

Carrot Cake

Carrot Cake

Monthly Recipe – Carrot Cake


  • 275g self raising flour
  • 10ml baking powder
  • 50g pecan nuts
  • 2 bananas
  • 160g sugar
  • 125g grated carrots
  • 2 eggs
  • 150ml sunflower oil

Mix the dry ingredients together and then add the nuts. Mash the bananas and add these and the carrots to the flour mixture. Beat the eggs into the oil and add to the dry ingredients, making sure to beat well. Pour the mixture into a greased Bundt cake tin. Bake at 180 °C, for about 20-30 minutes until the mixture is cooked and a testing needle comes out clean. Allow to sit in the tin for 5 minutes and turn it out onto a cooling rack.


  • 200g icing
  • 100g butter
  • 100g cream cheese
  • 5ml vanilla

Cream the butter and icing together, then add the cream cheese and vanilla. Spoon the icing onto the carrot cake and garnish with pecan nuts.

Serve and enjoy!

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

Wayne Dovey