Wild photo of the month by Alan and Gaynor Castle, UK

We are already through the first quarter of the year and the days just keep coming! March is the month where you first notice the season changing but with the high rainfall we had, the bush is not yet transforming to its normal winter appearance. With the abundance of grass in and around camp, we are seeing a lot more Bushbuck and Nyala antelope inside the camp. They visit us to feast on the green grass around the buildings, knowing that this area inside the fence is a safe haven for them, where they can even peacefully enjoy an afternoon nap during the day.

Hyena mother and babies by Morné Fouché

With all the rain and strange weather patterns, the animals also went a bit out of their normal daily routine, that we are accustomed to. Now, you might wonder what needs to happen for a ranger to freeze in his steps with a dumbstruck expression on his face? Being in the middle of the African bush, you never know what could happen after dark. We were minding our own business at home one evening, when we got a frantic call from Neil. At first I was unsure about the message I received over the radio, but after the second reply, it was quite clear. A young male leopard caught a wild dog, which he hoisted into a tree inside the lodge area. Luckily for the dog, the leopard lost his grip and dropped the dog. Unfortunately for the wild dog, on his way down through the branches, his foot got stuck. As if this entire situation was not bad enough, this whole scene played out right next to the swimming pool, just after dinner. We had to calmly first escort all the curious guests and staff away from the action as the leopard was still in the tree above the wild dog, with the rest of the pack circling close by to find their missing team mate. So, how do you get a dangling wild dog out of a tree? Neither Morné or myself had an answer to this question. Luckily, the leopard decided to move away, out of the tree and over the fence. The wild dog saw his gap and with some last bit of energy pushed himself up to free his foot. I am not sure if the expression of relieve was more prominent on Morné or the wild dog’s face! Luckily the wild dog had no serious injuries and quickly moved away from the area, in search of his pack. What a night!

Trapcam photo

This month the trapcam spent a few days at Bushcamp Pan. We normally catch the bigger animals on the move, but this Saddle Bill Stork decided to also show off his features. We celebrated some special staff birthdays at the lodge again. On the 6th, Yoldah celebrated her birthday. Yoldah is part of our housekeeping team and one of the friendliest people I know. On the 23rd Sidness had her special day. Sidness spends a lot of time in Nelspruit with Etienne Jnr and little Martin, but she still visits the lodge over school holidays and weekends. On the 26th Etienne Jnr celebrated his birthday. Ranger Louis celebrated his birthday on the 28th. Happy birthday ladies and gentlemen, I am sure you all had wonderful days. To all our readers who celebrated their birthdays during March, we hope you had a fantastic day, filled with happiness and laughter. Our recipe for this month is a mouth-watering mushroom risotto, by head chef Mia. With a rich and creamy flavour, it can be served as a starter, or a side dish.

Mushroom Risotto

Mushroom Risotto

Mushroom Risotto

Ingredients

1 litre Vegetable Stock 2 tbsp Olive Oil 1 Onion, finely chopped 2 Garlic cloves, finely chopped 250g Mushrooms of your choice 300g Risotto rice such as Arborio 175ml White wine 25g Butter 50g Parmesan cheese, grated Handful parsley leaves, chopped

Method

Heat the oil in a shallow saucepan, or deep frying pan, over a medium flame. Add the onions and garlic, then fry for about 5 minutes until soft. Stir in the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and continue to cook for 8 minutes until the mushrooms have softened. Tip the rice into the pan and cook for 1 minute. Pour over the wine and let it boil, so the alcohol evaporates. Keep the pan over a medium heat and pour in a quarter of the stock. Simmer the rice, stirring often, until the rice has absorbed all the liquid. Add about the same amount of stock once again and continue to simmer and stir – it should start to become creamy, plump and tender. By the time the final quarter of stock is added, the rice should be almost cooked. Continue stirring until the rice is cooked. If the rice is still undercooked, add some water. Take the pan off the heat, add the butter and scatter over the cheese and half the parsley. Cover and leave for a few minutes so that the rice can take up any excess liquid as it cools a bit. Give the risotto a final stir, spoon into bowls and scatter with the remaining parsley. Serves 6 All the best till next month Tersia Fouché

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