Rangers Report November 2014

This was one of the best months, full of laughter, entertainment and loads of excitement. We were really on the edges of our seats at times, as the bush and all of its inhabitants did not stop to amaze us with everything they did. Finally the long wait is over as the bush suddenly came alive with newborn impalas, zebras and warthogs. We are still awaiting the wildebeest calves, but it won’t be too long before we see the first one. We also welcomed back our noisy friends, the woodland kingfishers, with their well known krit-trrrrrrrr sound. The veld is looking gorgeous and the burnt areas have really recovered well,as the ground floor is covered with bright green grass. Some of the trees that were damaged during the fire have also recovered well, as they have a lot of new green leaves.We had awesome sightings of general game and buffaloes that couldn’t get enough of the new green grass. We are not yet going off-road onto the burnt areas,because we want it to fully recover before we drive on it. We had some really hot days during the past month that pushed up well into the high thirties. With the high temperatures, we experienced days with very high humidity as well. We also had some incredible lightning storms with 47mm of rain. The average maximum temperature was 30°C. All the lovely rain gave new life and hope to some of the smaller creatures. Some of the wetland areas have a little bit of water in them and that makes the perfect place for frogs to mate and lay their eggs. Luck was on our side again this month as we had some great wild dog and cheetah sightings as well.

Female cheetah by Morné Fouché

Female cheetah by Morné Fouché

Leopards

The leopard sightings were just great! They were out and about, causing a lot of excitement for us and guest alike. Salayexe, our no. 1 lady has cubs once again and we know that her den is very close to our lodge. It is still early days, so we can’t say for sure how many cubs she’s got, but we saw that she’s got suckle marks. We went back to our sightings archives to see who the father might be and to our surprise the father seems to be Anderson. He mated with Salayexe on the 30th of July 2014. If you go and count 100-110 days from the 30th of July it corresponds to the time when we first saw suckle marks on her. She also mated with Tingana on the 16th of July,but it can’t be his cubs. We can’t wait to see the little bundles of joy for the first time when Salayexe brings them out to explore. We can only wonder if this will be the litter that will survive… Salayexe has had very bad luck when it comes to raising cubs. Kurula was very low on the radar and we did not see her often. Thandi is looking great and her cubs are doing great. They are very relaxed with the vehicles moving around them. Shadow on the other hand is the total opposite of her twin sister, Thandi. She was hiding a lot, so we did not get to see the cubs very often. Shadow likes to hide more in the thickets and she likes to moves the cubs around on a regular basis, to avoid getting any unwanted visitors. Kwatile is looking great at the moment and was seen moving around. Her young male cub is getting big now and is much more relaxed than a few months ago. Kwatile and Thandi were seen having a stand-off the one evening. This was bound to happen as their territories are right next to each other. To make matters worse, they are the same age, but Kwatile is a little bigger in size than what Thandi is. It will be interesting to know what will happen in the near future as both ladies are looking to expand their areas. Moya’s independent young male cub is looking fabulous and he is getting more relaxed with the vehicles. He has grown a lot in confidence, but is still small in size. Although this little legend eats very well every week or so, he can’t seem to pick up a lot of weight. Kurula’s two boys were seen a few times while moving around by themselves. It looks like she has broken all bonds with them. Nowdifficult times lie ahead when these young males have to look after themselves and try to stay alive. Bahuti is growing into a great leopard, still moving around in his father’s territory, but for how long we will have to wait and see. We had a surprise visit from Xivambalana and what a treat it was to see him. He is looking stunning and he grew up a lot since we last saw him. By the looks of things,this young male is still going to get bigger and stronger in the near future. Lamula was not seen a lot this month. He is spending a lot of his time south of our southern boundary. This was no surprise to us as Lamula was pressurized by both Anderson and Tingana, who’s also expanding and pushing Lamula more south. Surprisingly Anderson was truly like a ghost this month and he kept a very low profile. We got word that Anderson is also going further and further south, expanding his territory there. This might be why we did not see him more regularly.Tingana is looking great as always and he is spending a lot of his time in the western part of Mvula’s territory. It looks like Tingana is taunting Mvula at this stage, moving around and scent marking as he goes along. Mvula is still a magnificent animal and still a force to be reckoned with. Although he is getting older, he will still not back down from a fight.

Lions

Dwarf mongoose

Dwarf mongoose

Lion sightings were unbelievable this month, as we saw lions almost every day. With all the lions that moved through the area, we could clearly see that there were some changes happening with all the prides and coalitions. The name on everyone’s lips this month was definitely the Birmingham males. These young males have really caused a big uproar in the northern Sabi Sand Wildtuin when they moved into our area. These young guns are looking great and they are full of confidence, killing four young buffaloes in just three days. Even the elephants would be running when these young males come down the road. They are scent marking all over and to make everything even more interesting, they are roaring their territorial call. Birmingham is the name to be remembered, as it looks like these young males are here to stay. Who knows? Maybe they will be the next dominant coalition in the Sabi Sand Wildtuin. The Breakaway pride is in really good shape and looking very healthy. The four adult females are great hunters, so the cubs are eating well and growing up very fast. The young sub adult male cubs are looking great with their facial hair that is coming through. We can clearly see that one of the young males will have a very dark mane when he grows up, as the dark hair is already pushing through the blond hair. We had a few great sightings of the Nkuhuma pride, moving in and out of the area. We have been seeing more and more of the Nkuhuma pride these last few months, as they are moving further south than normal. After the Styx pride moved further south a few months ago, the Nkuhuma pride and the Talamati pride started moving into the Styx pride’s territory. We were also very fortunate to see the Talamati pride for the first time. The Talamati pride looks like a very strong pride and they are also very healthy. The two Matimba males are also looking great as always. These two big boys are spending a lot of their time with the Nkuhuma pride. The Nkuhuma females are really good buffalo hunters, so this might be the reason why they are sticking with this pride. The Majingi males are in fantastic shape and still looking majestically when they walk down the road. Both the Majingi and Matimba males need to be very wary of the new kids on the block that have their sights set on this area.

Buffaloes

Impala baby by Morné Fouché

Impala baby by Morné Fouché

This month it was buffaloes around every corner!We had a very big herd of about two hundred buffaloes moving through our area. The big herds just love the new growth on the burnt areas and we have seen the herds moving around our area for most of the month. These herds had a lot to do with the fact that we saw so many lions,as they were trailing them. With all this new growth, the buffaloes don’t have to move very far to find food and water. There are still some of the old buffalo cows that are still a bit skinny, but the rest of the younger animals are looking great and healthy. We also saw a few younger males hanging around some of the water holes. There were a few old dagga boys out and about as usual and we also had a few males that were hanging around our lodge. Our guests were spoiled with buffaloes on the open area, just lazing around in the water during the hot days.

Elephant

Kudu males by Morné Fouché

Kudu males by Morné Fouché

November was exceptionally good as far as elephant sightings go. We had a few stunning breeding herds of elephants, which moved around in our traversing area. There was one of the herds that went for a swim in one of the big waterholes to break the heat and to cool down. There were also a few little ones that did not want to get out of the water when the rest of the herd was ready to move on. One of the females was very vocal and caused a chain reaction through the rest of the adult females. Only then did the little ones get out of the water. It is fascinating to watch a herd of elephants feeding and socializing. The elephant is a very social animal and a close knit family. There is so much food around at the moment that the big herds have split up into smaller units again. We had a few big males that came through and moved between the female groups. Two of the males we saw were huge, with big tusks. It is always such a pleasure to see these big tuskers in the flesh and not only on a picture in a coffee table book.

Special sighting

How great it was to see the five young Birmingham male lions hunting and scent marking around our area. These 5 young beasts are big for their age and they will be a force to be reckoned with in the near future. If they manage to stay together for the next year or so, they might be the rulers of the northern part of the Sabi Sand Wildtuin.

Did you know?

The lappet-faced vultureis the biggest vulture you get in South Africa.

I hope you enjoyed this month’s report, see you out on game drive soon!

Morné Fouché

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Manager’s Report November 2014

Wild Photo of the Month

by Gerd and Marlies, Munich, Germany

by Gerd and Marlies, Munich, Germany

Have you ever looked out of the window and thought, wow, the beauty of nature is breathtaking! I’ve experienced this feeling rather often the past couple of days, as the bush exploded into a landscape of lush green trees and fast growing grass. This all happened just after we received our first downpour for the rainy season. We had some wonderful rainy days this month, which we welcomed with open arms due to the extremely hot, humid days we experienced. Each day, after the rain, you can fill your lungs with fresh, African bush air. Pure bliss!

Grass notch on an elephant tusk by Morné Fouché

Grass notch on an elephant tusk by Morné Fouché

With all the rain, also comes some still standing water. As most of you know, mosquitoes breed around these puddles as they prefer moist, humid areas to lay their eggs. To protect our guests from mosquito bites, we provide insect repellent and all our rooms also have mosquito nets. Although we are in a low risk malaria area and not all mosquitoes carry the malaria virus, it is important to be sure that there are as little as possible mosquitoes around. Each year, the Department of Health sends out a team to spray lodges in our area against mosquitoes. This dedicated team paid us a visit this month and we are truly grateful of their services, helping us keep our guests and staff protected against itchy mosquito bites. Our maintenance team also does a great job, spraying drains and any confined spaces regularly to prevent any mosquitoes from multiplying.

Talamati pride lioness quenching her thirst by Morné Fouché

Talamati pride lioness quenching her thirst by Morné Fouché

Last month, I hinted that we were planning to revamp the dining room. Although we are still busy with some changes, it already looks totally different.

With a bit of paint and a new layer of stain on the tables, our dining room is taking on a true restaurant ambiance. Soon, the new chairs will also be ready and I am sure our guest will enjoy this stylish new look.

We will shortly also change over to a new menu with exciting dishes to complete the transformation. Thank you to each and every one who helped with this amazing project.

Trapcam photo

Trapcam photo

What a nice surprise it was when we discovered a hyena den on our property at the beginning of this month. We took the opportunity to place the trapcam at the den, hoping we could capture some interesting hyena activities. The clan occupying the den consists of seven youngsters, of which three are still tiny pups, ten adult females and one male. With all these hyenas, there is off course a lot of movement around the den. We had to carefully manoeuvre a vehicle very close to a tree to set up the camera without disturbing any of the clan members. Our trusty trapcam was working in overdrive during the few days we had the camera on the tree and managed to take thousands of pictures!The camera is extremely sensitive to movement and each and every picture shows either one or more of the clan members moving around, playing or sleeping close to the den entrance. It is quite special to see their daily routines and how protective they are of the pups, never allowing them to move more than a few feet away from the den entrance. Should one of the pups stray off, one of the females will quickly pick them up and take them back to where they belong.

This month we had only two birthdays at the lodge. Feitah celebrated her birthday on the 23rd. Feitah is currently on maternity leave, but I am sure she had a wonderful day. Lanette, our spa therapist, celebrated her birthday on the 25th. Lanette does not only pamper guest in the spa with relaxing treatments, she also helps out all around the lodge. Happy birthday ladies, I am sure there will be many more to come! To all our readers who celebrated their birthdays during November, we hope you also had a fantastic day, filled with happiness and laughter!

Have you ever had a mouth-watering piece of cheesecake at a coffee shop and wished you could bake one in the comfort of your own kitchen? Well, this month, Chef Linda shares an easy recipe to bake a yummy cheesecake yourself!

As our next report will only go out in January, I would like to wish each and every one a Merry Christmas and more than the best for the year to come! I hope 2015 will be a year full of love, laughter and loads of exciting surprises!

All the best till next year!
Tersia Fouché

Red Velvet cheesecake

Red Velvet cheesecake

Red Velvet cheesecake

(Serves 8)

440g Cream Cheese
1/2 cup Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla Essence
2 Eggs
80g Milk Chocolate
1 tbsp Red Coloring
1 box Oreo Cookies
2tbsp Melted Butter

Preheat the oven to 160?C. Grease a spring form cake tin. Finely crush the Oreos, mix with the butter and press into the cake tin. Allow to set in the fridge.

Beat the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until well blended. Add the eggs one at a time to the mixture until just incorporated. Measure 1 cup of the mixture out, then mix with the melted chocolate and red food coloring. Pour that into the base, and then carefully top with the white mixture. Bake for 40mins or until the center is just set, then allow to cool down. Refrigerate for about 3 hours.

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Rangers Report November 2013

There is not a pale piece of grass in sight as the bush is very lush; green and dense as far as the eye can see! November is one of the best months for us, as this is the time of year when we welcome the majority of all the new babies. The very first juvenile impalas, warthogs and wildebeest were born a little later than last year, but with the arrival of all these babies the bush feels more alive than ever! These little ones keep us entertained by running and jumping all over the show. With the wonderful rain and the warmer temperatures, we also welcomed the return of the Woodland Kingfishers. Game viewing was just brilliant this month and we also had awesome night time animal sightings like porcupine, bush baby, genet, civet and white tailed mongoose, just to name a few. Another surprise this month was the cheetah sightings we had. It was really amazing to spend time with them! For November, we had 53mm rain and the average maximum temperature was 30°C.

Female cheetah and cub by Louis Liversage

Female cheetah and cub by Louis Liversage

Leopard

We are so fortunate and spoiled with the leopard sightings in our area. The leopard that stole the limelight this month was Shadow, the female. She was also making life very difficult because she went into hiding a lot, but for good reason on her part. The one afternoon drive she was seen drinking water at one of the waterholes in her territory and after quenching her thirst she rested in the shade of a nearby tree. The rangers noticed that she was very skinny and that her milk glands were swollen a lot. On closer inspection with binoculars they could see that she had suckle marks, so somewhere safe in a den is a few bundles of fluff. We don’t know where the den is, or how many cubs she’s got as she will keep them hidden for the next two months. We are keeping our fingers crossed that everything goes well with the little ones and that Shadow will raise them to adulthood. Salayexe is moving around a lot while scent marking all over her territory. She is also expanding her area a little bit. She is still looking very good and we all hope that she is pregnant. We also had some awesome sightings of Thandi and her male cub, Bahuti, who is so relaxed with the vehicles around him. He is such a lovely leopard to watch and he can keep you entertained for hours as he stalks everything that moves on land and in the water. Lamula was very active this month as we saw him quite a few times patrolling his borders and marking his territory. There is also a young, but smaller male leopard in his territory, but it doesn’t look as if this bothers him too much. Anderson, the male leopard, is also expanding his territory and by doing that he is expanding into both Tingana and Lamula’s territories. Tingana has got his hands full with Anderson on the one side and Lamula on the other side. The last thing that we need now is another male taking over from Tingana, as there are new cubs and more on the way that will be killed by any new male. Mvula is also expanding his territory from the east more west into Lamula and Tingana’s areas and he is still a big force to be reckoned with.

Nkuhuma male lion by Louis Liversage

Nkuhuma male lion by Louis Liversage

Lion

We had some very nice lion sightings this month! We saw a lot of the Styx pride, joined by the Nkuhuma male from time to time. During the last fight between the Nkuhuma male and the sub adult males of the Styx pride, one of the young males sustained an injury on his right front leg. You can see the puncture wounds that were made by the canines of the Nkuhuma male. Luckily the leg is not broken as he still puts pressure on it when he walks. Although it is swollen quite badly, I am sure it would heal. This just shows you that the Nkuhuma male means business and that he wants to take over the Styx pride. When two male lions fight, they will try to immobilize their opponent and the only way of doing this is to bite the legs and joints, or to get hold of the spine. One of the older lionesses in the pride also gave birth around the 15th of this month as she was seen with suckle marks. Now there is a twist in this fairytale as to who the father is… She mated with one of the Matimba males and also with the Nkuhuma male. Luckily we all know that the cubs are safe with the Matimba and Nkuhuma males, as both think it is their cubs. We haven’t seen any of the Tsalala or Breakaway prides this month, but we heard that the tailless female of the Tsalala pride has new cubs. We can’t wait for them to come to our area and show them off. The Majingi male lions were nowhere to be seen this month and all we had was a few distant calls echoing through the night. What a beautiful sound that is!

Buffalo bull by Morné Fouché

Buffalo bull by Morné Fouché

Buffalo

This month we had a breeding herd with many small calves that moved through our area and for the majority of the females, the 11 month pregnancy is now over. Now that the bush is so green and there is enough food and water for a few big herds, the buffaloes will stay in a certain area longer than when there is not an abundance of food. We still keep our fingers crossed that they will also bless us with their presence next month. All the bachelors that we had wandering around the last few months have now moved on, surely back to the big breeding herds. Our trusted old Dagga boys are still around, always close to a waterhole or mud wallow to keep them cool in the harsh African sun.

Male giraffe by Morné Fouché

Male giraffe by Morné Fouché

Elephant

This month we had some scattered elephant sightings all over the reserve, as the majority of the breeding herds have moved more east, out of our traversing area. The sightings that we had were still really good with medium and small breeding herds. We were once again spoiled with the presence of a big male or two that moved around in our area. We also had a female group that suddenly became very vocal while their temporal glands on the side of their heads became wet. At that time it was unclear why they were so unhappy, until the branches started breaking! A young male elephant came bursting out of the thickets, with a big female hot in pursuit. Females will do that to let the young males know when they’ve overstayed their welcome. It was time for this young bull to leave the herd. One thing that is very noticeable during game drive is that the destruction on the trees is a lot less than in previous months.

Special sighting

The special sighting was to see a big male leopard and a hyena chasing the same baby impala, but from different angles. These two heavyweights did not know that they were stalking the same juvenile impala. With a burst of speed the leopard was off and so was the hyena. As both came around the corner the leopard saw the hyena and turned to the opposite direction. In the end the hyena walked away with the prize, as he had the stamina to outrun his prey. The leopard lived to hunt another day.

Did you know?

A bush baby is able to cover a distance of 10m in less than 5 seconds.

I hope you enjoyed this month’s report. See you out on game drive soon!

Morné Fouché

 

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Manager’s Report November 2013

Wild Photo of the Month

by Jacqueline and Ronald Boeve, Netherlands

by Jacqueline and Ronald Boeve, Netherlands

Wow! What happened to the year? At first we were counting down the days till we would receive our first cold winter spell. Then before you know it, the winter season has come and gone at lightning speed. Now summer is in full swing! You need to come and see for yourself how beautiful the area looks after all the rains we have received. Every day now you can see the vegetation becoming denser. Everything is brilliantly green, with bright flowers starting to bloom on some of the trees. With summertime, all the babies arrive. It seems to happen overnight! Most of the impala, zebra, giraffe, wildebeest and warthogs have little ones running around with them. All the attention seems to be set on the herbivores and their young. One can just drive a few hundred meters from camp and be entertained for hours on end. I was on drive again for a few days this past month and as always it was brilliant to be driving and to see all the new animals. To see baby animals take their first stand, or run for the first time is priceless. The funniest is to see a red billed oxpecker land on a baby herbivore for the first time – they get such a fright that they take off like a rocket! They have no idea yet why this feathered animal would land on their head and that it is actually a friend, only wanting to help rid them from all the parasites. The one morning drive my guests and I were almost lucky enough to see an impala giving birth, but she slowly walked into the tree line and disappeared to give birth in privacy. Some of our rangers were luckier, though. They saw a zebra giving birth on our open area in front of the lodge! Guests sometimes think that we see such amazing sightings every day. Well, we do get to see amazing sightings, but some of these sightings, like a zebra giving birth, we might only get to see once a year, or sometimes once in our lifetime. Most of the time it’s about being lucky enough to be at the right place at the right time. What a privilege.

Hyena cub by Morné Fouché

Hyena cub by Morné Fouché

Once a year we have a lady that comes and inspects the lodge. You might ask who and why? Well, Lisa Dunn is from the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa and her task is to come and check that our service and facilities are all up to standard and to find out what our plans for the new year might be. As most of you would know, Elephant Plains Game Lodge is a four star game lodge. I am proud to say that she did a thorough inspection of the lodge, from top to bottom and was very happy with what she saw. She mentioned that the lodge was very well kept and that the gardens were also looking great. There is a lot of planning and hard work that goes into the upkeep of a lodge, but we always do our best and it really makes you proud when someone notices this hard work. We are excited about a few minor changes that we are planning to make during next year. You will need to come and see for yourself what these changes are!

Trapcam photo - Juvenile baboon

Trapcam photo – Juvenile baboon

 

We will be seeing a new face around the lodge next month. Lanette van den Merwe has been appointed as our new Spa therapist, as we will be saying goodbye to Eve Viet. Eve has decided to go and work on a yacht out at sea and to travel the world. We wish her all the best with her new adventure! Lanette is from Johannesburg, but she wants to place her roots back into the African bush, where she loves to work and we are sure that she will learn to love Elephant Plains as much as we all do. We have also said goodbye to Marlé Erasmus who has decided to go back to Nelspruit where she can work closer to her family and friends. We are still looking for a lady to replace her and hopefully by next month we would have found the right person to take on the position for relief receptionist and accounting.

Female elephant and baby by Louis Liversage

Female elephant and baby by Louis Liversage

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 only one staff member who celebrated her birthday this month. Feitah Mathebula has been working at Elephant Plains for the past nine years. She started as a cleaner, who then later took on the role of looking after Etienne Jnr. Now that he is all grown up, she is babysitting Martin. With her kind soul and big smile, she is helping to raise the kids at EP. We hope you had a wonderful day. May there be many more!

This month we placed the snap cam at Rampan. We got a nice photo of two small baboons in a tree and a hippo in the water.

I now hand you over to our Head Chef, Linda Van Heerden for her mouth watering recipe of the month. It is a Cranberry and Pecan Nut salad, ideal for those hot summer days under the African sun.

Cranberry and Pecan Nut Salad

(serves 6 side servings)

Cranberry and Pecan Nut Salad

Cranberry and Pecan Nut Salad

Ingredients

  • 3 cups mixed lettuce
  • 1 ½ cups dried cranberries
  • 1 ½ cups pecan nuts
  • 2 cups orange juice

Wholegrain Mustard Dressing

  • 3 tbsp Wholegrain Mustard
  • 6 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp White Vinegar

Method

Bring the orange juice to the boil and pour over the cranberries. Set aside to cool down. Cut the pecan nuts into threes. Arrange the lettuce onto a platter. Then sprinkle the rehydrated cranberries and pecan nuts over this. Make the dressing by mixing the wholegrain mustard, olive oil and vinegar. Pour over the salad. Serve and enjoy!

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

Wayne Dovey

 

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Manager’s Report July 2013

Wild Photo of the Month

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

Manager’s Report July 2013

With the longest night and the shortest day that passed in June already, we now ever so slowly lean towards springtime. With it comes the “four seasons in one day” with some mornings being misty and rainy, followed by strong winds. The moment the sun comes out from behind the clouds it is pleasantly warm, until late in the afternoons when the cold sets in yet again. But as each day moves into the next, the smile on my face broadens as we are clearly nearing spring and following that, summertime. Spring just makes the earth seem brand new; with new grass, leaves and newborn animals all around. In my opinion spring should be our New Year, as it symbolises a fresh, new start and the beginning of new life. The one benefit of winter is that the vegetation is flat and brittle, making life easier for the rangers and trackers, having to spot animals far off into the bush. Sightings wise, this month was off the records, as guests got to see lions on a few different kills, mating lions and mating leopards. They even saw leopards making kills while in the process of mating. But Morné can share more about this in his report. We had a lot of return guests this month, joining us for a second, third or even fourth time. We would like to thank you for supporting the lodge time and again. We hope that we will still see a lot more of you in the near future!

Tingana by Dawie Jacobs

With the rainy season approaching, we brought in Patrick the TLB driver. He is fantastic at operating his machine. I am sure that if you were to ask him to do back flips with it, he would surely oblige! With most of the roads still in a good condition and only a few needed some TLC from the TLB. We cleaned out some of the mitre drains alongside the roads, repaired some of the humps and also filled some sections of road that had washed away. For six days we pushed as hard as we could to get everything done and then it started to rain, a whole 11 mm of soft winter rain. The next day I had a big smile on my face as I could take out the tractor and thumper to compact the sections of road that we had filled. Usually we need to take the water bowser to spray the roads first, but because Mother Nature had sorted that part out the previous day, so it wasn’t necessary. All the roads are now looking great. Bring on the rainy season, our roads are ready! We also got the TLB to also do a small amount of work on the waterhole in front of the Africam. We did not make the waterhole bigger, but just removed some of the soil that washed into it after the floods we had last year. We worked on the southern and eastern sides. Because the flood water moved over the entire waterhole, all the soil settled inside, leaving little space for actual water and causing it to dry up quickly. During this time of the year we have a lot of thirsty elephants that can quickly drain the entire waterhole in one go. The work that was done should ensure that more animals can utilize this precious source of water.

Trapcam photo – Elephants at Leeukuil

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 actually had a double barrel birthday on the 24th, being Linda and Dawie’s combined birthday. Linda, who I am sure you will recognise from all her monthly recipes, is our Head Chef. She is responsible for overseeing all the lovely meals at lodge. Dawie started at Elephant Plains as a junior ranger for two years. For the past eight months he has been thriving as a fulltime ranger. He is doing a fantastic job as ranger and one can clearly see the passion he has for the African bush. I hope you all had great birthdays, filled with lots of laughter and fun.

Salayexe – by Louis Liversage

Marlet Swart wrote: “As it is a bit awkward for Wayne to congratulate himself on his birthday this month, I would like to add a big congratulations from all of us at EP! Wayne joined us in 2005. He worked himself up through the ranks from Ranger to Head Ranger and in 2011 we appointed him as General Manager. Wayne is one of the most hardworking guys I know. You will always find him walking through the lodge, checking up on this or that, or otherwise, fiddling with maintenance himself. No job is below him and through his work ethic and commitment to the lodge he has won a deep-earned respect and love from all his work colleagues. I daresay that he loves the lodge as much as Etienne and I do. We wish him a wonderful year. May he celebrate many more birthdays with us!”.

We have some more good news to share this month. Louis and Janine got engaged! As you know, Louis is one of our rangers and Janine is the friendly face you will see at reception. We would like to congratulate them on this great news and wish them the best for a very bright and happy future together.

Over the past few months we have been getting some great pictures of animals on the trap cam. As mentioned in last month’s report, the animals are now using the larger waterholes more often as most of the smaller pans have dried up. This leaves the larger waterholes with more traffic around them during the early mornings and late afternoons, allowing us to capture some great pictures of animals coming to quench their thirst. We get photos of a large selection of general game and this month I chose a photo of a herd of elephants, with their reflection in the water.

I now hand you over to our Head Chef Linda van Heerden, for the delicious recipe of the month. This month’s recipe is a traditional, sweet old favourite for South Africans.

Monthly Recipe – Milk Tart

(Makes 12 portions)

Monthly Recipe – Milk Tart

Crust

  • ½ cup Flour
  • ½ cup Sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 cups Flour
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder
  • Salt to taste

Filling

  • 4 Eggs, separated
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 3 tsp Cake Flour, heaped
  • 3 tsp Corn Flour, heaped
  • 1 cup Milk
  • 1 tsp Butter
  • 3 cups Milk
  • 5ml Vanilla Essence

Crust

Cream the butter and the sugar together until the sugar is incorporated. Add the eggs and beat well. Mix the flour, baking powder and salt. Add this to the butter mix and beat until the dough comes together. Press into a well greased baking dish. Bake for approximately 2 minutes before resting it.

Filling

Heat the 750ml milk together with the butter and vanilla essence. Mix the corn flour and cake flour with the remaining milk. Mix the egg yolk and the sugar together. Once the milk is heated, mix the flour mixture into it. Then slowly add the warm mixture into the egg yolks, making sure not to curdle the eggs. Put the milk mixture back onto the stove, and bring to the boil, whisking continuously. The mixture will become thick. Remove from the heat and whisk the egg white to soft peaks. Gently fold this into the warm custard. Pour into the crust and bake at 160C for 30minutes. It will brown slightly on top and be a little wobbly in the middle. Remove to the fridge to set for 4 hours. Decorate with strawberries and sugar work.

Serve and enjoy!

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

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