Rangers Report October 2014

Summer has officially arrived and we welcomed more birds of prey and other migrants. We also saw our first dung beetles rolling their dung balls down the road, sometimes even fighting over a pile of dung. Our first rain arrived when a massive thunder storm with strong winds came raging through the area. The wind was so strong that it even uprooted some big trees with ease. The average maximum temperature for October was 27°C, with 44mm of rain. The area that burned last month seems to be covered with a bright green blanket, as the new grass shoots are pushing through. The animals can’t get enough of this new green grass and it came just at the right time, as the majority of the herbivores are pregnant. Game viewing was just awesome and we can’t complain about what was seen this month. We were so lucky to see two different packs of wild dogs that moved around in our traversing area. The pack of wild dogs that had their den here also came into the area a few times, causing havoc. The six pups are growing up very fast and it makes me so happy to see them being relaxed with the vehicles. They would play around the vehicles, sniffing the tires and sometimes even crawl under the vehicles for a bit of shade.

 Mvula by Louis Liversage


Mvula by Louis Liversage

Leopards

Our leopard sightings were brilliant, full of excitement and crazy at times. Salayexe, our lovely lady, was very elusive this month, but we did see loads of her tracks all over. She is still expanding her territory into Moya’s and Nsele’s territories. The reason for this new territorial development might be due to the arrival of a new litter of cubs. We will have to keep close tabs on her to see how this story unfolds. Shadow was all over the show and she was seen more often than during last month, which was great. Her two cubs are just too sweet and adorable. One of the cubs is more relaxed with the vehicles than its sibling. This is quite common – one will be very adventurous and the other one very shy. In Shadow’s case, she was the shy and grumpy one while Thandi, her sister, was the adventurous one. With all the cubs, the habituation process is well underway to try and get them as relaxed as possible with the vehicles. Thandi was also seen a lot this past month and she is also looking great and in good shape. Thandi’s two little ones are doing really well and they are getting more relaxed with the vehicles. The cubs are big enough to move around with mom and she now takes them to kills. She will also move their location on a regular basis, to prevent any predators locating her cubs. Kwatile surprised us all when she was seen mating with Mvula and then the next day with Tingana. After she finished mating with these two big males, she went back to her cub and made a kill for him to eat. This shows that time is running out for him before he has to face the African wilderness on his own. Nsele and her two cubs were also seen this month, but not as often as we would like. Nsele’s cubs are still a bit shy, but already much better than when we first saw them. If you keep your distance, they will relax more and come a bit closer, or even move more into the open. The core of Nsele’s territory is to the west of our traversing and because it is private land they do not come into contact with a lot of vehicles. Inkanyeni and her cubs were also seen. This was a welcome treat as she does not come into our area very often. Lamula was a bit under the radar, which is understandable because of the pressure that he gets from Anderson and Tingana. Anderson is looking fantastic and being in the prime of his life, he is a formidable force to reckon with. He has grown a lot in size, but more in confidence and he is much more relaxed with the vehicles than in previous months. Tingana is still his old self as he is always on the move, patrolling his territory while looking for intruders. Tingana is also in excellent condition and in the prime of his life. It will be very interesting to see who will be the top dog between him and Anderson. Mvula was seen quite a few times and once again he ensured that we got wonderful sightings and some stunning pictures.

Lions

Nkuhuma male lion by Morné Fouché

Nkuhuma male lion by Morné Fouché

The lion sightings were exceptionally good this month. We were really spoiled with the Breakaway pride, as they spend a lot of their time in our area. These four ladies are phenomenal hunters and excellent mothers to their cubs. It is just incredible to see that all nine cubs are still alive and well. I can’t wait for the six sub-adult females to join in during the hunts, as this would be a wonderful asset to the pride. The three young “Mohawk” males are looking awesome with small beards on their chests and chins. Unfortunately for them, their fate was sealed the day they were born. One day these three musketeers will have to leave their family and start looking after themselves. The Majingilane male lions also paid us a visit, when they accompanied the Breakaway pride as usual. These four males are still in their prime and it feels like yesterday when they came into the area and defeated the two Mapogo’s. It would be great if they could hold on to their territory for another two years, as this would give their cubs a better chance of survival. As we all know too well, there are always changes unfolding in the African bush, so this will be no exception. Two big male lions of the Matimba coalition were found deep inside the Majingilane territory, feasting on a hippo that was killed by the Breakaway pride. I have never seen them this far west and they looked so full of confidence. To make matters more interesting, these two big boys were scent marking the area. As we sat there watching and enjoying this wonderful sighting, they started calling right next to the vehicle. What an amazing sound to hear! These two big males are really taking expanding-their-territory to a whole new level. They are really looking great and in good condition, but to take on four big males on their own turf can be a dangerous game. We were also spoiled seeing the Nkuhuma pride a few times this month and the one day they were feasting on a big buffalo bull kill. We also saw the Nkuhuma male lion on a different buffalo kill for four days. The Nkuhuma male is looking good and he is really doing well for himself. I did not expect him to be in such good shape at the moment. He has loads of scars on his back and face, which shows that he had a few fights. He is a warrior in the making.

Buffaloes

Millipede and scorpion by Louis Liversage

Millipede and scorpion by Louis Liversage

The buffalo sightings are just getting better and better. We had some nice, large herds that moved through our area in search of food and water. The one day we had two different herds of between three and four hundred buffaloes in our traversing area simultaneously. Being bulk grazers, they are spending a lot of their time on the burned sections with the new green shoots. The only downside to this is that such a big herd also tramples the new green shoots. We did not see the big bachelor herds this month, but we did see smaller units instead. We also saw some young and dominant males moving around the watering holes, but the rest might have rejoined the herds that moved through. These young guns are seriously putting on some weight, as it is almost time for them to fight for mating rights. We also saw a lot of old boys, rolling in the mud wallows that were filled by the recent rains.

Elephants

Spotted hyena by Jonathan Vogel

Spotted hyena by Jonathan Vogel

We were fortunate to have great elephant sightings. We had three massive tuskers that moved around in the area, causing havoc as they moved along. We followed one of the big males around for the entire drive and he uprooted close to six trees that morning! A big male on the trail of a breeding herd containing females in oestrous, will try anything to impress the ladies. When another big male shows up on the scene, these two males might end up fighting over the females. We also had wonderful sightings of the females and their youngsters. Elephants don’t have a specific mating season, but they choose to have babies more during the rainy season, when food is plentiful. Being at the start of the rainy season we are seeing lots of small babies, estimated at only a week or two old. It is so wonderful to see how protective the whole herd is over these small bundles of joy. It is amazing to watch how gentle these giants can be, not stepping on their babies while they are sleeping under their mothers, or standing behind them.

Special Sighting

The special sighting this month was when we saw Shadow’s small cubs for the first time. Shadow also had a kill which was a bonus, as this kept the two babies from running away. One of the youngsters is quite relaxed, but the other one still needs a bit of habituation. Shadow, on the other hand, is much more relaxed these days than before she gave birth.

Did you know?

The grey duiker is the only antelope that sometimes eats meat.

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

Morné Fouché

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Manager’s Report October 2014

Wild Photo of the Month

by Gerd and Marlies, Munich, Germany

by Gerd and Marlies, Munich, Germany

As we sweep the 10th month of 2014 out of the door, just two months are left until we celebrate a brand new year. I can hardly believe that 2015 is just around the corner! I am happy to report that the bush is slowly, but surely recovering after the fire. The rain we received during October was a huge blessing and it is amazing to watch the barren, black areas turning into a sea of green. We still have to be patient and give the areas time to completely recover before going off-road with our vehicles, but luckily the extra traversing areas we have at the moment more than makes up for this. Thanks again to all the landowners involved in this initiative. With your help we could make sure that the fire did not have a negative impact on the game viewing experience of our guests. If you would like to treat yourself to a safari, be sure to contact our reservations office. You might be able to snatch up some last minute availability, before the festive season rush!

Buffalo bulls by Louis Liversage

Buffalo bulls by Louis Liversage

Now that we had our first rains after the winter, our maintenance team has been spending some time on the roads. In order to keep them in a good condition, we have to give special attention to roads where erosion is prone to take place during the rainy season. After a few loads of gravel and general maintenance, such as opening up mitre drains, the roads are once again in a good condition and ready for the rest of the rainy season. Those of you who have visited the lodge before would remember the bumps in the road, leading to the lodge. These are not speed bumps, but act as barriers to prevent water flowing down the road, washing away the top soil, which in turn causes erosion. With these bumps in place the water runs up against them, redirecting it into the bush, away from the road.

Majingi male lion on a buffalo kill by Jonathan Vogel

Majingi male lion on a buffalo kill by Jonathan Vogel

As most of you know, our rangers are very involved with everything happening around the lodge. Whether it is game drives, bushwalks, admin, assisting with luggage or doing bush clearing, they are always part of the action. As they work on a six weeks on, two weeks off leave cycle, most of them do two game drives a day for at least 50 days in a row! In order to give them a gap every now and again, we have decided to appoint another ranger to the team. So therefore we welcomed a new face to the lodge this month. Stefan Kruger joined our team on the 25th as the newest addition to our ranger team. Stefan entered the hospitality industry in 2005 and has been guiding since 2006. Welcome to the EP family, Stefan. Your bubbly personality made you fit in from day one and I am sure you will have many more joyful days with us in the bush!

Trapcam photo - group of buffaloes

Trapcam photo – group of buffaloes

This month we had an enormous group of buffaloes moving through our area. With the Trapcam up at Bushcamp, we were able to get a picture of some individuals of the herd moving past. There were many females with young calves, as well as some older females and a few big strong males.

We had three staff birthdays at the lodge this month. A big happy birthday goes out to Tannie Margie, who celebrated her birthday on the 6th of this month. On the 8th Khanisile celebrated her birthday. Khani is the short, friendly waiter that keeps our guests entertained with her friendly smile during meals. The 10th day of the 10th month was a very special day for Hendrik, who celebrated his birthday on this day. Hendrik is our own DIY maintenance man, keeping the lodge and surrounds in tip top condition. I do hope that you got spoiled on the day and that you would celebrate many more joyful birthdays at Elephant Plains. To all our readers who celebrated their birthdays during October, we hope you also had a fantastic day, filled with happiness and laughter!

As we are getting closer to the festive season, some of you might be planning some mouth watering dishes to spoil your guests with. This month, Chef Linda is sharing her Braised Oxtail recipe. If you are still unsure what to serve for Christmas dinner and prefer not to spend the entire day in the kitchen, preparing a traditional meal, you might want to consider this easy and delicious meat option.

Braised Oxtail (serves 6)

Braised Oxtail (serves 6)

Braised Oxtail (serves 6)

Ingredients

2kg Oxtail
2 Onions
2 Carrots
1 packet Brown Onion Soup
500 ml Beef Stock
2 Leeks
½ cup Tomato Sauce
2 cups Red Wine
½ cup Chutney

Slice all the vegetables into even, chunky sizes. Brown the oxtail pieces in a bit of oil. Put the vegetables and oxtail into an oven proof pot. Add the rest of the ingredients. Bake in the oven for about 4 hours at 160°C, stirring every hour. If it gets too dry, add some extra water as needed. When the meat pulls away from the bone, it is cooked. Serve with rice, or any other starch of your choice.

Serve and enjoy!

All the best till next month
Tersia Fouché

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Big 5 Sightings 03 November to 09 November 2014

The Big 5 highlight of the week was to see how the Breakaway pride hunted and killed a buffalo cow the one afternoon close to a watering hole.

 

Highlight of the week Breakaway Lion Pride Hunting Buffalo-Stefan Kruger

Highlight of the week Breakaway Lion Pride Hunting Buffalo-Stefan Kruger

Monday, 3 November 2014

(27ºC, 1mm)

  • Breakaway lion pride, feeding on a zebra kill on Zebra Drive
  • A breeding herd of about twenty elephants feeding on Sixes Road
  • Three buffalo bulls feeding on Sixes Road
  • One elephant bull feeding on Safari airstrip
  • One buffalo bull drinking water at Seef’s Pan
  • Lamula, the male leopard, resting at Big Dam
  • A pack of about sixteen wild dogs feeding on an impala kill at Sixteen Crossing
  • One buffalo bull feeding on Rhino Ring West
  • One elephant bull drinking water at Safari Dam

 

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

(31ºC)

 

  • A breeding herd of about 200 buffalo’s feeding around Knobthorn Pan
  • Breakaway lion pride resting on Road 7
  • A breeding herd of about ten elephants feeding on Methlowani Road
  • Shadow, the female leopard, moving north on Pump Track Road
  • Breakaway lion pride hunting and killing a buffalo cow west of Simbambili Dam
  • Another breeding herd of about 150 buffalo’s drinking water at Simbambili Dam
  • Tingana, the male leopard, moving north from Bushcamp East
  • Another breeding herd of about 300 buffalo’s feeding at Simbambili open area

 

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Birmingham Male Lion Resting on Termite Mound - Stefan Kruger

Birmingham Male Lion Resting on Termite Mound – Stefan Kruger

(30ºC)

  • Breakaway lion pride resting at Kraaines Pan
  • Two Birmingham male lions feeding on the buffalo cow kill west of Simbambili Dam
  • One elephant bull feeding on Simbambili Firebreak
  • A breeding herd of about ten elephants feeding on Methlowani Road
  • Thandi, the female leopard, resting at her den with two cubs on Mabonzo Shortcut
  • A breeding herd of about fifteen elephants feeding on MM-Boundary
  • Three buffalo bulls feeding on Sawmill Road
  • Five buffalo bulls drinking water at Jack’s Pan

 

Thursday, 6 November 2014

(28ºC)

  • Thandi, the female leopard, feeding on an impala kill on Ivory Extension Road
  • A breeding herd of about twenty elephants feeding at Old Borehole Road
  • Breakaway lion pride resting on Our Western Boundary
  • Nkuhuma lion pride and one Matimba male lion resting on Chitwa Chitwa drive
  • A breeding herd of about 300 buffaloes drinking water at Big Dam
  • Tingana, the male leopard, stalking impala’s on Safari Access Road

 

Friday, 7 November 2014

(24ºC)

  • Two Birmingham male lions still feeding on the buffalo kill west of Simbambili Dam
  • A breeding herd of about 10 elephants around Pommie’s Pan
  • A big breeding herd of about 300 buffalo’s feeding around Grissly Bear Crossing
  • Another breeding herd of about 40 buffalo’s feeding on Madash Road
  • Two buffalo bulls feeding close to Madash Road
  • Another breeding herd of about twenty buffalo’s feeding on MMM North
  • Salayexe, the female leopard, moving south from Simbambili firebreak

 

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Buffalo Bull on the move-Stefan Kruger

Buffalo Bull on the move-Stefan Kruger

(28ºC)

 

  • A breeding herd of about 200 buffalo’s moving east from Madash Road
  • Two Birmingham male lions resting on Rhulani Road
  • One elephant bull feeding on MMM South
  • Three buffalo bulls feeding on Rhulani Road
  • Two buffalo bulls feeding at Simbambili Dam
  • Five buffalo bulls feeding on Gowrie Main
  • Kanyuma, the male leopard, moving north from Xirombirombi Road
  • A breeding herd of about 20 elephants feeding on our Southern boundary

 

Sunday, 9 November 2014

(37ºC)

  • A breeding herd of about 300 buffaloes feeding on Marula Bult Road
  • Five elephant bulls feeding on Buff Scull North
  • One buffalo bull resting in the water at Kraaines
  • Four buffalo bulls resting in the water at Rampan
  • Breakaway lion pride resting on our Southern boundary
  • Mvula, the male leopard, resting on Safari Access
  • Bahuti, the male leopard resting on Chitwa/Cheetah Plains cutline
  • A breeding herd of about fifteen elephants feeding west of Hoffman’s Dam

 

 

 

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Big 5 Sightings 27 October to 02 November 2014

The Big 5 highlight of the week was to see Shadow, the female leopard, with two cubs playing at their den on Mabonzo Shortcut.

Thandi, the female leopard and two cubs - Morné Fouché

Thandi, the female leopard and two cubs – Morné Fouché

Monday, 27 October 2014

(23ºC)

  • One elephant bull feeding on Green Thorn
  • Six Buffalo bulls feeding on MM Boundary
  • One Nkuhuma male lion feeding on a buffalo kill at Marakeng Drive
  • A breeding herd of about fifteen elephants feeding at EP open area

 

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

(27ºC)

  • Shadow, the female leopard, moving east from Madash Road
  • A breeding herd of about 200 buffalos moving south from Xigodi Pan
  • One Nkuhuma male lion still feeding on his buffalo kill at Marikeng Drive
  • Five buffalo bulls feeding at Old Borehole Road
  • A breeding herd of about fifteen elephants feeding in EP Floodplains
  • Another breeding herd of about ten elephants feeding on Safari airstrip

 

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

(30ºC)

  • Shadow, the female leopard, moving east from Boundary Pan
  • A pack of about seventeen wild dogs moving north on 2nd Windmill
  • Ten buffalo bulls resting on Rhulani Road
  • A breeding herd of about ten elephants feeding at Simbambili Dam
  • One Mkuhuma male lion still feeding on his buffalo kill at Marakeng Drive
  • Three buffalo bulls feeding at Wetpatch open area
  • One elephant bull drinking water at Leeukuil Pan
  • Two cubs of Nsele, the female leopard, playing at Poachers Corner
  • Three elephants feeding on Methlowani open area

 

Nkuhuma male lion - Morné Fouché

Nkuhuma male lion – Morné Fouché

Thursday, 30 October 2014

(34ºC)

  • A pack of seventeen wild dogs resting at Hoffman’s Dam
  • The Nkuhuma lion pride with two Matimba male lions on a buffalo kill at Fig Tree Road
  • Six buffalo bulls feeding on Shirley’s open area
  • Thandi, the female leopard’s two cubs, resting at their den on Mabonzo Shortcut
  • One elephant bull feeding on Gowrie Main
  • Kwatile, the female leopard, moving east with her cub on Six Ngonnie South
  • A breeding herd of about twenty elephants feeding on Chitwa driveway

 

Friday, 31 November 2014

(25ºC)

  • Five buffalo bulls feeding on Kudu Drift
  • A breeding herd of about twenty elephants feeding on Rocky Road
  • One Nkuhuma male lion resting on Road 7
  • A pack of about seventeen wild dogs resting on Madash
  • The Nkuhuma lion pride resting with two Matimba male lions resting on Fig Tree Road
  • Mvula, the male leopard, resting on MM-Boundary
  • A breeding herd of about 200 buffalos feeding at Jacobin open area
  • A breeding herd of about twenty elephants feeding east of Jacobin open area

 

Saturday, 1 November 2014

(26ºC)

  • The Breakaway lion pride feeding on a wildebeest kill on Wetpatch Road
  • The Tsalala lion pride resting on Our Southern Boundary
  • Two buffalo bulls resting on Rhulani Road
  • Moya, the female leopard’s young male leopard cub, resting on Our Southern Boundary
  • Thandi, the female leopard, resting with two cubs at their den on Mabonzo Shortcut
  • Tingana, the male leopard, resting close to his grey duiker kill north of Safari Dam
  • A breeding herd of about ten elephants feeding on MMM-North

 

Young bull elephant - Morné Fouché

Young elephant bull – Morné Fouché

Sunday, 2 November 2014

(31ºC)

  • Salayexe, the female leopard, moving east from Kraaines Pan
  • The Breakaway lion pride resting on A-main
  • A breeding herd of about twenty elephants feeding on Puff Adder Road
  • Tingana, the male leopard, moving west from Safari Dam
  • A breeding herd of about 200 buffalos moving north from Rhulani Road
  • A breeding herd of about thirty elephants feeding at Horseshoe West

 

 

 

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Big 5 Sightings 20 to 26 October 2014

The Big 5 highlight of the week was to see two Matimba male lions feeding on a hippo kill at Big Dam.

Matimba male lion on a hippo kill - Jonathan Vogel

Matimba male lion on a hippo kill – Jonathan Vogel

Monday, 20 October 2014
(27ºC)

  • The Breakaway lion pride with two Majingi male lions feeding a buffalo kill on Solar Panel Road
  • A breeding herd of about fifteen elephants feeding at Big Dam
  • Another breeding herd of about ten elephants feeding at EP/Manyeleti Crossing
  • Three buffalo bulls feeding on Guarri Central
  • Another breeding herd of about ten elephants feeding at Eastern Bank Manyeleti

 

Tuesday, 21 October 2014
(28ºC)

  • Quarantine, the male leopard, moving north from Lukas Open area
  • One elephant bull feeding on MMM-South
  • A breeding herd of about ten elephants feeding on Hawk Eagle Road
  • Three buffalo bulls feeding on Hawk Eagle Road
  • The Breakaway lion pride with two Majingi male lions resting on Solar Panel Road
  • A pack of about sixteen wild dogs resting at Lukas open area

 

Wednesday, 22 October 2014
(26ºC, 1mm)

  • The Breakaway lion pride resting with one Majingi male lion on EP airstrip
  • A pack of about sixteen wild dogs resting on MMM North
  • Bahuti, the male leopard, stalking waterbuck on Chitwa open area
  • A breeding herd of about fifteen elephants feeding on Hawk Eagle Raod
  • Ten buffalo bulls feeding on Gowrie Main
  • Mvula, the male leopard, mating with Kwatile, the female leopard, on Mabonzo Shortcut
  • Another breeding herd of about ten elephants feeding on EP airstrip
  • Two buffalo bulls feeding on Kuala Bear Road

 

Elephants playing - Jonathan Vogel

Elephants playing – Jonathan Vogel

Thursday, 23 October 2014
(27ºC)

  • The Breakaway lion pride resting at Serengeti Crossing
  • Two Matimba male lions feeding on a hippo kill at Big Dam
  • Tingana, the male leopard, mating with Kwatile, the female leopard on Ellie Alley
  • Two buffalo bulls feeding on Ellie Alley
  • Moya’s young male leopard cub resting at Big Dam
  • A breeding herd of about twenty elephants feeding on EP open area

 

Friday, 24 October 2014

(27ºC)

  • A pack of about sixteen wild dogs feeding on an impala kill on Simbambili driveway
  • Moya’s young male cub, feeding on a hippo kill at Big Dam
  • A breeding herd of about 300 buffalos moving west from Simbambili open area
  • A breeding herd of about ten elephants feeding at Bushcamp Pan
  • Another breeding herd of about twenty elephants feeding at Pungwe Island open area
  • Shadow, the female leopard, resting with her one cub at an impala kill at Xigdi Pan
  • The Breakaway lion pride resting on A-Main
  • Two buffalo bulls feeding on Tjololo Road

 

Saturday, 25 October 2014

(26ºC)

  • Moya’s young male cub feeding on a hippo kill at Big Dam
  • A pack of about ten wild dogs hunting and killing an impala at Big Dam
  • The Nkuhuma lion pride feeding on a waterbuck kill at Djuma Dam
  • Ten buffalo bulls feeding on Zebra Drive
  • The Breakaway lion pride resting on A-Main
  • A breeding herd of about 200 buffalos feeding on EP airstrip
  • A breeding herd of about twenty elephants feeding on Puff Adder

 

Moya, the female leopard - Jonathan Vogel

Moya, the female leopard – Jonathan Vogel

Sunday, 26 October 2014

(23ºC)

  • Moya’s young male leopard cub resting at Big Dam
  • Ten buffalo bulls feeding on Francolin Road
    Salayexe, the female leopard, resting at Serengeti Pan
  • A breeding herd of about twenty elephants feeding on Track South
  • Six buffalo bulls feeding on Marula built Road

 

 

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