Big 5 Sightings 24 to 30 November 2014

The Big 5 highlight of the week was to see the Nkuhuma male lion feasting on an adult buffalo cow at Simbambili Dam

Nkuhuma male lion on a buffalo kill - Jonathan Vogel

Nkuhuma male lion on a buffalo kill – Jonathan Vogel

Monday, 24 November 2014
(36ºC, 19mm rain)

  • Thandi, the female leopard, and her two cubs feeding on an impala kill on Gowrie Main
  • Ten buffalo bulls moving north from Gowrie Main
  • Five lionesses of the Nkuhuma pride, at Treehouse Pan
  • Five Birmingham male lions hunting and killing a juvenile buffalo on EP/Simbambili cutline
  • A breeding herd of about twenty elephants feeding on Pungwe open area
  • A breeding herd of about two hundred buffaloes feeding on Rhulani Road
  • Another breeding herd of about sixty elephants feeding on Rhino Ring East

 

Tuesday, 25 November 2014
(27ºC)

  • Thandi, the female leopard, and her cubs still feeding on the impala kill on Gowrie Main
  • Quarantine, the young male leopard, stalking impalas on Little Gowrie driveway
  • A breeding herd of about twenty elephants feeding on Little Gowrie driveway
  • A breeding herd of about two hundred buffaloes feeding on Madash Road
  • Another breeding herd of about eighty buffaloes feeding at 1st Windmill
  • Five Birmingham male lions resting on Rhulani Road

 

Wednesday, 26 November 2014
(28ºC)

  • The Breakaway lion pride with one Majingi male lion resting on EP driveway
  • A breeding herd of about twenty elephants feeding and swimming at Big Dam
  • Another breeding herd of about fifteen elephants feeding on 1st Windmill
  • A breeding herd of about two hundred buffaloes feeding around 16th Crossing
  • Inkanyeni, and her two cubs feeding on an impala kill on Nkorho open area
Breakaway female lion grooming - Jonathan Vogel

Breakaway female lion grooming – Jonathan Vogel

Thursday, 27 November 2014
(29ºC)

  • Three buffalo bulls resting at Bushcamp Pan
  • Two buffalo bulls feeding on Rhulani Road
  • Four elephants feeding on Horseshoe West
  • A breeding herd of about twenty elephants feeding on Madash
  • Tingana, the male leopard, resting on Safari Donga North
  • Another breeding herd of about twenty elephants feeding on EP open area
  • Another breeding herd of about thirty elephants feeding on Madash

Friday, 28 November 2014
(34ºC)

  • The Breakaway lion pride resting on our Southern boundary
  • Two elephant bulls swimming in the water at Big Dam
  • A breeding herd of about thirty elephants feeding at the Rocks
  • Another breeding herd of about twenty elephants feeding on EP open area
  • An Nkuhuma male lion on a buffalo kill at Simbambili Dam
  • Another breeding herd of about twenty elephants feeding on Kudu Drift
  • Four buffalo bulls feeding on Kudu Drift

 

Saturday, 29 November 2014
(26ºC)

  • Five Birmingham male lions on a buffalo kill on Gowrie Main
  • The Breakaway lion pride resting on Madash Road
  • An Nkuhuma male lion still on his buffalo kill at Simbambili Dam
  • One unknown female leopard resting on Simbambili firebreak
  • A breeding herd of about two hundred buffaloes feeding south of The Rocks
  • A breeding herd of about twenty elephants feeding at Seregeti Pan
Elephant bulls - Jonathan Vogel

Elephant bulls – Jonathan Vogel

Sunday, 30 November 2014
(27ºC, 36mm rain)

  • Anderson, the male leopard, moving west from Francolin Road
  • An Nkuhuma male lion still on the buffalo kill at Simbambili Dam
  • A breeding herd of about fifty buffaloes feeding around Horseshoe open area
  • Shadow, the female leopard and her two cubs feeding on a duiker kill on Old Bore Hole
  • A breeding herd of about twenty elephants feeding on Marula Bult South

All you need to know about sunscreen

Most of us enjoy lying in the sun in order to achieve that nice, tanned look. We should, however, be aware of the damage sunbathing can cause. Your skin type is an important factor in determining the extent of skin damage you are prone to experience. People with fair skin are more vulnerable to the negative effects of the sun. Darker skin types can also be damaged, but to a lesser extent. Our skin goes darker when we sunbath, due to the skin forming a substance called melanin. Melanin makes our skin darker, but it also serves as the skin’s own sun protection. Because the melanin count in our bodies varies from one individual to the next, some people might sunburn easier than others. People that produce less melanin are normally the ones who burn more easily and who also have a higher risk of contracting skin cancer.

Remember sunscreen. Especially at the sea.

Remember sunscreen. Especially at the sea.

Sunscreens work in various ways and it is difficult to decide which one to use. Some sunscreens have a chemical filter. This means that it penetrates the skin and absorbs the sun’s rays. Therefore it does not reach into the deeper layers of the skin and it also doesn’t cause sun damage. Then we also get sunscreen that has a physical filter. This is one that lays a thin layered membrane on top of the skin, reflecting the sun’s rays.

The most important thing to look for, when purchasing sunscreen, is that it is labeled as a “broad spectrum”. This type of sunscreen provides both UVA and UVB protection. UVB burns the top layer of your skin, causing sunburn and cell damage. UVA, on the other hand, doesn’t burn the top layer of the skin, but penetrates deeper, causing ageing and skin cancer.
Like most beauty products, sunscreen also has a shelf life. Heat and bacteria can have a negative influence on your sunscreen’s effectiveness and it is therefore a good idea to buy a new sunscreen every year. Hopefully you use yours often enough so that it doesn’t last this long! The ideal place to store your sunscreen is the refrigerator. Prolonged exposure to the sun can decrease the protective properties of sunscreen.

Physical & Chemical Sunscreen

Physical & Chemical Sunscreen

Here are some interesting facts:

1. It takes less time to be exposed to the same amount of solar energy at midday, compared to early morning or late evening,      because the sun is more intense at midday relative to the other times. UV rays are at their strongest between 12:00 and 16:00.
2. Sunscreens vary in their ability to protect against UVA and UVB. Most sunscreens with an SPF of 15 or higher do an excellent  job of protecting against UVB. SPF — or Sun Protection Factor — is a measure of a sunscreen’s ability to prevent UVB from  damaging the skin. Here’s how it works: If it takes 20 minutes for your unprotected skin to start turning red, using an SPF 15  sunscreen theoretically prevents reddening 15 times longer — about five hours.
3. Sand reflects 25 percent of the sun’s rays.
4. Skin burns more quickly at high elevations.
5. Near the equator, the sun’s rays don’t have to travel as far as they do in more northern latitudes to reach the ground, so they    deliver more sun-burning UV rays per minute of exposure.
6. Cool and refreshing, water seems like the antidote to sunburn. But its reflectiveness can increase UV intensity by up to 50 percent, leading to both a painful burn and long-term skin damage. In shallow water, the sun’s rays can even reflect off the ocean’s sandy bottom, further increasing UV exposure.
7. Snow is one of the most reflective surfaces out there, bouncing back up to 80 percent of the sun’s rays. That puts skiers and snowboarders in a double burn zone, with damaging ultraviolet rays showering down from above and rebounding from below.
8. You can get serious sun damage even when it’s an overcast day. When the sky is partly cloudy, your risk of sunburn can be even higher than on a clear day, because the clouds act to magnify the overall UV radiation. And while a more even cloud cover will block a significant amount of UVB rays (sunburn) up to 80 percent of the long-spectrum UVA rays (aging, wrinkling and cancer) can get through clouds and fog.
9. While UVB rays are the strongest during summer, UVA rays remain constant throughout the year. UVA rays account for up to 95 percent of the UV radiation reaching the earth’s surface. Although they are less intense than UVB, UVA rays are 30 – 50 times more prevalent, and go through glass, making sun protection necessary indoors, as well as out.

As the December holidays are nearing, it is therefore a good idea to invest in a good broad spectrum sunscreen. Remember to generously apply often in order to minimize the negative effects of being outdoors in the sun.

Enjoy your holiday!

Big 5 Sightings 17 to 23 November 2014

The Big 5 highlight of the week was to see one of the Matimba male lions mating with a young lioness at Anette’s Dam

Mating lions - Morné Fouché

Mating lions – Morné Fouché

Monday, 17 November 2014
(28ºC)

  • A breeding herd of about 20 elephants feeding on Safron Road
  • Four Birmingham male lions resting on the western side of Madash Road
  • A breeding herd of about 300 buffaloes feeding on EP/Shirley’s cutline
  • Kwatile, the female leopard, resting on Waps open area
  • Kwatile, the female leopard’s son resting on MMM South

 

Tuesday, 18 November 2014
(28ºC)

  • Four Birmingham male lions resting on Road 7
  • Quarantine, the young male leopard, moving north from Wessels old driveway
  • A breeding herd of about 20 elephants feeding on Madash Road
  • A breeding herd of about 300 buffaloes feeding close to Horseshoe open area
  • Xivambalana, the male leopard feeding on an impala kill on Kaalkol East

 

Wednesday, 19 November 2014
(29ºC)

  • A breeding herd of about 100 buffaloes resting on EP open area
  • One elephant bull feeding on Marula Bult Central
  • Four Birmingham male lions resting on Eatern Bank Marikeng
  • Salayexe, the female leopard, stalking bushbuck on EP floodplain
  • One cheetah female scent marking on Central Road
  • A breeding herd of about 40 elephants feeding on Central Road
  • Thandi and Kwatile having a territorial dispute at Ingwe Pan
  • Five buffalo bulls feeding on Gowrie Main
Birmingham male lions - Morné Fouché

Birmingham male lions – Morné Fouché

Thursday, 20 November 2014
(34ºC)

  • Salayexe, the female leopard, moving north from Serengeti Pan
  • A breeding herd of about 15 elephants feeding around Rampan
  • The Tsalala lion pride resting on our Southern boundary
  • A breeding herd of about 300 buffaloes feeding on Rhulani Road
  • Two elephant bulls moving south from Wetpatch Road
  • Ten buffalo bulls feeding on our Southern boundary

 

Friday, 21 November 2014
(27ºC, 18mm rain)

  • Bahuti, the male leopard, stalking impalas at Treehouse Pan
  • The Talamati lion pride resting at Nkorho Pan
  • Four Birmingham male lions resting on Simbambili Road
  • Ten buffalo bulls resting at Simbambili dam
  • One elephant bull, feeding on Horseshoe East
  • A breeding herd of about 300 buffaloes feeding on Madash Road
  • Another breeding herd of about 30 buffaloes feeding on Ngala open area
  • Another breeding herd of about 80 elephants feeding on Wetpatch

 

Saturday, 22 November 2014
(32ºC)

  • Four Birmingham male lions resting on Tjololo Road
  • Three buffalo bulls resting at Kraaines
  • A breeding herd of about 20 elephants feeding at Serengeti Crossing
  • One elephant bull feeding on Sawmill Road
  • A breeding herd of about 30 buffaloes feeding on Shomboma Road
  • Bahuti, the young male leopard on an impala kill at Treehouse Pan
  • One of the Matimba male lions mating with a young lioness at Anette’s Dam
  • Eight buffalo bulls resting at Baboon Pan
Buffalo cow with white head - Morné Fouché

Buffalo cow with white head – Morné Fouché

Sunday, 23 November 2014
(34ºC)

  • A breeding herd of about 200 buffaloes feeding on 16th Crossing
  • Another breeding herd of about 30 buffaloes feeding on Wetpatch open area
  • A breeding herd of about 40 elephants feeding on Zebra Drive
  • One elephant bull feeding on Old Borehole Road
  • Another breeding herd of about 30 buffaloes feeding on Rhino Ring North
  • Five Birmingham male lions on a buffalo kill on Scops Owl Crossing

Big 5 Sightings 10 November to 16 November 2014

The Big 5 highlight of the week was to see four Birmingham male lions scent marking at Serengeti open area.

Birmingham male lions - Dawie Jacobs

Birmingham male lions – Dawie Jacobs

Monday, 10 November 2014

(35ºC, 16mm)

  • One buffalo bull resting at Kraaines Pan
  • Four buffalo bulls resting at Serengeti Pan
  • Bahuti, the male leopard, feeding on a bushbuck kill east of Cheetah Plains driveway
  • A breeding herd of about ten elephants feeding on Safari airstrip
  • One buffalo bull feeding on Gowrie Main

 

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

(25ºC)

 

  • Breakaway lion pride resting on Konkoni Road
  • Tingana, the male leopard, resting on Lowveld Link Road
  • Bahuti, the male leopard, resting up in a tree on Xinzele Road
  • A breeding herd of about 200 buffalo’s feeding on Tsololo Road
  • One elephant bull feeding on Road 7
  • A breeding herd of about twenty elephants feeding on Gowrie Main
  • Two elephant bulls feeding at Black Main Road

 

Sunset over the escarpment - Dawie Jacobs

Sunset over the escarpment – Dawie Jacobs

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

(28ºC)

 

  • Four Birmingham male lions resting at Serengeti open area
  • Bahuti, the young male leopard, resting on Gowrie Main
  • Quarantine, the young male leopard, moving north from Little Gowrie driveway
  • A breeding herd of about 300 buffalo’s moving east from Madash Road
  • One elephant bull feeding on Gowrie Main

 

Thursday, 13 November 2014

(38ºC)

 

  • A breeding herd of about twenty elephants feeding on Eastern Bank Marakeng
  • Moya’s cub feeding on an impala kill on Seepline Road
  • Salayexe, the female leopard, moving west from Bushcamp East
  • Four buffalo bulls feeding on Our Southern Boundary
    Three buffalo bulls feeding at Serengeti/Manyeleti Crossing
  • Four buffalo bulls feeding in Our Fathers Crossing

 

Friday, 14 November 2014

(26ºC)

 

  • One elephant bull feeding on Parallel Road
  • Four buffalo bulls feeding on Zebra drive
  • Two buffalo bulls resting on Saseka Road
  • One elephant bull feeding on One Eye Pan
  • Mvula, the male leopard, resting east of MMM South, close to his warthog kill
  • Thandi, the female leopard, moving north on Cheetah Plains driveway
  • Eight buffalo bulls feeding on One Eye Pan Road

 

Bawuti the young male leopard - Dawie Jacobs

Bawuti the young male leopard – Dawie Jacobs

Saturday, 15 November 2014

(29ºC)

 

  • Three Majingi male lions resting on our Southern boundary
  • One Birmingham male lion resting at Serengeti Pan
  • Three buffalo bulls feeding on A-main
  • Mvula, the male leopard, feeding on warthog kill on MMM South
  • A breeding herd of about twenty five elephants feeding on EP open area
  • Three buffalo bulls feeding at Serengeti Pan
  • Another breeding herd of about ten elephants feeding on Shomboma Road

 

Sunday, 16 November 2014

(20ºC)

 

  • Two Birmingham male lions resting on Tsololo Road
  • Salayexe, the female leopard, moving south on EP open area
  • Five buffalo bulls feeding on Eastern Bank Manyeleti
  • A breeding herd of about twenty elephants feeding on Marula Bult Central
  • A breeding herd of about 300 buffalo’s feeding on 2nd Windmill Road
  • Another breeding herd of about 20 elephants feeding around Seef’s Pan

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