I know I say that every month is good but it is just getting better and better as the year goes on. The bush is really dry at the moment and in some areas there are a lot of bare patches. The average maximum temperature was only 23°C. We were blessed with 12mm of rain this month. It was great to see newly formed water puddles in and next to the roads. A few days after the rain we noticed the first new green grass pushing through the ground. The days that followed, more and more grass made their appearance. All the grazers did not let this opportunity sneak pass them as they quickly started feasting on these new green grass. We were very fortunate again with the wild dog sightings this month. Our resident hyena clan is also doing really well and their numbers are steadily rising. This hyena clan showed us this month why they are a force to be reckoned with. They killed a buffalo bull one evening in front of the lodge. The killing was very messy as each hyena ripped chunks of meat out of the living buffalo. Unlike the lions who suffocate their prey and then eat, the hyenas eat while their prey is still alive.
Two Hippos fighting by Lee-Wayne Lubbe
There was so much excitement happening with our spotted cats. The best part, there is so much more excitement waiting to unfold. Salayexe and Tiyani are still together and at times it looks like the bond between them will never break. With all that said, sometimes it looks like they are not even related when Salayexe growls at Tiyani. We saw Salayexe, Tiyani and Anderson together for almost 2 full days. All of us thought that Salayexe was most probably coming into estrous and that is why Anderson was with them. After day two Salayexe and her daughter, Tiyani, moved north and Anderson moved south again. We see Tiyani a lot more on her own when Salayexe goes of hunting or just need some alone time. This gives Tiyani time to practice her own hunting skills as she stalks hares, birds, squirrels, duikers and so much more. Sometimes it works out and she kills something small but other times she goes to bed with an empty stomach. Salayexe is still expanding her territory more south and more east. Salayexe, showed her dominance this month after she stole a kill from Moya. Just as expected, Moya came down the tree and moved away from her kill. She knows Salayexe from previous encounters and knows that her aunt is bigger and stronger than her. Otherwise Moya is looking great and still very healthy. She was also seen with Anderson this month but they crossed out of our traversing area before we could see if they were mating or not. Shadow moved more east since Salayexe started expanding her empire. Shadow is also smaller than Salayexe and these two ladies have met a few times in the past and the outcome was the same, Salayexe was the dominant one. Shadow was very low on the radar this month but this might be due to the small cub. She and her cub are still looking great and feeding well. Kurula and her 2 cubs are also looking great and they are much more relaxed than last month. Nsele and her 6-month old daughter was seen a lot this last month. These two are looking great and they are well fed. Although Nsele has only one eye, it does not stop her from being a very successful hunter. Nsele’s older daughter is also still moving around in her territory and we have seen her a few times this month. She is looking good and rather big for a female of her age. We were also very fortunate to see the daughter of the Ingrid Dam female, who moved around our area. It is great to see there are a few young females moving into the area to try and establish a territory. Tsakani is also moving around the area giving the older females a lot of grey hairs. She is a wonderful little leopard and I hope that she will settle down in the area and start her own legacy. Madiba/Sindile, the young male leopard, was also seen a few times this month moving through our area. This young male is looking good and very healthy. At this stage he is a nomad wondering through the area in search of his own piece of Africa. The only thing standing in his way at this stage is Anderson, the big male. Anderson is on the top of his game at the moment and he is still expanding more north. I do not think that there is another big male who can challenge Anderson for his territory. Tingana is still spending a lot of his time in the eastern part of his territory to avoid Anderson. Both these males are still expanding their territories but avoiding each other. There is still loads of excitement instore for us with all these beautiful spotted cats.
Styx pride cub by Lee-Wayne Lubbe
The lion sightings were really pumping and we were spoiled with all the sightings again this month. The three lionesses of the Styx pride and their eight cubs are looking fantastic. The cubs are always so full of life with loads of energy. It is great to see that the Birmingham males are interacting with their cubs. They are very tolerant towards the cubs while they play and jump around them. The two female cubs in the group are always on the receiving end as their brothers always bully them. Luckily for them they have their mothers on their side. When things get too rough mum jumps in to help. The eight little ones are growing up fast and they do not have that real baby fur any more. Let’s just hope that all eight will survive to adulthood. This will be great for the pride. We saw the two Tsalala lionesses with two cubs again this month. It was a quick visit from them but they still look very healthy and in good condition. The core of their territory is south of our traversing area and they do not move this far north a lot. The Nkuhuma pride surprised us with our first sighting of three of their new cubs. It was great to see the cubs of this pride. The core of their territory is far northeast out of our traversing area. It is always great to see these little cubs and we also got word that there are two more litters. This means that three of the five lionesses have cubs at the moment and the other two have apparently already mated with the Birmingham males. If it can work out that the five females have babies it will be a great asset to the pride. We are not sure how many male and female cubs there are in the three litters as we do not see them a lot. Still we are full of hope that we will see them again in the next few months to follow. The Birmingham males are still looking great and their manes are just getting bigger and more impressive. These four males are getting more and more confident as they are moving more west again. The young and strong Birmingham males are still in their prime but it means nothing if they are alone. These males are doing so good now, I would hate to see them fall. The only why that will happen is when they keep on splitting up. These males are doing exactly what the Mapogo’s did. A successful coalition always stays together like the Majingilane males.
Burchell’s starling by Lee-Wayne Lubbe
As the month came to an end the buffalo sightings exploded. We saw two main buffalo herds this month. The one herd had between 100 and 200 individuals and the other one was bigger with about 300 to 500 individuals. These big herds were constantly on the move in search of food and water supplies. Although they were moving the whole time we still saw them almost every second day of the month. The lion prides in the area had a field day with these big herds. Any young or old buffalo that stray too far from the herd or can’t keep up will fall prey to the lion prides. With the rain we had this month there was just enough water in the mud wallows for the old bulls to wallow in. These old boys are still in good shape. They are always close to a waterhole and the dry river beds where there is still green grass. A few of the dominant buffalo bulls have left the breeding herds to fatten up for the next breeding season, next year.
The elephant sightings are just out of this world. There was no shortage of them. The herd sizes range between ten to thirty animals in a group. The elephants are still looking great even now that we are experiencing a drought. Elephants are incredible creatures that eats 95% of all the vegetation in the bush. In the summer months their diet mainly consists of grass as it will make up around 98% of it. In the winter when there is not a lot of grass their diet changes to 90% trees. They also spend a lot of their time in the dry riverbeds to feed of the wild date palms. There were a few big males moving around in the area following the female groups. It is wonderful to see the herds in their numbers moving across the open area in front of the lodge. All the matriarch elephants of the herds know that the waterhole on the open area always have fresh water. We have elephants passing the front of our lodge almost every day.
To see a mother leopard and cub is always a very special sighting. To see a mother with two cubs is even more special. This month we were dumbstruck to see Nsele, her youngest daughter and her older daughter from her previous litter in the same tree with a kill. We all thought that maybe this was a once off thing but we couldn’t be more wrong. Just a few days later all three of them were together on another kill. Nsele was very relaxed with the older cub being there with them and the youngest daughter liked the idea of her big sister visiting them. It was really special to see them all three together as a family.
Did you know?
Unlike many other animals, hippos seldom, if ever, use mock charges on land as a passive defense.
See you out on the game drive soon.
Wild photo of the month
We are at that time of the year again, winter has arrived! The bush is wearing its winter coat! We have the blankets and hot water bottles back on the game drive vehicles and game viewing has been spectacular! The trees and grass are not as lush anymore, which gives you a better view of all the amazing wildlife living around us. We had a wonderful month at the lodge with guests from all over the world. If you have some last minute safari plans, be sure to contact our reservations office for some last minute availability during our winter special rates. Come and enjoy an evening around the fire in the boma with us and witness the most beautiful night sky Africa has to offer!
Tree squirrel by Morné Fouché
In the beginning of May Etienne, Marlet, Amanda and I once again took on the journey to Durban to attend the annual Tourism Indaba. Our blue stand once again drew a lot of attention and we received loads of compliments. Marlet, Amanda and I even got the opportunity to meet the Minister of Tourism, Mr Derek Hanekom. Thank you to each and everyone who visited our stand. We met with loads of our well-known agents, but also got to meet a few new and upcoming ones. I am sure we will have many more years of good business relations with all of them.
Elephants drinking water by Morné Fouché
With winter creeping up upon us, we see more and more activity at our waterholes. This month, the trapcam was placed at Kraaines Pan, west of our airstrip. The trapcam was left on the tree for only a week and boy, were we in for a surprise! During the week, the trapcam took 2300 photo’s. To choose only 1 was a difficult task. The rangers worked their way through the shots and identified 16 different animal species and a few hundred pictures of a moving branch. Amongst the hundreds of elephant, buffalo, warthog, zebra, impala, hippo, giraffe, hyena and wildebeest photo’s there were also wild dogs and 3 different leopards who visited the waterhole. Our trapcam picture this month shows two female leopards, Salayexe and her cub, having a drink.
This month we also welcomed a new lady to our team. Anel Louw joined our team at the beginning of the month. It did not take long for her to fit right in. She will be assisting in reservations when Amanda is on leave and when she is not in the back office, she is assisting guest in reception with her friendly smile.
As always, we had some staff birthdays to celebrate. I celebrated my birthday on the 3rd and just the following day, Oom Etienne Swart had his special day. Although Oom Etienne lives in the Free State, his birthday is still special to us. Then, just after the first two, Phillip celebrated his special day on the 5th. Phillip is part of the magical team keeping the gardens at the lodge in tip top shape.
To all our readers who celebrated their birthdays in May, I hope your day was filled with happiness and laughter!
Our recipe for the month is again one for the sweet tooth. Head chef Jacques shares this delicious recipe, which can be enjoyed any time of the day, or night. If you are celebrating a special occasion, add some liqueur to boost the flavour…
All the best till next month
The winter has finally arrived with suitcases full of cool, crisp mornings and evenings. The day temperature is still very pleasant until the sun disappears behind the Drakensberg mountains to the west. Jackets, scarfs and beanies are essential items for safaris this time of the year. The average maximum temperature for the month was 25°C, with 2mm of rain. Although the winter mornings are really cold it did not have a major impact on the game viewing this month. We were fortunate to see a male cheetah moving through the area in search of new hunting grounds. The majority of the cheetahs that move through our area are youngsters in search of a territory. We have been blessed with the wild dog sightings this month. We saw them hunting and playing in our area a few times. The nightlife was also great. Now that the sun is setting a few minutes earlier every day, nocturnal animals are getting active earlier.
Flap-necked chameleon by Louis Liversage
The leopard sightings this month was again out of this world. Kurula’s two cubs are doing great and they are getting more relaxed with the vehicles moving around them. Kurula is moving them around a lot as she brings them to kills. It is such a great sight to see two little cubs following their mother down the road. Let’s hope that she will raise both these little cubs to adulthood. Shadow was also seen this month as she scent-marked her boundaries again. She moved the cubs to a new den, which is out of our traversing. Hopefully the little ones are still doing well in their new home. We can not wait for Shadow to bring them across to our area again. She will start to move them around a lot more now as they are old enough to eat meat and they will be brought to the kills. Salayexe and her cub are also looking great and the cub is now almost 13 months old. This is now the time that we will think of a suitable name for the little one. There is definitely tension between these two ladies. Salayexe is leaving her alone for longer periods of time to force her to go and hunt something for herself. The young female surprised us all the one evening when she performed a very loud territorial call. She continued with this during the night and the next morning we found her together with a very upset mother. It is not common for a one-year-old female to perform a full-on territorial call. Salayexe is also moving all over and expanding her territory to an enormous empire. A lot of this behaviour might be because she is looking for a male. This comes to show that there are big changes about to happen in the next few months. Nsele and her cub is doing really good. The little cub is still a bit shy, but we are full of hope that he/she will come around and become as relaxed as Nsele. This is the oldest cub that we have in the area and he/she was born in beginning of January 2016. Nsele and the cub was seen a lot more than in previous months. This is really good news for us as we can continue with the habituation process. Moya was also seen a few times this month. It is always great to see this beautiful female and it is good to see that she is expanding her territory more north east again. Moya was seen mating with the older Airstrip male for a few days this month. After mating with the Airstrip male she started mating with Anderson for a few days. Last month we saw her with suckle marks, which gave us the indication that she had cubs. It might be that she lost the cubs or she mated with the males to give them the impression that the cubs are their own, ensuring their safety. Only time will tell to say for sure if the cubs are still alive or dead. Tingana is keeping a very low profile as he was only seen a few times this month. It looks like he successfully kicked out Mvula and took over his territory. Anderson has his hands full with the Airstrip male moving in and out of his territory and mating with his females. Anderson was in a big fight as he has new gashes and scars on his face. It is unclear who he had a fight with, but I think it was a big one when I look at the scars on him.
Anderson male leopard Morné Fouché
This month we had such a blast with the lion sightings. The Styx pride stole the limelight again this month with the small cubs within the pride. There are four cubs that is old enough for us to view and then there are four cubs that is maybe a month old that we do not view yet. All three the females were seen with suckle marks but strangely enough the oldest female was seen mating with one of the Birmingham male lions again this month. We all feared that she maybe lost her cubs but a few days later we saw her, a Birmingham male lion and one cub resting in the dry river bed. It will be great if all 9 the little cubs can survive. It will be great to see the pride grow in numbers. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that for the next few years the cubs will stay safe and reach adulthood. We have seen the tailless female and her four sub adult cubs of the Tsalala pride in and out of our area the last month. At a stage the 5 were split up and two young males were separated from the rest of the group. For this small group it is difficult to defend themselves against a bigger pride or dominant males. For this 14-year-old lioness it is tough to raise these three boys and one girl to adulthood all by herself. Hopefully she can take them through the year – then the young males should go off by themselves and she and her daughter can return back to the pride again. The young sub adults of the Breakaway pride have moved all over our area the last month. These six girls and tree boys killed a big buffalo bull the one evening and fed on it for a few days. This just showed us that they are already great hunters. It is not just any lion that can kill a big buffalo bull, it takes skill and determination. It is great to see these youngsters growing up and finally having the confidence to explore on their own and hunt for themselves. Once again we had the ladies of the Nkuhuma pride moving through our area. It is always nice to see them as they are great looking females. We got word that the pregnant female of the Nkuhuma gave birth. We do not know how many cubs there are at this stage, but let’s hope they are very healthy. This will be the Birmingham male’s first cubs with this pride. The Birmingham males was all over their territory this month to ensure that no new males moved into the area. It looks like they are good fathers as we have seen them a few times with the Styx pride females and their cubs on and off kills. Hopefully these males can bring stability to the two prides, as this is what they need. We had a very big surprise this month as we saw the two big Matimba males scent marking deep into Birmingham male territory. These two males are very familiar to the area as this was part of their old territory. The big question is: what were they doing so far up and also scent marking? We saw them again a few times after that, close to our lodge. This might be due to the Majingi males putting more pressure on the Matimba males.
Nsele the female leopard and cub by Louis Liversage
The buffalo sightings were really great with big herds of buffalo moving through our area. With food getting a bit more in demand the big buffalo herds are almost constantly on the move. The majority of the waterholes are now mainly mud wallows and this also plays a big role in the movement of the herds. The limitation of food and water supplies force the herds to move through very quickly. Within these herds there are a few small babies who were born just before the winter. It is crucial for the mothers of these little ones to get enough food for her and the little ones, as the calves still drink milk. So far the members in the herds are still in good condition and there is enough food. We have seen a nice bachelor herd of dominant males moving around in the area. They have left the herds to get back in shape after the mating season. We also noticed a few of the old dagga boys that have re-joined the big herds. This is quite common to happen this time of the year as the herds move through and the old males just join for protection.
Tsalala male lions by Louis Liversage
Elephants and more elephants almost around every corner. The elephant sightings were spectacular and we did not have any shortage of these big heavyweights. At times we had massive herds of over fifty individuals in the herd. The trees in the area are taking a beating at this stage as the elephants have mainly changed their diet to trees. In the winter a good 90% of their diet will be trees and in the summer 98% of their diet will consist of grass. The only areas where there are still grass left is along the banks of the dry riverbeds. One of the best elephant sightings that we had was at our biggest waterhole in our traversing. One herd made their way down to the water to quench their thirst after the long travel. After a few minutes we noticed they stopped drinking and we heard the low rumbling sound coming from the elephants at the water. Suddenly there was movement on the other side of the dam. Another herd also made their way down to the water for a drink. Both herds vocalized as they moved closer to one another. Then more elephants moved onto the scene and soon after a fourth herd appeared and all these elephants were so vocal you could hear it from kilometres away. After all the excitement died down and order was restored, some of the younger males went for a swim to cool down. It was great to see all these different herds interacting with each other. But more interesting was to see them communicating with each other before they get to the water. Each herd waited for the other to finish at the water before moving to the water to drink. We can only hear about 5% of the noises they make, the rest is below our frequency and we can’t hear it.
This month the nine cubs of the Styx lion pride was definitely the highlight. It is great to see them moving around and being relaxed with the vehicles. The best part is that the Birmingham males, who are first time fathers, are doing a great job so far in protecting of the pride. What a treat it is to have all these cubs in the area.
Did you know?
A male lion’s mane will only be fully grown when he reaches the age of six to seven years.
See you out on the game drive soon.
Hyenas feeding on a wildebeest by Dawie Jacobs
As expected we picked up where we left off last month. The sightings were just awesome and ridiculously great at times. This month we were spoiled by wonderful sightings and I must say it was such a joy to spend quality time with the animals. There is a big change happening in the bush and there are such exciting times coming up. It is again that time of the year when the impala males are busy with the big fight for mating rights. The rutting season has started. The changing season is now really in full swing as it gets darker earlier in the evening and lighter later in the morning. The temperatures are also dropping a little bit and we have pulled our jackets out of storage. The average maximum temperature for the month was 30 â°C with no rain. Once again we had a few wonderful wild dog sightings this month. The alpha female is heavily pregnant and we have seen them digging around in a few termite mounds. We all know what that means; she is looking for a suitable den somewhere. Their preferred dens are around a thicket or thick drainage areas. Every time we see this pack we hope that she will get a suitable den and have her pups here. All we can do at this stage is wait and see what will happen. Our resident hyena clan is still growing in numbers. This month we saw there is yet another new baby of a few weeks old at the den. The little one is still a little shy but when mum is there she calls him out of the den to play outside.
Karula the female leopard by Dawie Jacobs
The leopard sightings were such a treat this month. We had a wonderful time with all the tiny babies around. Kurula and her two cubs are doing really well and she is so relaxed with us being around them. She has moved her den into a nice thick donga with a lot of hiding place for the little ones. One of the little ones are a bit skittish but getting better with the vehicles. The other one is fine with the vehicles. Shadow surprised us all as she is much more relaxed than previous years. It is wonderful because both her cubs are much more relaxed than her mother’s two cubs. Although one of Shadows cubs are more shy than the other one they still provide us with a good show when playing around the den. This next few months will be very crucial in the habituation stage of these little cubs. Shadow has moved the cubs to a great area where it is very thick but still great for the cubs. The only problem with the new den is that it is very close to Anderson’s territory. A very good sign is that both mothers are so relaxed with the vehicles at the den. If they had enough of you they will let you know with a quick snarl. Salayexe and her daughter is also doing really good. Salayexe has been snarling and hissing at her daughter a lot this month. This looks like Salayexe will be breaking the mother – daughter bond between them. For the young cub this new behaviour of her mother came as a shock to her. Salayexe hissed at her before but never to the extent that it looks like she wants to bite her. Salayexe also expanded her territory further south and that is where the little one spends more of her time. So it looks like it is sorted, the daughter will set up her territory to the south of Salayexe’s territory. Tsakani was also seen a lot again this month and she is moving all over her absent mother’s territory. This is going to be such a beautiful female leopard and we can’t wait for her to set up her territory and have young of her own. We have started seeing Nsele’s older daughter also a few times this month. She is also such a great leopard female. Mvula is spending a lot of his time back in the western part of his old territory. It looks like the leopard dynamics are starting to change again, concerning the male leopards. Now that Mvula has moved more west it is clear that he is under enormous pressure from the other male leopards like Tingana. With him being here it puts tremendous pressure on Kurula and Shadow as they have tiny babies and he is not the father. When he stumbles onto one of the dens he will kill the cubs and there is nothing these ladies can do. Tingana is pushing more north and further east expanding his own territory and does not have the faintest idea that Mvula is in his territory. Tingana is really looking great but still getting pressured from Anderson. Anderson does not stay very long in one area as he has such a big territory that he needs to check. This male most definitely has the biggest territory of all the males in the area. Anderson spends a lot more time with Salayexe and her almost one-year-old cub. This might be a sign that Salayexe might come into season in the next few months.
African wild dog by Neil Coetzer
We had great lion sightings this last month. The three Styx pride lionesses are still looking great and very healthy. There is still no sign of more cubs from the other females but let’s hope it is not going to be too much longer. The old female moved all over and in and out of thick drainage lines, which means that she might be looking for a den. This will be great news for us and for the pride. Although the young female has a den already two females do not normally share the same den. The young Styx female has also moved her cubs again to a new location this month. One of the Birmingham males moved into the area of the den and the young female just lashed out and gave him a good hiding. Let’s just hope that these young boys won’t kill their brother’s cubs like the Mapogo’s did. It is unclear what the male’s intention was but the female did not want him around that day. We do not know how many cubs there is as we have not seen them yet. I think I speak for everyone here when I say we cannot wait for the little ones to start moving around with their mother. The Nkuhuma females were also out and about this month and it is great to see them spending more time in our area. They are still some of the best looking lionesses in the area and are in top condition. It looks like one of the females are pregnant as her milk glands are swollen. This will be great for the pride to also grow in numbers. The Nkuhuma pride was once the biggest pride in the area and was so successful in hunting, raising cubs and defending their territory. The Birmingham males have started again to move more west. These males did spend a lot of their time in the eastern part of their territory as this is where all their females are.
Anderson the male leopard by Dawie Jacobs
There was no change with the buffalo sightings again this month. We were fortunate to have seen two and at times even three big herds on one game drive. We all know too well that it can happen at any time where food gets scarcer and the herds move on to greener pastures. But for now we are enjoying every moment with these wonderful animals. The majority of the females that were pregnant last month gave birth and the herds are full of newborn babies. The poor youngsters need to move when the herd moves and can rest when the herd settles to rest or stop to feed. When you find a big herd you must take the time to watch them closely as they do their day to day things. You will actually see that they are very unique animals in their own way. When you look at the buffalo calves, they have to drink on the move. Due to buffalo herds always being on the move the babies walk behind their mothers and drink from the back while mum is feeding. With the last of the big males back with the herds there is a bit of pushing and shoving going on between the males. We have not yet seen a full on fight with these big boys this month but it is bound to happen sooner or later.
Salayexe`s cub and an elephant by Dawie Jacobs
If there was one thing where there was no shortage of then it was elephants. It was wonderful again to spend some time with these big heavyweights. We were so fortunate to see two males in full musth having a standoff. There was so many big males in the area this month and we saw a group of males together with a herd of females. Sometimes it might happen where you see an old male that is close to 50 years old with a few young males. These young males are called askaris bulls, they will follow the big male and he will teach them everything they need to know. When a young bull comes into musth for the very first time he will be about 25 years old. The body will undergo a massive change with high testosterone levels and the young bull might get very aggressive. With this high testosterone levels shooting through the body, the young male wants to fight with everything that stands in his way. That is when the old big male comes into play to show the young male who the boss is and to put him on his place. The herds of females moved through the whole area again this month. We had such great times with these beautiful animals. Herds came from far to drink the fresh water from the waterhole in front of the lodge. It was such a treat to see the females and their babies coming to drink water while we are having breakfast or lunch. These big animals drink water twice a day and will drink between 100L – 200L of water per day.
The sighting that stood out above the rest was Shadow and her cubs. It is a treat to spend quality time with this little family and the cubs are very relaxed with the vehicles, jumping and playing.
Did you know?
A giraffe’s tongue is outside of its mouth for about 10-14 hours a day while eating.
See you out on game drive soon!
Wild photo of the month. Salayexe the female leopard by Neil Coetzer
It is that time of year again, show time! April and May are two very busy months with tourism shows of all kinds all over. The World Travel Market took place 06 to 08 April in Cape Town and our lodge was again represented by our marketing representative, Samantha Chatham at her Somewhere South stand. We received very positive feedback from the show and looking forward to continue a very valuable relationship with all our travel agents and tour operators.
Breakaway lion feeding on a buffalo by Dawie Jacobs
Hendrik and his maintenance team was once again out and about with the tractor on the airstrip. The lovely rain we got flushed away some soil on the airstrip which left behind nasty ruts. We closed our airstrip for a few days, the tractor did a few laps up and down from north to south and Bob’s your uncle. Everything is back to standard and the airstrip is once again ready to welcome fly-in guests. They also started with some bush clearing. Each year after the rainy season comes to an end, we need to clear the roads of overhanging branches. The maintenance team did a wonderful job and guests can enjoy game drives without having to duck and dive for branches along the road.
Wild dog by Neil Coetzer
Since our guests spend no less than 6 hours per day on a game drive vehicle, it is extremely important for us to keep our vehicles in the best possible condition. With time and the location we are in, vehicles have to be replaced after a certain amount of years and we reached that deadline. I am proud to say that we now have a brand new fleet of land cruisers. Because these vehicles are in such high demand and do not come cheap, it took us a few months, but hey, good things are worth waiting for. We have already been doing drives with some of them for a few months, but the project is now complete. We have 5 new beige cruisers occupying our vehicle shed. I am sure it is every ranger’s dream to drive a brand new vehicle in this beautiful area we call home. A big thank you to Etienne for making this dream a reality , he always keeps our guests and staff’s best experience and interests at heart!
Our trapcam photo this month is really one of the funniest pictures we got in a long time, not what you would expect from normal day to day zebra activity. I laughed so much, Amanda had to come from her office to see what the joke was about. The camera was placed at Kraaines Pan after the rain where we have a lot of animal activity at the moment. I am still not sure if this zebra smiled for the camera or showed his teeth to prove his charms but it is priceless! Just again reminds us that there is never a dull moment in the bush!
We welcomed a new member to our team this month. Wayne Lubbe joined us to complete our team of rangers. Originally from Gauteng, Wayne started his guiding career in 2010 at Kapama where he gained valuable experience. At the moment, he is joining as many game drives as possible to learn roads and will start with game drives soon. Welcome to our team Wayne!
We also had some birthdays at the lodge this month. On the 3rd Simon celebrated his birthday. He is one of the gardeners who keeps the lodge surroundings in tip-top condition and assists with general day to day maintenance. On the 13th, Etienne had his big day. The love and pride Etienne has for the lodge is bigger than anything I have ever seen. He is an inspiration to all of us and a wonderful boss to work for! Just one day later on the 14th, Amanda also aged another year. Amanda’s bubbly personality is well known in our reservation department. Short on their heels was Janine, who celebrated her birthday on the 18th. She is the friendly face that will check you in during your arrival and make sure your stay is an unforgettable experience. Then, last but not least, Joyce celebrated her birthday on the 30th. Joyce is one of our cleaners that make sure that the rooms are comfortable and cleaned to perfection. Happy birthday to all of you! I hope you had wonderful birthdays and may you enjoy many more at Elephant Plains! To all our readers who celebrated their birthdays during April, we hope you also had a fantastic day, filled with happiness and laughter!
Our kitchen always have the most amazing aromas during the day. One very strong and attractive smell is that of braised lamb shank. For this month’s recipe, head chef Jacques gives us his secret to creating a mouth watering piece of art.
Braised lamb shank
Braised lamb shank
Braised lamb shank
3kg lamb shank/ 6 shanks
385g carrots/ 1 packet
4 Onions – roughly chopped
1 Bunch celery – roughly chopped
2 Garlic heads – halved
750ml White wine
3Lt Liquid Chicken Stock
2 tbsp Tomato Paste
4 Rosemary sprigs
4-6 Thyme Sprigs
1 Bay leaf
10 Juniper berries
1 tsp Black Pepper
Oil for frying
Flour for dusting
Fry the carrots, onions, celery and garlic in oil till tender.
Lightly dust the lamb in flour then fry in a pan until brown
Deglaze the pan with the white wine and reduce the wine by half
In an oven proof dish, add together the fried vegetables, browned lamb, tomato paste, reduced white wine and hot chicken stock
Make a bouquet garni with the black pepper, bay leaf, thyme, rosemary and juniper berries and add to the dish, ready to go into the oven.
Cover with foil and bake for 8 hours at 100°C. Check every hour to make sure your dish does not cook dry. If extra liquid is needed, top up with more stock or wine and water. Serves 6 to 8
Serve and enjoy!
All the best till next month