Ranger Diary: January & February 2012

COVER

This newsletter is long overdue I am afraid as so much has transpired over the last few months.

From experiencing our wettest January ever recorded, followed by our driest February ever, the bush has been dramatically transformed.

Zebra Duelling

From a variety of lush green colours in earlier January, to softer greens and browns with touches of beige in late February due to the bushveld slowly drying out.

The summer months produced an abundance of riches and herbivores are now in magnificent conditions with various males challenging for the right to mate with receptive females.

Umfaana Male


Pictured here are two zebra stallions hammering it out. They will bite and kick viciously at each other leaving nasty scars.

Leopard viewing has been fantastic over the last few months which I believe is due to the sporadic lion movement.
The leopard have taken full advantage of this and sightings of them have been prolific. Some of the youngsters are really coming into their own.

The young “Umfaana” male pictured here is travelling further afield and becoming more and more successful at hunting larger game.

Another young challenger, the “Xinhophi” male situated out to the west, is also roaming further afield. So far these two have not come into conflict but I think it is just a matter of time.

Machaton Pride


Our lion prides have roamed far and wide during the wet season. With prolific game being found throughout the reserve, they have tended to follow the large buffalo herds. The Machaton pride pictured here have not been seen in the last few weeks but the last I saw of them all seven cubs were still accounted for.

As soon as they are sighted again we will update you on their progress. A pride we are seeing more often is the Ross pride who tend to travel further to the west of us. They also have a magnificent male who often travels with the pride. We recently found them feeding on a giraffe carcass.

Enjoying the water!

Elephant have been enjoying the lush grasses which form a large portion of their diet during the summer months. They are also often found bathing in various water points cooling off and getting rid of any unwanted skin irritations. There are also a number of very young calves to be found in our traversing area.

Little one feeding


The cow pictured here must have given birth late last year, as the young calf at her side looks to be only a couple months old. I am always amazed at how gentle these large animals are when it comes to their little ones.

In this image the mother is quietly feeding away and gently raises her left front leg allowing the calf to suckle. The little one tucks it trunk up and uses its mouth to suckle directly on its mother’s nipple – a very special moment.

As mentioned before, buffalo have been prevalent throughout our traversing area. They too have been taking full advantage of the numerous waterpoints to drink and bath.

Buffalo Duel


We found a bull who almost fell asleep in the middle of this pan because he was so relaxed. Here you can also see two bulls busy sparing it out over a receptive cow close by, but they still chose to conduct this duel in the water!

You would have thought with all this water around hippo would be thriving, but there has been major hippo movement.

The floods broke most of the large permanent dams forcing hippo families to find alternate water sources.

Hippo enjoying the water


They have travelled further afield and can now be found in smaller pans and dams across the reserve. Just a matter of time before they call camp dam home again!

Sighting of the Month:

This would have to be the sighting of Rockfig Junior and her young cub pictured below. It has taken a few months and a lot of patience but eventually we were rewarded with this sighting.

We only managed a few minutes with the little one, but wow what a few minutes it was. The cub looked in fantastic condition. It was very shy to start but we managed to get a few quick pictures. We hope to see alot more of this youngster in future. Exciting times!

Rockfig Junior and her cub

Until next month.

Text and images by Dale Jackson