Angele Rouillard is a passionate photographer, guide and lodge manager of Ezulwini River Lodge in the Balule Nature Reserve. She’s always on the ball when it comes to letting the digital team know about recent big cat sightings in the Balule Nature Reserve. When I hear that ping from Angele, I’m overcome with a sense of excitement and mild panic (she doubles my work load with her influx of images). Ezulwini game drives are consistently successful in terms of big cat sightings, and Angele always makes an effort to capture the rare moments in the wild through her lens. It’s not uncommon for Angele to say, “Hi…guests saw cheetah on a kill, the Kudyela lion cubs and the Machaton male lions on a kill”. Truth is, the Balule pumps with wildlife sightings, which aren’t limited to big cats.”
This blog post is designed to showcase a few of Angele’s images from recent game drives in the Balule Nature Reserve, a private reserve in the Greater Kruger offering unsurpassed game viewing opportunities.
General Game in the Balule Nature Reserve
We often focus on sharing the big moments in our biome, but that doesn’t mean we disregard the smaller moments. The Balule is heaving with general game – a broad category used to describe the herbivores and small creatures of the bushveld. The wooded areas and riverine vegetation provide a haven for a wealth of birds, so coupled with sightings of general game, birding in the Balule is exceptional. During the summer you’ll see plenty of migrants fluttering to the emerald landscapes of the Kruger, and during the winter the firm favourites always provide a few reliable sightings.
The southern yellow-billed hornbills are found just about everywhere and make for great photographic subjects. Angele actually managed to capture a moment with a hornbill grappling a crunchy snack. The rest of her general game images depict a placid life in the Balule bushveld. We have stunning images of curious giraffe slowly ambling from one nutritious acacia to the next, herds of waterbuck hovering on the banks of the river outside the lodge, little steenbok gracing guests with their presence
The Ezulwini Big Cats in the Balule Nature Reserve
The Balule really steals the show with its sightings of the local mega-pride of lions, the Kudyelas. It’s come to the stage where we’ve lost track of the number of cubs. And just when we got a handle on the numbers, Angele reported that another female had given birth to more cubs. Currently, the Kudyelas have quite a cross section of young cubs that – in time – will break away from the pride when the males are old enough. In the coming years, the lion prides and population will increase. The cubs born to the Kudyelas were sired by the Machaton males, their fierce protectors. Just recently, Angele photographed the new batch of lion cubs belonging to the Kudyelas – and we’re super impressed with her results !
Leopards are always present, and Chavaluthu still appears to be the blue-eyed boy and local guardian of the area. The team managed to spot him at sunrise, which made for the perfect ambient setting. Of course, the exquisite feline Faka Nchovela often provides her fair share of sightings. There are always the sightings of unknown leopards that push boundaries and cross over into new territories for a quick exploration.