Summer sundowners, sizzling heat and festive cheer is permeating the bushveld air. At the moment, our camps are a hive of activity. On-the-ground guides and lodge managers are eagerly planning events and menus for this delightfully chaotic time of year. This tangible yuletide cheer is accompanied by a definitive shift in the colours of the vegetation, which seem to match the stereotypical palette of the festive season. Tones of the bush are rapidly changing from Amarula browns to Crème de Menthe greens, creating a natural cocktail of festive shades. Our wildlife is buzzing at the prevalence of prey, the ready availability of water and nutritious carpets of green.
Let’s gift you with a brief update from camps that have sent through their sled of images for the week.
Klaserie and the Brutish Vuyela Lions
It’s common knowledge that the Vuyela coalition of lions and the associated lioness are the local lions of the Africa on Foot and nThambo Tree Camp traverse. They’re an unbelievably ruthless group of cats and don’t think twice about taking down sizeable prey. Known as the giraffe-killers of the area, these lions are certainly a force. For the first time, guides actually saw this coalition withe a different type of prey the other day – a buffalo. Accompanying these lion kill sightings are ample visuals of hyena clans and kettles of vultures. With carcasses come scavengers!
Leopards have been spotted on occasion, but the past few weeks they’ve been scarce. The 3 local cheetah gave the team quite an epic sighting a few weeks ago, but have since retreated into the lush thickets. Speaking of lush, the giant herbivores are – quite frankly – littering the landscape. They’re loving the new replenishment of greens.
We do expect to see more of the Vuyelas, scavengers and hopefully a few leopards. The night vision camera used by Rogan Kerr is giving our team fantastic insight into the mysterious nocturnal behaviour of animals in their natural state.
Ezulwini and the Curious Wild Dogs
Ezulwini is never short of predator sightings in the Balule, and it appears the local pack of wild dogs is quite sedantry, which is unusual given the time of year. Either way, the team at Ezulwini aren’t complaining ! Angele from River Lodge has been hard at work ensuring guests are welcomed into the festive season with a bit of cheer (she’s been slaving away at making Christmas themed biscuits). Now that the landscape is displaying the typically emerald vegetation synonymous with summer, Ezulwini surrounds have really come alive. The plains game and giant herbivores continue to provide consistent sightings while out on game drive – and they’re loving the abundant greens and availability of water.
Umkumbe and the Mating Leopards
A few weeks ago the stellar Sabi Sand guides at Umkumbe Safari Lodge delighted us with their reports of a caracal on a scrub hare kill. This week guide Shaun spotted a rather rare black-bellied bustard just strutting down the gravel road. In true Umkumbe style, leopards were also spotted. Guests were treated to a sighting of the White Dam male and Mashutu female mating. Let’s hope there are cubs on the horizon!
Walkers and the Endless Sightings
Walkers Bush Villa is a hot topic at the moment ! Discerning guests and small groups are suitably impressed with all that has to offer; but it’s not only the villa side of things that’s impressive. Game drives are always successful – it is the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve after all ! Recently Shirell and Charles hosted a delightful 60th birthday party which was a rip-roaring success. Not only did the group see the Black Dam male lion (who seems to be hanging around a lot), but saw leopard a few times and plenty other wildlife.
A highlight over the past week was the sighting of the Giraffe Pride tucking into a hearty meal of giraffe. The scavenging crew descended upon the area in no time at all, ensuring they also got a piece of the action !
Chacma and the Jackal Pups
Em reported that the traverse around Chacma is thriving with new life since the rains. The waterhole in front of the camp is brimming with wading birds and summer migrants. One of the Maseke male lions was recently spotted getting up close and personal to one of the game viewers – clearly the lions in the Maseke don’t see the vehicles as a threat. A lone leopard has recently made an appearance in the dead of night, and it’s not the first the beauty has been spotted. She has a cub on the traverse, which is fantastic news for the future of Chacma’s big cats.
The emphasis this week has been on the active jackal den site in the area. There are 5 pups to have emerged from the den site, all scurrying around and exploring their new found freedom.