Rangers Diary April 2013
It’s been a fabulous month of rare sightings at all three of our lodges!!! My recent guests, who stayed at Imbali Safari Lodge, got a rare sighting of a Serval while they were being transferred to the airport. This Serval lives on Imbali access and is seen from time to time. These cats are very cunning and have the highest rate of success for hunting in the African cat family with an 86% success rate or higher. They feed on mice, birds, and sometimes insects like grasshoppers. They are known to jump over a meter high to catch birds like the guinea fowl. Below is a photo taken by our guests Rob and Karen Bradbery.
Rangers Diary March 2013
This month has been a month of some amazing Cheetah sightings. Cheetahs are one of the most endangered mammals in Africa. They are diurnal, (day time animals), and are easily chased away from kills made by lions, leopards, hyenas, wild dogs and sometimes even jackals. This makes them easy targets for predators including other large cats. They have been blamed for killing sheep and goats and have been shot to keep them off farming properties.
Rangers Diary February 2013
February was a month filled with amazing sightings on game drive as well as by the camp. A lioness decided to have her morning nap in front of Rooms 8 and 9 and gave our guests quite a show posing in the sunlight and twitching her tail watching with interest as pictures were taken and guests talked softly and excitedly about their wonderful breakfast guest.
Rangers Diary January 2013
It was a rocky start to the New Year with heavy rains on the 20th of January dominating the month. Again, same as last year, the N’watsintsontso River came up in flood and is still flowing at the time of writing. Due to this the lodges were closed again and we were closed from the 20th till the 4th of February. That means we were not able to go out into the bush as roads and bridges were washed away.
Rangers Diary December 2012
Rangers Diary November 2012
Greetings from the Imbali Safari LodgeTeam.
What a month we have had. The Cats have been keeping us very busy and the Raptor activity has been plentiful.
Rainfall was 32 mm
Average temp was 25.3deg
Hottest day was 36deg
There has been a large amount of Raptors spotted on drives this month. It is incredible to view a raptor in flight, yet even more incredible to view a Raptor on a kill.
A couple of the guides and guests were fortunate enough to view a Wahlbergs Eagle (Aquila Wahlbergi) catch a Green Wood Hoopoe (Phoeniculus purpureus). The Green Wood Hoopoe flock were minding their own business, when all of a sudden a large Wahlbergs Eagle swooped in and dispursed the flock of Hoopoes.
Ranger Diary October 2012
Greetings from Imbali Safari Lodge.
Rainfall was 45 mm
Average temp was 28 deg
Hottest day was 36 deg
A strong presence of European Bee Eaters (Merops apiaster) on the concession this month was a huge excitement. Flocks of up to fifty odd individuals were sighted on a couple of occasions.
European Bee Eaters do most definitely prey on bees, yet an array of different insects fill the larger part of the daily dietary requirement. This includes dragonflies, moths, termites, butterflies and just about anything else that flies unluckily into the bill of this beautiful Ave.
IMBALI JUNIOR BUSH ACADAMEY CRASH COURSE 101
Tracking & Bush Survival
A short course on learning how to recognise tracks, how old the track is and direction of animal movement as well as other interesting facts about the animal from the tracks.
How to use what nature gives you to survive in the bush – medicinal uses of trees, the bush toothbrush, what is safe to eat and best fire making wood
Rangers Diary September 2012
Greetings from the Hamiltons Tented Camp, Imbali Safari Lodge and Hoyo Hoyo Tsonga Lodge Teams. There is a definite Summer feel in the air, the Migratory Birds are making a strong appearance and the Dung Beetles are back to their dung ball rolling activities.
Rainfall was 55mm
Average temp 26.1.deg
Hottest day 37deg
Rangers Diary August 2012
Greetings from a very warm Mluwati concession. Spring is here and with it comes so much change and excitement.
Rainfall was 0mm
Average temp 20.7.deg
Hottest day 39deg
Rangers Diary July 2012
Greetings from the Imbali team, Hamiltons team and the Hoyo Hoyo team. Things seem to be warming up and getting windy. Spring is just around the corner.
Rainfall was 0 mm
Average temp 24 deg
Hottest day 28 deg
Rangers Diary June 2012
Game viewing has been somewhat exciting this month. On the birding front, the resident trio of Ground Hornbills have made an appearance on a number of occasions. The open plains opposite Imbali make for perfect hunting grounds for the Ground Hornbills.
The Kurichane thrushes that spend the most part of their day amongst the guest rooms here at Imbali are a pleasure to listen to whilst they flutter from tree to tree whistling at one another.
Rangers Diary May 2012
It’s been a very dry month here on the Mluwati concession and sightings have been very good. The grass shortening and leafless trees make game viewing a little easier.
Rangers Diary April 2012
Winter has started to set in nicely now. The morning mist and cool temperatures are good evidence that the winter has returned. The grasses are slowly starting to loose their lush green colours now and the trees are starting to shed their leaves.
Rainfall was 70mm
Average temp 23.5deg
Hottest day 34deg
Newsletter March 2012
What a grand opening we have experienced at our Camps. Our Interior designer has revived our rooms into a state of utter relaxation and comfort. Imbali has warm greys and hints of black that bounce off of the crisp white linen and gives the room an earthy feel. Our new Splash pools have been the highlight, they are perfect for lazing around in the hot afternoons sipping on cocktails. We have a mischievous elephant that seems to think it is better to drink out of our splash pools than the water hole. He sneaks through the river bed and slowly slips his trunk into the pool thinking no one would notice him.
Hoyo Hoyo has rich gingers and reds that compliment the traditional Tsonga colours. Hamiltons Tented Camp is any romantic’s fairytale destination with an authentic antique layout that takes you back to a past era.
We have had some amazing sightings that feel like a well orchestrated symphony playing out before your eyes. It is a real challenge for our rangers to find game in the lush bush but they are very enthusiastic about the challenge. We’ve had numerous sightings of Leopards, Cheetahs and Lions. We have seen a few kills being made and the guests were in absolute awe. Ranger Twice found a pack of 10 wild dogs on the access road to Hoyo. It is a real gift to see such a healthy pack of wild dogs as they are an endangered species. Our guest feedback has exceeded our expectations.
As summer turns to autumn, water becomes a valuable commodity. We have water holes at all out Camps that are replenished by our reed bed system. We see more and more game visiting our waterholes for a quick drink before moving on. All the water holes are strategically placed for optimal viewing from the comfort of the main decks off all three lodges.
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Rangers Diary Feb 2012
Imbali is absolutely awe struck by the beauty of the bush after the rains. The bush is lush and green with fascinating game sightings.
Arno, our Resident Manager stumbled across this sighting of a female Leopard with a duiker on the Hamiltons Access road towards Hamiltons tented Camp. This is quite a young female and she posed beautifully for us.
We often find young bulls wondering about by themselves. They have a reputation of being loners. The shoulder height of elephants can be roughly calculated by taking twice the circumference of their front foot. Like humans, elephants may also be left or right tusked. Elephants would use one tusk more than the other which means it would be shorter because of wear and tear, thus the elephant would be left handed if the left tusk is shorter.
Our legendary “Big Pan” is exquisite this time of year and a rare beauty to be seen in the bush. It is in full bloom covered with thousands of water lilies and frequented by Fish Eagles. The Musical melody of the different species of frogs croaking together is an experience not to be matched by any other. It is any frog enthusiasts’ dream come true.
Hamiltons tented Camp is on The N’waswitsontso River which is actually a dry river bed but is still flowing in some areas because of the high volumes of rain we received. Hamiltons are greeted every afternoon by a few hippopotamuses in the river that grunt loudly as if to seek some attention. There is also a lot of plains game that come to the riverbed to rehydrate.
Hoyo Staff had some music training with renowned music Writer, Ricardo Lopez. He taught them how to speak Italian and how to play some lovely beats on the Jembe Drum. Hoyo Hoyo puts up quite a magical show for their guests.
It is exciting times for Imbali safari Lodge, Hamiltons tented Camp and Hoyo Hoyo Tsonga lodge. We are getting a face lift so to speak. Renovations and soft refurbishments are taking place at all the camps. We have replaced all our decks at Imbali Safari Lodge and new tents at Hamiltons tented Camp. We also have new splash pools at Imbali which will be accessed from the comfort of your own doorstep.
We used our quite time to do a little team building. We had all staff from the 3 camps in teams of 6. We competed in various games, not only physical but mental games as well. The Management team won, yet another way of showing true leadership.
We are pleased to introduce our new staff members, starting with Khumbulani Nzima, Ray Ellis and Dalphine Pietersen
Khumbulani was once a police officer and gave up his job to become an Exec chef. He has more than 14 years Cheffing experience and has truly blown us away with his knowledge and flair in the Kitchen.
Ray is our Maintenance Manager. He has a degree in Zoology and trade in maintenance. He is also a qualified Field Guide.
Dalphine is the Imbali Camp Manager.
December is over and summer is back in full force. We received 163mm of rain in the month with an average temperature of 34deg Celsius. The bush is filled with lush green foliage and the most beautiful coloured wild flowers. As is the norm we were very busy during the festive period with many families and couples who came to explore nature trying to discover a little bit about themselves. This they would do either while on safari or in the lap of luxury around the individual camps. Well done to all our staff for all the effort they put in during this busy period. A special mention to our Resident Manager, Arno du Preez, who on Christmas day saved the day by preventing room 9 at Imbali from burning down after removing all the guest’s personal luggage & belongings. Now that ‘s leading by example!
All our Pale Arctic and Inter Africa migrants are back and the birdlife is phenomenal. We had the rare privilege of seeing a spiral of about 40 Step Eagles feeding on hatching flying ants. Even the little Red Backed Shrike who migrates between South Africa and Russia is a common site on game drives with the same old wonder “How does something so small fly so far?”
The big game activity this time of year is also fascinating with a lot of behaviours. We see Fhlemem Grimace regularly, male animals lick urine or genitalia, the tongue is placed over 2 tiny holes in the palate leading to the Vomero Nasal organ (Jacobson’s Organ). The scent particles are then processed for a number of informational reasons ie. Male or female, ready to mate, who a particular animal is etc.
The lips are curled backwards to prevent air from passing through the nose as this will interfere with the scent processing. This leaves a really silly expression Fhlemem’s Grimace.
Our lion sightings for the month were a bit tough as the bush is very dense but we were still fortunate enough to have some phenomenal sightings. Our resident Hamilton pride has some new youngsters and because the adults are very relaxed around our vehicles we get great views. Lion give birth after a rapid 96-102day gestation. Cubs are born totally helpless and blind. they are introduced to the pride at the age of 12weeks.Lions show a breeding behaviour like no other, Allo Suckling any suckling cub will drink from any lactating female in the pride. This gives the cub a variety of anti-bodies and bacteria to ensure a healthy immune system. It also strengthens social bonds between pride members.
The local Cheetah population is doing very well and they are seen regularly both big male coalitions and females. A welcome surprise is a youngster I saw on the cutline the 26th of last month. These youngsters have a very low success rate and very few survive into adult hood. The Latin name for Cheetah – Acinonyx Jubates refers to; a non-retractable claw, and like a cloak or coat. Only up to the age of 3 to 6 months can they retract their claws and up to three months young cheetah cub backs are covered with a mantle of bluish grey hair. This affords them false advertising as they mimic the Honey Badger the most tenacious character in the bush.
Elephants are everywhere with many calves taking their first wobbly steps in a fantastic new world. Young calves are very entertaining when they move about and attempt to seem fierce. After a near two year gestation period they are perfect little copies of the adults and full trunk function will only be achieved at around three years. When they suckle the trunk is laid back over the face and they drink with the mouth. Elephant have a lot of bacteria in the stomach that helps digestion, and young elephant eat the faeces of adults in the herd to build up bacteria, a behaviour known as Briofega.
And before we forget what is more impressive than a six tonner blocking the road? The bull below is displaying a very relaxed, curious behaviour as confirmed by his trunk hanging over his tusk. Big bulls have very little to fear so they are generally relaxed. When in musth (an urdoe word for the condition) they are easily irritated because their testosterone level is up to 50 times higher than normal. This period can last from 6 weeks to 3 months. In the height of musth the bull will show the Golden Shower phase, a constant golden dribble, a mixture of sperm and urine, constantly drips from the penis sheath during this phase a bull will copulate with a susceptible female. One is better of being very cautious around bulls in this condition a very easy indicator is templar gland secretions between the eye and the ear.
In terms of rare and special it must be said we had excellent leopard for the month and our territorial male steals the spotlight time and again. He weighs approximately 75-85 kilos aptly referred to as “Big Show”. He is truly a magnificent specimen. Males are about 40% bigger than females and cover areas of 3 to 4 times bigger than the females. They will defend the territory against conspesifics of the same sex They are solitary except for the mating period of around 4-5 days. Therefore the male has to cover great distance in search of potential mates. They take no part in parenting.
Rare sightings also included a pack of Wild Dogs around the Orpen area. These painted wolves (Lycoan Pictus) cover very wide ranges. In 1989 there were 28 packs of Wild dog in Kruger National Park numbering 386 animals. Next to the Ethiopian Red Wolf is the second most endangered carnivore in Africa. Wild Dogs rely on sight rather than smell in hunting and it is therefore they are found in rather open country.
My bird for the month is the White Headed Vulture. They are the second largest of the vultures, but the rarest of the bushveld vultures. They are always greatly outnumbered at carrion also one time where they will be seen in pairs otherwise they are solitary nesters.
January will again be the hottest month so we await the rains and for the rivers to flow. As the frog choirs serenade us to sleep and the stars dance us into the morning. From the Imbali Hamilton’s and Hoyo team
We wish you all a happy and prosperous 2012