Rangers Diary

Rangers Diary May 2013

The month of May was yet another exciting month with regards to sightings of Lions. On the one afternoon safari, our Guides located one of the Talamati Pride female’s stalking a wildebeest on the Hoyo Hoyo plains on the Mluwati concession. The guests were informed that if they waited patiently they might witness a kill and indeed after approximately 15 minutes, the distressed call from the Wildebeest was heard. The Guides followed the distressed calls and they were in time to witness the lioness suffocating the Wildebeest. In the process the other 2 females of the Talamati pride had also just caught another Wildebeest. The lioness and cubs were seen feasting on the carcasses. Guests were in total disbelief of their luck to witness such an amazing firsthand experience, a sighting that will be reminisced for years to come.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Rangers Diary December 2012

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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

Birds

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.

Rangers Diary November Imbali

Ranger Diary October 2012

Greetings from Imbali Safari Lodge.

Rainfall was 45 mm

Average temp was 28 deg

Hottest day was 36 deg

Birds

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.

Rangers Diary October 2012 – Imbali

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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

 Imbali Junior Bush Academy Crash Course 101 (2)

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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 September 2012

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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 August 2012

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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 July 2012

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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 June 2012 (2)

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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 May 2012

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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

For the full story Click Here

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.

Rangers Diary Feb 2012

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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

August 2014

Posted by on Sep 20, 2014 in Rangers Diary | 0 comments

August 2014

Mluwati Concession Aug News Letter

In This Issue
Magnificent 7 Update
Sightings Update
Bird life

A month of good sightings all around and the guides were able to ensure constant smiles due to the high amount of animals and big five sightings that presented themselves. Many exciting sightings were had by all and we send thanks to all of our guests who visited us over the last couple of weeks.
Many great stories to follow…

Magnificent seven sightings

Lion
The lions have been up and about quite a lot lately and we have been seeing them on a daily basis. The 4 young males have been apart for the last few days due to the dominant of the 4 having been mating with one of the young lionesses from the pride of 5. A great sighting was had recently of the pride killing a baboon in the river bed at Hamiltons, as well as two of the lions mating. One of the lionesses has also been missing lately and we believe she is denning somewhere in the Nwaswisontso river bed, as we saw her recently having been lactating and the fur around her nipples was bare which is a sign of cubs suckling. No recent sightings of the pride with 4 young cubs to our east on the s125, but we all hope they show themselves soon. All in all we have had some great sightings on and around the concession area.

Rhinos
We will not be giving out any information about our rhino sightings and once again give praise to the Anti-Poaching Units fighting for our rhino.

Elephant
Many great elephant sightings have been seen, mostly around the Imbali watering hole, the Hoyo Hoyo watering hole as well as all around the dam in front of Hamiltons. Many young babies have also been recorded in the area.

Elephant

Buffalo
The big herds of buffalo have been away from concession lately, mostly hanging around the s36 by the Nhanguleni picnic spot as well as around Shimangwaneni dam up in the northern parts of the s36. However many old male buffalo have been seen around the concession, we will be expecting many more sightings of the buffalo once the rains arrive and our mud pans fill up. But all in all the buffalo sightings have been reasonable.

Elephant 2

Leopards
The leopards have been around quite a bit lately and we have had some amazing sightings. The male from Lugmag dam has given us yet again some great sightings, following his usual path from the dam wall across to the Lugmag pan. The young female with the cub was recently found at Hamiltons, sunning herself with her cub in a beautiful tree along the banks of the river bed, she gave us some great photos and sat in the tree for quite some time before climbing down and moving off into the distance. Unfortunately she was found a few days later hiding behind the same rocky outcrop where the lions killed a baboon, badly injured and with no cub in sight, her leg was badly injured and she could hardly walk, she has not been seen since and we are all very worried about her but leopards are tough animals and we are sure she will survive.

Cheetahs
The cheetah have unfortunately been very quiet the past few weeks, the only sighting having been seen around the Manyeleti boundry.

Wild dogs
The wild dog pack has been very scarce as well, we believe they are denning somewhere in the area according to the research team, but unfortunately no sightings of them.

General game
Great general game has been seen by all, the sable bull is still hanging around the concession and was seen around the Hoyo Hoyo area, lots of zebra, waterbuck and kudu were also seen all over the place of which many youngsters were around. The nocturnal creatures have been around as well comprising of the African civet, the genets as well as the very relaxed African wild cat which hangs around the Hamiltons area.

Birds
Some great birding was done having seen some rare birds such as the burnt-necked eremomala, and a martial eagle on a natal spurfowl kill. The very rare african finfoot was seen far down south as well. Great news is that the 3 saddle-billed stork chicks have taken that leap from the nest and are now flying around the nest area. Lots of vultures flying around including the white-headed vulture. A few fish-eagle kills were also seen as well as the Retz’s helmet-shrike. Our first marabou storks were seen on the concession in front of Hamiltons which was superb. Good birding all in all.
Compiled by: Hamiltons guide: Shaun Raine
Photos by:
Stefan Kruger: Assistant Head Guide

July 2014

Posted by on Sep 20, 2014 in Rangers Diary | 0 comments

July 2014

Mluwati Concession July News Letter 

In This Issue:

Magnificent 7 Update

Sightings Update

Bird life

What a great game viewing month this has been all round. Most of the pans have dried up into mud wallows. This has meant a concentration of animal movement around the existing water source. We mainly focussed on those hotspot areas, three of those being the waterholes in front of the lodges. While not on game drives our guests experienced great elephant and general game sightings in the mid day heat, as they came in good numbers to drink water. With less hiding place in the shorter grass our cheetahs found less hiding place.

Magnificent seven sightings

Lion

It appears the four male lion coalition has broadened their territory even more and we have had two sightings south west of their territory on the southern side of the S36 near Nhlanguleni picnic spot. We have been seeing them often in the concession and on the S125 ranging all the way from near Hamiltons all the way to Kumana dam. The four males and five females have been spotted most often on the old S36 opposite Hamiltons. There are also three separate female lionesses that moved into the river bed on the S125 with seven, three month old cubs. The Talamati pride stills hangs around north and west of the concession and mainly moving onto our cutline and concession from the west. They were spotted with a big kudu kill on the road a week ago and have been seen often ever since. They moved into Manyeleti again this morning.  There was also one sighting of a new group of lions 5km south of Lugmag dam. It was two females with a 10 month old male cub and a 7 month old female cub. They were on an old buffalo kill.

Rhinos

We will not be giving out any information about our Rhino sightings and once again give praise to the Anti-Poaching Units fighting for our Rhino.

Rhino

Elephant

It appears to be a near daily routine for herds of elephant to visit the water holes at the lodge. There are few things as unique as having an outside shower while looking at a herd of elephants drinking water on the other side of the river bed. There are constant herds moving through the concession and of course with them comes the big bulls in pursuit.  Another great month for close elephant encounters and we simply love it. The drives seems to never have a dull moment thanks to the elephants.

Elephants

Buffalo

Big herds tend to move greater distances in the winter to reach good water and grazing.  The bull groups visit the Hoyo-Hoyo and Imbali water holes every day. We have also been enjoying regular sightings of big buffalo herds passing Hamiltons to come and drink water. On more than one occasion we see multiple big 5 sightings at the watering holes. All the resident “dagga boy” groups are still hanging in their regular spots. We currently have two big herds of buffalo that have moved into the concession, both coming from the northern side of the Manyeleti.

Leopards

It has been a very productive month with regards to our leopard sightings. The young mother leopard and her cub have been seen around Hamiltons on a couple of occasions but with the lions constantly moving into the area she has had to move south east from the lodge for most of her time. We have also been seeing the older mother leopard with her cub on the Northern side of the S125 loop.  There have been good sightings on the S125 of a young male as well as an older female with two sub adult cubs. A few sightings have come from South of Kumana dam on the H1. One of them being a huge male that still seems to be marking his territory. We have on a few occasions also seen leopards on the S36 south. There seems to be another territorial male that hangs around Lugmag dam.

Cheetahs

Another booming cheetah month indeed it was. We saw a female with two little cubs on the S125 just west of the junction with the H1. On the concession we have seen a big male cheetah on several occasions in the vicinity of the plains along our southern cutline. We have been picking his tracks up along this road as well and we have seen him marking his territory. We can only hope he decides to stay in the area.

Wild dogs

This morning another sighting was made on the S36 south. Earlier this month the same four individuals were seen slightly north from that area. We assume that there is a den in that area because we saw the same pack there on a transfer. We have been enjoying sightings on the S 125 as well.

General game

The sable herds still pass through the area and we pick them up on occasion at the Hamiltons waterhole as well as the S36 at our concession look out. A big bull was seen on the Imbali access this morning. We have been often visiting the hyena den on the H1 north of Kumana dam. It appears to be a den with seven adults in total, and one three month old pup and two six month old pups sharing the same den. We have been seeing less serval this month on Borehole loop but there is a resident one on the western side of the S125 that seems very relaxed with the vehicles.

Croc

Birds

There is a jackalberry tree in full fruiting on the deck at Hoyo-Hoyo. It is a good attraction for brown headed parrots and the African green pigeons. Every mid day there are two African fish eagles that hang around Hamiltons and perfectly round off the bush experience with their iconic calls. The three saddle billed stork chicks are doing well and will take flight within the next month. I also saw three white headed vultures in the same tree this month and is what I reckon to be the birding highlight of the month.

Compiled by:

Hamiltons guide: Adi Stander

Assistant Head Guide: Stefan Kruger                                    

Photos by:

Wildlife Manager: John Nott

June 2014

Posted by on Jul 6, 2014 in Rangers Diary | 0 comments

June 2014

Mluwati Concession News Letter

In This Issue

Magnificent 7 Update

Sightings Update

Bird life

With big pans still boasting good water on our concession, the sightings of general game has picked up, and no drive can be quiet this time of the year. The animals are moving around more, to get from water to suitable grazing. This makes for amazing game walks, and the sightings on our walks have been spectacular.  A few days ago our Head Ranger and two guests were sitting 25 metres away from the water with two elephant bulls having fun in the water and mud.

Magnificent seven sightings

Lion

With the increase in game on the concession, we have had an influx of lion sightings as well. We have been spotting the Talamati lion pride often on our Northern boundaries close to Hoyo-Hoyo and on the Western side.  The four male lions and five lionesses we normally see on the s125 moved into the central and southern concession, and they caught a buffalo as well. What a great experience having a big lion kill 10 minutes away from Imbali Lodge.  They were heard calling most nights around Hamiltons Tented Camp.  One morning while enjoying a buffalo sighting on the S 125 loop south we heard the lions catch a zebra. Unfortunately it was in the Kruger National Park and we were not able to follow up. Yesterday morning we sat with nine lions and watched them try hunt giraffe. They were unsuccessful.

1

Rhinos

We will not be giving out any information about our Rhino sightings and once again give praise to the Anti-Poaching Units fighting for our Rhino.

Elephant

The herds are constantly moving through the concession and surrounding roads. They are quite trusting, and if you keep your distance and approach slowly, they are even trusting enough to proudly show off their babies as they walk past. The five big bulls around Hamiltons are still seen, but less frequently. They appear to be more around Big pan and South of our southern cutline.  We are seeing at least one herd of elephants a day (and that’s on a bad day).  Most of these herds appear to be on Middle road and the S125.

2

Buffalo

The 6 old bulls that are seen around Hoyo-Hoyo are still in the vicinity of the generator and the cutline. The 5 big bulls that were on the Western side of the S125 have moved further west, and are now seen on the concession from time to time and mainly on the S125 loop South close to the junction of the old S36. There have, once again, been very big herds moving through the concession and the last place where they were seen was the old S36 heading west (in the direction of the lions).

Leopards

A very bad month for leopard sightings. There has been one sighting on middle road, south of borehole loop, of a young female with a four month old cub, and a few nights later another older female was spotted at the junction of middle road and nkombe road. Our big male and one of the females with a cub has been seen around Talamati camp for the last few weeks.

3

Cheetahs

This has truly been a good month for cheetah, except for one. On the H1-3 tar road, a leopard caught a cheetah, which it carried into a tree right next to the road for the guests to see.  We saw two males at Kumana dam. There was a female with two sub adult cubs on the H1-3 north of Kumana dam two weeks ago. We found a beautiful relaxed male on the Southern cutline close to the KNP corner. This morning one of the guides found a female with three young cubs on the H1-3. We hope this streak will continue with our cheetah sightings.

4

Wild dogs

The rarely seen, endangered wild dogs are still a reason to visit any of our fine three lodges in the concession.  There have been quite a few sightings this month again and half of them were in fairly close proximity to Imbali and Hoyo-Hoyo. There were a few sightings on the S125 and we also heard that they caught an impala, only to leave it behind and head running for the thickets as the lions we were following had also heard it and went for an easy meal. We are not seeing the pregnant female any more so we assume that she has started denning. We are still looking for the den, because we think there is a good chance it is on the concession close to ridge road.

5

General game

The rutting season has passed, and with it the harsh guttural calls of the Impala rams. We have been seeing Sable this month as well, and one sighting was on a drop off to the Skukuza airport on the S36 south of us. Three separate sightings have been made on the S 36, north of Hamiltons. One of those sightings was a herd of nine individuals together. There was also a lone bull spotted on ridge road. The Giraffe are scattered but easily spotted, and we are averaging about five per game drive. The nocturnal game has been bountiful.

Birds

The Saddle Billed Stork has chicks in the nest. We have a resident pair of White Faced Scops Owls that roost in an acacia thicket on middle road. We regularly see Giant Eagle Owls around our beautiful river beds. It appears that the resident White Headed Vulture has found a partner! I have on more than one occasion seen both together around kills. We have also been seeing a new group of Coqui Francolins on middle road.

Compiled by: Hamiltons guide: Adi Stander

Photos by: Wildlife Manager: John Nott

Stefan Kruger: Assistant Head Guide

May 2014

Posted by on Jul 6, 2014 in Rangers Diary | 0 comments

May 2014

Mluwati Concession News Letter

In This Issue
Magnificent 7 Update
Sightings Update
Bird life

As the veld changes, the movements of the animals seems to adapt. So as rangers we need to adapt as well. This month has been more difficult with sightings, but we took the challenge with two hands and doing longer drives on average to go and find game. I am happy to report it paid off and our sightings did not decrease.
This time of the year is the fire month and the controlled block burning took place throughout the month. The smoke made for some amazing sunset and sundown photos. Our guests were enjoying splendid African sunsets and took the photos home to show it.

Magnificent 7 Update

Lion  - Panthera leo

The S 125 still seems to be a major go-to place when we can’t find the Lions on our concession. The four young males are still with the five females and they seem to be patrolling South and East of our concession (that is when they are not on it). The Talamati pride was spotted on a few occasions on the cutline close to Hoyo-Hoyo and then seems to have moved back North. Their tracks were noticed two days ago on the S 145 heading back South. We hope to see them soon.

1

Rhino - Ceratotherium simum

We will not be giving out any information about our Rhino sightings and once again give praise to the Anti-Poaching Units fighting for our Rhino.

Elephants - Loxodonta Africana

On an almost daily basis, we enjoy five bull elephants coming down to Hamiltons dam for a swim and a nice cool drink. The guest have been sitting in the privacy of their stoep or sipping a cocktail on the deck, and get to see the elephants play fight. The one day the youngest bull had a stick, and he was playing fetch and fish with in front of tent number one. Our wildlife manager told me that in the winter, the elephant herds are in abundance in the area. I cannot wait for full winter, because at this stage I see about 30 elephants a day already! On game walks we are seeing them as well, especially when we walk in the pans on our concession. On one walk yesterday, we found a couple of bulls play fighting so we did not approach. Then we saw a breeding herd drinking while we were at a big pan.

2

Buffalo - Syncerus caffer

We travelled South along the S 36 for buffalo, as there was a big breeding herd that hung around a decent pan and Lugmag dam for a long time. There have also been regular sightings on the S 145 and S125 of smaller herds. The small group of dagga boys that hangs out at Hoyo-Hoyo is still around and have been seen on walks a couple of times. The dagga boys on the S 125 are still often seen on the morning drives, hanging around in the river beds and making for very good photos.

3

Leopard - Panthera pardus

The S 125 still seems a sure go-to-place if we want to see them. One of the females that used to hang around there has moved on to the concession again with her cubs and has been seen on Borehole loop and Nkombe road. Our big male has been spotted regularly on the S 145 and especially around Imbali and Hoyo-Hoyo. The young male that moved into our area is a big leopard for his age. He still has a completely pink nose indicating he is still younger than five years old, but in body size he might be able to challenge Bigshow (our territorial male) in a couple of years.
A week ago our concession manager took a walk out and found a young female leopard that had caught a sub adult Impala. She stayed around the area for two days. On the second day she pulled the Impala into a tree to prevent scavengers like Hyenas claiming her meat she worked for.

4

Wild Dogs - Lycaon pictus

The wild dogs have been scarce the last two weeks. At the start of May they were mainly around the S 125 and on the S 36, and when they were running down the road we counted 16 dogs together. They also made a kill behind the Imbali staff quarters. It is only a matter of time until they venture back into our area.

5

Cheetah - Acinonyx jubatus

There were two males around Kumana dam at the start of the month. We have just been unlucky, because on a few occasions we found fresh tracks of one male in a couple of places on the concession as he passed through.

6

Sightings Update

This has been an incredible month for the small cats, and on many game drives we managed to see African wild cats. It appears there is a young male that has now set up a territory next to Hamiltons and is seen on most game drives. He is still skittish but we are working on that. Servals have been spotted on average once every five game drives.
This morning we were very blessed. We spent about 20 minutes with a big male honey badger on the S 125 as he was digging up rats.

Birdlife

With the tail end of Autumn done we seem to have lost all the migrant birds, except for a single juvenile African black stork. This species is listed as uncommon. The Blyde River canyons are one of the biggest breeding sites in Southern Africa. There appears to be a breeding pair of Martial Eagles on the S 125. This is the first month I have been noticing them together. It might be a new couple. This is very exciting news because they are monogamous and can easily live to exceed 25 years old.
So far we have also recorded 3 different breeding pairs of Bushveldt Pipits with two of these being on our concession.
Great month all in all and to all our guests, thank you for your support. Until next time…

Compiled by: Hamiltons guide: Adi Stander
Photos by: Wildlife Manager: John Nott
Stefan Kruger: Assistant Head Guide

April 2014

Posted by on May 5, 2014 in Rangers Diary | 0 comments

April 2014

Mluwati Concession News Letter

In This Issue Magnificent 7 Update Sightings Update Bird life This past month has been one great blessing, with the sightings rolling in all over the concession as well as the close by roads in the park itself. We have been busy with walking safaris daily, also adding to an already full sightings book. The bush is starting to show the signs of winter approaching. This can mainly be seen in the drying of the grass and the lack of new shoots in our trees and shrubs. This is not necessarily a bad thing as we have ample water levels on the concession due to the floods in March, and are experiencing large numbers of animals visiting our pans and the Hamiltons waterhole. Lion 1 Magnificent seven sightings Lion The Talamati pride of females with their cubs have moved into the concession once again. They have often been spotted on and next to the road. The big males visited the pride and caused some havoc among the youngsters. Quite a few of them now walk around bearing scars as a result. Luckily the fighting was nothing serious as it was purely to display dominance. On one of the game drives the cubs discovered a honey badger. They persisted to chase it down the road for about 300m. Interestingly the older females did not even follow. They know: you don’t mess with a honey badger! The badger put up an aggressive display and in the end came away with barely a scratch. As the cubs came back to the pride, one could see the mothers doing a thorough inspection on them (expecting bitten noses!). The males have been mating left, right and centre… and most lion sightings currently are experiencing these displays. Normally afterwards the males would let out loud roars next to our vehicles and on more than one occasion I heard some nervous giggles coming from the back of my game vehicle. In the last two weeks there have been lions calling around the camp every night. Rhinos We will not be giving out any information about our Rhino sightings and once again give praise to the Anti-Poaching Units fighting for our Rhino. ElephantElephant B&W As a new ranger to the Kruger National Park, I am astounded by how relaxed the elephants are in this area. We see elephants now on a daily basis, with big herds moving though from time to time. Then of course, the old lone bulls that don’t seem to be too bothered by us, and feed in between the tents at Hamiltons Tented Camp. We even encountered an elephant bull on the S125 in full musth, which did not even display the slightest signs of aggression towards our vehicle as we passed him, after seeing him casually feeding on a marula tree by the road side. As the water levels in most of the rivers are drying out, we are finding the fussy elephants (not pleased with the dirtier water) digging big holes in the sand of the river bed to get to the clean siphoned water. BuffaloBuffalo Big herds of buffalo have been seen moving in and out of the concession and we are finding them all along our grassland areas. Inside the grasslands there are still big muddy pans and this seems to be a magnet for them. We also have been seeing a group of 5 big males daily at Hoyo-Hoyo as well as on the S 125 closer to Hamiltons. We expect an even bigger increase in numbers over the next couple of months. Cheetahs Two days ago we had an awesome sighting of two cheetah males on our Southern cutline. They were resting next to a termite mount when one of them spotted a steenbok. In a matter of seconds the hunt was on and as we followed they ran out of our concession and we were not able to see the final blow. We are fairly sure that the cheetahs did not go hungry that afternoon. LeopardsLeopard slide The leopard sightings have been scattered over the entire concession. It seems that we have two females with cubs in and around the concession, and sightings have been fantastic. We are sure that it will continue this way. We look forward to seeing the cubs grow in front of our eyes. Wild dogsWild Dog slide The past month has been absolutely spectacular with regards to wild dog sightings, and we have been seeing a pack of 6 dogs on a daily basis for the past two weeks. They have been spotted all over the concession, hunting impala and kudu, and only on the first of May have they moved out of the concession and on to the S125. A few nights before that, the dogs pulled down a young impala while we were on our sundowners, maybe 200m away from the vehicle. Fortunately there has never been a reported case of wild dogs hunting humans. General game Rutting season is here, so day and night the loud grunts of the male impalas can be heard. They are fighting each other for the right to mate, and chasing the females, boasting about their victories. They are so focussed on fighting, that one male did not even notice the pack of wild dogs surrounding him one morning next to the camp. The zebras are starting to arrive again from the South and we have been getting stunning photos of them on the plains in the golden hours of the morning and the afternoon. The small nocturnal animals have been regularly spotted such as the genets and civets. Also, thanks to the acacia trees giving of bountiful tree gum this time of the year, we have been seeing thick tailed bushbabies in all of the thicker thorn tree sections. Birds As a very keen birder, I am proud to announce the white headed vulture that was spotted last month has now become a resident! We seem to be finding it more often on carcasses, in between the lappet face vultures and white-backed vultures.Owl A few sightings of White Faced Scops Owl & Eagle Owl have also been seen. We have been regularly seeing ret’z helmetshrikes along the tall trees in the dry river beds and one of the guides saw coqui francolin a couple of days ago on their game drive. Owls have been plentiful and I am averaging one Pearl Spotted Owlet per game drive. Compiled by: Hamiltons guide: Adi Stander Photos by: Wildlife Manager: John Nott

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