Friday, February 28, 2014

On Safari With Karen From 26 February 2014


26 February 2014

This morning it was cloudy but dry so we set off right after breakfast and saw some buffalo deep in the bush shortly after leaving camp. We drove along Napi and spotted a nice elephant bull not far off the road. He was busy demolishing a silver cluster leaf tree, so we stayed and watch. He gave a couple of big pushes and we heard the tree groan, but the tree managed to hold on and only lose a couple of branches to mister elephant who happily chewed on them.

Along the way we spotted a couple more bull elephants, one of which really close to the road next to us and at a different sighting one in front of us on the road dictating our pace. It took a while but we also saw our first impala of this tour along the way, later followed by lots and lots of them.

Around a bend in the road we suddenly saw some oncoming traffic with a pack of wild dogs right in front of them. One walked by us really closely and the rest decided to take a nap in the middle of the road. The pack was snoozing so spread out they formed a road block, but a nice one to watch as wild dogs are a pretty rare carnivore and not often seen. Unfortunately another car wasn't as patient and "pushed" the wild dogs off the road into the high grass ending the sighting for us.

Just before we stopped for coffee at Skukuza we spend some time watching zebras graze and alarm calling. We also saw baboons playing in a tree and a couple walking past our vehicle.

After the coffee we followed a call from Curtis down to a side road of Doispane as he had found lions. We were in luck as even though we were far away, the lions stayed in the same spot snoozing and we had a great sighting of 3 lionesses. There were more of them hiding in the bush but they never came to our sight. Nonetheless it was very much enjoyed.

On the way back to the lodge over Doispane and Albassini we saw more impalas, zebras and elephant but also leopard tortoises of all shapes and sizes, vervet monkeys, whitebacked vultures in trees and flying, a brown snake eagle, dwarf mongoose and kudus.

Just before turning back onto the tar we saw a dark chanting goshawk having a bath in a puddle. He dipped his head twice, then his bum and then shook the feathers. He had a whole rhythm going as we watched for a while. Dip, dip, bum and shake.

We returned to Numbi to pick up some new guests and then went to Nkambeni for lunch. There we were surprised by a nice elephant bull feeding right on the fence line of the lodge, close to the dam. This was a nice start to the safari for the new guests!

In the afternoon our numbers had grown to 6 people who were on their first safari. And as some of them were only here for one night, we decided to see if we could find the lions again so all of us would have seen them. So we started off towards Albassini, and then would follow Doispane and return the same way.

We just left camp and then got straight away distracted by a white rhino on the side of the road. It was a lovely sight to see him graze.

On Albassini we had a slender mongoose crossing the road and saw our (first for some) impalas, kudus and an elephant crossing the road.We saw two rhinos out in the open close to the road which gave us some lovely photo opportunities. They were followed by a lot of cattle egrets.

We heard then that the lions were still around so excitedly we drove towards the indicated new spot. On the way we passed another great sighting of a crash of 5 white rhinos together. All 5 of them were looking at us. We continued towards the lions. They were there alright. All 6 females and 1 youngster were lying out in the open in a drainage line for all of us to look at. They were not moving an inch in the 10min we sat with them, but that was unfortunately all the time we had.

We turned around and on the way back to the tar we were once again greeted by the 5 white rhino, which, in contrary to the lions, had moved a bit further away from the road and just like us were a little less interested this time around. Novelty had worn of quickly after all those rhino sightings! On Doispane we then had a nervous moment when an elephant bull in must was waiting on the road just around the corner. We gave him some space and we bit our nails when he came walking down towards us in a typical big musty bull swagger. He stopped about 20m away from the car and then had doubts to either threaten us, play with us or just leave us be. We waited in silence and luckily he decided we weren't worth the trouble and moved on the side of the road and past us where he then started feeding.

Some of us took a deep steadying breath and we continued down towards Albassini. We found the same two rhino from earlier but this time we didn't even stop (so spoiled already, and running out of time). We did however stop for our first sighting of giraffes of the day. Apparently one of the females was in heat and the male followed her closely from behind. At one point he tried to mount her, but she wanted none of that and broke away. We watched a while longer, the guys rooting for the guy to make his move, the girls feeling sorry for the girl who looked half his size and so breakable under his weight. But nothing happened after the one attempt while we were there.

Then we drove back to the lodge after having a very good day of game drives today!!

 

27 February 2014

As we had a very lucky day yesterday we would take it easy this morning and just enjoy the environment and all the wildlife that crossed our path. We drove Napi until Transport Dam. Soon we came across our first animal of the day: an elephant bull, feeding. We came across a lot of them today but we also saw a mother elephant and her youngster crossing the road in front of us which made it special.

We saw 3 white backed vultures preening themselves in a tree and zebras, but except for some nice birds like a lilac breasted roller, green pigeon and white fronted as well as carmine bee eaters Napi was pretty quiet today.

Until we turned onto the road towards Transport Dam. The road itself was in a pretty bad shape, but the humps and bumps were worth it soon we came across giraffes quiet close to the road, as well as zebra and waterbuck. Down at Transport Dam we saw the hippos in the water popping up and down, a nice male waterbuck, woolly necked stork, Egyptian geese, whistling ducks and another elephant.

After enjoying the sight for a while we returned to Napi. On our way to Pretoriuskop for our coffee break we saw two tawny eagles hopping about in a tree. Some smaller birds nearby were screaming at them so they might have been eyeing some prey, but except for hopping up and down branches nothing happened.

We also saw female kudus and a little bit further two brilliant kudu males with their big horns entangled in bushes while feeding off its leaves. We stopped for a dung beetle rolling its ball into the high grass trying to navigate the easy way up the hill. And a large family of dwarf mongoose came to say hi on the road. The little babies were not yet acquainted with cars as they were hypnotized by our tyres and one by one they came closer to investigate. Two of them even dared to touch the tyre until and adult called alarm and swiftly they all disappeared in the grass once more.

Just before reaching Pretoriuskop we had a two way crossing in front of us. Giraffes crossed from right to left and behind them a herd of elephants crossed from left to right. The elephant straightaway disappeared from view but the giraffes hang around on the side of the road, all watching the car. Who's on safari?

After a short break we didn't have much time left. On the short stretch to Numbi Gate however we finally spotted our first impala of the day! And we followed a large family of baboons for a while. The big leaders sat lazing in the shade as it was getting hot, while the little ones played around and stopped at all the marula trees on the way to eat some of the fruit.

At Numbi we unfortunately had to say goodbye to Sairah, Tayba, Feeza and Tanya (gosh I hope I spelled it right), who had only joined us for one night. We hope to see you back some day!

In the afternoon we took a slow drive along Fayi Loop. We saw spoor and fresh dung of various animals, but none of them came into sight. We continued driving to Shithave Dam where we sat admiring the beautiful nature, white fronted bee eaters dipping into the water to drink and wash themselves, and 2 hippos popped up their heads. After a while we also saw a new animal: a smallish crocodile drifting on the opposite side.

On the way back to the lodge we saw some vervet monkeys playing in the trees, kudus, a herd of impalas and more waterbucks. To top it all off a small herd of elephant crossed the road to the lodge in front of us.

 

Keep watching for more!!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

On Safari With Curtis From 25 February 2014


25 February 2014

The final day of the tour for four of my guests and after breakfast and packing we set off on their final drive. We headed up Napi which turned out to be very quiet seeing a couple of Elephants, Kudu and Impala before seeing Waterbuck and Hippo at Transport dam. We then headed down Watergat spotting more Impala and Kudu when we came across a lovely sighting of three Cheetah lying out in the open. We spent plenty of time at the sighting with luckily not many vehicles so we were able to get a very nice position to view them. At once stage a couple of Male Impala wondered past on the other side of the vehicle and suddenly the cheetah were all on full alert. One of the Cheetah got up and gave chase but soon gave up. An half-hearted attempt but still fun to watch, they then settled back down in the shade and we left them to it. We headed to Skukuza for morning coffee spotting Vervet Monkeys on the way.

Heading back home we found more Impala, Kudu and Elephant before we reached the lodge. Here we said goodbye to Susie, Erling, Johann and Frank who left to fly back to Denmark.

The afternoon drive was a very quiet drive as we came across Impala, Kudu, Giraffe and Elephant, however just as it seemed that it was going to be one of those drives we spotted walking towards us on the road a female Leopard. We slowed and let her pass us by and then turned to follow her for about five minutes before she walked into the bush and disappeared from sight. The guests were absolutely delighted with this encounter and were still talking about it as we reached the lodge.

 

26 February 2014

Today was the final day of this tour and so with breakfast eaten and Luggage packed we set off on our drive, heading up to Shabeni we spotted Buffalo and Kudu around the loop. Carrying on down Albasini turned out to be fairly quiet although we did see Impala and Zebra.

At the end of Albasini I decided to take a gamble and headed down river road, a road which can be very quiet and is rarely used by the guides, however today turned out to be the exception to that rule. A quiet start as we spotted Impala first and then we stopped as two Hamerkops were busy building their nest, as they did a large male Baboon jumped down from the trees, we tried to find him in the thick bush but to no avail.


We carried on and turned a corner to find a pack of wild dogs lying in the middle of the road, 8 in total, we watched them for quite some time as they played and interacted with each other. It was only when they started building up a bit of confidence and came up to the vehicle having a sniff and trying to bite the bull bars and then the wheels I decided it was time to move on.

We carried on up the road spotting plenty of birds such as the Burchell's Coucal, Yellow-Billed Hornbill and a Tawny Eagle when driving around a corner we suddenly found ourselves looking at 7 lions, again standing in the middle of the road, we followed them for a few metres before they settled down for a rest. Then to make things interesting a troupe of Baboons appeared at the far end of the road. On spotting the Lions the Alarm Calls started sounding, but instead of running away three large males started to walk closer to the lions. The Lions paid little attention to the fuss and continued to sleep as the Baboons crept forward, although they make sure they didn't wander to close. We also had a little Bushbuck wander past at the end of the road. Eventually the Lions moved slightly into the bush and the Baboons wandered away. With so few cars at the sighting we were able to witness this sighting for over an hour before we left it.

We carried on up Doispane back to Phabeni gate, spotting Elephant, Impala and Kudu, before leaving KNP to transfer the guests onto their Citybug shuttle. Thank you Sarah and Cheryl for your company, I'm glad you enjoyed the wonderful sightings we had over the last few days, I know I did.

 

Keep watching for more!!

 

 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

South African National Parks Donates Playground Equipment To Pre-School

The Kruger National Park (KNP)’s Managing Executive, Abe Sibiya officially handed over a jungle gym to the Pre-School learners of Takheleni Primary School at Matsulu Village on Friday, 21 February 2014.

“This handover is part of SANParks Corporate Social Investment (CSI) initiatives. Our support for neighbouring communit...
ies includes providing infrastructure and related resources in areas of education, youth development, health and other identified needs hence we are giving this playing equipment today to the children of Takheleni. Pre-School. In addition, our People and Conservation Department run programmes such as Environmental Education and Kids in Parks where school children from previously disadvantaged background are given free access to the parks and learn more about nature conservation. ” said The KNP Managing Executive, Mr Abe Sibiya.

“1% Community Levy is charged on all reservations for accommodation and activities in order to fund projects that support the surrounding communities in so as to improve their lives by creating health and education facilities. We also assist in creating water and sanitation projects in communities neighbouring our parks”, concluded Sibiya.

At the same event, SANParks officials also had a sod turning event for the a Kitchen Block which is also part of the donation to Takhelani Pre-School of which the construction is going to start soon in this current year.

In 2012, SANParks launched its new vision which says “Connecting to Society” as a strategy to reach out to communities and ultimately, contribute to the government’s mandate towards social development. Just last year in 2013, SANParks donated an Administration block at Dumisani High School, a village outside Kruger Gate and a Computer Laboratory at Masiza High School in Phalaborwa.

Issued by:
South African National Parks Kruger National Park Communications

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

On Safari With Curtis From 22 February 2014


22 February 2014

A new tour today with the guests arriving in Nelspruit at midday, a bit of lunch and we get on the road heading for phabeni gate. After getting our permit for the day we head down Doispane spotting a solitary Elephant in the river bed and then a Cape Buffalo a little further down. Continuing we spotted Zebra, Wildebeest and Impala all in the same spot and then 3 White Rhino hiding by the road in thick bush. Leaving them we came to a little gathering of cars, as we pull up we had to look hard but finally found a Leopard sitting in the tree. The sighting was quite far away but with good binoculars and a good camera it was still a nice sighting and a Leopard is still a Leopard however far it is!!!!!!!


Continuing down the road we found plenty more Elephants and Impala and following a tip off headed to where Lions had been spotted, however luck wasn't with us this time as the Lions had moved off and were nowhere to be seen, however we were lucky enough to spot a crash of 6 White Rhino briefly before they moved into the bush.

We also spotted a Dwarf Mongoose on the side of the road as we turned and headed to our lodge. On the way back we also came across Kudu, a big herd of Impala crossing the road as well as the Zebra and Wildebeest we saw earlier. We were also able to stop again at the Leopard sighting and he had moved to another branch and so we could get some clearer photos of him.

At the dam we found 3 Hippo out of the water having an early dinner as well as Hippos in the water having a disagreement with each other. Before we got to the lodge we found more Impala, a Slender Mongoose run across the road and more Kudu.

 

23 February 2014

A early start, leaving the lodge at 06:00 we took a slow drive around Shabeni spotting Buffalo, Kudu and Vervet monkeys playing around at the top of the trees. Along Napi we found Impala, Kudu, Elephant and had several brief sightings of Dwarf and Slender Mongoose before they hurried back into the tall grass. We then heard a tip off about Lions on the S114 and started to make our way their stopping at sightings of Elephants, Impala, Kudu and finally a nice of Dwarf Mongoose who was happy to stay out on the road for us all to look at.

When we finally got to the Lion sighting we found 5 females and a young male resting after a big feed on the Buffalo they had brought down earlier. After a bit of patience we were rewarded as some of the lions got up and moved while others couldn't be bothered and stayed hidden in the bush.

On the way back we spotted Warthog and Giraffe as well as Impala, Kudu and more Elephants before we got to Numbi gate to pick up 2 more guests before we drove to our lodge. Even on the short drive to the lodge we came across Elephant and Rhino.

After lunch we headed off on our afternoon drive and found Impala, Kudu, Rhino and Elephant before turning onto Doispane, heading to the Dam we also found Zebra and Wildebeest and the ever present Hippos in the water. Turning back to head home we saw Elephants, Giraffe, Zebra and Kudu and also found a solitary African Wild Dog trotting down the road. We followed him for a while and then left him to continue on his own as we headed back to the lodge.

 

24 February 2014

A bit of a quiet day for me but not for the guests as they had an early start to go on their bushwalk, accompanied by two armed rangers from Nkambeni they set off on what is a wonderful experience. Impala, Zebra and Wildebeest were seen on the walk, in regards of mammals, but a bushwalk is about being out in the wild on foot enjoying the tranquillity and the smaller things, like the spiders and insects as well as investigating the spoor and scat of different species. The guests came back very happy with their experience.

After breakfast and some rest I took them to Hazyview where they enjoyed a little bit of shopping and some very good food washed down by a cocktail or two!!!

Back to the lodge, time for a swim and topping up the tan before they set off on their Sundowner safari, the sun is shining nicely today so they should see a wonderful sunset. I will report further on what happened on the drive tomorrow.

 

Keep watching for more updates!

Friday, February 21, 2014

On Safari With Mark From 17 February 2014


17 February 2014

Route: Numbi tar - Napi - Napi boulders - Napi - Nkambeni

General animals seen: Impala, Kudu, warthog, waterbuck

Fantastic rhino sightings this afternoon with a male, female and calf altogether approx 10m from our vehicle. All very relaxed, grazing on the short grass as the sun sets.

On boulders itself we found a buffalo bull walking along side of the road and as we approved it moved off into the long grass and politely lay down to rest.

On our return to camp we found a massive elephant bull right next to the road approximately 40m from camp gate.

Great start to the safari. Would love to show the guests a lion or leopard tomorrow morning as some of the guests are here on a quickie and return to JHB tomorrow morning.

 
18 February 2014

Route: Napi - Doispan - Albaseni - Nkambeni

General animals seen: giraffe, warthog, impala, waterbuck, blue wildebeest, zebra, hippos, rhino's and vervet monkeys

Rather quiet morning drive for the first part, then Curtis called to say he had found a male and female lion near doispan, albaseni junction.


We headed that way as the guests hadn't seen lions yet. As we approached the sighting, they got up and walked out onto the road heading directly for us. Great sighting experienced as both came walking past our vehicle. The female staying on the road and male choosing to walk past us in the grass next to the road. Guests could get great photos of these and all enjoyed the sighting

 

19 February 2014

Route: Napi - Doispan - Albaseni - Nkambeni

General sightings: kudu, impala, warthog, zebra, hippos,chackma baboon, waterbuck, hippos and  vervet monkeys

Came across the spotted Hyena on transport access road. Female with her siblings. Some still totally black in color.

After stopping for coffee, we heard about some lions up the road and decided to go in search of them. We found them under a tamboti tree. 3 sub adult males and 1 female.

Further to this the ride was rather quiet and not much was spotted from then on.

 

20 February 2014

Route: Napi - H3 - Napi - Shabeni - Nkambeni

General animals seen: giraffe, elephant, kudu, impala, buffalo, rhino, warthog, blue wildebeest, vervet monkeys

I decided to try the H3 this morning as I was informed that nothing was found on other roads.
On our return to Numbi gate we had some time to kill and still no leopard. The thought of saying goodbye to guests without seeing a leopard, was still in my head when a guest called out to stop.

There she lay on a fat Marola tree branch just watching the bush. Once we spent a few minutes she jumped down from the tree and walked out into the road just ahead of us. All guests let rip with their digital cameras and many great photos taken.

Everyone was happy with what the bush had to offer and for the last two guests we will just try to get lions in a better position than yesterday.

 

Keep watching for more!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

On Safari With Karen From 15 February 2014

15 February 2014

I picked up the new guests at Numbi gate. We checked in at Nkambeni Lodge, where we had lunch and a relaxing afternoon at the pool before our first game drive. We were only going out for a short drive, just to get an introduction to what may come, but they had already spotted hippo and buffalo while lounging at the pool.

As soon as we...
went out of the gate we stumbled upon a nice large herd of impalas. We then followed the tar road to Pretoriuskop and did a loop around the area. We spotted zebras and kudus along the way.

We analysed the differences between elephant dung and that of white rhino and buffalo. And following some very fresh dung we stumbled upon a small herd of elephants feeding. After watching them for a while we took a loop around Shabeni and found vervet monkeys sitting in trees, kudus, more impalas and had a very close encounter with a big bull elephant. He stood in the bush and came walking onto the road towards us and he was so big that only one of us would fit on the road. Unfortunately he had to be told that we were there first and he had to get off the road to pass us. It was a breathtaking moment for some of the guests!

We then returned to the lodge and found the white rhino that holds a territory in that area. He was leisurely feeding and rumbling his face and horn on the tree stump nearby.

We returned just in time for gate closing time after a very successful first drive!

16 February 2014

We left this morning after breakfast and stumbled straight upon a herd of impalas. Then we drove the route Albassini - Doispane to see what we could find on a longer morning drive. We saw a duiker crossing the road quickly and also a male waterbuck was running away from us. At Mestel Dam we saw the hippos playing in the water before they would go to sleep.

Apparently this morning was the day that everything would run away from us as when we stop to look at a water monitor in quickly moved off into the grass not to be seen again. And a 100meters onward there was a nice buffalo standing still for a couple of seconds before walking off too. We stopped to look at some birds, like a white fronted bee eater, European roller, yellowbilled hornbill, which promptly flew off...

After that it calmed down a bit. We did spot zebras hiding in the long grass, kudus between the bushes and had some lovely elephant sightings. While we were watching a big bull elephant we got a tip there were lions and we changed course to see if we would be lucky. On the way we saw a nice elephant herd feeding close by the road, but after a short stop we drove on. We did indeed get to see the lions, five females, a young male and an adult male, but soon after we arrived one by one they got up and walked down the riverbed towards a nice shady spot out of sight. Just making sure they stuck to the theme of today.

We had our coffee break at Skukuza after which we turned down Napi aiming back for the camp. Shortly after we saw 4 very fat warthogs right next to the road digging in elephant dung and eating the undigested scraps. We also encountered a large family of baboons, had an elephant with youngster crossing the road in front of us and sat watching a very large herd of buffalo for a while before it was so hot that we continued driving to have some wind cooling us down.

After lunch and some relaxation time at the pool we went out this afternoon again for a short drive. It was still very hot so most of the drive was very quiet. The hippos at Mestel Dam were almost entirely submerged and then we had to wait till shabeni loop to see animals. In one spot we then saw warthogs, impalas, vervet monkeys and kudus. We also spotted dwarf mongooses and when we stood still for a while they came back in the road to play.

On the way to Shitlhave Dam we saw two leopard tortoises in one spot. The small one had a lot of attention for the hindquarters of the other one, which was at least twice its size. We thought they were going to mate, which would have been a funny sighting judging by their size difference, but they took too long before anything happened and we were running out of time... Who knows what happened later when nobody was watching ?!

17 February 2014

This morning we once again left the lodge after an early breakfast. The impalas hadn't left camp road yet and shortly after a white rhino was lying in the drainage line very close to the road. We kept on watching him for a while but apparently he didn't want to do an early morning so we left him still sleeping.

On Napi we encountered elephants and more impalas, baboons, leopard tortoises and warthog. We stopped at Transport Dam where there were hippos in the water close by, woolly necked storks doing a mating dance, waterbuck and lots of water birds. Also a dead impala was lying on the opposite shore, but nothing ate it. We were told wild dogs were there but after waiting for 30min nothing had move so we decided to continue.

Close to Skukuza we saw two male giraffe having a very half-hearted fight. There was no female around so they had nobody to show off to. Or maybe the female had gotten bored and moved on. That was what we did after a while. When entering in Skukuza we saw vervet monkeys on the fence inside the camp and there were buffalo on the riverbank.

On the way back we took another shot at Transport Dam but once again no wild dogs. However zebras had joined the ranks with the waterbuck and a baby waterbuck was having a run-like-you're-crazy moment so that was fun to watch!

Then a call came in from Curtis who had found two leopards. We speeded up the pace to maximum allowed to see if we would get there in time and we were so lucky, we just made it! One leopard was lounging in the tree, the other invisible on the ground. But we had an excellent sight of the one in the tree who scratched the tree, stretched and after a while got up and jumped down. We followed it down the road but it was rather wary of the cars so it shot back into the high grass. We saw it standing next to us for a little while until it disappeared completely into the thick bush. That was our cue and we returned back to the camp for lunch.

Our afternoon drive was short but sweet. We saw two separate elephants before we went down to Shithave Dam and watched the world go by slowly. At this nice tranquil spot a pied kingfisher kept us busy while he was fishing. He made a couple of dives but he wasn't successful.

We continued to Mestel Dam where the hippos were starting to wake up and were playing in the water. We also saw a giraffe on the opposite side. When it was time to go we drove back straight to the camp only stopping for kudus crossing the road and just before we arrived at our lodge this big bull elephant was in the way. As his bulk was quite a lot more than our teeny tiny little vehicle, we decided to give him right of way. He came from our right onto the road and there was nothing left to do then wait and then slowly followed him down the road. About 20meters before the lodge gates he turned off, distracted by marulas, and we could finally finish to enter the camp!

18 February 2014

Today we were going out for a full day safari so after a hearty breakfast we left for our trip. Curtis had found some lions already so we went up Albassini in the hope we would get a glimpse. On the way we had zebras crossing the road and lots of impalas.

We arrived at the sighting on the tar to Phabeni gate with the lions close by the road but lying flat in the grass. We decided to wait to see if they would get up but before we had settled in too nicely Curtis called he found some others and they were walking on the road 500meters up ahead. So off we went and we got a lovely sighting of a male and female lion walking in front of us. After a while those lions split up and we stayed behind watching the male while a lot of other cars kept on following the female. As the lions were getting skittish we decided to give them a bit more space and left the sighting to go back to the first sighting of lions. There we made ourselves comfortable and waited. And waited.... And waited... As it was male and female as well we thought it would be a mating pair but after watching them snooze for over an hour we knew it wasn't to be. We decided to leave them and continue our journey.

We drove for about 3km on Doispane when we suddenly saw the male lion of the ones that walked away earlier, sniffing a tree right on the side of the road. He then crossed right behind us and continued in the direction of the cross roads. We turned around and saw him walking towards us and cross in front of us on the cross roads. He then disappeared into the bush and we continued our way to Nyamundwa Dam.

We had a great sighting of two white Rhinos lying in the water to cool down. There were hippos in the water and impalas and wildebeest on the opposite site.

We then continued our way towards Skukuza golfclub where we would have lunch. On the way we saw a couple of bull elephants, waterbuck, bateleurs and a great martial eagle that flew over us, circled back around us and then sat in a tree to get yelled at by hamerkops.

After lunch we decided it was getting really hot for a game drive and some air-conditioning would be nice. As the wind only blows while driving, air-conditioning, it meant we would only stop for something special. We spotted but didn't stop for giraffe, kudus, impalas, bull elephants and wildebeest, but did have a quick stop at a small and later on a big herd of elephants.

To top off today’s awesome drive our new animal of today was hyenas. At a den site the mother was lying in the shade feeding her two young cubs and we also saw one cub that was a little older than the 2 babies and 2 youngsters. This was a great sighting and we stayed until the heat became unbearable.

We returned to the lodge for a play in the pool before dinner. It was our last drive as we decided to have a lie-in tomorrow before the transfer back to Jo'burg. It was a great five days! Thanks to Charlotte, Sunny, Isa, August, Eirik and Inga for joining us on this safari!

Keep watching for more!!

On Safari With Curtis From 17 February 2014

17 February 2014

Today two of my guests were leaving so I decided to aim for specific sightings, just those that we hadn't seen yet and those which we hadn't had the best viewings of. We left the lodge at 06:30 and headed down Albasini making just brief stops at the Rhino and Elephants we came across. We then spotted Zebra and Wildebeest close up and w...
ere able to have a nice clear sighting of both. Along doispane we also spotted Leopard Tortoise, Impala and Kudu before we found a troupe of Baboons, something we hadn't found yet on this tour.

After turning onto Watergut we also found Impala, more Zebra and Wildebeest, Kudu, Giraffe, a brief glimpse of Dwarf Mongoose and Common Duiker. As we come to the end of the road I was stopped and informed of a sighting at Transport Dam. I made my way there and sure enough we came across a pack of African Wild Dog. Apparently they had been eating an Impala which was stolen by a Crocodile. However it was nice to see them and the array of Vultures which had descended around them. There was also Waterbuck and Zebra at the dam.

After we left the dam we moved on and things were quite quiet when a member of the public flashed me down and told me of a leopard sighting just down the road. Big thanks to that person as when we got to the location I spotted not just one but two Leopards in a marula tree. However as we pulled up one of them jumped straight down and we never saw it again, the second one stayed in the tree and we spent a good 20 minutes at the sighting before leaving him. Before we got to Numbi gate we also spotted more Elephants and Rhino as well as Impala and Vervet monkeys.

I then said goodbye to two of my guests, Manish and Aaron before they set off for new adventures. Enjoy Cape Town !!!

18 February 2014

Leaving the lodge early in the morning I hadn't got no more than a kilometre down the road when I was informed of a Lion sighting on the Doispane road. I turned around and started to make my way to the area of the sighting. As we drove we found Impala and Elephant.

When we got to the area of the Lion sightings both male and female were having a bit of a siesta in the shade, we sat with them for about 40 minutes and got a few moments when the male popped his head up and had a look at us, the female still just lounging around. It didn't seem that they were going to move any time soon so I said to the guests we would take a short drive to Nyamundwa dam and then return to the Lions a bit later.

On the drive to the dam we came across Zebra, Wildebeest and more Impala while at the dam itself there was Buffalo and Hippo. After a while we headed back to the Lions who hadn't moved an inch, we carried on watching, hoping for some movement but it was not to be. I turned around and headed back down the road when just a few hundred metres from the original sighting we found ourselves watching a second male and female pair of Lions standing on the road. They seemed a bit surprised by our vehicle and moved quickly into the long grass where we lost visual. I slowly turned and moved down towards the first pair of Lions hoping the second pair would join them, unfortunately they didn't. We moved off again and sure enough a few hundred metres down the road we found the second pair again lying by the road, this time they didn't move off and started to walk down the road. We followed at a distance for some time until the pair split up, the female still on the road the male moving into the bush. We got a few more glimpses of the male before he disappeared completely.

After leaving the Lions we headed back down Albasini finding Impala, Giraffe, Kudu, Waterbuck, Elephants and Baboon before getting to Numbi gate, this is where the tour ended for two of my guests who are heading down to Cape Town.

The rest of us headed back to camp for some lunch, a sleep and a swim before my remaining guests go out on their night drive. Details about that tomorrow.

19 February 2014

Today was the last of this particular tour and so we were up early to go for a short drive before heading out of the park. On the drive we came across Elephant, Rhino , Buffalo, Impala, Kudu and a brief glimpse of a family of Banded Mongoose who quickly scurried back into the long grass when they saw us coming.

On leaving we headed down to Nelspruit for my remaining guests to be transferred to Johannesburg. Big thanks to Brian, Andrea, Manish, Aaron, Ashley, Clay, Dennis, Sarah and Mish for their company over the last few days. I hope you all enjoyed the amazing sightings we had as much as I did.

Keep watching for more!!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Illegal Hunters Paid Admission Of Guilt Fines

Illegal hunters have appeared in the Makhado Magistrates court today, Monday 17 February 2014 on charges of hunting illegally on the farm Den Staat which is an open system to the Mapungubwe National Park and World Heritage Site, situated outside Musina in Limpopo.

Their appearance follows the arrest of a SANParks employee, Michael Sematla in January ...
this year who is out on bail after facing similar charges.

Eleven (11) of the hunters were issued admission of guilt fines by the Magistrate court. The fines range between R1 500.00 and R4 500.00 depending on what animals were hunted, which brings the total amount paid to R37 000.00.

The case of one of the hunters was postponed and the accused will appear alongside Mr Sematla on 7 March 2014. The prosecution of the hunters and the SANParks employee follows months of investigations after a giraffe carcass was found with three bullet shots in the park. The SANParks Environmental Crime Investigative Unit was instrumental in the arrest and the fines paid by some of the hunters.

For previous media statements please go to
www.sanparks.org

Issued by:
South African National Parks Corporate Communications

Monday, February 17, 2014

On Safari With Curtis From 13 February 2014

13 February 2014

Picking up my two guests at Numbi gate at 11:00 hours we went straight to our overnight accommodation at Nkambeni Tented Lodge, after the guests had settled in they went down for a bit of lunch and a bit of a rest ready for their first safari.

Luckily at 15:00 hours the worst of the rain had moved on and so we set off on our drive. W...
e came across Impala, Kudu, Cape Buffalo and Waterbuck just on the lodges camp road. As we headed down Napi towards Shithave dam we spotted more Kudu and Impala and then Elephant at the dam. We also spotted a couple of very wet sorry looking rollers as well as Grey Heron and Egyptian Geese at the dam.

Heading back the way we came we found Waterbuck, Kudu, a couple of small herds of Elephants and more Impala. We also came across a lovely large male Rhino who headed straight towards the vehicle and at one stage was just a couple of metres away from us. We also saw a large herd of Cape Buffalo, they were quite a way in the distance but it was still nice to see the movement of the herd.

After dinner an early night for everyone as it's an early start for us tomorrow.

14 February 2014

Leaving the lodge early we headed down spotting a very nice male Rhino, Elephants, Waterbuck, Kudu, Impala, Zebra, Giraffe and Hippo. We then turned onto Watergut where we found more Impala and Giraffe as well as numerous bird species including Rollers, Drongos, Hornbills and African Hoopoes and Cape Glossy Starlings. We also found Dwarf Mongoose and Tree Squirrel close to one another. As we continued we also spotted more Kudu, Giraffe and Impala and Vervet monkeys and a couple of White-backed Vultures and a Brown-Snake Eagle.

Turning onto Doispane we were driving along when one of the guests shouted 'Lion' and there he was, standing just a few metres from the vehicle a large Male Lion. We followed him for about twenty metres before he decided he'd walked far enough and flopped to the ground in the shade of the bushes. We spent time just watching him as he relaxed and then carried on heading to the Skukuza golf club for an early lunch.

After lunch we stopped off at Lake Panic Bird Hide where we had a lovely sighting of Hippo and a large Crocodile as well as plenty of birds including three species of Kingfisher, Water Thick-Knee and African Jacana. We carried on and came across a small herd of Nyala and then found the Male Lion again. He had moved about 500metres in the last two hours but this time he was much more shy and didn't even pop his head up from the bushes. Moving on we came across more Elephants, Impala, Kudu, Giraffe, Hippo as well as a solitary Reedbuck. We also had the time to stop at some of the smaller things in the park including both the Leopard Tortoise and the Hinged Tortoise as well as the Dung Beetle rolling his ball.

After we got back to camp a short break for the guests before they set off on their Sunset drive.

15 February 2014

This morning it was time for my guests to go on their bushwalk. Accompanied by two armed rangers from Nkambeni they set off. It turned out to be a great walk with sightings of Wildebeest, Impala, Zebra, Hyena and a crash of four Rhino. But it wasn't just about the mammals, they also enjoyed the numerous birds and the smaller things like the Golden Orb spiders and their webs.

While my guests recovered from their bushwalk excursions I went to pick up four more guests from Numbi gate, after getting them checked in and having lunch it was back on the vehicle for the afternoon drive.

We headed down Numbi tar spotting Impala, Kudu, Zebra and Wildebeest. We came across a mother and calf Rhino, waterbuck and more Impala. It was beginning to get quiet when we came across a nice male Elephant, while at the sighting we were informed about a group of Lions further down the road. These lions had been spotted in the same place earlier in the morning so I thought we probably had a good chance of still seeing them. We drove down to the area where they had been seen and sure enough there was a female lion with three older cubs. No sooner had we stopped then a member of the public informed us that four large males were walking down the road just a kilometre away. As the female and her cubs had been lying in the same spot for at least 6 hours I thought there was a good chance they would stay there for a while longer so we went off in pursuit of the other sighting.

It was a good decision as a couple of minutes later we were following in the footsteps of the four males. An incredible sighting as they just walked with the arrogant swagger of animals that know they are the boss in their territory. We followed them for ten minutes, getting loads of great photos and memories which will last a lifetime, before turning round and heading back to the other lions.

After we had spent some time with the female and her cubs we had to head for home. But we still had time for another wonderful sighting as we found a female hyena babysitting three older cubs and two young cubs who were still completely black with no spots at all. We sat watching the cubs play as the adult slept paying no attention to us or the other vehicles. Further down the road we came across Kudu, Giraffe, Elephants and as always Impala. As we neared the lodge we had one more treat as we came across a large male Rhino standing right next to the road. We watched for a while before he headed off and we headed into our lodge for the night.

16 February 2014

An early start and straight away we came across Impala and Kudu just outside the lodge gate. We drove on spotting Elephants, Impala, Waterbuck, Kudu and Hippo, Cape Buffalo, Giraffe, Klipspringer and a Leopard Tortoise before heading down to Numbi gate to drop off two of my guests who were being transferred to Johannesburg. As we waited at Numbi I heard a rustle in the grass and suddenly just 15 metres from us stood a huge White Rhino. We watched him as he watched us and then he started to move across the car park allowing everyone to get some great photos. We also had an Elephant walk across the road further down the road.

We set off again in the afternoon, with the sun still burning strongly, and it turned out to be an afternoon packed full of sightings of Elephants and Rhino. We also had sightings of Impala, Kudu, Hippo, Vervet Monkeys, Klipspringer, Waterbuck, Warthog and Zebra.

Keep watching for more!

On Safari With Karen From 13 February 2014

13 February 2014

After 3 scorching hot days somebody had done a rain dance last night and it had worked. We woke up to a rainy morning and instead of diminishing it increased during the morning. Even though it was nice being a bit cooler we could have done without the rain.

We left after breakfast for a drive down Napi to find what was out there. It w...
as a quiet stretch as apparently the rain made the animals shy. We encountered a couple of elephants close to the road feeding, but otherwise even the impalas were in hiding.

Nevertheless we once again found a new animal today, a klipspringer! And just then the call came in about a lioness on the road. We followed up on the tip and were lucky to see her walking towards us with an escort of about 15 other cars behind her. We stopped so she walked past our vehicle and she came quite close. She was roaring, calling out to presumably her lost pride members. While the rest of the cars followed her we had to turn around and decided to stay at a distance since we had such a good sighting. We stopped waiting for the road to clear when the lioness decided it was better looking the other way and she had turned around. This time just in the bush, but close to the road, once again she walked past our vehicle and once again she was followed by an amount of cars that had now doubled. While trying to make our way in the opposite direction out of the sqaubble she had turned again and we were a third time lucky to have her pass our vehicle and now she was roaring quite adamantly. We felt the car vibrate through her roars and decided now it was really time to let her be. We left the sighting while even more safari cars showed up and we were told later that she had found at least two more members of her pride.

On the way to our coffee break we saw more elephants, giraffe, vervet monkeys, leopard tortoises and after a long search some impalas.

The coffee was nice and warm on this rainy day and after the warm-up we needed to make way to the gate as some of our members were saying goodbye. But before we were on our way Mark called in a leopard in a tree. Pushing our luck we followed up on the sighting and just before we got there it had jumped down. We searched and searched but didn't spot her. But time was an issue so we unfortunately had to leave the sighting. We were a mere 500m away when the call came to return as she had just climbed into another tree. We turned and just as we arrived at the scene she was lying in a tree, looked up, got up and jumped out of the tree out of sight. 30 seconds and it was worth it! Would you believe our luck!

But now we ran out of time so we headed back to the gate. We had no more time left to properly stop at a sighting but we could point out more impalas, kudus, leopard tortoises, a chameleon and three white rhinos.

At the gate we said our goodbyes to Gaby and Michael who were a great part of the group. Morgan, Terry and Maggie are staying another night to overcome all the excitement from the last few days and will transfer back to Johannesburg tomorrow. You guys were a fantastic group, I thank you for joining me on this safari!!

14 February 2014

Today I picked up the guests at the airport and with very variable weather we made our way through the plantations towards Numbi Gate. As soon as we entered Kruger Park we stumbled upon a herd of impala. We checked in into Nkambeni Lodge, our home for tonight and after lunch we went on our first game drive.

As soon as we were ready to go it was pouring down with rain, but undeterred we set off. We turned into Albassini following rumours that there might be lions in that direction far ahead. After a quiet start we saw kudu bulls and had our first elephant not far from the road. A dwarf mongoose was sitting on a tree stump but disappeared as soon as we stopped.

In the meantime it had stopped raining and bravely we had taken off our ponchos. On Doispane we saw guineafowls, a very well hidden steenbok , more impalas, wildebeest, zebra, warthog and giraffe. Of course it also had started raining again.

When it dried up we saw a lovely rainbow and Filip took one for the team and kept his poncho on. Then Melanie spotted movement and thought it was a lioness. As we were coming close to the spot where the rumoured lions should be we stopped and scouted around. We saw a leopard sitting on a rock, but that was not where she had seen the lion. We looked a bit more and found a second leopard close by! Two leopards in one spot, what a great sighting! Both were sitting up so we were hoping they would get up, but one by one they put their head down and eyes closed so we knew there wasn't going to be more to this show.

We continued our search but did not spot the rumoured lions. The time had come to make our way back to the lodge as the gates would close soon. On our way back we saw a family of baboons walking in the road, two reedbucks, a zebra crossing the road, more giraffes (also crossing), waterbuck more wildebeest, and two separate herds of elephants.

We stopped at Mestel dam for a good look at the hippos playing in the water and were surprised by a white rhino walking and grazing on the opposite side. And to top it all off, just before we got back to the gate a dung beetle was rolling his dung ball across the road. Once he had passed we drove the last bit and finished for today. It was dry as long as Filip had kept his poncho on, but what do you know, as soon as he took it off to go to his room... downpour!!

We had a very wet but good start, now bring on tomorrow!

15 February 2014

After breakfast this morning the bags were once again packed in the vehicle and we drove off for the last game drive of this safari. After being incredibly lucky yesterday we were hoping to find something new.

We drove along Napi and started off really quiet with a long stretch of nothing. We saw a duiker cross the road quickly in front of us, an elephant and leopard tortoises in different sizes (small, medium and large) and we'd been driving for two hours already when we spotted a small troop of baboons in a tree.

We were heading for an early coffee break when we saw cars ahead and got excited. But apparently we just missed a leopard that had crossed the road and now had disappeared into the bush. We thought our luck had run out when we heard about another leopard so we changed course. And man, were we lucky. She was lounging in a tree just off the road, snoozing, washing herself and snoozing again. At one time she even sat up, it was a brilliant sighting.

We continued on the S114 towards the S112 where we then spotted 6 lions lying on a rock. They were about 100meters in but we had good visibility as there was only 1 other car at the sighting. The females and youngsters were deep asleep, so the only movement we got was the twitch of an ear.

After watching this for a while we continued down Napi again towards our long overdue coffee break. We were told about another leopard not far away, but as we just had a brilliant sighting and were spoiled yesterday and were in need of a toilet break we decided not to pursue this sighting.

On the way though we saw an elephant crossing the road in front of us, two white rhinos, wildebeest, giraffe, zebras and kudus. Unbelievably we stopped next to a car at a sighting and he told us about the leopard in the tree a little further in the bush. We looked and there it was! The best sighting was our first leopard of the day, but who can say no to watching another one when you are already there?!

After the long overdue coffee and a just in time toilet break we headed back towards Numbi gate for the end of our safari. We were still lucky in seeing more elephants, zebras, wildebeest and impala. We arrived early at the parking lot at Numbi reception so we walked around and swapped stories about trees and bushes as Filip works in a nursery back home. When the transfer arrived it was time to say goodbye. Melanie and Filip, it was great having you! I hope you'll enjoy the rest of your holiday just as much!

Keep watching for more!!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

On Safari With Karen From 11 February 2014


11 February 2014

After a night full of sounds of the African bush (frogs, bushbabies, hyenas) we left early to go on a long game drive. It was a bit chilly in the morning but soon enough we spotted marabou storks and a bushbuck. A little further on we saw our first crocodile bobbing in the river.

This morning we were very lucky to come across 4 hyenas lying right next to the road. They were however not very impressed with the car so more than a slight raise of the head wasn't in it, but we enjoyed it very much. Up ahead we already saw the wild dogs playing so we continued to park in their midst. While watching them play and pass us by we counted 17 wild dogs in this pack! The first day of this safari we saw some ears twitch and tails wave at us, this was an awesome wild dog sighting!

While the cavalry passed us by we were told to hurry up as there was a lioness further up ahead walking on the road. We were lucky to catch up and had an amazing sighting when she decided to walk right next to the vehicle, so close that we could see exactly how many ticks she had on her back. I leaned inside the car as to not to upset her but if I had stuck out my hand it would have stroked her (or she would have taken it as a snack).

Before we stopped to have breakfast we also saw some kudus, an elephant herd with youngsters, impalas, plenty of golden orb spiders and a slender mongoose.

After breakfast at Tshokwane we continued our journey southwards toward Lower Sabie. At the view points we had excellent view of the Kruger park and spotted 2 different rhino sightings, 2 different giraffe sightings, wildebeest and ostrich!

A slow drive down the H10 we stopped for beautiful birds as well as other small things of the bush like millipedes. We saw a reedbuck, more wildebeest, 2 herds of elephants, kudu bulls as well as females, baboons, more white rhinos, including a mother and a young calf of which we could see the ears stick out of the long grass, a steenbok and surprisingly no impalas on this stretch!

After a short break at Lower Sabie we drove slowly back to Skukuza. We encountered more baboons as well as vervet monkeys with small fluffy babies, hippos playing in the water and at 1 sighting even grazing out of the water, buffalo, warthog and this last bit we saw once again lots of impalas!

It has been a glorious but hot day. Let's see what tomorrow will bring!

 

12 February 2014

The past couple of days were scorching hot so we decided to have the earliest possible start today and beat the heat. We loaded our bags and set off to follow in Marks tracks who had spotted some lions on the road. We showed up just in time to get a glimpse of them while they were walking into the bush. They scared some rhinos that were close-by which in turn ran off.

Continuing down the road to Paul Kruger gate we spotted the ever present impalas, zebras, giraffe, kudus, leopard tortoises and a steenbok.

We turned onto the dirt road Riverlink and it turned quiet for a while until we spotted a couple of big bull elephants. The smallest one hadn't had his coffee yet and was grumpy because in the time we were watching we saw him engaging in 4 scuffles. The first one he definitely picked the fight, challenging his opponent. After a couple of pushes and shoves he packed up and they started feeding again. Until a new elephant arrived on the seen. He instantly went for him and picked a fight with this elephant that was just a bit smaller. The first opponent notice and decided to end it by taking over the fight himself again. And last but not least then both opponents teamed up against him and pushed him backwards down the road. It was an excellent sighting!

We then got a tip about cheetahs that were walking down a road nearby so we decided to give it a try. We were again just in time ( very lucky) to see a cheetah mother with her two cubs walking through the medium high grass not far from the road.

By then we started getting hungry so slowly made our way to the golfclub for breakfast. We had to stop a couple of times for small leopard tortoises crossing the road, waiting for them to reach safety on the other side. While chewing we saw the hippos play and warthogs interfering with golfers.

Then it was time for our drive down on Napi towards Numbi gate and Nkambeni Safari Camp, our new home for the rest of this safari. As the temperature had risen a lot it was a pretty quiet drive with impalas, zebras, wildebeest, kudus, a very fat warthog, vervet monkeys playing in trees, and a small family of elephants of a mother with her young calf and a new baby that crossed the road just in front of us. When we almost were at the end of our drive we were lucky to see a rhino lying in the shade close to the road!

After a long break which consists of trying out the pool and the bar, the guests will go on their sunset safari. Let's hope they keep on being lucky!

 

Keep watching for more!!

The Hawks Make Nine Arrests For Rhino-Related Crimes

The Organised Crime Unit of the Hawks in Limpopo has arrested nine suspects during a two-day operation related to environmental crimes, particularly the trade in rhino horn.

The police, who were acting on information received, arrested five suspected rhino poachers at Bela Bela yesterday afternoon, 11 February 2014, for being in possession of...
a rhino horn. The suspects were arrested during what was supposed to be a rhino horn transaction between the suspects and an undercover buyer.

The seized horn appears to have been poached from an adult rhino a few months ago. The five suspects are aged between 23 and 34. They are South Africans from the Mabula Village and Eersterust in Hammanskraal North, Pretoria. During the arrest, the police seized an uncut diamond, which was later tested to be a fake, and the suspects’ getaway vehicle.

They are due to appear in the Bela Bela Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, 13 February 2014, on charges of the illegal possession of a rhino horn.

This arrest happened a few hours after the Hawks were summoned to a rhino poaching crime scene at the Zonderwater Farm in Lephalale where two rhinos had been shot; one dehorned and the other wounded.

Rangers at the farm accosted individuals suspiciously making their rounds at the farm at about 16:30 on Monday, 10 February 2014. The police were immediately summoned to the area. A set of rhino horns, a high-calibre hunting rifle with four rounds of ammunition, a saw and a getaway car were seized.

The suspects, 31-year-old Kenny Sibiya, 42-year-old Butini Ndlovu, 48-year-old Richard Sibuyani, both from Bushbuckridge in Mpumalanga and 30-year-old Sam Nnone from the Dark City Village in Lephalale, are facing charges of rhino poaching, being in possession of an unlicensed firearm and ammunition.

They appeared in the Lephalale Magistrates’ Court today and their case has been postponed to 28 March 2014 for a formal bail application while they remain in custody.

Earlier this year, three suspected rhino poachers, 39-year-old Jaime Mashavane, 40-year-old Thomas Chauke and 32-year-old Moses Mathobo, were arrested at the Shambala Game Reserve in Vaalwater, Limpopo. A hunting rifle and an axe were seized. The suspects are still in custody.

“We remain committed and determined to confront rhino poaching from all angles. We will continue to surprise them in the thick bushes where they are operating from,” said the Head of the Hawks in Limpopo, Major General Dibero Molatjana.

Issued by:
The South African Police Service

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

On Safari With Mark From 10 February 2014


10 February 2014

Route: Phabeni gate - Doispan - S65 - Skukuza - Kruger gate - Skukuza

General animals seen: kudu, warthog, impala, chackma baboon - vervet monkeys - zebra - giraffe and common duiker

Great sightings of different elephant herds on doispan today. A single bull very close to the road approximately 500m past 3 finger rock.

While watching this a college of mine informed me of action on the S65. Approximately 6.5kms from doispan we found 3 cheetha (1 female and 2 cubs) that had just killed an impala. All 3 busy eating with the ever watchful eyes on the white backed and lappet faced vultures. Although a distant sighting, it was still good to see the interaction between cheetah and vultures.

On Kruger gate road approximately 200m before the doispan junction we saw a herd of Cape buffalo. Guest got good photos of this herd however still a bit distant.

Out on the road tomorrow to see what nature has to offer.

 

11 February 2014

Route: Tshokwane tar - H10 - Elloff - Skukuza

General animals seen: impala, kudu, giraffe, steenbok, warthog, Nile crocodile, hippos, bush buck, vervet monkeys and chackma baboon

Approximately 1.3kms past Marola exit we found 17 wild dog running in the road. They spotted a male impala and the chase was on. Unfortunately the impala was to far for them and they gave up very quickly and carried on running next to us. The guests enjoyed the sighting for 30min and we decided to move on to allow other safari vehicles in our group a chance to show their guests the same.

Approximately 3kms down the road a female lion walked out onto the tar ahead of us and casually strolled past our vehicle as we gave her space to move. Great to see what condition she's in and guest got good photos of this to.

General sightings of herds of elephant was seen throughout the day. With some great distant shots on the H10 of females spraying their body's with mud.

2 different sightings of secretary birds along the same route.

The other unusual sighting for the day was a flock of ostriches (1male and 5 female) just minding their own business walking along and eating anything of interest.

Buffalo's spotted on the lower  bridge just lazing in the shallow water.

On our way back to camp we came across a male black rhino and once again could spend time with it as it was relaxed with our presence.

Overall, this was a great days game viewing with all clients happy at this stage with what the bush had to offer.

Onto Nkambeni tented camp tomorrow.

Keep watching for more!!!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

On Safari With Karen From 9 February 2014


9 February 2014

After picking up the guests at KMIA we headed towards Phabeni gate to enter the Kruger Park. On our way we were already spoiled with a sighting of impalas that roam the airport, a huge water monitor that risked its life crossing the main road and vervet monkeys in the trees next to the road.

Once we entered the park we continued our journey on a more leisurely pace and saw impalas almost straight away. Then we were very lucky to spot a leopard lounging in a tree just kilometres from the gate and not far from the road. He seemed uncomfortable so we waited a while for him to move but apparently he disagreed and didn't move.

We tore ourselves away from the sleepy leopard to see an elephant feeding on the other side of the road, just a couple of 100 metres further.

Another stop gave us an amazing sighting of 2 white rhinos sleeping in the riverbed, and what was lying in the overflow riverbed on the other side of the road? Two buffalo! We hadn't driven 2 kilometres and we saw 4 of the big 5!

It was a bit more spread out after that, but we spotted blue wildebeest, zebras, warthog, more buffalo and a couple more elephants. We also paid attention to the colourful birds like the lilac breasted roller, woolly necked storks, woodlands kingfisher.

At one of the sightings we got a tip about wild dogs on Watergat, so we drove down to take a look and found them flat out in the grass. We waited for over an hour but more then a flick of a tail, a twitch of an ear and the occasional head raise we couldn't see them properly. Guess our luck was coming to an end so we decided to head to Skukuza, our camp for tonight.

What an amazing lucky start to this safari! Well worth skipping our lunch for. Now let's hope we'll get a nice look at those wild dogs tomorrow as we are going to try and find them again.

 

10 February 2014

This morning we left bright and early as the sun came up. Before we were even out of the gate we spotted Vervet monkeys on the top of the roof sunning themselves to start their day. Just outside the gate of Skukuza we saw our first giraffe, kudu and honeybadger all in the same spot. The kudu got a fright and hid in the bush, the honeybadger looked up and then continued crossing the road and disappeared but the giraffe was curious and watch us while we were watching him.


We drove a loop around the river and came across a large family of baboons playing in the road, impalas with a late born young, bushbuck, more kudus, hippos, a bateleurs couple, pied kingfishers, three kinds of bee eaters, marabou storks, and big webs of golden orb spiders.

After our breakfast at the golfclub the hippos in the dam came close for their photo shoot. The purple crested turaco and woodlands kingfisher joined in and when all the fun was over we climbed back on the vehicle and continue down watergat.

We spotted zebras with very young babies, steenbok, elephants, buffalo, common grey duiker, a well hidden male waterbuck and had a giraffe crossing the road in front of us.

We returned to Skukuza for a little break as it started to get very hot.

In the afternoon we went for a little bumble out in the park and soon enough we saw the vervet monkeys inside the camp again. Disturbingly a youngish male was trying to mate with a little baby so we decided to continue. We had multiple baboon sightings, more vervet monkeys, warthogs, a fish eagle that had caught a fish, a lovely kudu bull and a leopard tortoise.

Tomorrow we go on the road again, bright and early!

 

Keep watching for more!

Friday, February 7, 2014

On Safari With Mark From 3 February 2014


3 February 2014

Route: Numbi tar - Napi boulders - Nkambeni camp

General animals seen: Kudu, impala, waterbuck, warthog, zebra and dwarf - slender mongoose

During the afternoon drive we found great sightings of Rhino right next to the road. 4 buffalo bulls grazing on the side of the road approximately 100m from Numbi tar on Napi.


Approximately 500m from tourism control we had a female elephant with her calf eating grass around a Marola tree. Very relaxed and guests got great photos of the two.

 
4 February 2014

Route: Numbi tar - Napi - Doispan - Albaseni - Nkambeni

General animal sightings: waterbuck, kudu, impala, klipspringer, common duiker, hippos, zebra, blue wildebeest and rhino

We got to see elephant bulls next to the road on napi with distant visuals of herds near transport dam access road.

2 male lions and 2 lioness 500m past neyamundwa dam. As this was a distant visual we decided to wait around for late afternoon and see if they would get up and come closer to the road. Eventually, the lions did get up and walked out onto the road approximately 5m from our open vehicle. 1 lioness proceeded to roar right next to us.

A good end to a great day in Africa.

We wait and see what the bush has to offer for tomorrow.

 

5 February 2014

Route: Numbi tar - Napi - Transport dam - Napi - Nkambeni

General animals seen: kudu, impala, blue wildebeest, zebra, bush buck, steenbok, vervet monkeys, chackma baboons, waterbuck and hippos

We had above average sightings of rhinos today with the largest Crash being 6 together.

Throughout the day we had elephant sightings with a massive bull in musth walking down napi towards the junction of Numbi tar. We gave him his space and after a while he walked off towards shabeni koppies.

A herd (200) buffalo lazing at the waterhole in the heat of the day.

Early morning drive we were called by a colleague to let us know about a leopard on transport dam access road and we headed down to it. Not a great sighting as all we got was rosettes in the bush due to the long grass on the side of the road.

Further to this the day rapidly increased with heat and the animal sightings deteriorated.

We returned to camp, where the guests could relax before going on their sundown drive to find a up close and personal leopard (which everybody would love to see).

 

6 February 2014

Route: Albaseni - Doispan - S65 - Napi - Nkambeni camp

General animals sightings: giraffe, zebra, waterbuck, impala, warthog, blue wildebeest, vervet monkeys, chackma baboons, rhino and hippos

We had some wonderful sightings of elephants today, with one on doispan standing in the road approximately 5m from the vehicle. Fantastic to be able to sit and appreciate the magnitude of Africa's largest land mammal.

While we were heading down to skukuza, a collage of mine informed me that there was a report of a male leopard near the junction of Napi and S65. I decided to head that way as both my clients had not seen a wild leopard before.

On reaching Napi we turned right towards transport dam and approximately 100m down the road, this massive male leopard popped out of the tall grass right next to the vehicle and proceeded to walk past our vehicle.

We turned the car around and drove behind him for a good 500m where he moved off into the tall grass and left us with great photos and memories.

All clients returned to camp with a sense of achievement in seen animals they came to Africa to see.

 

Keep watching for more!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

R232.2 Million Grant Received By Peace Parks Foundation

R232.2 million grant received by Peace Parks Foundation from the Dutch and Swedish Postcode Lotteries to combat rhino poaching in southern Africa

South Africa’s Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, Minister Edna Molewa has lauded the R232.2 million grant made to the Peace Parks Foundation by the Dutch and Swedish Postcode Lotteries. The Dutch Postcode Lottery donated R217 million of the ...
total donation, with R15.2 million being contributed by the Swedish Postcode Lottery, towards the fight against rhino poaching.

Minister Molewa said: “This is the largest single contribution made by the private sector to combat rhino poaching and wildlife crime. We welcome this public-private partnership to help ensure the survival of the species.” The South African government and its public entities, South African National Parks (SANParks) and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife (Ezemvelo), are working closely with Peace Parks Foundation to develop a multi-pronged approach to combat rhino poaching and wildlife crime.

The majority of this funding will be spent on enhancing the existing efforts to protect rhino in South Africa, which hosts 83% of the continent’s wild rhino population. All other southern African rhino range states have been consulted during the development of this project and they will form an integral part of the strategies designed to save the species. The main focus will be the devaluation of the horns of live rhino, through a combination of methods, including the physical devaluation and contamination of the horn, as well as the use of tracking and monitoring technology.

This special project has been designed to augment the procedures implemented by SANParks in the Kruger National Park and the Mozambican government in Limpopo National Park, both integral to the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park. In particular, the emphasis will be on intelligence gathering and on technology applications such as conservation drones and other specialist equipment. It will also include training and capacity building, as well as incentives and rewards for rangers, communities and members of the public who support the conservation of rhino.

Ezemvelo will be supported with similar interventions to conserve South Africa’s second largest rhino population, that of KwaZulu-Natal. In September 2012, Ezemvelo became the first state conservation agency in Africa to trial the treatment of rhino horn to deter the rampant poaching of this species. Thanks to this innovative step, not a single rhino has been lost in the reserves where the treatment was piloted.

The R217 million (€14.4 million) cheque was received from the Dutch Prime Minister, Mr Mark Rutte and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, on behalf of the Dutch Postcode Lottery, by Mr Mavuso Msimang, the government’s Rhino Issue Task Manager and Peace Parks Foundation board member, Dr David Mabunda, CEO of SANParks, Dr Bandile Mkhize, CEO of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, and Mr Werner Myburgh, CEO of Peace Parks Foundation.

Minister Molewa added that: “This very generous donation gives new hope to save our rhino. I believe this grant from the Dutch and Swedish Postcode Lotteries will be the catalyst to turn the tide on rhino poaching and wildlife crime.”

Commenting on the grant, Peace Parks Foundation CEO, Mr Werner Myburgh said: “Peace Parks Foundation was established in 1997 to assist the region’s governments in their development of transfrontier conservation areas. Our biggest supporter in this endeavour has been the Dutch Postcode Lottery and more recently the Swedish Postcode Lottery. We thank the lotteries and their players for this tremendous support to combat wildlife crime and we look forward to working with the southern African governments in ensuring the survival of the region’s rhino.”

Issued by:
The Department of Enviromental Affairs