Monday, March 31, 2014

Suspected Rhino Poachers To Appear In Limpopo Court

Five suspected rhino poachers are due to appear in the Phalaborwa Magistrate's Court on Monday, police said.

The men, aged between 30 and 45, were arrested on Thursday night, while allegedly on their way to kill a rhino at a nearby game reserve.

Police noticed a Isuzu bakkie with three occupants parked in Gravelotte around 7.30pm, said Brig
adier Hangwani Mulaudzi.

A black BMW X5 parked next to it.

All the occupants from the bakkie got into the BMW, but before they drove off, police pounced on them.

During a search of the car, police found a hunting rifle with a serial number filed off, 20 rounds of live ammunition and three butcher knives.

Initial investigations have revealed that one of the suspects had previously been arrested.

The five face charges of possession of an unlicensed firearm and ammunition.

By:
South African Press Association

Rhino Poaching Update


Friday, March 28, 2014

SANParks Board Thank Dr. Mabunda For 15 Years Service

SANParks Board thank Dr. Mabunda for 15 years service

Dr David Mabunda’s career as Chief Executive Officer of SANParks will come to an end on 31 March 2014, after two 5-year contractual terms. Dr Mabunda has worked for SANParks for 15 years, starting as Director of the Kruger National Park in 1998 and was appointed CEO of SANParks in 2004. 

The Board expressed its sincere gratitude at its meeting held on 26 March 2014, in recognition of Dr Mabunda’s contribution to conservation and to national parks specifically. The Board will now begin the process of recruiting a successor for the position of SANParks' CEO.

…Ends…

Issued by: Corporate Communications on behalf of the SANParks Board

Media enquiries:
Dr Gert Dry, Chairperson of the Human Resources & Remuneration Committee of SANParks' Board, Tel: 082 441 4426 or Email: gertdry1@vodamail.co.za

Thursday, March 27, 2014

On Safari With Mark From 24 March 2014


24 March 2014

Route: Doispan - Skukuza - Napi - Skukuza

General animals seen: kudu, blue wildebeest, impala, hippos, common duiker, rhinos and zebra

Highlights:


Once we entered through Phabeni gate we saw a dark chanting goshawk attack a snake which looked like a vine snake. As the attack was on, it was interesting to see that the snake was trying to wrap itself around the legs of the bird and intern the goshawk only attacked the head area of the snake. This continued for approximately 15min and in the end the goshawk got the better and the snake expired.

Along our route we had wonderful sightings of single elephant bulls as well as herds of elephant cross over in front of our vehicle. Most of these sightings had elephants either drinking water or cooling themselves down by spraying water behind the ears.

We did find a lioness lying in the shade of a sickle bush, however not much could be seen apart from a full belly going up and down as she breathed. Will look for a better sighting so guests can take some photos.

We head north tomorrow morning, just to show guests another part of Kruger as later on in the safari will be based south at Nkambeni.

 

25 March 2014

Route: Skukuza - Tshokwane - H10 - Elloff - Skukuza

General animal sightings: impala, warthog, kudu, bushbuck, chackma baboons, dwarf, slender and banded mongoose, elephant, rhino, crocodile and ostrich

Highlights: At the lower sabi bridge on the H10 we were luck to get a cape clawless otter out of the water on the river bank. Unfortunately as we spotted him, he move back into the water on his way to catch fish and we lost all sight of him. We stayed around but unfortunately didn't get visual of him again. One of those brilliant sightings that no one expected and the only photo taken was in a persons mind.

Heading back to skukuza we found a lioness with her 2 cubs lying in the shade of a sickle bush. We stayed with her a while hoping that she would get up and move closer, but because of the heat of the day she just stayed in the shade relaxing.

 

26 March 2014

Route: Skukuza - Doispan - S65 - H3 - S112 - S114 - Doispan - Albaseni - Nkambeni camp

General animal seen, impala, kudu, giraffe, warthog, zebra, elephant, rhino, waterbuck, hippos, common duiker,

Highlights:  A male leopard walked out behind our vehicle on the S65 approximately 9kms from doispan. As I turned the car around, it moved off the road into the thicket and although we waited a while, that was all we got to see of it. Guests once again couldn't get photos of it but enjoyed the sighting never the less.


We responded to a call about wild dogs just south of S112. We found all 11 just lying right next to the road. Guests got good photos of these and enjoyed the sighting tremendously.


We moved on looking for lion, but no such luck. As we moved towards skukuza, we came across another sighting of 15 wild dogs lying in the road approximately 20m from Stevenson Hamilton and S112 junction. This brought us up to  26 for the day.

After lunch we were fortunate to experience a black rhino game capture for possible relocation purposes. Our guests got good photos of this and a explanation as to how we handle such a process here in Kruger.

Guests are on a sundown drive so we headed back to camp for some rest before leaving on their drive.

 

Keep watching for more!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

On Safari With Curtis From 22 March 2014


22 March 2014

After picking up my guest from Nelspruit we headed down to Nkambeni Tented Safari Lodge and checked in. After a bit of lunch and a bit of time to settle in we set off on our first Safari of this tour. A very short drive around the local area and it turned out to be a quiet drive. We had three separate Kudu sightings as well as a sighting of five Giraffes in the distance. We also had a nice Elephant sighting where a young Bull walked across the road in front of us.

Although quiet my guest enjoyed her first experience of Kruger and we both hope for much more tomorrow morning.

 

23 March 2014

We left the lodge early and started to head down Napi. A bit of a quiet start but we did find a couple of nice Elephants close to the road, we also saw a family of Dwarf Mongoose which scurried into the bush as we neared them, However after we turned off the engine and waited a couple of minutes they soon came back out onto the road. We also had sightings of Zebra and Kudu before we turned down to Transport dam. The resident Hippos were there as well as plenty of water birds.

As we drove back and came across two male Rhinos lying in the middle of the road and we got some great close ups of them before they wandered into the bush. We also had two sightings of Waterbuck near the dam. We then heard about a Lion sighting nearby and drove straight there. Unfortunately the Lions had decided to move into the shade of a nearby Acacia and so we only got brief glimpses as they occasionally moved around.


Heading back to the lodge we had Elephant, Impala, Giraffe and Kudu sightings as well as Vervet monkeys.

This afternoon my guest has gone out on an evening drive, with more details to follow tomorrow.

 

24 March 2014

Last nights Sun downer drive was enjoyed very much, with a lovely sunset, and a tot or two of Amarula followed by sightings of Buffalo, Rhino, Impala, Scrub Hare and an owl.

This morning we set of down Albasini where we spotted several Hippo, at Mestel Dam, as well as a tree full of Cattle Egrets as well as Impala and a brief glimpse of a Warthog. As we turned onto Doispane we found two male Lion lying in the bush , not much movement by either so we decided to carry on to Nyamundwa dam where we found a solitary 'Dagga Boy' stood in the dam at the edge. We then noticed a pod of Hippos making their way to the Buffalo, one of them moved all the way up and opened his mouth touching the Buffalo. The Buffalo didn't take kindly to this and turned around before moving slowly out of the water. He moved further along the edge before entering the water again and again one of the Hippos came up to him. This time , however the Buffalo was having none of it and stood his ground and the Hippos moved away. We watched as two more very large Hippos moved closely to the Buffalo but again he stood his ground. While all this was happening we also had a family of Vervet monkey playing and feeding in the tree next to us. We also saw an African Fish Eagle and a Crocodile at the dam.

Carrying on we spotted two White Rhinos and we spent 20 minutes sitting watching them munching away on the grass, as the Red-billed oxpeckers sat on them and the Impalas looking for Ticks. We moved back up to the Lion sighting and the two of them had moved next to each other.
Driving back down doispane we found more Impala, the Hippos and Waterbuck before we returned to the lodge for lunch.

 

Late afternoon we went back out for a short drive spotting Hippo, Impala, Kudu, Cape Buffalo, Giraffe and a very inquisitive family of Dwarf Mongoose who came right up to the car and started looking up at us, even lovelier were the baby Dwarf Mongooses who were just as brave as their parents.

 

 

25 March 2014

 

This morning it was time for the bush walk, accompanied by two armed rangers the guests set off on a three hour walk in the bush. The actual walk turned out to be a quiet affair regarding the larger mammals however this meant more time to explore the smaller, and often forgotten, bits. The guests were shown different spoor, how to identify it and how to decipher what it means. They also learnt about some of the more common local trees, animal scat and smaller animals such as the Golden orb spider. It was thoroughly enjoyable experience and there even had sightings of Giraffe and Cape Buffalo on the drive back.

In the afternoon we went for a drive on the way spotting Impala, Kudu, Waterbuck, Elephants and four separate sightings of White Rhino, with a total of 13 Rhino seen. As we got to the dam we slowly drove past some known Hyena dens but with no luck, we went down to the dam and turned off  the engine and just sat for twenty minutes just enjoying the peaceful tranquillity the water brings. Numerous birds as well as Hippo and Waterbuck were seen. Heading back up to Napi we decided to have one more look for the Hyenas, again we drove past but nothing. As we turned around to head back to the lodge three young Hyena cubs walked across the road before disappearing into the bush. Our patience had been rewarded.

We headed back to the lodge with my guest very happy at seeing the Hyena, her ' top of my list' animal. We saw more Impala, Rhino and Kudu on the way back to the lodge.

On Safari With Karen from 20 March 2014


20 March 2014

Last night's sundowner drive was a success. They set out from Numbi gate spotting zebras and hippos on the way to the sunset spot where they drank some Amarula. When it got dark they drove around with a spotlight, being lucky to see a spotted eagle owl, white rhino, hyena and a honeybadger!

Today we went out for a full day game drive. On camp road we greeted our impala friends and almost at the end we found a road block in the form of a buffalo. Instead of moving to the side he stop and had a poo in the middle of the road, taking his time. We waited and spotted a tree squirrel with a fluffy baby in the tree next to us.

When we continued we heard about a leopard sighting and made our way there. We met another car on the way that showed us the place. We saw some warthogs running away and then we indeed saw the leopard! As soon as we stopped him he got up and moved down out of site. We waited a little, as there was no way to go anyway since there were lots of cars all around, when suddenly an alarm call sounds and this big kudu bull comes jumping out of the thick bush. He scares us, us being there scares him so he screams again and jumps back into the bush the other way. Then we decide to turn around as the cars behind us did and while turning we get another glimpse of him first sitting up on the rocks and then slowly walking out of sight. We were hoping to see him on the other side of the rocks, but no such luck.

At the crossroads we spotted a warthog reading the road sign - no 'looking' at the sign, So this warthog stands in the middle of the crossroads looking at the road sign and then at us. He is quite indecisive so we warn him not to go towards the leopard, but who knows where he went when we left him...

We left the sighting to have a quick toilet break at Pretoriuskop and then continued onto Napi. We spotted an elephant feeding, this one much bigger than the one we saw yesterday. On Napi Boulders we saw 5 male giraffes. A young one and a youngish one who was twice his size were having a very half-hearted fight. They showed the moves but no power or passion. Even when two even bigger ones joined the squabble it looked like a slow motion show without conviction! So no giraffe got injured even a little bit. A little further we saw a terrapin crossing the road from one puddle to another.

We stopped at Transport Dam and saw a large herd of waterbuck snoozing on the opposite side. There was a water monitor on a rock and we saw two hippos in the water. An elephant was feeding but as he was all wet he probably just had a swim before we arrived. We also saw a pied kingfisher showing what he does best: fish. And we saw a lot of other birds like the carmine bee eater, grey heron, greenbacked heron, white faced ducks, water thicknees, blacksmith lapwings and yellow billed hornbills are the ones I remember.

We then turned onto the H3, heading for Afsaal. It is always stunning to see how different the vegetation and the sights get while driving in different areas. The road had some crossing wildlife like impalas, a leopard tortoise and a chameleon. The last one being very slow, showing his imitation of a leaf in the wind, until he got close to the other side of the road and took a sprint! We spotted a nice kudu bull on the side of the road, one that didn't look like he was about to jump in the car. Close to Afsaal on the open area we saw a massive elephant and more kudus.

After our coffee break at Afsaal, the road towards Skukuza had become rather quiet, spotting even hardly any impalas. We decided to take a look around the river as we were told about lions while at Afsaal, but these were unfortunately hiding somewhere unknown. At high level bridge however we spotted some more hippos and saw two nice and close crocodiles. On the way to the golfclub we also saw some zebras and another warthog.

We stopped for lunch at the Skukuza golfclub where a hippo kept on showing half his body above the water. On the way out we spotted a bushbuck hiding in the bush.


Just before we turned onto Doispane we saw a massive herd of buffalo and some zebras which tried to blend in with the herd. The trail of the herd crossed in front of the car when we actually turned onto Doispane.

A little further on we were stopped by another safari vehicle. They had found a leopard, quite far in the bush but with binoculars excellently visible. Grateful we watched until it jumped out of the tree it was lying in. It look like it was going into the direction of a herd of impalas we had just passed, so we turned around. We sat with the impalas for a little while when indeed the leopard showed up crouching in the long grass. We watched it go nearer and nearer but then lost visual when it was about 10m away. Too far to make a dash and the impalas were not aware of the leopard yet. So we hang around for a while, all the time scouting the area in between the last spot we saw the leopard and the impalas. But she did not return in our sights and unfortunately we had to leave as we were running out of time.

We turned onto Watergat and spotted some vervet monkeys. They were hanging around, quite literally as 1 was hanging upside down on a tree ready to jump/let go. The youngsters were having some playing time. We also saw a large elephant bull and more kudus and impalas.

Back on Napi we came across another herd of buffalo. But then close to Transport Dam we saw 11 hyenas outside their den. Of those 11 only 4 were adults and the rest was youngsters of various ages and one female looked heavily pregnant too. The babies were drinking with their mothers while the youngsters were running around in the grass.

After sitting with them for a while, we really had to go. While driving back to Nkambeni there was no more time for stopping, except for some dwarf mongoose and later on impalas in the middle of the road (we wouldn't want to run over anything, now would we!). It had been a long day, but a very successful one.

22 March 2014

Today was our last day. We left after breakfast once again and passed our impala friends on camp road without stopping this time. On the tar road we spotted zebras.

There were rumours there were lions on the Shabeni koppies so we took a drive around the loop. The previous vehicles there hadn't seen anything, but it couldn't hurt to see for ourselves. We drove right way around the koppies and spotted buffalos, impalas and a klipspringer. When we were all around we decided to go around the loop one more time the left way around. To see things from a different perspective, we joked. We once again saw the klipspringer and then suddenly spotted movement. We stopped and through our binoculars we didn't see the lions we were hoping for but a leopard! He was watching around and sometimes even straight at us. The klipspringer started whistling alarm when the leopard got up and walked in his direction. He ran away when the leopard came too close. We sat watching the leopard for about 30min, all by ourselves. The klipspringer came back, showing his mate the location of the leopard too. We could almost see them whisper "look, honey, there he is. I told you there was a leopard".

We also heard vervet mknkeys alarm calling in the area. Probably for that same leopard. As the leopard was settling down again, our attention waivered in trying to find the monkeys, but to no avail.

Then we decided to finish the Shabeni loop, with unfortunately no sightings of lions, but we did see another buffalo and a hovering black shouldered kite.

Just before we turned into Albassini road we saw a small herd of buffalo crossing. And then all the way up Albassini to Phabeni Gate we saw absolutely nothing. Not even an impala. Guess our luck had run out!

At Phabeni Gate we quickly stopped for a toilet break. Kelly thought it was wise to point out we have been so lucky with the weather those four days.... Needless to say we drove to the airport through thick fog and rain! But that didn't change anything. I had to say goodbye to Kelly and Alex at the airport, who are having a bit more holiday in Cape Town and surroundings before they are heading home. It was great having you on safari with us, and I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Deputy Minister Of Water And Environmental Affairs Opens Talks Between South Africa And Vietnam

Deputy Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, Ms Rejoice Mabudafhasi opens official talks between South Africa and Vietnam on Biodiversity Conservation and Management.

Honourable Dr Bùi Cách Tuyến, Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE) of Vietnam;

Disting
uished officials of the Vietnamese delegation;

Senior Officials from the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) and the South African National Parks (SANParks);

Ladies and gentlemen.

It is indeed an honour for me to warmly welcome you to South Africa.

On behalf of the Government of the Republic of South Africa, we are honoured to be hosting you and your delegation at the Department of Environmental Affairs at a time when our country is celebrating the successes of 20 years of Democracy and preparing for landmark elections in May 2014.

I understand that your visit will be a relatively short one, but I am sure it will be fruitful for both of our countries and respective organisations mandated in biodiversity conservation and protection.

I would like to begin by recognising that both of our countries are blessed with a rich array of biological diversity, cultural and natural heritage, diverse landscapes and ecosystems, all of which provide natural goods and services which we have been entrusted to conserve, manage and protect for the benefit of present and future generations.

As you are aware, rhino poaching across South Africa and Africa has risen sharply in the past few years and has threatened to reverse the hard-won progress achieved by conservation authorities during the 20th Century.

Disturbingly, the number of rhinos poached for their horn in South Africa last year totalled 1004, up from 668 in 2012. Since the start of this year, 189 rhino have been poached, 121 of these in the Kruger National Park, which you will be visiting later this week.

In order to address the poaching problem, the South African Government and various other roleplayers have initiated a range of interventions to address the worrying surge in rhino poaching. These include engagements with countries where rhino horn is known to be traded and consumed.

Since 2011, South Africa and Viet Nam have been actively engaging on measures to address the illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife products.

I wish to recall that a significant milestone in our cooperation was achieved when the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Cao Duc Phat and Minister Edna Molewa, Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, signed the Memorandum of Understanding on Biodiversity Conservation and Protection in Hanoi on 12th December 2012. The signing of the MoU signalled a significant intervention in the bid to address an array of wildlife and conservation challenges. These include the scourge of rhino poaching in South Africa and the illegal trade in rhino horn and related products beyond our borders.

The signed MoU addresses, in particular, the illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife products, which has become a significant problem worldwide.

Furthermore, the MoU serves to promote cooperation between our two countries and enhance compliance with international Conventions such as the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, also known as CITES.

The MoU between our two countries provides the framework to promote the exchange of information, expertise and experiences for the benefit of both parties in wildlife management and enforcement.

South Africa recognises the immense value for both our countries to share information, policies and legislation on biodiversity protection broadly; as well as experiences in the implementation thereof.

There is significant scope for information and technical skills we can exchange and much we can learn from each other in doing so. Hence I am happy that you, Deputy Minister are here this week to take this cooperation between our two countries further.

It was just more than 10 months ago – from 6 to 10 May 2013 – that Dr Ha Cong Tuan, the Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development of Viet Nam led a delegation of senior officials on a working visit to South Africa.

The focus of the visit was on wildlife management, and together, we signed the Plan of Implementation for the MoU to put into action those steps that we had agreed were necessary to conservation and protect the wildlife and plantlife, including forests, in our two countries.

The plan of implementation is now in force and we are looking forward in reaping the benefits of its implementation.

I hope that the Implementation Plan will serve as a framework and a guide to ensure that we achieve the required cooperation and enhancement stipulated in the defined fields, and, that through this MoU, we will be equipped to deal decisively with the challenges confronting our countries in regards to biodiversity conservation, management and protection.

I have noted from the programme for your visit, that you have already had an opportunity to take in the scenic beauty of South Africa, and one of our country’s proud world heritage sites -- Table Mountain overlooking Cape Town.

You will also be visiting the iconic Kruger National Park where I hope you will, hopefully, experience the pleasure of seeing all members of the Pride of Africa’s “Big Five”. I am confident that during your visit to the Kruger National Park you will obtain further insights into South Africa’s wildlife management as well as the protection of our rich of biological diversity.

I trust that the interactions with the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, the South African Police Services and the National Prosecuting Authority will be beneficial to both countries not only in furthering understanding of legislative and policy measures and how these could be aligned and further developed to ensure optimal management and protection of our natural world, but also in furthering your understanding of how our law enforcement agencies are engaging in addressing the scourge of rhino poaching.

Your Excellency, in conclusion, I would like to wish you and your delegation a pleasant stay in South Africa. I hope the deliberations this week will be fruitful and that the working visit will further strengthen the bond between our two nations.

I thank you.

Issued by:
The Department of Environmental Affairs

Monday, March 24, 2014

On Safari With Curtis From 19 March 2014


19 March 2014

A very misty start to the morning meant that sightings were hard to come by. However as the sun burnt through the mist we found Cape Buffalo, Elephant, Impala, Zebra and a Steenbok along the road. We also found Hippo and Waterbuck at one of the dams. We then heard about a sighting along the river so we made our way there and found three lionesses lying near the road. The grass was covering them a bit but every now and again they would look up or move around so we were able to get some nice photos. We continued along the river and found a small Crocodile lying on the sandbank. Lots more Impala were sighted before we got to Nkuhlu picnic site for a coffee break. While there we had plenty of fun watching the Vervet monkeys running around.

As we headed back along the river we saw Warthog and a large troupe of Baboons and had another sighting of the Lionesses as we drove past again. We stopped at the Golf Club for lunch and the Hippos put on a show as the dominant male spread his dung around and showed who's boss. On our way out we found Nyala. Back on the main road we had a couple of Elephants crossing over the road and also saw Zebra, Kudu and Wildebeest. We then had a lovely sighting of 8 Giraffe, we backed away from them and one of the big bulls crossed the road in front of us. Lots more Impala, a couple of Dwarf Mongoose and Tree Squirrels and a roadblock of Zebra were seen before we got back to the lodge.

A long and hot afternoon but the guests loved all the sightings.

 

20 March 2014

The last day of the tour for Andrea and Oliver and so yet another early morning as we had only a couple of hours left in the park before we made our way to Nelspruit. We set out hoping to find a nice Rhino sighting and with a big slice of luck maybe Leopard. We managed to get the Rhino sighting as we came across a large male resting in a drainage line, he got to his feet as we approached but soon settled down again when he realised we were no threat. We sat and watched him for a while before moving off.

We then heard off a possible Leopard sighting, on the radio, and headed straight there. When we got to the area there were no other vehicles around so we assumed the Leopard had moved off. We took a slow drive around the koppies looking for any sign that it was still there, but no luck. We were beginning to run out of time and so we had one more look around the loop, just at the end I spotted him sitting up on the rocks, he stayed for a minute or so and then jumped down. We spun around and found him on another rock, again he jumped down and again we turned around. Slowly edging forward Andrea spotted him in the bush now just a few metres away from us. We managed to get a few more glimpses before he disappeared. Unfortunately time had run out and so with much regret we had to leave the sighting and head for the gate. As well as the two sightings we had been hoping for we also spotted Impala, Kudu, Buffalo, Giraffe and Warthog. Not bad for two hours drive.

We made our way to Nelspruit where Andrea and Oliver got on the Citybug and transferred to Jo'burg before flying home.

 

 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

On Safari With Karen From 18 March 2014


18 March 2014

After picking up the guests at the airport we drove to the Kruger Park through all the plantations. We decided to first check in at Nkambeni and got our first animal sighting on the way to the camp: a herd of impalas. After a quick look around at Nkambeni we went straight on safari. On camp road we encountered those same impalas.

We went up the tar road spotting some nice birds like white fronted bee eaters and fighting fork tail drongos. We saw two white rhinoceros grazing, paying little notice of us watching them. A little further on was where all the action was. We saw a warthog close to the road and a mixed herd of impala and kudu. When we drove closer we noticed that four of the kudus were intently watching and listening in the same direction. We took our binos and stared into the same direction not seeing anything. But when we were about to continue one of the impalas barked an alarm call and all of them moved back and closer together and then started to watch intently again. Almost certain there must be something there, we reversed to higher ground and scouted in the direction it must be. The warthog didn't pay much attention and kept on munching and walking into that direction. We were watching the warthog when suddenly a shape walked onto an open spot having a quick overall look, spooking the kudus and then turning into a crouch and it went behind the bush. It was there, we all saw it. But trying to find it back in the high grass in between the bushes, that turned out to be impossible. We stared and stared and waited for about 30min. Nothing. Even the impalas and kudus started to relax again. So finally we decided to continue...

On the loop we also spotted a family of dwarf mongoose playing out in the street and 2 buffalo relaxing. We drove around a loop near Pretoriuskop without seeing anything but a lonely impala. Then we decided to have a quick look again there where the action was, but no luck. The impalas, kudus and warthog as well as their stalker all gone. We did see the two white rhinos again though and they were much more visible this time around.

We then returned to Nkambeni as it was nearing closing time. On camp road we spotted a brilliant kudu bull, 3 more buffalo in the high grass and we got stuck behind a herd of impala. They had not a care in the world that we actually wanted to pass and they walked in front of us for almost a kilometre! Then one by one they finally went off the road and we enter the camp just in time for closing. It was a good start!

 

19 March 2014

This morning Alex and Kelly went on the bushwalk, which was a great success. Apart from all kinds of tracks, a sable skull, various interesting spiders and the not so welcome ticks, they were also lucky enough to come across a large herd of buffalo, white rhino and impalas.

While they were walking around the bush, I took Will and Melanie, who had been doing their safari with Curtis, out for a short drive before having to go to Nelspruit for their transfer. It was really misty and a bit cold when we left just before 6am. Just outside the gate we spotted a herd of impalas and a little further on a common grey duiker. When we got to the tar road after a couple of kilometres we saw a buffalo grazing right next to the road.

We then turned onto Napi and spotted a herd of zebra with two youngsters close to Shitlhave Dam. We drove Napi until the Boulders where we had to turn around as we were running out of time. The mist had cleared a bit so we could see a bit more of the bush but it stayed rather quiet unfortunately. On the last stretch we managed to see a slender mongoose and just before the gate some dwarf mongoose as well. But then it was time to say goodbye to the Kruger Park and hit the road. I hope even though it was a slow morning Melanie and Will had a great safari with us!

Before the sundowner was happening for Kelly and Alex this afternoon, we decided to go on a little bumble around the park to see if we could find some more animals. On camp road we drove into the middle of quite a large troop if baboons, which were shy and disappeared in the thick bush when they spotted the car. Also we spotted the ever present impalas.

On the tar road we saw kudus. We went down the dirt road towards Fayi Loop, taking a loop around Pretoriuskop. We spotted vervet monkeys lazying around in a tree just after the turn off and a waterbuck well hidden in the bush. Then on the way back to the tar road we spotted an elephant that most likely just had crossed the road. We watched him feeding for a while before we continued. We then came across a family of dwarf mongoose on the side of the road. Some were adventures and stared back at us and one even came close to the car to investigate.

Back on Napi we drove towards Shitlhave Dam. We had found fresh buffalo tracks back where we came from leading out of the loop, and after about a 100m on the tar we spotter three dagga boys together near the stream. While watching the buffalos with the red-billed oxpeckers hanging at the ears, we saw a leopard tortoise cross the road up ahead.

At Shitlhave Dam it was quiet, even the crocodile that was lying on the little sandy beach that is left after the high water level didn't move an inch.

We returned towards Numbi gate for the start of the sundowner. On the way seeing more kudus, the same buffalos, pretty European rollers, white fronted bee eater so close it almost flew into the car, one of the last woodlands kingfishers, Cape glossy starlings.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

On Safari With Curtis From 16 March 2014


16 March 2014

The start of a new tour and after picking up my guests from Nelspruit we headed down to Numbi and Nkambeni Lodge, after checking in we started our first safari, Leaving the lodge we came across the resident Impala and Kudu before we even got through Numbi gate, we then headed down Numbi tar and around Shabeni loop. We found more Impala and then a lone White Rhino, just a few metres from the road and in the clear for everyone to have a good look. Carrying on we also found a small group of Cape Buffalo sitting, on the rocks, enjoying the afternoon sun.

We carried on down Shabeni link which was very quiet and then as we got to the junction I was about to turn right when I noticed a car had stopped and was looking at something on the left. We took a quick detour and found a beautiful Cheetah sitting out in the open on the rocks. We stayed with him for quite a while and then decided to move on. We had a brief glimpse of a family of Dwarf Mongoose, as they scurried across the road and out of sight, as well as a pod of Hippo in the water and then a family group of Zebra along with more Impala.

A short drive this afternoon but a very good start to the tour.

 

17 March 2014

An early start for two of my guests as they had a bushwalk in Kruger this morning. Although a fairly quiet walk in respect of mammals, with just Impala, Zebra and Warthog seen, both Melanie and Will enjoyed the experience of being on feet in the bush.


The rest of group went out on a drive and we headed down Albasini and Doispane spotting Zebra, Impala, Kudu, Elephant, Warthog and a large herd of Buffalo. As we headed down we found more Impala as well as Hippo, Wildebeest, Rhino, a couple of Tree Squirrel, Waterbuck and a Crocodile at the dam.

In the afternoon 6 of the guests went on their Sundowner drive (more details about that tomorrow) and I went to meet two new guests who are joining us. After settling in at the camp we went for a short drive and found Impala, Kudu, Waterbuck and Vervet Monkeys.

 

18 March 2014

This morning we took a turn around Shabeni loop before taking a drive down Napi, during this time we spotted Cape Buffalo, Klipspringer, Impala, Kudu, Zebra, Wildebeest, Warthog and Waterbuck. As we neared Transport dam we came to a group of cars, we had apparently just missed a Leopard sighting by a couple of minutes. We hung around in the hope that it would reappear, but it didn't. This was to be the first of three missed sighting of Leopard today. We did however spot a family of Elephants in the bush and we waited while they slowly progressed towards the road. They eventually crossed over in front of us, several females and three very young calves. We also found a Hyena pup just sitting outside it's den before we returned to camp. Then it was time to say goodbye to four of my guests as they headed down to Cape Town to carry on their holidays.

In the afternoon the remaining guests and I went on a short drive where we found some very vocal and active Hippos at Mestel Dam and then Warthog, Impala, Kudu and Cape Buffalo around Shabeni. We then had our first sighting of Giraffe, for this tour, quite far in the bush. We then carried on and found a Journey of Giraffe, further along the road, about 10 in total all close to the road and out in the open which made for a lovely viewing. We then made our way back to camp where the ever present Impalas were happily blocking the road to the lodge.

 

More coming soon!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

On Safari With Karen From 11 March 2014


11 March 2014

Today the guests were dropped off at Numbi Gate and instead of going straight to the lodge, we decided to have a quick drive as there was a leopard spotted nearby. We drove straight to Shabeni Koppies to see the leopard and we were in luck, she was still there. Even more so, it turned out to be three leopards! A mother and her to cubs that are growing up quickly. When we arrived at the sighting one had her head up, as one was lying flat. We only knew it was three when the second one got up and moved a bit, so a third one jumped on the rock to take up the vacated space and made himself comfortable.

We sat with them for a while until all three settled in to have a nap and were lying flat again. We then went towards Nkambeni Safari Camp to check in. On the road towards the camp we spotted our first impalas and a white rhinoceros.

After the check-in and quick lunch we went out again for the afternoon game drive. The impalas we saw before had not moved much but we saw a lot more of them! We then drove to Napi. We caught a glimpse of an elephant, but before we stopped and had cameras ready, the elephant had disappeared from view.

We did see a leopard tortoise and a little further a hinged tortoise crossing the road. At Shitlhave Dam we saw waterbucks as well as a crocodile. The crocodile was warming himself in the sun on a tiny little beach that is left after the water level has risen considerably after last weeks amount of rain. On a rock nearby terrapins were also sunning themselves.

We drove towards Napi Boulders where we saw kudus and then a lone male giraffe. Shortly after two white rhinos were staring at us through the bush. On the way back towards camp we saw a magnificent kudu bull and a warthog. Unfortunately that was all we had time for as the gates were closing and according to the guests sleeping out in the bush was definitely not an option. We drove back to camp and arrived just in time for gate closing, so all was well. It has been a good afternoon!

 

12 March 2014

The night had been very eventful with lots of strange noises of frogs, birds and insects and we saw bats and owls flying around. And to top it off we had a clear night with a sky full of stars and the moon was bright. However, coming from the big city Mississippi, the light is minimal and what struck them most was the darkness around them when they had switched off the room lights! Luckily all fell asleep in the end and were sound asleep till dawn, when the alarm clock went off.

This morning we packed up and left straight after breakfast. As today was the last day we were hoping for something new. Before we even left with the car however we saw an elephant grazing right outside the Nkambeni fence in front of our balcony.

On camp road we saw the herd of impalas again as well as some fresh elephant dung and buffalo dung. Not to mention the potholes and drainage lines caused by all the rain.

We went up Albassini and soon a common grey duiker crossed in front of our car, too quick for photos. We continued the drive seeing more impalas and stopped for some nice birds like European roller, cape flossy starling and an African hoopoe. At Mestel Dam the hippos were falling asleep as there was minimal activity.

We continued towards Shabeni and suddenly saw a congregation of cars. We stopped at the back of the traffic jam and spotted a leopard lying on a flat rock. As it was the same area as yesterday we assumed it was either the Mum or one of the cubs we saw yesterday, most likely the Mum. While we were watching it got up and jumped down, hiding between the rocks.

We continued driving onto Shabeni Loop and spotted one of the cubs of the leopard we saw yesterday, stretching and lying down, getting up, lying somewhere else. He was definitely restless. He stood up again staring down to the bottom of the rock and up jumped another leopard. The two were in plain sight and the restless one started catching the other one's tail, which was a playful gesture and a funny sight. When he got bored again he went behind the tree and came back with a piece of what looked like a spine of an impala and started munching on it. But he wasn't too hungry and he abandoned it to have another snooze.

We left the sighting and continued on the loop to spot 2 buffalos on Shabeni rock. These two grumpy old men were just lazying around, ruminating their breakfast probably. After we saw some more kudus we stopped at Pretoriuskop for coffee and some souvenir shopping. With the car full of souvenirs we then had to continue back to Numbi gate and unfortunately leave the park as the safari was finished. It was short but sweet, next time it will be a longer safari!!

On Safari With Curtis from 11 March 2014


11 March 2014

We left early and headed for shabeni  loop hoping to find the Leopards we saw last night and we were in luck as we found mum and cub sitting together on the rock. We carried on around the rock and found Baboons, Klipspringer and Cape Buffalo. We headed down Napi and found Impala, Kudu and Elephant. We then came across a pack of Wild dog, we saw two at first and then another three got up and moved around. After leaving the Wild dogs we carried on down Napi and found , at Delaporte, a traffic jam, the result of apparently Lions having made a kill. There was no way we were going to see the Lions with so many cars around so I decided to go to Skukuza for a coffee break and then try again on the way back.

After the break we headed back to the Lion sighting and although there were a lot of cars not as many as before, We sat in the jam and saw a Male lion heading up the road, as all the cars moved forward we positioned ourselves up on the bridge and waited. Suddenly the Lion moved into the opening and crossed over the river, if that wasn't good enough he started to walk closely towards the cars and we had a great view of him. Then three more Male Lions appeared into the open and crossed the river, a great sighting which we were in prime position to watch. On the other side of the bridge lay the remains of a Kudu bull with plenty of very full Vultures. We moved on, giving others a chance to see, and stopped briefly again at the Wild dogs before continuing back down Napi. We made a detour to visit Transport dam and found the hippos in the water and then one of the guests spotted the Crocodile sitting at the waters edge. Back up on the road we stopped at a known Hyena den and found a couple of Hyenas just sitting outside. Further along we saw more rhino, more Impala as well as Vervet monkeys, Dwarf Mongoose and a Tree squirrel running down the road when we had stopped to look at a Yellow-billed Hornbill. Just before we got to Numbi gate I decided to take another look on Shabeni for the Leopards and they were still lying on the rock, then suddenly one of the guests said he saw something up higher in the rocks, we all looked to find a third Leopard sat at the entrance of a small cave. It turned out mum and cub was mum and two cubs. After leaving we even had time for a quick look a couple of Dung beetles rolling their balls home before we headed to Numbi gate.

The time had come for some of my guests to leave Kruger and carry on with their travels. Thank you to all of you for your company and I'm sure you enjoyed the amazing sightings we had over the last few days as much as I did.

My last remaining guests are on a sundowner drive tonight, more details about that tomorrow.

 

12 March 2014

Last night the guests had a very pleasant sundowner drive, with the sun shining they saw a beautiful sunset made even better with a glass or two of Amarula. They even got another look at the Leopards which have been hanging around Shabeni Loop as well as Rhino, Impala and Kudu.

The final day for the remaining guests of this tour and after several early starts and a couple of very long days they decided to have a sleep in today rather than go out on a final morning drive. I then drove them to Nelspruit for them to be transfered to Johannesburg. It has been a wonderful pleasure having Patricia, Stephane, Carl and Valentine on this tour, their enthusiasm for everything they saw made the time we spent together a delight and I am sure they will be back on safari one day.

 

 

Monday, March 17, 2014

On Safari With Mark From 10 March 2014


10 March 2014

Route: Doispan - Napi - Shabeni link - Albaseni - Nkambeni

General animals seen: kudu, giraffe, zebra, warthog, elephant, rhino, klipspringer, impala and waterbuck

On the way to camp Curtis called me and told me of a leopard sighting on shabeni which we responded to. Brilliant sighting of 2 leopards approximately 50m from each other with 1 having just caught a male impala and moving it towards a tree.

The other just climbed up onto the rock and lay down and watched us until it was time for us to leave due to gate closing times.

On our way back to camp we saw 2 male lions lying in the middle of the road just relaxing. Great photos taken by the guests.

At mestal dam we came across a large herd of buffalo crossing the albaseni after drinking water.

Guests are happy to have seen so much in the short time in Kruger. We wait to see what is on offer tomorrow.

 

11 March 2014

Route: Napi - Skukuza - Doispan - Albaseni - Nkambeni

General animals seen: kudu, impala, warthog, zebra, giraffe, common duiker, klipspringer, hippos, buffalo and elephant

Highlights:
We got word of 8 wild dogs lying on napi enjoying the fresh morning breeze. We responded and found them all playing on the road and guest could get fantastic photos.

Further to this we got another call informing us of 4 lioness walking towards us approximately 2kms from our location. We responded and as we came around a corner, there they were just as reported. All 4 walked past our car and all in very good condition. They had just caught a kudu bull and eaten till their bellies were full.

On our return to camp we found 4 male lions walking towards the kill and followed them down the road. We watched as they started to eat on the leftovers from the females.

Picked up new guests and immediately we drove to shabeni koppies were the leopard were spotted yesterday. We found them still lying on the same rocks as yesterday. Amazing to see a female with her 2 cubs out and about.

Keep watching for more!

Media Release: Rhino Poaching Update

14 March 2014 - The total number of rhino poached in South Africa since the beginning of 2014 has increased to 172, as the number of people arrested for rhino poaching-related offences climbed to 54.
 

The Kruger National Park remains hardest hit by rhino poaching, having lost 113 rhino since 1 January 2014. A total of 18 rhino have been poached for their horn in Limpopo, 17 in North West and 11 in KwaZulu-Natal.

A total of 24 poachers have been arrested the Kruger National Park and 15 in KwaZulu-Natal.

South Africans are urged to report incidents of poaching and tip-offs to the anonymous tip-off lines 0800 205 005, 08600 10111 or Crime-Line on 32211.

For media queries, contact:
Albi Modise on 083 490 2871

Issued by:
The Department of Environmental Affairs






Thursday, March 13, 2014

Kruger National Park Heavy Rains Update

An update on the heavy rains in the Kruger National Park as on 13 March 2014 at 08H00AM.

Latest update

Pafuri Picnic Spot is closed.

As a safety precaution it has been decided to close the following facilities:
...

Talamati Bush camp (closed until Monday, 17 March 2014)
Biyamiti Bush Camp (closed until Monday, 17 March 2014)
Wolhuter Trails Camp (closed until Monday, 24 March 2014)
Boesman Trails Camp (closed until Monday, 24 March 2014)
Olifants Trail Camp (closed until Monday, 24 March 2014)
Nyalaland Fly Camp (closed until Monday, 24 March 2014)
Balule Satellite Camp (closed until Monday, 17 March 2014)
Sirheni Bush Camp (closed until Monday, 17 March 2014)
Bateleur Bush Camp (closed until Monday, 17 March 2014)
Shimuwini Bush Camp (closed until Monday, 17 March 2014)
Berg-en-Dal fence temporarily erected.

Bird Hides:

Sable Hide is closed.

Roads and Bridges:

Gravel roads in the Marula Region still closed, with the exception of the roads listed below.
H1-1 from Skukuza to Pretoriuskop open
S60 between Punda Maria and Pafuri is open
H14 between Mopani and Phalaborwa open
H1-2 between Skukuza and Tshokwane is open (Sand River low level bridge between Skukuza and Tshokwane is closed).

The following gravel roads have been reopened:

S7
S10
S42
S8
H2-2 (Afsaal - Pretoriuskop)
S11
S28
S107
S130
S137
S39
S36 (from H7 - S145)
S126
S106
S89
S90
S41
S100
S40
S12
S127

Gates/Ports of entry:

Crocodile Bridge Gate has been reopened.

Picnic Spots:

Tshokwane Picnic Site is open.
Pafuri Picnic Spot is closed.

H3 from Skukuza - Malelane is now open. The northern part of the park is accessible via H12, high water level bridge.

River Update:

The weather predictions indicate mild rains for the coming few days, however, most rivers have subsided except the Olifants River which is still flowing a bit high.

Please Note:

All main camps are not affected the park is still accessible. For more information call the central reservation on 012 428 9111 or the Emergency number 013 735 4029.

Issued by:
South African National Parks

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Fight Against Rhino Poaching Gets R1 Million Boost From Unitrans Volkswagen

Today, Unitrans Volkswagen Divisional Chief Executive Mr. Kevin Gillmer handed a cheque of R1 051 720 million to the SANParks Honorary Rangers, celebrating the Unitrans Volkswagen financial contribution for 2013 to the Unite Against Poaching effort.

Accepting the cheque on behalf of SANParks and the Honorary Rangers...
, SANParks Chief Executive Dr. David Mabunda said the on-going scourge of rhino poaching in our country is an area of concern to government and ordinary people in villages and cities including corporate South Africa. “It is therefore with great humility and sense of pride that SANParks accepts the generosity presented by UNITRANS Volkswagen – this is proof that together we can do more to win the fight against rhino poaching.”

He said rhino poaching is a crime that is undoubtedly fuelled by a thriving black market trade in rhino horn. Since January this year, a total of 166 Rhinos have been poached, with 111 of them in the Kruger National Park. “It is worrying that we are still losing such a high number of rhinos throughout the country. However the most encouraging area in this whole saga is the increasing number of arrests, which stood at 343 for the country by end last year of which 133 were arrests made in the Kruger National Park.”

South Africa is home to approximately 20 000 white and black rhinoceros of which 10 000 are found in the Kruger National Park. This represents over 80% of the world’s total rhino population. The South African population is one of the last viable rhino populations in the world which makes it vulnerable. South Africa is therefore the remaining hope for the world in terms of rhino conservation.

To help sustain the effort against poaching SANParks has requested the Honorary Rangers to prioritise fundraising in support of the counter poaching effort. Unitrans Volkswagen’s Unite against Poaching initiative has contributed R6 781 250 million to the SANParks’ counter poaching effort over the past three years, in partnership with the SANParks Honorary Rangers.

“Unlike many fundraising initiatives the SANParks Honorary Rangers utilise 100% of all money raised for counter poaching to help our rangers. We do not use donor money to fund our activities. As we are the South African National Parks preferred channel for counter poaching support in our National Parks, and as our parks are home to the majority of the world’s rhino population, this donation is important in the fight to save our rhinos”, says Louis Lemmer, Deputy Chairperson of the SANParks Honorary Rangers National Executive Committee.

Kevin Gillmer added, “This pledge of over a million Rand has been made possible through the support of our customers. Each vehicle sold within the group attracts a pledge directly to the Unite Against Poaching fund. In this way members of the public can help make a sustainable contribution to the fight against poaching at the coal face. Unitrans Volkswagen is proud to be associated with both the financial as well as vehicle support of the war against poaching in SANParks. We continue to work in partnership with the SANParks Honorary Rangers to ensure that the pledged funds are used effectively and efficiently in approved counter poaching projects within SANParks.”

SANParks has called on corporates and individuals for extra support for the Honorary Rangers counter poaching effort in order to assist its rangers in the field. The partnership with Unitrans Volkswagen is a great example of what can be done. Through the sale of vehicles by the 10 Unitrans Volkswagen dealerships the company is able to sustain its support and make a major contribution.

The time is now for everyone to Unite Against Poaching and help ensure this precious heritage for our children’s children.

Issued by :
South African National Parks Corporate Communications

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

On Safari With Curtis From 6 March 2014


6 March 2014

The start of a new tour saw me picking up the guests from Nelspruit and driving down to Numbi gate, once there we only had a couple of hours before gate closing time and so we headed straight down Napi tar. A quiet start to begin with as we saw Kudu and Zebra from a long distance, so we stopped and talked about the Rhino Middens and Elephant dung along the road. We then came upon a small group of Giraffe and watched them for a few minutes. Time to turn around and head to the lodge but the return journey was a lot more productive. The Zebra had moved out into the open and we had three separate sightings of White Rhino close by. We also saw our first Impala of the tour by the time we had gone through Numbi gate.

However the sightings weren't over as on the dirt road to the lodge we had a good sighting of a solitary 'Dagga Boy' Buffalo and then a sighting of 3 Elephants on the road. A strange grouping as there was a female with her calf and a older male with them. Not the usual family grouping but still fun and interesting to watch. As we drove past the youngster got a little vocal and tried to show who was boss!!! We then drove into Nkambeni Tented lodge which will be home for the next couple of days.

 

7 March 2014

Driving through Phabeni gate, todays start was fairly quiet seeing Impala, Kudu and Zebra along the road. We then spotted what must have been around 50 Vultures all in the same spot, we could smell a kill but unfortunately it was too far in the bush to see. Carrying on we found Giraffe, Elephant and a solitary Vervet monkey.


As the day progressed we continued to see more Impala and Kudu as well as Elephant and a couple of Warthogs crossing the road in front of us before we stopped for a break.

After lunch we found yet more Impala, Kudu, Elephant, Zebra and Wildebeest and we saw our first Rhinos of the day, a crash of three standing together. We were also able to spot a few of the smaller creatures during the day including lilac-breasted Rollers, Southern Ground Hornbills and the Yellow-billed Hornbills. We also saw Leopard Tortoises and a Chameleon crossing the road.

 

8 March 2014

The final day of the tour for my two guests and we left the lodge , luggage packed, to try our luck on the final safari. We came across general game such as Impala and Kudu before finding Elephant and yet more Rhino. We also found Waterbuck and quite a few Leopard Tortoises walking along the road. We also got a nice sighting of a Common Duiker before he ran away and we had to make our way out of the gate and up to Nelspruit to transfer the guests to Johannesburg. Thank you Tiffany and Sam for your company and hopefully you will come back one day when there is less rain.

No rest for the wicked as I had four new guests immediately, after driving back to the lodge and settling in we went out for a short drive to let the guests have their first taste of a safari. Just on the lodges camp road we spotted Elephant, Kudu and Impala. Driving up to Numbi gate we also spotted the first of four separate Dwarf Mongoose sightings. Three of the sightings were short as they ran into the bush but at one sighting they hung around poking around in Elephant dung searching for tasty morsels. We saw more Kudu, Impala, a Warthog and Rhino. We also had a beautiful Elephant sighting, coming around a corner we found ourselves looking at a large Bull about 100metres down the road walking towards us. We stopped and I checked for signs of Musth, there were none so I told my guests to be very quiet and we waited as the Ellie continued to walk towards us. He just kept on coming and walked straight by us, close enough for us to touch him if we had wanted. NONE of us did though!!!!!  An incredible moment none of the guests will forget in a hurry.

 

9 March 2014

Leaving the lodge early and heading up to Numbi gate we came across a group of Vervet Monkeys playing in the trees. We then took a short trip around Shabeni Loop where we spotted two Cape Buffalo lounging on the top of the rocks. We headed down finding Impala, Kudu, Warthog and two Bull Elephants in the distance as well as a family of Dwarf Mongoose at the side of the road. We went down the road to the dam and came across Zebra walking over the road, we also found Waterbuck around the water’s edge and Hippos lounging in the water as well as an array of birds such as the Grey Heron, Cattle Egrets, Egyptian Geese and a couple of weavers. As we headed back to the main road a member of the public told us about some Hyenas playing near the road so we headed in that direction. We found them lying in the long grass but we stayed long enough to get a few good photos as they moved around.


We carried on and found a large Male Giraffe standing next to the road, he carried on eating and then decided to walk across the road right in front of us. We also saw Wildebeest and more Impala before getting to Skukuza for our morning coffee.

After our stop we headed back the same way and found more Giraffe, Impala and Warthogs. We also found a number of White Rhino close to the road, unfortunately they were busy having a siesta in the long grass so we could only see the backs and flicking ears. We did however have a nice White Rhino cross the road in front of us and when we got to the spot found a second Rhino with him. We also found several Tortoises crossing the road along the way (luckily they all made it safely to the other side) We also had time to stop at the Hyena den again and found a couple of the older pups still outside the den allowing us to get some more pics.

This afternoon it's time for the Sundowner drive (weather permitting) more details tomorrow!!!

 

10 March 2014

Last nights Sundowner drive was a very enjoyable event for the guests as they enjoyed a beautiful sunset before seeing Lions and many other animals. Even the torrential downpour and storm which caught them couldn't stop the smiles when they got back to the lodge.

A very cold and even wetter start to the day as the weather turned for the worse meant that when we stopped at the golf club for a break we had seen very few animals, some Impalas, Buffalo, Giraffe and Kudu as well as Elephant from a distance. After the break the rain held off and we progressed down to the river and found a couple of female Lions. We had a glimpse of them for about ten seconds before they disappeared into the bush. We had planned to go back to the lodge for lunch due to the weather but I then heard about a possible sighting of Cheetah further down the road, unfortunately no luck as it had gone by the time we got their so we returned to Skukuza for lunch.

The afternoon turned out to be much more productive and interesting than the morning, firstly we spotted the regular Klipspringer on Klipspringer Koppies and headed down Napi where we saw Waterbuck, Wildebeest, Zebra and Rhino as well as Warthog, Impala and Kudu. It was getting late in the afternoon when we got to Numbi tar and I decided to take a quick look around Shabeni loop and it was lucky we did as we found a crash of Rhino with a few Impala near by, as we drove on we then spotted a Leopard sitting on the rocks, We turned the engine off and watched her for quite a few minutes as she rolled around on her back and yawned. Suddenly she decided to get up and disappeared into the bush. We turned around and started to follow looking for the tell tale sign of her tail waving and then it became apparent she was starting to hunt the Impala. She edged closer and closer, as we every now and then got a glimpse of her moving through the bush, wonderfully swerving around the Rhino which were in her way until she was just metres away. She stopped for a second, crept forward a few feet more and then pounced and caught her intended prey. We watched as she kept her grip on the neck of the animal and slowly the Impala took its last breath. Meanwhile we heard that just a few hundred feet away another safari truck had spotted a second Leopard also hunting. While our Leopard lay with her prey we proceeded to this second sighting to take a look and sure enough a second Leopard we found, this one hadn't managed to make a kill however, We watched for a while getting even more amazing photos before returning to the first Leopard, she had moved the Impala to the base of a tree but didn't attempt to take her meal up.

Sadly it was coming to the end of the day and Krugers closing time so we decided to leave and head home. However we had one more lovely surprise as we also found two Male Lions lying in the middle of the road. We were able to enjoy being just metres away from them as they rolled over and then stood up giving us a great view of them. However time was not on our side as we had to head back to the lodge before gate closing time.

A day which started so miserable and wet ended with all the guests on a major high, telling everyone back at the lodge about their unforgettable experiences.

 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

On Safari With Mark From 1 March 2014


1 March 2014

Route: Albaseni - Shabeni link - Shabeni loop - Numbi tar - Nkambeni

General animals seen: impala, kudu, common duiker and klipspringer

The highlight of the drive was the 3 rhino we saw within 10m of the vehicle. 2 bulls and a cow. Fantastic to see how relaxed they are, just grazing grass.

Further to this a distant sighting of a buffalo bull on top of shabeni koppies.

Guests are happy and as it is a 7 day safari we have plenty of time to find all the fantastic animals Kruger has to offer.

 

2 March 2014

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

General animals seen: kudu, impala, waterbuck, giraffe, bushbuck, common duiker, klipspringer, slender & dwarf mongoose, chackma baboon and hippos

Had a feeling today was going to be great for game viewing as before we reached napi we had already seen our first elephant bull, buffalo bull and rhino bull.


Between Numbi tar and Voortrekker link we found 8 wild dog running towards us in the road. They just past by us as though we weren't even there. Great sighting and guests could get some amazing photos of these effective predators.

We continued with excellent sightings of more elephant rhino and buffalo, not to mention all the general game we spotted along our way.

We were also fortunate to spot 3 cheetah between boulders exit and transport dam access road. Although rather far from the road, guest got great photos as all 3 cats elevated themselves by climbing a dead tree, pushed over by elephants. Great to see the 3 were scent marking their territory and busy with their early morning activities.

On our travels, we were called by one of our colleagues to inform us of lions on S114 and as the guest hadn't seen any as yet, I decided to take a drive down to them. We found them approx 30m from the road but all 4 males were lying as flat as carpets and every now and then 1 would lift his head and look in our direction. A great sighting for the guest as they had never seen lions out in the wild.

 

3 March 2014

Route: Fiaya loop - Napi - Skukuza - Doispan - Albaseni – Nkambeni

While we were on a drive around fiaya loop, Karen called and informed me of a leopard lying in a tree. We responded and found it still in the same place. Although far from the road, guest could see it and got some photos of a leopard lazing about.

In the afternoon we found 8 wild dog lying at mestal dam entrance. These decided to get up and try a half hearted attack on a female warthog. This didn't last long and the hog got away


After a short stop at skukuza, we headed back to camp for guests to relax, General game spotted all the way back to camp and guest have felt a certain sense of achievement for what they have been able to spot so far.

 

4 March 2014

Route: Napi - Skakuza - Napi - Circle road - Shabeni koppies, Nkambeni

We were the first car to leave camp and approximately 100m from our entrance we had a massive elephant bull that had decided to push a Marola tree over into the road. As we approached he moved to the side and with a little persuading with my headlights he allowed us to go around his art work and we could carry on with the drive.

Approximately 3 KM's from transport dam, we found a Hyena cub lying dead in the road. At that stage approximately 15 Hyena were on the road and I decided to switch the car off and watch. This is when something caught my attention and found 2 lioness up in a Marola tree. After looking around, I found a further 2 lioness in 2 different silver cluster leaf trees, higher than a leopard would climb. This was amazing to see as all the Hyena went from tree to tree trying to provoke a  challenge. While watching this we realized that these lioness must of killed the cub and as we were chatting about one of the Hyena picked up a second cub close to the tree that one of the lioness were in and that confirmed it for me that this was rather revenge than a challenge. I let others know about the sighting and as the track. Started to build up we decided to leave so others could have a chance to view.


In the afternoon we found 8 wild dogs lying relaxing, waiting for a storm that was brewing in the distance.


Winds picked up and clouds closed in very quickly and as we started our return a leopard popped out in front of us and disappeared as fast back in to the bush. Guests to slow with cameras so no photos of that one.

 

5 March 2014

Route: Napi - H3 - Berg en dal - H3 - Napi

General animals seen: buffalo, kudu, impala, zebra, warthog, giraffe, waterbuck, steenbok, common duiker, klipspringer, vervet monkey's, chackma baboons, blue wildebeest, rhino, crocodiles and hippo's.

During the night, we had a massive storm with a total of 135ml of rain that fell. Most of the gravel roads are closed due to flooding.

We could tell the storm had a impact, as the sightings had deteriorated and the highlight of the day was a pack of 5 wild dog approximately 8kms from afsaal towards berg en dal. Further to this we spotted great elephant and rhino throughout the day.

We hope for better leopard, buffalo and lion on a drive tomorrow.