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By: eiguoc (offline) on Tuesday, June 08 2010 @ 08:56 PM EDT  
eiguoc

"Taken from Nkorho Bush Lodge on FB
Karin van der Merwe: Don't know how to describe what we have witnessed this morning!!... The thing we all want to see but when seeing it , it is very sad. The Mapogos , Mr T and Kinkytail got hold of one of the 5 male Lions that have been around. It will definately not survive but we are not sure what is happening right now. It was Nat...ional Geographic stuff and I am sure we will not see something like this again soon...well, I hope so anyway. Will post some photo's later on."

and then later

" Karin van der Merwe : Lion war at Nkorho!! The 4 young males mauled Kinkytail and Mr T. Mr T escaped death for now but Kinkytail is no more.... Mr T ran off to the west and got away but not sure if he can hide for much longer. The 4 males announced their power by roaring and sending their message of dominance ... Sad , very sad ... Nat...ure... so wonderful but sometimes so cruel in the eye of human..."

I am sad by what I am reading on there. Some people are wishing that MR T got killed too


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By: Anonymous: CJ () on Thursday, June 10 2010 @ 12:16 AM EDT  
Anonymous: CJ

Pat, those were the post that I had read before the drive last night. It is very sad for all of the lions Sad





       
   
By: eiguoc (offline) on Tuesday, June 15 2010 @ 09:23 PM EDT  
eiguoc

Newsletter Vol.6 Nr.05 - May 2010

Manager’s Report - May 2010
As winter’s chill is starting to settle in, the days are becoming shorter and the evenings longer. The only way to keep warm and cozy when on game drive in Africa, is with hot water bottles, warm fleecy blankets and of course, sizzling sightings. Needless to say, all of these are supplied by Elephant Plains!
We had a successful Tourism Indaba during the beginning of May. Indaba gives everyone involved a unique opportunity of getting to know all the different role players in the tourism industry. Most of the focus this year was on the upcoming Soccer World Cup, although attention was also paid to specific industry trends and market research. It was great meeting with our current agents, as well as acquiring a few new contacts. We are looking forward to a year of mutually beneficial business with you!
Click on image to download
Living in the bush, one can always be sure to expect the unexpected. This was definitely the case during May, when we spotted three leopards in camp! Salayexe had a new habit of leaving her two cubs in the riverbed in front of the camp for a few days at a time. And as the “amended” saying goes: “curiosity will kill the leopard...” While Salayexe went looking for food, the two cubs decided to entertain themselves by exploring the lodge area. Ironically, each time I was called to chase the leopards out of the camp, guests would be out on game drive, in search of the Big 5! One morning I was called to chase the cubs away from the front of the Wild Dog chalet, but instead of chasing them off, I sat on the deck and watched the two cubs stalking a male bushbuck. Luckily for the bushbuck the hunt came to nothing as they still have a lot to learn. There are very few places in the world were you can experience this from the comfort of your chalet’s deck. That is why we are very privileged to be living in this magnificent area!

As the dry season finally seems to be starting, the sightings at the waterhole is picking up. Animals like elephant, buffalo, giraffe and leopard are entertaining the guest from the comfort of their chalet’s decks on a regular basis.


Ranger’s Report - May 2010
It is safe to say that winter is here. We are back to beanies, gloves, hot water bottles and blankets to ensure that our guests stay nice and warm during game drives. I must say, though, it is only during the first hour or so that these are needed. As soon as the sun comes out, it gets nice and warm. The grass has mostly changed to brown and the leaves are also slowly starting to turn yellow. There is still plenty of water around, in some areas to the extent that underground water is still pouring out onto the surface and running down into the waterholes. The animals are in great condition and should not get affected much by the winter. I never thought twice about it, but lots of people are surprised when they come to experience our piece of paradise during winter. They all seem to think that we have wet, cold winters, which is not the case. At Elephant Plains our winters are dry and cold. It must be said, however, that when we talk about the cold in the bush, it only means around three to five degrees minimum. We rarely have frost. We had very good sightings for the month and nearly all our guests could say that they saw all of the Super Seven. You might ask what the Super Seven is. It is the Big 5 plus cheetah and wild dog. I am glad to report that a pack of wild dogs have a den site in the west, just into one of our neighbouring properties and at this stage we see them up to three times a week. It is always awesome to have the dogs running around and sometimes if you are lucky, to see them making a kill. Once the dogs have eaten, they run back to the den site where they regurgitate their food for the pups. What we have heard is that the dogs have five pups and I can’t wait for them to grow a little bigger so that they could join in the hunts. We had 5 millimetres of rain and the average maximum temperature for the month was 26°C.

Elephant:
It always amazes me how there are days when we don’t see any elephants and the next day you see large herds of up to a hundred all around. Elephants truly are one of the most amazing animals in the world if you consider the way that they look after each another. If the front runners run into trouble they will let the rest know and this is all done via communication that we can’t hear. Even though they are very big and can weigh up to seven tons, they move through the bush as quiet as mice. How do they do this? If you look at their whole foot structure you will see that the toes are formed in a “tip toe” position and the rest of the foot is supported by a thick layer of fatty connective tissue. In other words, elephants are basically walking on massive cushions that support their weight, so much so that they are almost walking on air! Do yourself a favour next time you see a herd of elephants: switch off your engine and try to listen to the noise they make while walking. You will notice that it is next to nothing. You will only hear branches break while they are feeding, but you will rarely hear them move through the bush. You will also notice that as soon as winter starts, elephants will feed on the bark of trees more regularly as the water in the leaves get transported down into the roots for the winter.

Rhino:
I can truly say I am not to sure what is going on with our rhinos. One day Shorthorn would look as if he is top of the log and then the very next day, it would look like the “Skew Horn” is the main man. The same goes for Londoz - he would be running around marking his territory and the next day Skewhorn is marking on Londoz’s territory. Both Shorthorn and Londoz have been involved in territorial fights with the new male, but I don’t think there has been a winner yet. At this stage it looks like a draw, but that will never work in the rhino world as there can only be one territorial bull in a certain area. Last month I still told you that Londoz had broken a piece of his horn off. He has done some filing to it, using trees and even rocks and it now looks much better! After all, a rhino’s horn is made up of compacted hair so it can be compared to a person filing their finger nails. We’ve had some great sightings of cows and calves. The one cow has a calf that is estimated to be one month old. He is no bigger than a warthog and the cutest thing around! The cow is not afraid of the vehicles and the calf would come running quite close to the vehicles, making it much easier to get a good photo of him! Once again with winter on the go, the massive male from the west has been spotted running around in the south and I still say that he is one of the biggest males I have ever seen. Without telling a lie he must be a good 2600 kilograms. He is a monster and you have to see him for yourself. As they say, seeing is believing, so join me on game drive one of these days!

Young male lion. Picture by Louis Liversage
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Buffalo:
I have mentioned in the past what a privildge it is to see a few hundred buffaloes around a waterhole, but I had an eye opener this month when I drove onto the airstrip and saw nothing but black as far as you could see. It was a few joined herds and together they must have been close to 800. It was amazing to hear the noises coming from the herd and of course, the ox peckers were out in their hundreds! The next day when we went to see if they were still on the airstrip, all we could find was an area that was flattened from top to bottom and had been left a mess with dung and flies still buzzing around. I couldn’t believe that just a few hours ago there were so many animals there. As clock work, our two old male buffalos are still at our water hole every day. It has become one of the lodge jokes. When a guest asks if we have any buffalo in the area, we always say yes, they should just wait until eleven in the morning and watch the water hole. They will see two buffaloes approaching the water for a morning of fun in the sun! We also saw a small breeding herd of about twenty five buffalo, with a cow that had just managed to escape a lion by looks of her injuries. You will find that during this time of the year the big herds split up as food is not as plentiful as in summer. This specific herd could also have split during the lion attack when buffalo will run off in different directions. One can literally see change on the buffaloes’ faces as winter comes and all the biting parasites go as well. The buffaloes don’t scratch as much and they are not on edge as much and to rest out in the open is possible without being stung buy a hose fly. I really think they love winter time…

Lion:
We had a great surprise this month as we were able to see a whole new pride. We asked around a bit and it sounds like the pride we saw came from the northern part of Kruger. The pride is called the Tintswalo pride and it consists of three stunning males of about three years old and four females. The one female is wearing a collar for monitoring purposes via satellite. They might have come into the area because the pride is being pressurised by other lions or it could be that they were darted for research and that this has caused them to move away for a while. This is exactly the reason why I love the Sabi Sand Wildtuin so much – You never know what you might find on drive. Unlike many other reserves the dynamics of the wildlife in this reserve is unbelievable! As for the Styx pride, we saw them nearly every day and the cubs are now as big as their mothers! As I mentioned last month, all the females have been mated with and we are hoping to see the next batch of cubs one of these days. Out of the nine in the previous litter only four made it to adulthood. It is no easy job for lion females to raise cubs, for every predator out there will take a chance at eliminating any future competition. The single male we spot from time to time is still seen now and again and it seems that all he is doing to keep alive is stealing kills away from hyenas and leopards. As each day passes and with every kill he scavenges, he is becoming stronger by the day. I hope that one day he can join up with some other male to form a coalition and maybe take over a territory of their own. The Tsalala’s, I would say, are still the best mothers the as they still have all their cubs and I think it is safe to say they will all make it to adult hood. Maybe it was a wake-up call when the Mapogo’s killed the cubs last time. The females never took bringing up their cubs that seriously, but now even a false stare will cause B.B to put her own life on the line to protect her pride. It is so good to know that the lion population is doing so well in terms of numbers. Talking about the Mapogo’s, all six of them have not been seen together for nearly a year now, but they still know who’s roar belongs to whom. We see two of them on our side quite often, three stay far south and the last one stays in the west. I still look forward to the day that all six of them come together again and they all roar together, for there is no sound in this world that sounds as good as six male lions all roaring at the same time. It is truly one sound that one must hear at least once in a lifetime.

Leopard:
We had some amazing leopard sightings this month, and I would like to share a story that most people might just turn around and say you can’t believe! The one afternoon we found Nyeleti sleeping in a tree. All seemed well until we heard a distress call coming from a duiker in the drainage area. Nyeleti was down the tree in a flash and ran over to where the calls were coming from. We arrived at the place to find that her nine month old cub was trying to kill a duiker. She tried to take over but received a smack to her face from the cub. He caught the duiker and he alone was going to finish what he started! As he is still learning the skills of making a successful kill, he was getting hit in the face by the duiker, but he still didn’t give up and after about forty minutes he finally won the battle. The cub was exhausted, but you could see he now felt like he was no longer a cub but all grown up. So, as you can probably gather, Nyeleti’s cubs are doing better than ever. They are all growing up so fast and there are some days when it feels like they might be growing up too quickly. I must say that it can’t be easy to be three cubs and I think that there is a lot of competition amongst the three. As for Salayexe’s cubs, they are never together any more. The cubs’ playfulness is gone at thirteen months and it is all down to business now. They are both so beautiful that I could spend the whole day watching them. I was glad to see Safari hunting around Big Dam and I know that I am repeating myself, but wow! She is looking better than ever and everyone agrees that she must probably weigh about thirty five kilograms. And of course, she si still a killing machine! Ntima still has the two cubs, but we are not getting to see them as often as what we would like. We do receive news that they are healthy and in great shape. Shadow has been playing in Salayexe’s territory quite frequently this month and I don’t know if she knows it, but she is driving Salayexe mad with her scent marking. She might just be trying to get hold of Tyson as she is now over three years old and would want a big, strong male like Tyson to mate with. Tyson is still around our area but, mostly keeps to the thick vegetation not giving us the opportunity to see him that often. As for Mafufunyana, he does not mind at all. He will sit out in the open and not mind what is going on around him. I think Mbilo is starting to realize that Big Dam is not a fun place to be, as she has gotten a beating from four different leopards. We are now starting to see her less and less. The old Jordan male is spending a lot of time on our side these days and is staying in the north. He is not very relaxed, but we get to see him long enough before he disappears into the thick bush. We think that another male has pushed him out of the east and that he is hiding here in the west.

Special sighting:
This was most definitely when the wild dogs come through and kept us on our toes for a few hours. In the very short time they were here, they made three impala kills. The one dog would come out to call the others to say he had made a kill and they would all race to where dinner awaited. In seconds the impala would be finished and they would then go over to the next impala and then the next. In no time all three impalas were devoured and they were left with no choice but to call it a day and head back west to go and feed their pups.

Did you know?
Wild dogs have an 80% hit rate on all their hunts. Nearly every time the dogs chase after an animal they will catch it. This is really amazing compared to other animals. Cheetahs come in second at 65%, leopards 45% and lions have only a 40% hit rate. I must say that wild dogs hunt in a pack, feed in a pack and also raise their young in a pack, unlike some predators where it’s a case of every animal for himself.

Well, that’s all from my side, the wild side at Elephant Plains. Hope to see you out on game drive soon.

Wayne Dovey



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By: BBE (offline) on Wednesday, June 16 2010 @ 01:03 AM EDT  
BBE

Thanks Pat, mine just arrived too.


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By: eiguoc (offline) on Saturday, June 19 2010 @ 06:48 PM EDT  
eiguoc

From Fave Book
" Karin van der Merwe Mr T is still alive. He was seen in Mala Mala earlier I heard. He has a wound on his hind right leg from the fight with the young male. No confirmed news on the other 4 males, but the rangers heard roaring in Mala Mala somewhere so they might be looking for Mr T..."


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By: BBE (offline) on Thursday, July 29 2010 @ 10:26 PM EDT  
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Elephant Plains Newsletter

Newsletter Vol.6 Nr.06 - June 2010 (with emplyee notes and recipe removed)

Manager’s Report - June 2010
Due to circumstances beyond our control the reports are running late this month. Our apologies to our loyal readers for keeping you waiting!

During the month of June a lot of international supporters, being in SA for the Soccer World Cup, visited Elephant Plains. One can say that soccer fever has taken the country by storm! Everywhere you go visitors are wearing supporter gear, blowing vuvuzela’s and talking soccer! Everyone has been drawn in by this festive atmosphere - even people who aren’t big soccer supporters cannot wait for the next match to see which team will come out on top. We hope that all the soccer supporters who visited Elephant Plains, as well as the rest of South Africa, had a fantastic time. May the best team win!

The leaves have started showing off their beautiful winter colors. Luckily, the colder temperatures have not been too unpleasant. The winter has, so far, been quite mild and we have even had a little bit of rain. The weather has been so pleasant that one can still see nesting swallows that have not left for the winter. Some frogs have also not gone into hibernation due to the warmer winter weather.


Breeding herd of Elephant at Serengeti

There has been just as much excitement in camp as out on game drive with Salayexe and the cubs being in and out of camp for quite some time. Some wild dogs were also spotted in camp twice and on one occasion they killed an impala in our parking area! The Tsalala pride did not want to be left out of the action and decided to sleep in front of the main gate at the lodge one night. One of the cubs was very curios and this got the better of him as he took an interest in the gate handle. He enjoyed his new chew toy so much that he almost chewed it right off!

From all the staff at Elephant Plains, we hope to spoil you soon. Stay tuned for next month’s report. Same place, same time...

Stephen Pieterse

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Ranger’s Report - June 2010

During the first week of June it still felt like summer, but we received a cold front and since then it has been colder. The mornings are cold, but during the rest of the day temperatures are quite pleasant. The sightings have been out of this world and it is safe to say that it feels like it’s just getting better every day! Unfortunately, together with all the great sightings, we also experienced some sad ones. You might wonder what I mean, but you will just have to read the whole report. The wild dogs have been learning new methods of hunting, which involves chasing their prey into our camp and cornering it in the parking area! We were amazed to find them with an impala kill next to one of the cars. The wild dogs apparently have ten pups at their den site and we cannot wait to see them. We only received 1 mm of rain and the average maximum temperature for the month was 23 °C.

Elephant:
As you know the Sabi Sand is good for winter feeding and we are seeing plenty of elephants. But an interesting fact is that we are not seeing as much as during the previous years. It might be as a result of the late rains we had this year. We will have to wait and see if the numbers start picking up during the next month. I must say though, it is not always a bad thing that we don’t have hundreds of elephants around. I would also like to think that maybe the elephants have started to move up north into Mozambique as it has now been a few years since the fences have been down. This would be fantastic news as it would take a lot of pressure off of the Sabi Sand.


Stix Pride at the Rocks

Rhino:
It is safe to say that Londoz is a womanizer. Thus far it has always resulted in him being left in the dust. I am not sure when he will learn, but it seems to keep him busy! This month he was running after a female that has a one year old calf, but she was not yet ready to mate with Londoz. Now that the grass is dead, the females are moving around a lot while looking for better grazing. This caused the same female to move into Shorthorn’s territory. He also tried to mate with her and this caused her to give him a piece of her mind. The fight took place on the airstrip for everyone to see. As he tried to approach her, she turned around and stormed him. He then tried to take his frustrations out on the calf and that was a big mistake. She chased him off into the bush as far as we could see and he wasn’t seen for the rest of that day. What I have come to think is that Shorthorn thought that the calf was the reason that the female did not want to mate with him. He tried to push the calf out of the way to better his chances, but obviously this plan back fired in a bad way. If she really wanted to mate she would have chased the calf away herself. As big as our two males territories are, they still have a few things to learn. The two females with small calves are doing very well and it is always cute to see the baby rhinos.

Buffalo:
During winter time the grass is a brittle brown and grazers have to move further to get adequate feeding. We had massive herds moving through our traversing area during most days of the month. During some days we even had four herds feeding in our area simultaneously. If you have been around some of the breeding herds you will know that they are very vocal. When there are lions around, they would naturally home in on the sound. We had the Styx and the Tsalala’s killing younger buffalo during the month. The one Mapogo consumed the whole carcass before we could find them! Now as I have mentioned in the past, females give birth the whole year around and we were fortunate enough to witness one of these births. It took the cow forty five minutes to give birth, yet once the calf was out it was on its feet in about fifteen minutes. What an amazing sighting to witness the miracle of life! If you are sitting on a dam wall during the afternoon and you see a massive cloud nearing the water, you can know that a herd is on its way to the water. As the herd nears the water, the pace picks up from a feeding walk to a full pace rundown! We hope to keep seeing these herds throughout the winter.

http://i79.photobucket.com/albums/j137/ ... hino-2.jpg
Male Rhino at Kraaines

Lion:
The four new males that are in our traversing area have caused quite a stir. There were originally five males, but one morning two of the Mapogo’s, Mr T and Kinky Tail got hold of the one male and killed him. Later that night there was another incident when Kinky Tail went running into the pride all by himself. The four brothers immediately attacked him and broke his spine. This left Kinky Tail paralysed from the neck down. He was helpless. Mr T heard the commotion and came running to help his brother, but this was all too little, too late. He quickly made his calculations: being outnumbered at four to one would have the same devastating results and he had no other choice than to run for his life. We were very sad to hear that Kinky Tail was dead. When they first entered the SSW they were not liked much because of all the destruction they caused, but they soon found a special place in our hearts. I thought that they would reign for years, but when they split up it turned out not to be a smart move. The first news we received via the bush telegraph explained that Mr T was in Londolozi with the Tsalala’s, trying to keep the four males away from the cubs. Then we heard that the Tsalala’s and Mr T had a run in with the four males and that it did not end very well. The Tsalala’s were now scattered all over the place and Mr T was wounded badly. We hear that he has since joined up with the other three Mapogo’s, which will be better as strength often lies in numbers. We had another mortality, this time from the Styx pride. One of the older females ran into the Tsalala’s and their cubs and they retaliated by killing her. At this stage it seems like the Tsalala cubs are in danger, for they are less than two years old and still unable to really defend themselves. The Styx cubs should be fine as they are a bit older. The two Kagima males are also on the run from the four males. So keep watching this space to see what will happen during the next month. If any big altercations take place, we will be sure to keep you updated on our Facebook page.

Leopard:
It was a fantastic, as well as a sad month for the leopards. What do I mean? I am sad to say that Ntima’s one cub got killed. No one has seen the other cub, but we have found tracks for her and one cub all over the place. A big male from the east has started moving in and just after we saw him we also found the one cub dead. It was sad to hear as this is the third time that she has been trying to raise cubs. I still hope that all goes well and that the remaining cub would reach adulthood. The other females are all doing well. Nyeleti’s cubs are getting bigger and bigger and the two males are almost the same size as mom. We are all wondering where they are going to move to when she kicks them out. Salayexe rarely spends time with her cubs anymore. I would say that if she was with them for more than five times during the month, that that was a lot. Her cubs are now around fifteen months old and the time alone are doing them well. Tyson has been honing in on them, hanging around as much as possible and stealing every kill they make! Talking about Tyson - he has spent a lot of time around Rampan waterhole. The reason could be twofold. He might be reaping all the benefits from his cubs making kills, or the male leopard that he killed so close to Rampan might still be bothering him. Tyson might be afraid that he did not do the job properly and that the unknown male might still be in the area. I did not enjoy finding the dead leopard in the field, but that is the way nature goes. It shows that the circle of life is intact. The leopards name was Thula Manzey (water from the mouth). He was about four and had been pushed northeast by the males in the west. Tyson came away from that fight with only a scratch to the nose. Had that male come across Salayexe’s cubs, he could have killed them in an attempt to take over the area. Mafufunyana is being pressurized from the same male that killed Ntima’s cub. He is still looking good, but the guides who have seen this male say that he is massive. One can only sit and wait to see what will happen in the east. Mbilo was glued to the Big Dam area again this month and she has become a fantastic leopard to watch as she is always doing something. I have seen her on many occasions leap up and catch birds out of trees - truly something to witness! As for Safari, she still makes herself seen now and again and still makes us wonder where she goes off to for the few days in between...

Special sightings:
This was when the Tsalala pride made three kills in one day. It all started in the morning when we heard baboons alarm calling. It could only mean one thing - there had to be a predator around. Then a herd of impala came running across the road. We stopped to see the baboons in the tree and saw the lions take one of the impalas down. In seconds the lions finished the poor impala off. During the action a baboon got stuck up a tree and could not get down as there were twelve lions at the base of the tree. All the action eventually got too much and he leapt from the tree, straight into the young lions and his life came to an abrupt end. During the afternoon drive we saw the same lions bring down yet another impala. Needless to say the guests were quite impressed by witnessing three kills in one day!

Did you know?
A hippo can have an 800 kilogram bite-down power. This is one of the reasons why they are regarded as one of the biggest threats to humans in Africa.

Well, that’s all from my side, the wild side at Elephant Plains. Hope to see you out on game drive soon!

Wayne Dovey

Copyright © 2010 Elephant Plains Game Lodge


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By: BBE (offline) on Thursday, August 12 2010 @ 05:21 PM EDT  
BBE

Elephant Plains Newsletter : Newsletter Vol.6 Nr.07 - July 2010

Note: I am not too sure what happened, but both the Manager's and Ranger's Reports are written by Wayne and are identical.

Manager’s Report - July 2010
There is a strange feeling in the air this month. What am I talking about? The weather, of course. This month couldn’t quite be classified as autumn, winter or spring. It was a mix of all three seasons together. It has been a strange winter thus far, with last month being cold and this month actually quite pleasant. We also had some late rains which really confused the vegetation, which have now started to sprout greenery already. It is definitely crazy weather we are experiencing. There are still frogs calling at night and just the other day I saw a red crested cuckoo calling in a tree. There was also a striped cuckoo flying around camp. Normally these birds should be way north and only again seen from November onwards. As I mentioned, we received a bit of rain this month which added up to 9 millimetres and the average maximum temperature for July was 27°C.

Elephants:
We have been seeing a lot of ellies during the past month. There are some days that we see more elephant than impala! All the breeding herds have established themselves in and around our traversing area and during some days we are seeing no less than a hundred elephants moving around. Their movements show that they prefer feeding in the lower lying areas by day and out in the higher thickets at night and during the early mornings. The reason is that there is a drastic difference in temperature on the higher areas as opposed to the colder, lower lying areas. As the days heat up, the elephants move down into the lower areas, which bring them closer to our camp. If you spend a bit of time on the web cam, you will see herd upon herd coming to drink water from about 09h30 or 10h00 in the mornings. If you have stayed at Elephant Plains during winter time, you will also know that whilst enjoying your lunch you can see elephants feeding in the dry riverbed and drinking at the water hole on an almost daily basis. Because these gentle giants need to at least drink three times a day, they provide us with fantastic elephant sightings throughout the day.


Nyala bull at rhino pan

Rhino:
The rhinos are still running around, chasing each other, as well as some of the ladies! Shorthorn is not too interested in the females at the moment as there is a particular male that is giving him problems. This male is still moving around with his mother, but he is already posing a threat to Shorthorn. The two of them have chased Shorthorn into the bush on more than one occasion. The other day I realised once again how bad a rhino’s eyesight really is. Londoz was fresh on the scent of a group of females and was following them meticulously. We were watching the females feeding in a meandering form. Londoz came along and walked fifteen meters past them, following their scent to about eighty meters away from us and then back right up to the females. He came right up to them and seemed very frustrated! He rammed his horn into the one female’s leg, causing them to run into the thick bush. If I was a tree and Londoz got his estimated 2400 kilogram body into motion at 40km/h, I would uproot myself to get out of his path! A lot of people make the mistake of getting too close to a rhino, as they are assumed to be heavy and slow. But that is a very wrong assumption. A rhino will outrun a human any day, as we might run up to 30km/h and they can run around 40km/h. I will let you decide who will win that race!

Buffalos:
We had great buffalo sightings this month. We had a very eventful game drive one morning when the Styx pride followed a breeding herd. As soon as it looked like the lions were getting close enough to pounce on the buffalo, the wind changed and the buffalo stampeded away. The lions then tried coming in from different angles, but with no success. They messed this up horribly and the herd eventually chased the lions away. As the grass is thinning out, the herds are splitting up as they normally do during winter time. Once the grass is long and lush later on in the year, they will form bigger herds again. On most TV shows, it always seems that lions get the upper hand in killing buffalo, but this is not always the case. Many a time I have seen buffalo getting chased by lions. If buffaloes sense a fraction’s hesitation from the lions, they will turn on the lions and literally chase them away. Occasionally, when a buffalo gets caught and the herd is running away, they would come to realize that they are bigger in numbers and go back to chase the lions off of the buffalo that they are trying to kill. This brings me back to the law of the bush: the only thing that is predictable is nothing! At the moment we also have the regular dagga boys lying around in the sun by the waterholes. Some days when the breeding herds of elephants come to drink, the young elephants would try and chase the old buffaloes away, creating quite a stand-off between two members of Africa’s Big 5.


White-backed Vulture

Lion:
At the moment, it is still a sad topic as the take-over by the Majingi’s seems to be well underway. I think it is safe to say that the Mapogo’s are no longer the dominant lions in our area, but I might still be surprised during the coming months. The western sector is where they are at and it seems that that is where they are going to stay. Why do I say this? During a cold morning drive this month, two of the Majingi’s picked up on the scent of the Tsalala’s and found them. We just had to sit and wait as the terrifying sound of their roaring came closer and closer. Some of the Tsalalas knew what was going on and ran off. But as always B.B stood her ground and did not run. The males saw her and started to run after her. Thankfully they gave up on her and let them get away. We sighed with relief when everything was over. Then it dawned on me: there was all this noise and commotion that went on and yet there was still no sign of the Mapogo’s arriving to save the day. To this day, we have not seen the Mapogo’s again. Time will tell if my predictions are correct. The Styx pride is all safe, except for the young male. The reason I reckon that they are safe is because the females have already mated with the new males, so they won’t kill them as they are awaiting the arrival of their new offspring. What you need to do is to keep watching this space, as well as our Face Book group, or Twitter updates for news on the new lion dynamics. As far as we know the Mapogo’s have re-established their territories to the west and they seemed to have lost all interest in the northern sector. But as I said, nothing is predictable!

Leopard:
We’ve had another fantastic month of leopard sightings. I have lived and worked in the bush for twelve years now and have never seen a leopard catch and kill a warthog. That was until a couple of weeks ago... When I finally saw it happening, it was an amazing sighting. Mufufunyana made my wish come true. Mafufunyana has been pressurised by a new male and the one day they had a bit of a growling session with each other, but no blows where exchanged. We will soon see who gets to stay and who needs to leave. I guess it will soon become a case of out with the old and in with the new. Tyson took a while to be convinced that the young male that he had had a fight with, was in fact dead. He stayed around the Rampan area for the whole month, patrolling and marking his territory. It is great to see Salayexe’s cubs playing with each other, but I would go as far as to say that next month would signal the end of their stay with her. The time has come to go on their own and they now need to feed themselves and also establish their own territories. They are both constantly running around their mom, scent marking and she will not tolerate this behaviour for very long. We saw Safari catch and kill an impala female and she is still, yes, looking great. Shadow and the Jordaan male were seen for three days, but then they left the area. Nyeleti also made a bit of an appearance, but we didn’t get to see her cubs very often during the month. We would see the one male the one day and the little female the next day, but never all of them simultaneously. Mbilo is still staying around Big Dam and every kill she makes is getting bigger and bigger. Most of her kills are impala. All in all, the leopards around our traversing area are all doing great!

Special sighting:
Mafufunyana made my day when he brought down a big warthog. We first found him sniffing around Safari airstrip when he made his way to an old termite mound. We sat and watched the mound for about twenty minutes when all hell broke loose. Two young warthogs came running out of the hole, followed by a big male. Mafufunyana let the youngsters pass, but pounced on the big warthog in a flash. The amazing part was that he did not try to asphyxiate the warthog, as they would normally do. He instead pinned the warthog on his back and pulled open his chest. This was a sighting that I will never, ever forget.

Did you know?
Some female lions, if not part of a pride, will grab their pray around the mouth and nose. They do this in order to suffocate the animal and also to prevent the animal from sending out a distress call that might attract the attention of other predators.

Well, that’s all from my side, the wild side at Elephant Plains. Hope to see you out on game drive soon!

Wayne Dovey




BBE
"Happiness is good health and a bad memory."
by Ingrid Bergman (1917-1982)


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By: BBE (offline) on Thursday, September 09 2010 @ 12:24 PM EDT  
BBE

Elephant Plains Newsletter ~ Newsletter Vol.6 Nr.08 - Aug 2010

Copied from my email. Recipe not included./ BBE.

Manager’s Report - Aug 2010
Windy weather is what one can expect during August and that is exactly what we received! The strong wind, accompanied by extreme hot and dry conditions made the risk of a bush fire very high. This meant that we were all on high alerted to any signs of possible fires. So far, we haven’t experienced any problems on the property. I hope that we can keep it that way until the first good rains, possibly only due in October. Talking about rain, we did receive an unexpected cold front that came through last week. The cold front was accompanied with a fine, misty rain that was just enough to make the dust settle. The rain only lasted for one morning and after that it was back to normal. If August is anything to go by, September is going to be a scorcher of a month. So if you are staying with us during September, make sure that you are well prepared by packing a hat, sunscreen and a bathing suit.


Mbilo. Picture by Morne Fouche

Africam sightings have been productive with elephant, buffalo, leopard and general game being spotted during August. Compared to this time last year, there has been a noticeable decline in sightings. I believe that the reason for this is the high amount of late rains we had this year. On average, we receive 650 mm of rain per year and during 2010 this year we’ve already had over 850 mm. This means that other seasonal water holes are still holding water and the animals are utilizing them, not having to depend on the water hole in front of camp. With the hot weather that we are expecting next month, these waterholes will dry up quicker and without ample rain, more animals will visit the waterhole in front of camp.

Stay tuned for next months report. Same place, same time...

Stephen Pieterse

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Ranger’s Report - August 2010

It seems that spring is right around the corner. If one looks at the vegetation it looks like late autumn, going into early spring. There are already new leaves sprouting and some of the trees, like the Knob thorn, are already flowering. It’s really been a strange winter. This month we had some days of 34 °C, with a hot wind. The next day temperatures would drop into the early 20’s. We even had a few millimetres of rain on the 24th. This washed down the dust and has brought along the odd green blade of grass. We saw our first pair of Walberg’s eagles for this time of year around Big Dam on the 26th and 27th. We also saw another pair mating at Serengeti Pan. These eagles will return to the same nest every year to have their young and when the winter returns they will once again move up into central Africa. Their return always signals the change of the seasons. We had 3 millimetres of rain and the average maximum temperature for August was 28°C.

Elephant:
I must say, we have not seen the usual amount of breeding herds for this time of the year. Normally we see hundreds of elephants feeding around our lodge, but this winter they have seemed to come and go in waves. Make no mistake - we still see one or two breeding herds a day! There might be more than one reason for this. It might mean that the elephants are wisely using the area to their advantage. About a year ago I still said that in time the parks will be made bigger and that herds would just need a bit of time to find out the new feeding grounds up north. As elephants are very cautious and wise, they won’t rush into brand new areas. They will rather move into new areas slowly, but surely. One might ask what new areas I am talking about: Mozambique. At first the herds did not go close to the new area, but now that they know there is water and plenty of food, they are freely moving up north. Then again the reason for their absence might also be something totally different. It could just as well be the amount of rain we’ve had. Truth be told, I am glad that we did not have hundreds of elephants continuously feeding around the camp, as the vegetation could take this season to rehabilitate itself.


Lilac-breasted Roller.Picture by Richard Davis

Rhino:
I enjoyed this month for we got to see one of my favourite male rhinos frequently. Who am I talking about? Well, of course it is Utah. We saw him feeding around camp nearly on a daily basis and most times he was on our airstrip, so we could see him out in the open. It does make one wonder why he’s spending so much time around our camp. Has a new male maybe pushed him out in the west? When waterholes start drying up during winter, the bigger males seek water and might come across the slightly smaller males who have a lot of water left in their own territories. This will often result in older males overpowering and pushing youngsters out of their own territories. Fact of the matter is that Utah is not the biggest male around. I would say that he is more or less 2000 kilograms, in comparison to a male like Londoz, who is at least 2500 kilograms. The other three males Londoz, Shorthorn and Skewhorn are all doing well. Londoz is taking things easy lately as there currently seem to be no females in his territory. In the last month or so, we’ve seen him moving around slowly marking his territory. On most days we could find him around the waterholes, lazing around. This will probably continue until the next female comes through his territory!

Buffalo:
At the moment, we have a lot of buffalo in our traversing area. The old faithful males have also been hanging around the waterholes, waiting to be captured on camera. We had the privilege of seeing a massive herd of about 500 strong. We are not sure if they have come from Kruger or the Manyeleti. It could also be that with the changing of the seasons the smaller herds have now joined up again, providing safety in numbers for all the little ones that will be arriving soon. When the grass changes to green, the bigger herds can afford to be in their hundreds as there is ample grazing. There have been some fatalities in the last couple of weeks and we are not quite sure what the cause is. It might be that the dry grass is just not enough to sustain their 800 kg bodies. At first we thought it was just old age, but we have seen younger ones die as well. I must say, as strong and aggressive as the Cape buffalo is, they are prone to even the slightest diseases. The cause is being investigated and I will try to get more information on this subject for my next report...

Lion:
As far as the Mapogos go, they seem to be something of the past for now. We received news that they only stay in the far west and don’t move too far into our area. What we understand is that there are only four left and not five as we were previously told. The two that are dead are Kinky Tail and Pretty Boy. The new Majingi males are having a ball in our traversing area! They have now pretty much mated with all the Styx females and we should be seeing some cubs by Christmas. This can only be good for the Styx pride as their numbers are very low. The old Styx female could not be contributing mush to hunting anymore, but she should come in handy when it comes down to staying behind and babysitting when the other females go out to hunt. The small male has been seen alone for a long time now, so we take it that he has been thrown out of the pride as he is too old to stay with them. The new males would also not want him around. At the moment the Majingis are mostly staying around in the east, around Wessels and Little Gowrie. With the Styx females in heat, they will be foolish to move away from the area as the main reason for taking over a territory is to get as many females as possible and mate with them. I am glad to say that the Golfcourse male is still doing well, even though we don’t get to see him very often. The times we do see him, he will usually be around a dead animal or a leopard’s kill. He still has a bit of a limp, but make no mistake, he gets around the whole of our traversing area, without any problems. And that is the way things happen in the wild: when down and out, try to survive by taking initiative. Even if, like in his case, it might involve being sneaky and steeling food from the smaller, weaker predators. We can only wait and see what will become of this courageous lion. We saw the Tsalala females only once this month and I am sad to report that there are now only five cubs left. I believe that they are keeping a low profile in Robson’s property, trying to stay closer to the Mapogos, in order to keep the rest of their cubs safe.


Boomslang. Picture by Morne Fouche

Leopard:
I will give you two guesses as to who got mated with during the month. Oh yes, my little favourite girl, Salayexe! The two cubs are still in her territory, but for how long she will still let them be, I cannot say. They would definitely have to be gone by the time she gives birth again. Otherwise they might find the new cubs while Salayexe is out hunting and kill them because of jealousy. So if all goes well, we should have new cubs by Christmas time. One of the other fantastic sightings for the month was sitting at Big Dam, watching the hippos when Mafufunyana came down to drink. After drinking he started sniffing around and went behind the dam wall, scent marking. Then we saw another male come out of the tree line. It was Tyson and in a flash all hell broke loose between the two of them. It seems to have been an even match, as both had blood on their faces as they walked away at the same time without looking back over their shoulders. They continued scent marking in opposite directions. It was truly something to see! We got to see a bit of Nyeleti’s cubs once again and I am glad to say they all look strong and healthy. We had them on a waterbuck kill for three days and it was great to see how relaxed they are with the car, even when mom was not there. Nita and Thandi also mated during the month, so spring is definitely on our doorstep! Safari nearly made a kill for us the one night. The impala seemed to be running straight for her as she leapt straight up in the air. By the sounds o fit she lost her grip as they thumped to the ground. When we put the lights back on, she was standing to the side of us looking very bashful. Shadow was quite a pleasure to see during August, as she is becoming very relaxed with the cars now. She had a duiker kill and for the two days that we viewed her, she never once ran away. Then the one afternoon we found a dead buffalo that she had found and was feeding on. She let us watch her for an hour without so much as a flinch while the vehicles drove in and out of the sighting.

Special sighting:
On one of our afternoon game drives, we got to see a male cheetah and to be honest that was the last thing I expected to see that day! Whilst following the male he went into hunting mode…At first we did not see what he was looking at, but then we spotted the steenbok lying down in the grass. We think that the steenbok saw the cheetah and was trying to be still, not attracting attention to itself. Unfortunately it was too late. Everything happened in a flash! The cheetah took off after the steenbok and all we could see was dust and spots flying through the bush and then we heard a thud. That signalled the end of the struggle. It was truly fantastic to see the cheetah in action. Definitely a sighting that will be talked about for a long time!

Did you know? A cheetah can only have three to four attempts at catching prey per day. They travel at such high speeds and push their bodies to the absolute limit. By doing this their bodies start to overheat. If they push themselves too hard, they can completely overheat, dehydrate and might even die.

Well, that’s all from my side, the wild side at Elephant Plains. Hope to see you out on game drive soon!

Wayne Dovey


BBE
"Happiness is good health and a bad memory."
by Ingrid Bergman (1917-1982)


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