• Ranger Diaries & Press
    Ranger Diaries & Press

January/February Wildlife Report

Posted on Wed February 24, 2021 in Ranger Diaries.

A warm, green and wet welcome back to a long awaited update on our exciting adventures here in the Klaserie Private Nature Reserve. We have said this before and we will say this over and over again, what a privilege it is to call this place, with all its amazing views and rolling hills, HOME!! I will be covering some of the exciting things that we encountered over the last few months.

Photo credit: Clauss

We are coming to the end of our summer season, slowly approaching autumn. We had wonderful rainfall this year, and I am a 100% convinced that this will be our first green autumn in a very long time, we might even have some winter greenery. Temperature at the moment is very pleasant - low to mid 30 C, and our guests are enjoying time around the pool while sipping on crisp cold beers or a glass of wine - when allowed of course, with the South African government having implemented no alcohol sales for a while, which has since been lifted.

Photo credit: Karin Seger

During the summer months you get some amazing colours - there are so many various types of flowers and seed pods from trees, spectacular birds and then the little creepy crawlies that all come out after the rain. The air is so clean and fresh after the rain and dust free, which is just amazing. It can make animal spotting a little more challenging, so instead of using sight, other senses now need to take over, like hearing, listening to where animals are giving alarm calls or where lions are calling or maybe just where elephants are breaking branches or taking a mud bath. Of course, if you are a keen birder, listen to all the different bird calls It is important to understand the ecosystem and therefor the little things are super important to complete the border of your safari “puzzle” and that is what summer will offer you.  The lightning storms have been spectacular this year, the rivers are flowing, the drainage lines have water in them and there has been seepage from various areas.

Photo credits: Ruan Ferreira

General game around the lodge has been great, with many giraffe, kudu, zebra, impala and African wild dogs who made 3 kills in camp just during the month of January. Leopards have been coming and going and even the lion activity around the lodge has been great. The vervet monkeys and chacma baboons have been very busy around the lodge enjoying sausage tree flowers and now the marula fruits.


 Photo credits: Ruan Ferreira

Leopard:
Over the last 2 months we have been lucky with leopard sightings around and close to the lodge, especially if you take into consideration how thick the bush is at the moment.  The 2 older males have been more active around the lodge. Our young boy has been a little quieter, which is likely due to the large males being more active, or just the fact that he is growing up and with that he is growing in confidence, therefor exploring more so pushing further and further away, possibly looking for their own areas to settle down. This will again change; they can either move back into the area or even further away as they usually have more of a fixed area/ territory at the age of 4-6 years old, depending on the leopard density in the area and available space - which there is plenty of!

 

Photo credit: Ruan Ferreira 

We have had other sightings of leopard, around the lodge, a female with a youngster +/- a year old and very relaxed. We found them on an impala kill one day just east of the lodge and then on a another occasion in our tree house just on the eastern side of the Klaserie river below the lodge. We have also seen a young female +/- 3 years old around Malembeni.
 
Lion:
We have been really fortunate with lion sightings over the past few months too. They have been quite active around the lodge and to the east. We got some great news from our neighbors a few days ago, that they have spotted 2 or 3 new individuals, about 2-3 months old, so that pushes up the pride total to 25-26 lions. There is still a lot that can happen, and the dynamics will change, young boys will reach sexual maturity and will get pushed out, while females will stay. Chances are also that the pride might split or splinter like we refer to it because of the size and competition to get enough food for each individual. We will definitely keep an eye on this and keep everyone updated.

Photo credit: Ruan Ferreira

The 2 male lions have been using our watering hole for a midnight pit stop once again and have been giving us some beautiful audio (roaring) throughout the night and early morning hours. We also got news from the lodges just north of us that they too are experiencing some new mature lions in their area coming from a neighboring game reserve, so that can also cause some changes within that pride.
We have also found some lions around Malambeni which consists of 3 large females, 2 sub-adult females and 1 sub-adult male. This could be just pure coincidence that they wandered a little further away to the outskirts of their territory or possibly because of the new 3 males north that are starting to challenge their 2 dominant males. Only time will tell.

With all of this activity, the River Pride males have been very vocal and active around the northern part of their territory, which is the northern end of Makumu’s property.  
 
 
Elephant:
Elephants have been around in large numbers, giving us some awesome sightings and causing quite a few road blocks. We have been able to spend some good quality time with them and there are lots of little ones around. There really is nothing more entertaining than watching a baby elephant play in the mud and learning their valuable life lessons.

Photo credit: Ruan Ferreira

There is water in abundance and lots of good vegetation around to keep their bodies and energy levels going, and also some dessert with all the Marula fruits all over. Even though we have had some good sightings, they have also made us work hard for it, with the bush being so lush. We have turned off the game viewer several times to sit and listen - for a big animal, elephants move very quietly. Sometimes all you hear is the breaking of a single branch or when they are splashing themselves with mud.
 
 
Buffalo:
After all the rain, we have seen more buffalo activity around the lodge, although no big herds. W have mostly seen our bachelor boys or “Dagga boys” as they are referred to. They spend a lot of time wallowing to get mud on their bodies to help cool themselves down and to give relief from biting insects and other ectoparasites found on their bodies. Dagga boys break away from the herds as they have moved out their prime and younger stronger bulls do the mating. Also getting older, they do not want to travel as far as the breeding herds do and lots of times fall behind, so by the time they catch up, lots of the good grass has either been trampled or eaten. Breaking away from the main heard can have its downfall as this means less eyes and ears for protection, but better wallowing, grazing and drinking opportunities. Buffalo are not an easy animal to bring down, many a lion has come off second best.

 

Photo credit: Ruan Ferreira 

Wild dog:
We have been blessed once again with wild dog sightings, and funny enough, majority of the time was when we did not have any cameras with us. One day returning from town we found a pack of dogs at Malembeni pan that had chased a big male leopard high up into a tree and then just trotted off with some hyenas following them too see what they possibly can score.


We also had those kills in camp and around camp as mentioned earlier. One morning as one of rangers came by to greet before going on off days, he heard something growling at him and as he looked to his right there they were, a pack of wild dogs that lost their kill to hyenas. They very quickly moved on in search of another possible meal.


I think the most memorable sighting was probably early January when we found a whole pack of 30+ dogs swimming and playing in the water at Malembeni pan. There was just so much activity and splashing. I managed to take a video, but with all the excitement completely forgot about my camera.

Thank you for following our reports and stories from Makumu!

Written by: Ruan Ferreira