Ranger Diaries & Press
June/July 2019 Wildlife Report
A warm welcome back to another update on our exciting adventures here in the Klaserie Private Nature Reserve. It is an absolute privilege to call this place, with all its amazing views and rolling hills, HOME!! I will be covering all the exciting things that happened over June- July…
We are right in the middle of winter at the moment and you can definitely feel the cool crisp air as we depart for our morning drives. The guests all get informed the night before about what is waiting for them while sipping away on a glass of wine around our boma fire. Everybody dressed warm, blankets over the legs and then the big smile and a voice from behind you, “hot water bottles”…
During winter months you get some amazing colours with the grass turning into different shades of yellow and brown, most trees have dropped their leaves and provide some stunning shadows and photographic opportunities for that perfect African sunset. It makes the chances of spotting animals a little easier during this time of the year with most wallows being all dried up and with our river system only being seasonal, but don’t get me wrong they still make us work hard to find them. The windy gravel roads provides us with lots of messages “tracks and signs” from the previous night’s activities.
With the pans and wallows all dried up, the watering hole at the camp has provided our guests with some great sightings from their rooms and the main area of the lodge, from impalas, giraffes, zebras to leopards, lots of elephant, wild dogs and lion coming in for a drink during night time, serenading our guests.
The guests even had their occasional warthogs coming to feed on our green lawns (a lot of the guests got a nice big fright 😊 …)
Over the last 2 months we have been blessed with some good leopard activity close to the lodge and surrounds. The young male now +/- 20 months old has provided us with great sightings, anything between 30-45 minutes at a time. Leopards usually get pushed away at a young age (16-20 months) and in the beginning they still spend some time in moms’ territory (a comfort zone) to gain some confidence in a more familiar area. He is still very young and learning and likes to move around the drainage systems and surrounding thickets, which provides him with some cover looking for smaller animals to prey on like duiker and steenbok. We sat with him while trying to stalk impala at the lodge watering hole, but he always ends up on the wrong side. It was very interesting to sit and watch him around a herd of elephants; he was so curious and kept on following them until he eventual lost interest.
We have had other sightings of Saseka, mentioned in our previous blog post, around the old airstrip. We have also had sightings of a larger male, very dark in colour close to Makumu. He loves the Klaserie River system on the eastern side of the lodge, and we have noticed that he is pushing more and more to the central parts of the property.
These ones definitely makes us work a lot harder and we have had weeks where they have been giving us awesome sightings and then 5 or so days where you hear them, but just can’t find them. All in all, we had more good days than bad days.
The 2 male lions have been using our watering hole for a midnight pit stop and has been giving us some beautiful audio (roaring) throughout the night and early morning hours.
We have also found 2 males with 4 females around the airstrip on numerous occasions and also on Makumu property, once finishing up the last bit of an impala and on another occasion trying to dig out some warthog. It was interesting to watch the 2 males dig for the warthog and the females just lying off to the side. The males eventually gave up and walked over to the females, and it was at that moment where the warthog probably saw his opportunity to get out of there ASAP.
Elephants have been around in large numbers, giving us some awesome sightings and allowed us to spend some quality time with them. We had at least 3 different breeding herds and a couple of young bachelor males move through the property.
It is that time of the year though; dry, low nutrition, lots of very young calfs (babies), distances from watering hole to another can be quite far apart, so “winter pressure” is on. Tempers are a little shorter than usual. It is very interesting to observe their behaviour feeding through dry open areas away from water. They are much more aware of our presence compared to when they are down in the river bed, where there is much more surface water and greener foliage to feed on. One can clearly see how much more relaxed they are. Usually we can sit and watch them for hours, and see the small family groups forming, spending some time together, and bonding. I love watching how observant the youngsters are to what mom is doing, learning day by day and the excitement in these amazing animals when water starts filtering through the soft river sand from an area where mom has been patiently digging.
Buffalo have been more difficult to find however we found some old males, known as “dagga boys,” along the river system on those warmer afternoons. They have been spotted hiding between the river reeds where there is still a pool of water, doing what they do best: wallow. It helps them to cool down their body temperature and also save some energy by not being active during the warmer parts of day.
We had a nice small breeding herd of +/- 40 individuals on the property for a couple of days but they didn't stay too long. We then had another nice sized herd move in, down in the riverbed, moving between Makumu property and our neighbouring property for about a week. The lions picked that up very quickly and with all that pressure the buffalo started pushing north again.
We have been blessed once again with wild dog sightings and had a nice sighting of a pack on the northern part of the property before they crossed back over to our neighbouring reserve where they were denning.
The dogs have been denning, even though we have not seen any youngsters. These pups are likely between 6-8 weeks old and the Alpha female should start moving around with the youngsters fairly soon, getting them out from the den sites on short excursions to get them fit and strong for when they have to move.
We have been lucky with dogs around our watering hole at the camp with two scouts looking for food. With the water comes food (impala and duiker)! It’s always thrilling to watch these dogs go after something, and so difficult to keep up.
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Sending you blessed regards from the Wild and the ENTIRE Makumu family!
Written by: Ruan Ferreira (Assistant Manager)
Photography: Ruan Ferreira