Lion (Panthera Leo)
The southern pride of lions have been very tricky to find at times this month. Dinokeng has been busy moving up and down from Tanzanian highway through to Lilly dam very frequently marking his territory, occasionally running into the Tembe male from the western pride and getting chased back into the south. Western pride sightings have also been very frequent with the two females being very successful with their hunting mainly catching zebra and wildebeest. The four sub-adult cubs are definitely well fed due to the amazing hunting skills of the two older females. All in all the lion sightings have been great and can’t wait to see what next month brings.
Lion (Panthera Leo)
Leopard (Panthera Pardus)
Too see leopard on a safari is always something special and this month our guides as well as our guests have been very lucky. This month so far we have already had almost six different leopard sightings. Leopard is by nature a very shy animal and will normally try and avoid people and game viewers. Although one afternoon drive we were very lucky we were driving down main road south where we spotted two young leopards coming down the hill, so we switched off the engine and waited. The two leopards were very relaxed and walked right in front of our vehicle where we spent another ten minutes with them before they disappeared into the bush. It was great to see them so relaxed and to get to spend the time with them that we did.
Buffalo (Syncerus Caffer)
This month there have been lots of sightings of buffalo bulls on the Sterkstroom. Most of the sightings being between Broken Bridge and Jan Stammetjie. These buffalo bulls are also referred to as dagga boys which when you directly translate it, it means mud boys. When buffalo bulls start becoming older they start losing more and more of their hair so to protect their skin from the sun they go and spend allot of time in mud wallows where they use the mud as a natural sunscreen hence the name dagga boys. They generally are rather grumpy by nature so it’s best to give them a bit of space at times.
Elephant (Loxodonta Africana)
On the reserve we have a very large population of elephant and one is bound to encounter them on game drive. Elephants love digging up roots due to the reason that the roots contain allot of water sugar and nutrients. But allot of the time they choose to do this right next to the road which can make it very tricky to get passed them. Allot of the time we have to take an alternative route back home which isn’t the worst thing as it gives us more time to find more animals. This month the sightings of elephants have been great being spotted allot of the time in the Sterkstroom river drinking and playing around in the water which is always a great sighting.
Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus)
There seems to be a missing cheetah in the reserve, a mother of three has gone missing, abandoning her three cubs. We are hoping she turns up soon as the cubs are only around 7 months old and cannot fend for themselves and will have to face dangers such as lions and hyena on their own. We will follow them closely and see what happens. There have been nice sightings of our male cheetah this month and he has become a very well established hunter within the reserve taking down reedbuck, small zebra and waterbuck.
Other interesting sightings
On the Sterkstroom river close to broken bridge two honey badgers have frequently been spotted. Honey badgers are very well known for being very fierce little animals that are not afraid to stand up to any animal in the bush. They have even been known to scare off lions due to their take no nonsense attitude. They are mostly nocturnal animals but at times can be spotted in the early mornings. Honey badgers are carnivores and have a wide variety of diet they can eat anything from a little field mouse all the way up to bird eggs and even highly venomous snakes. It’s always great to spot them because they are always up to something they never sit still.
From and around the lodge
Things around the lodge have been very exciting as usual. This month we have been very lucky to have multiple leopard sightings close to our access road on the old eastern airstrip, there is definitely no better way ending an evening game drive than to see a beautiful leopard walking in the open showing us why they are as beautiful as they are.
At the lodge we have a couple of elephant bulls feeding on the nice green vegetation around the lodge and causing the occasional roadblock only as elephants do best. The elephants have also discovered the water pipes at the lodge, which they love because it’s a nice cold drink of water as well as a great way to cool down on those really warm days. Although it’s not so great for us when a shower is needed and there is no water due to our elephant friends. But as they say there is never a dull moment in Africa!
So all in all its been yet another great month on the reserve with beautiful sightings that ourselves and the guests have enjoyed very much. It’s always exciting going into a new month because one never knows what’s in store. The bush is always changing and there is always something new to see so there is no better reason to join us on game drive on Welgevonden game reserve.
The migrants have started coming back so birdlife has started to pick up again seeing the likes of White fronted beeaters and little beeaters. There has been quite a few birds of prey around such as the black eagle, brown snake eagle, black chested snake eagle and African harrier hawk. We look forward to getting more pictures of the birdlife as we go into the summer months.
Two of my personal favourites
Cape Long Claw lark & the Wattled Lapwing (Plover)
Till next month
Jean, Dan & Gibson
The Clifftop Field Guides.