February has brought us more rain, leaving the reserve resplendent in green, with the sound of water flowing everywhere. The bird life is also at its best and we are not looking forward to them leaving next month when most of them migrate back to the north.
The Southern Pride is all over the reserve again, with the sub-adult cubs having split away from their parents. The Western Pride is doing really well and are moving around often. The females have finally relaxed and we managed to get some proper photos of the adorable cubs that are growing up really quickly. Their tummies were nice and full of milk, and they were rather playful while the rest of the pride was trying to sleep off the big meal they just had. By next month, their mother will start decreasing the milk in their diet and they will start eating meat.
The Elephant herd was very visible this month with most of the sightings in the forest area of the reserve. The female is very relaxed and has been struggling to control her playful calf, which runs around playing with the other calves in the herd. We managed to get some really nice photos as the herd spread out and the calf started to relax.
Leopards have been rather rare. Hopefully sightings will pick up again next month. We did however manage to get a brilliant but quick sighting of one big male while he was walking around marking his territory.
The Buffalo have all but disappeared, making it tricky to find them; all except for an individual that has been hanging out close to the lodge. We have been lucky to see this big guy on a regular basis.
My sighting for the month was that of two cheetahs. My guests and I had some pretty good sightings but they had never seen Cheetah in the wild, so that was our goal for their last afternoon drive. We had heard that the Cheetah were seen at the opposite side of the reserve, so we left earlier to have enough time to get there and back (the reserve is really, really big). We bumped into Giraffe un-expectantly on the way there which was an amazing bonus.
While making our way to the other side of the reserve we heard that some of the other vehicles had found the Cheetahs and that they were lying down and relaxing – just the luck we needed. We finally got there and had a wonderful half an hour with the male and female relaxing. After a while they got up and started chasing some waterbuck around – a brilliant end to an amazing day!
We rarely see snakes on drive, so when we do see one everyone gets excited. However none of us expected to find this beautiful, yet shy, 4m Rock Python. This big reptile was very relaxed and gave us the perfect opportunity to talk about feeding methods and how snakes move. We were very proud of two of our guests that were afraid of snakes but came within a meter of this Python to try and understand these misunderstood reptiles.
Something we usually need to drive far to find for special requests are our hippos. They live in the dams in the far south of the reserve which usually makes for a stunning scenic morning drive with a coffee stop. Generally the hippos will be sleeping in the water with only a little bit of their heads and sometimes backs visible as they are snooze the day away. However, on this drive we got lucky, as the hippos were playing and swimming. The male hippo impressed us all with a dominance display where he showed off his menacing teeth.
South African Rhino Poaching Update
Total Rhinos poached in 2015 until end February: 49
Total poacher-related arrests this year until end February: 17