Archive for ‘September, 2012’

For the first time!

Today I saw the new Lion cubs of the Thanda North Pride for the first time.

The first-time-mom allowed us a few minutes of looking at the four cubs before she led them into thick bush.

Fight or Flight?

Last night I had my first Black Rhino sighting on Thanda. Bheki, my tracker, spotted this beautiful animal thirty meters from the road. For a few seconds one could almost see a pendulum swinging in its brain “fight or flight … fight or flight …”.  It selected flight and moved away fast into the bush. A very brief, but very special sighting.

On the same game drive we saw a male Lion, a female Cheetah and a Black-bellied Bustard. It was the last game drive for the guests on my vehicle – What a send-off 🙂

More about Black Rhinos:
The Black Rhinoceros or Hook-lipped Rhinoceros, is a species of rhinoceros, native to Africa. An adult Black Rhino stands 132–180 cm (52–71 in) high at the shoulder and typically weighs from 800 to 1,400 kg (1,800 to 3,100 lb), however unusually large male specimens have been reported at up to 2,896 kg (6,380 lb). The females are smaller than the males. Two horns on the skull are made of keratin. These horns are used for defense, intimidation, and digging up roots and breaking branches during feeding. Black Rhinos have poor eyesight, relying more on hearing and smell.
They are poached for their horns and are now classified as critically endangered.

Green!

I have promised to post some pictures of Thanda after the recent rains.

These three pictures of Giraffes on the savanna, a White Rhino  on a grassy hill top and an Elephant bull in between Fever trees show Thanda animals in their “new juicy” environment.

 

 

Have a good weekend!

PS: If you are wondering why most of the Giraffe stare in the same direction. They were watching two Cheetah males lying under a tree :-).

Small Excitement!

The small male Elephant in the picture got a bit excited when he joined in a mud bath with his elders. He knew all the moves to intimate us and the other bulls, he just did not have the size yet :-).

Brothers!

These two Cheetah brothers have a strong bond since many years. Unlike female Cheetah, who are always solitary, Cheetah males often form coalitions. Being able to groom one another is one of the advantages of such a relationship.

Let’s play, Bro!

This young juvenile Lioness is playing rough with her brother. I “found” this picture when I was organizing my pictures which I took before the rains. I like the action.

We have two Lion prides on Thanda. One in the North of the reserve and one in the South.

Have a good week!

Dogs and Neighbors!

Our African Wild Dogs decided recently to slip through the fence of the reserve and take a “vacation” on a neighboring farm. The owner is not very happy about his visitors – not surprising as the six adult and nine puppy dogs eat a lot of meat!

We are currently capturing the dogs and bringing them back to Thanda. They will be kept in a boma until the fence has been fixed.

The first picture shows the dogs in the twilight on the neighbor’s land.

The second picture is of one of the cubs. It squeezed through the boma fence and took a little day trip across the savanna – but never going far from the boma with the adults in it.

And then the sky opened!

I do not know that my Land Rover Driving course experience would come in useful so soon. Today the sky opened up during game drive and within minutes hard rain converted some of our roads into streams. We were in an area with predominately clay based soils far away from the lodge. With a lot of momentum and the superb bad-road-condition-capabilities of the Land Rover Defender I got us home safely. We were all wet to the skin 🙂 The four children on the vehicle thought that the drive was a great adventure.

The weather forecast for tomorrow is for 100% rain. Another hectic driving day coming up!

I got no pictures from the drive (I was busy negotiating soapy roads!), so I thought you would enjoy the picture of these two Eagles I took earlier this morning. The first is of a Tawny Eagle and the second is a Wahlberg’s Eagle.

 

The Last Walk!

Goodbye Mpumalanga!

The last few days were very busy and I had no time to blog, but now I am back on Thanda. And it is hard to believe it is the same place. The recent rains have turned the place green, as you will be able to see in up-coming pictures.

But today I post the last pictures from my recent trip. The first is a picture of a African Goshawk who was – sitting in a tree – giving us the farewell from Nkombe camp.

The second is a collage of my last walk on Sabi Sands. For part of the walk I was in the lead guide and we encountered two Elephant bulls and a male White Rhino.

I enjoyed all my courses very much, but I am glad to be home 🙂

PS: The pictures in the collage were taken by Craig Fitt and Ross Hawkins – As I was walking Lead or Backup with a rifle I was not able to take pictures – Thanks for letting me use them.

Buffalo – up close and personal!

Today we had three encounters on foot with male Cape Buffalo. They can be extremely dangerous and aggressive. We got proof of that today!

The first encounter was with two quite calm animals (the one in this picture).

Then we “bumped” into another bull only 15 meters away from us. He took flight and we extracted to a save location. On the way back to the camp another group of “Dugga Boys” spotted us and chased us across a dry riverbed. We had to take a longer route to get back to the camp. Enough Buffalo for one day – up close and personal!

There are no picture from encounters two and three. We were busy dealing with the situation and with getting back in one piece to the camp – no time for pictures 🙂

PS: If you like to know more about the Trails Guiding Course go to http://www.africanaturetraining.co.za. A great experience, even if you do it for fun and not for professional reasons.