Except for buffalo, there have been lots of rewarding Big 5 sightings, especially lions and elephants. Feedback from Members at lion sightings over the recent long weekend was appreciation for the consideration people showed each other. With 100 bungalows occupied sightings were well attended, with due consideration adopted in taking turns for all to have an opportunity to observe and take pictures. This is excellent feedback.
Wild dogs were seen on two occasions near Beacon Boma.
African wild cat, blue wildebeest, zebra, waterbuck, giraffe, spotted genet, spotted hyena and spring hare were other sightings recorded in the register.
Bird wise only Fish Eagle, Ground Hornbill, Black Stork, Woolley-necked Stork and Temminck’s Courser were made mention of.
Elephant cow Picture courtesy of Paul Marsh
Month on month the game sightings increased significantly. Excluding low buffalo numbers, Big Five sightings were excellent. It was good to note a marked increase in elephant breeding herds, perhaps an indication that the grasses are partially recovering with the late rains, as elephants are known to increase grass intake during the summer growth season.
There were numerous superb lion sightings, with cubs, providing excellent photographic opportunities. Leopard sightings always provide great elation to the viewer, even if the viewing is short lived. A discovery of two adult leopards together even greater elation.
There were two reports of wild dogs.
The sightings register was void of general or common game, save the mention of zebra, giraffe and blue wildebeest. There was mention of spring hare, a puff adder and several black mambas.
The Birders produced an impressive list which included Fish Eagle, Martial Eagle, Black-chested Snake Eagle, Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl, Ground Hornbill, Kori Bustard, Levaillant’s Cuckoo, Jacobin Cuckoo, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Diederik Cuckoo, Paradise Flycatcher, White-fronted Bee eater, Woolley-necked Stork, Saddle-billed Stork and Spoonbill.
Sightings recorded in the register can be described as “few and far between” because of the predominantly dry conditions and animal dispersal. For example, a recording of a single buffalo for the entire month speaks for itself.
Towards month end, numbers of lion and leopard sightings improved significantly, as did the activities of a pack of 30 wild dogs! There were only four recordings of elephant sightings, a mix of breeding herds and bulls.
General game sightings included giraffe, zebra and blue wildebeest.
Birds recorded were Ground Hornbill, Levaillant’s Cuckoo, Eurasian Golden Oriole, Woolley-necked Stork, Pennant-winged Nightjar and Kori Bustard.
During the reporting period the camp enjoyed higher than usual occupancy levels, for a longer period, when comparing year on year. This resulted in more eyes and ears on the ground, and plenty of sightings written up in the register. It was certainly the month for cats, lions seen almost every day. Several kills were made, one report of a “text book” kill by a lioness, catching a juvenile warthog which she carried to her cubs. The lions were often in camp, seemingly unperturbed by human activity. There were numerous leopard sightings, some with cubs, some with kills, one kill happened when a hyena arrived, stole the kill and devoured it in half an hour, while the leopard darted in and out feeding off scraps!
Elephant activity increased, month on month, more breeding herds ranging on Ingwelala. The largest herd size numbered 50 – 60. No buffalo to speak of, a single bull seen on three occasions.
Wild dogs were active, two different packs sizing each other up on Buffelsbed in an amazing sighting. One pack had 9 dogs and the other 20, with full on confrontation.
A black mamba was seen swimming in the water at Bird Hide. It swam out to the leadwood stump in the middle, slithered up to reach the Red-billed Buffalo Weaver nests to feed on the chicks.
The scorpions are plentiful this summer, take care to use a torch at night and wear closed shoes.
General game sightings included spotted hyena, giraffe, genet, hippo and crocodile.
The birders had an excellent month, noting Martial Eagle, Tawny Eagle (pale form), Lesser Spotted Eagle, Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl, Pearl-spotted Owlet, African Scops Owl, Lanner Falcon, Red-footed Kestrel, Dark Chanting Goshawk, Ground Hornbill, Black Stork, Saddle-billed Stork, White-backed Night Heron, Levaillant’s Cuckoo, Eurasian Golden Oriole, Cardinal Woodpecker, Spotted Flycatcher, Dusky Lark, Brown-headed Parrot, Painted Snipe, Plum-coloured Starling and Little Bee Eater.
There is a troop of baboons that forage through camp. All food should be kept out of sight to prevent break-ins to bungalows for the food. Due to the dry veld conditions these baboons are spending increasingly more time foraging and roosting in camp.
The vervet monkeys that frequent the car park and swimming pool area have learnt to open cooler boxes and picnic baskets left unattended on vehicles. They do not back away from women and children, so please keep a close eye on small children. Members are requested to double check that all used refuse bags are delivered directly to the Dirt Box, and not left on the tail gates of game viewers in the Reception car park.