January and February 2016 Ranger’s Report – Rain, Glorious Rain!
January has seen some much-needed rain over the Reserve and adjacent farmlands with some of the dams filled to the brim and some of the bigger dams – previously bone-dry – have now got some water. The veld conditions on the Reserve itself are looking the best in 3 years, with abundant lush grazing and browse available, consequently, the animals are looking in superb condition. These rains have also given rise to many beautiful flower species – some of which have not been seen for the last few seasons. There is still hope for some meaningful rain during the latter half of February, March and possibly some “April showers”.
Sightings of general plains Game have been phenomenal! With the abundance of food available, allowing them to feed freely all over the Reserve – with the Lions looking fat, sleek and smugly satisfied. At this stage, I would like to share an interesting observation with you – specifically regarding the Elephants ……………… in comparison to 2 months ago, when food and water availability was critically short – they were reclusive and agnostically re-active to our viewing attempts, whereas with the current abundance of food and water, they are generally calm, relaxed and aloofly accepting of our presence. It’s amazing how a satisfied appetite can change one’s demeanour !!
Last Thursday, one of our “reclusive” Nambiti Leopard was sighted on a rocky slope near the old Homestead. She was far off enough not to be alarmed by the Guides and their guests viewing her – so remained in the area for some time, allowing clear (albeit distant) viewing. Rheinhard and his guests returned all cock-a-hoop from their Game Drive that evening !!!!! Sadly, a new-born Hippo calf was found dead by Rheinhard yesterday in one of the dams on the Southern Plains. The Hippo Cow whose calf perished, has been followed by an unusually aggressive Bull – possibly a younger adult Bull asserting his territorial authority for the first time – and harries her mercilessly each time she tries to approach the carcass. Rheinhard and Dirk (head of Reserve security and anti-poaching) were also aggressively chased and pursued by the same Bull this morning when they themselves approached the carcass to determine actual cause of death. Nature will have to be allowed to play this one out.
Construction work for our new “Umzolozolo extension” have now begun in earnest, with the Builders knuckling down in a hive of activity – we all look forward to the end result – all neat, new and mod ……. Well …………… Let’s all hope for some further drought relief in the coming 2 months – which is an early Christmas wish for all of us on the Reserve …………. ’till next time.