March and April 2016 Ranger’s Report – Life after the rain
Phew!! – It’s been a while since we put pen to paper. Despite the building operations at Umzolozolo, we have had a good busy run, and the days just seem to flow into each other.
After some very welcome rains in January, the condition of the Veld is looking the best it’s been in 3 years, with the grasses yielding a high seed-load. As a result of this we have noticed large nomadic flocks of Red-Billed Queleas moving from area to area taking advantage of a rich and abundant food source. To hear and see flocks of several thousand birds taking flight as a single body is both delightful and awe-inspiring. Just when one thinks one has seen it all, there’s always something unusual and interesting.
The building continues apace at Umzolozolo, and we are all looking forward to the day when our Lodge has been extended and up-graded, so we can share this special part of KZN with a few more people. One of the Lionesses which were introduced 2 years ago – who had established herself up in the Northern part of the Reserve – has started to explore the greater area of the Reserve, and to our delight – has been seen quite regularly in our section – and seems to be quite at home in the South at the moment. She is a big, beautiful specimen, with strong “Kalahari Lion” genetic traits – as well as being a bold and audacious hunter. Long may we enjoy her presence in the South.
Late April now, and we can see the beginning of the change of Seasons. Our migrant bird species have all left already, the Veld is dry and starting to turn “blonde”, and our 6 am morning drives are decidedly “nippy” – especially when we’ve had heavy dew. Mmmm………. That Amarula-laced hot beverage is top-of-the-pops again after an early start. To end with, we’d like to share with you a sighting I had 2 days ago which illustrates perfectly the way Lions are opportunists of note!! We observed a Lioness and the 2 adult Males walking through long grass towards the track on which we were travelling, and they emerged from the bush just in front of our Cruiser. As she entered the grass to our left hand side, the Lioness ( and ourselves!!), were un-aware of a flock of Guinea Fowl feeding in the long grass, which took to panicked and raucous flight as she stumbled upon them. As one hapless individual took off in front of her, she launched herself skyward, and swatted it out of the air, and consumed it – feathers and all – this all took about 20 seconds!!!. We just looked at each other and smiled at our good fortune. Sometimes we are in the right place at the right time………..