November 2015 Ranger’s Report – Dust, drought and something resembling rain…
November has truly been a rather wicked month when it comes to Nambiti’s weather patterns. It seems the high winds that we normally expect in August have decided to make a late arrival in November, this coupled with the severe drought holding the country and the province in its vice-like grip has resulted in some extremely harsh, dry, and Sahara-like dust storms that appear to engulf and swallow some of the larger hills and surrounding mountains.
However on the bright side we did receive a little rain this month (approx. 28mm in total) which has caused a very meagre and half-hearted attempt at a green flush from the burnt areas and the odd inexperienced, over eager acacia, perhaps over eager is the wrong term, severely desperate would be more applicable. At the mere sight of a green blade of grass and the whiff of rain the impala ewes are no longer able to hang on to their burdens of pregnancy any longer and we are starting to see little half sized impala lambs popping up all over the place, appearing very wobbly and unstable on their delicate legs.
Elephants have been in no short supply, and have been sticking around the southern section of the reserve for some time chasing after the Lucerne that is being dropped all over in an attempt to boost the immune systems of the general game, although they (the big grey giants) become the playground bullies and use their size and intimidation tactics to chase off the smaller game from any particular Lucerne patch they have laid claim to. The extensive drought is taking its toll on the more sensitive game species such as the Kudu and Nyala, being predominant browsers that normally rely on the nutritious green leaves that come with summer rains to boost their immune systems and pack on the kilos, there have been a few losses caused by low immunity and dehydration when some of the weaker animals are just no longer able to stick it out any longer. The three sub-adult lions that normally lurk around the centre section of the reserve seem to have invested in some hiking boots as they are now moving all over the reserve, sometimes even venturing into crowberry gorge at the bottom of the waterfall (close to their birthplace) in the extreme northern corner. As it turns out, it seems they are not lions but rather three young lionesses. Although they are fit, they are still inexperienced as most youngsters are and they proved to Dave and Matt with an excellent sighting of them trying to hone and perfect their hunting skills but lacked the co-ordination and communication to decide on whether they wanted buffalo steaks or zebra ribs.
The bird life has been phenomenal recently with a lot of the migratory species returning and one or two new ones added to the list such as the Temminck’s Courser. Blue cranes have been in abundance and can be seen putting on the Romeo & Juliet act and we hear Romeo serenading Juliet often.Special sighting of the month: Despite the sighting of the Temminck’s Courser (above) there is still one sighting that trumps them all, a sighting that had two of Umzolo’s rangers on a high for about 3 hours, and that was a pair of Cape Clawless Otter that appear to have taken temporary residence in a dam close by. Yet another first on Nambiti for Matt, and a sighting that is certainly not seen often due to the shy and elusive nature of otters.