Reserve management always seems a little busier in the winter months. Colder temperatures, little to no rain, and the appearance of frost signal the time to repair roads and burn fire breaks and sections of veld. Within these burnt areas we often see antelope feeding on the charred vegetation. It is believed to supplement carbon in their diets. With most of the grasses cleared away and the trees left bare, it is possible to identify a few more birds as well. Some interesting species that have recently been spotted include Red-capped Lark, White-bellied Bustard, Fan-tailed Widowbird and Golden-breasted Bunting. The removal of the long grasses also exposes the many termite mounds that are constructed by Snouted Harvester Termites. Many of our guests have enjoyed more frequent and better quality sightings of our territorial aardwolf when returning to the lodge in the evenings. The aardwolf feeds on termites and ants, but is predominantly nocturnal by nature and tends to disappear into the long grasses once it is spotted.
I was out one morning with guests, and we responded to a sighting of lions near one of the southern lodges. The three big cats rewarded us for our patience, and we followed them all the way to our lodge access road. After informing the staff of their proximity to the lodge, the lions went into hunt-mode and began stalking warthogs. In next to no time, they were on our access road and running up into the lodge grounds. The big male made his way along the road to Room 5 and ambled up the walkway in search of the two lionesses. The reality of their paws being on the same tiles as where guests and staff walked a few hours earlier began to settle in, and it was intense!
These images were taken by one of the guests, Thomas. He captured a few excellent videos as well, which we will share on social media.
Field Guide Promise shared a special sighting with his guests recently. Members of the elephant herd visited the fallen bull and could be seen touching the remains with their trunks. This is a rare experience, and an intimate one at that. There is still so much about their relationships and emotions that we need to explore and understand.
June has been a busy time for Umzolozolo in all facets; we have had a full lodge, we are clearing bush in front of the lodge, and we are investigating solar options. July promises to be just as exciting!