December Ranger’s Report

Festivities, New Arrivals, and Nature’s Fury

The final month of 2023 is always a festive time, even out in the wilderness. Guides accessorised with funky hats, sparkly tinsel and other Christmas decorations. The lodge was decorated with a subtle elegance plus a little extra on display for Christmas Day. The food that was prepared on the day was absolutely scrumptious, and we all felt the effect of full bellies for the rest of the afternoon. To our surprise and delight, the weather remained stable and we were able to enjoy two wonderful game drives.

In the first week of December, two new Toyota Cruisers were delivered to us. They have new upgrades, some improvements are more comfortable than practical, but they are certainly turning heads. We also received new number plates to use while out on the reserve. Look out for the fleet of Hoopoe safari vehicles cruising around Nambiti.

Sightings have also been quite special. I will highlight a few of the more memorable ones.

Field Guide Lymon captured a live hunt and kill on a morning drive in the south. One of the male lions took down a blue wildebeest calf right in front of the guests. It was both amazing and devastating to watch.

The savage kingdom of the South African savanna was on display this month. Bolts of lightning claimed a few lives, including three giraffes and a young elephant bull. The carcasses have attracted large numbers of vultures onto Nambiti. Mostly White-backed and Cape Vultures have been spotted feeding on the carrion.
I was out on drive one afternoon towards the end of the month acting on some intel from another guide. As I arrived on scene, it was clear that what we were witnessing was both rare and intense. Square-lipped Rhinos were ensuring the survival of the species (if you know what I mean). They have the most protracted mating period of all mammals.

Big Birding Day was held on 2 December across South Africa. Teams register and select their location where they will identify and record birds for 24 hours. Using an app called Birdlasser, you log sightings and the data is uploaded and can be used for research and to update distribution maps. I entered a team in the 6km radius category and we placed 12th overall with 141 species on Nambiti. Some of the more impressive birds that we logged include Temminck’s Courser, Dusky Indigobird, White-bellied Bustard and Black Cuckooshrike.

The December rains have certainly kept things interesting. On one day, the northern lodges recorded 80mm of rain. There was major flooding in Ladysmith which claimed more than a few lives. Roads were wet and muddy, but the surrounding plains have become lush and the herbivores are completely satiated. I wonder what the new year will bring?
Happy New Year everyone!

Head Guide Noleen Turner