The first month of the new year has been phenomenal! We welcomed a familiar face back into the Umzolozolo family with the return of Raymond in the food and beverage department. He has already inspired some culinary changes to old favourites while introducing many delicious new meals on the menu. Lodge staff enjoyed some time off with their families to celebrate Christmas and catch up on rest and relaxation. In other staff news, our Head Chef, Jacob, was named as Employee of the Year for 2023. Congratulations, Jake!
The guiding department has been busy and sightings have been awesome! One of the animals that have stolen our hearts this month has to be the Black-backed Jackals. Most of the mating pairs have had pups and the playful youngsters have been very relaxed around the vehicles. Many guests have aimed their lens in their direction and snapped some remarkable photos in the morning light.
The most entertaining animals out on game drive for me personally have to be the elephants! The newest member of the herd brings smiles and laughter to all who have the fortune of seeing him. He is full of spunk and loves to show how big and strong he is getting. One of the new Tembe elephant bulls has also been stealing the limelight. He spends a lot of time around the herd and gets great satisfaction from sauntering up to the game viewers. I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time to see him mating with one of the young cows in the herd. What an experience for both my guests and I. Unforgettable!
Sightings of leopards on the reserve have certainly been on the increase. In January, there were reports of at least four sightings. This is very encouraging news and something that we hope will continue into February!
The Blue Crane juveniles are growing up fast and seem to be building up their flying strength quite nicely. The colourful displays of the Yellow-crowned and Southern Red Bishops have been thoroughly entertaining. An African Fish Eagle has been seen at Woodlands Dam this month on more than a few occasions, and the Namaqua Doves have been spotted in the south.
With all the rain about, there are loads of wild flowers blooming on the reserve. The brightly coloured Red Star Zinnias, the large petals of the Bladder Hibiscus, pops of yellow on the Sweet Thorn trees and the surprise of the Pink Ladies at sunset. Butterflies, dung beetles, dragonflies and CMR beetles are zooting around during the daylight hours while moths and Flap-necked chameleons keep us entertained at sunset.
Cheers until next month!
Head Guide Noleen Turner