Thursday, March 28, 2013

Ranger diaries March 2013

Autumn is approaching fast and the nights in the bush are getting nippy at times. The afternoon rains are not as frequent anymore and the grass is tall and taking on the beautiful golden colours of Autumn. 

Our animals are well fed and looking very healthy, all ready to brave the approaching winter season.
Our Lion pride have been seen all over the place and the old female and the old male have been mating over the last few weeks, which means we can hopefully expect a litter of cub’s around mid-year.  The gestation period of a lioness is 110 days and that is about the time the mother needs to get her four older cub’s (now 15 months old) self-sufficient and ready to hunt for themselves.

Mom will kick the 4 older cubs ‘out’ before she gives birth to the new litter and will then find a safe and secluded den-site where the babies will be safe until they are old enough to accompany the mother on her hunting trips.

While the cubs are very small they are in danger to get killed by other predators such as Leopard, Hyena and even Cheetah or other Lions.  When they are about 3 to 4 months old, the mom will start to take them on short adventures and show them the big world and this is normally the time we get to see the cute little “kitties” on our game drives.
Female Lions normally stay with the same pride their whole lifetime and are unlikely to go and find another pride. Young male Lions get kicked out of the pride when they are about two years of age and will then go off, roam the land and eventually try to challenge a leader of another pride to take over his pride.

The Elephant herd has got a new addition, again, and the little fella is now about three weeks old and too cute to describe.  Its mother, aunts and siblings are protecting it very well and one of them has got a re assuring trunk around the youngster.  But every now and then we get a glimpse of it as mom shows it off to us.  Elephants are very protective over their young and all members of the herd will go out of their way to protect it and keep it safe.

We are also very excited to have a pair of Blue Cranes as well as a pair of Crowned Cranes that are raising their chicks on our Reserve.  The Blue Crane is South Africa’s national bird and both crane species are on the endangered species list.  Due to poisoning, illegal trade, power line collision and loss of grassland breeding habitat, both species have declined rapidly.  They mate for life and display a wonderful courtship dance.  They usually lay two eggs and both, male and female, incubate the eggs.  The chicks are able to fly at about 3 to 5 months.  The parents are very protective of their young and will guard them aggressively.

It was a very, very sad day when we discovered just over two weeks ago, that two of our young Rhinos have been poached and the horns have been taken.  As mentioned in the previous report we had dehorned all our Rhinos to protect them from poaching. The two that have been taken, were young Rhinos, where the horns were just long enough to be dehorned and we had applied for the permit to do so.

Unfortunately, the rhinos were killed before we could dehorn them. Investigations are on-going and we will hopefully have results soon.

Rhino horn consists of grown together hair and is the exact same material as any hoof of a cow, horse, antelope or any other animal as well as human fingernail. It is scientifically proven that there is absolutely NO medicinal value or property in rhino horn, but some cultures still believe that rhino horn powder cures cancer and acts as an aphrodisiac.

158 Rhinos have been poached in 2013 in South Africa by today (19.03.2013), this equals about 2 rhinos each day! Since the start of the poaching epidemic in 2008, South Africa has lost over 1600 rhinos, a figure that, despite so much effort, increases daily.

We really hope that people come to their senses and stop the pointless killing of one of our most historic and special animal’s and stop it before they become extinct.
Till we meet on the Plains of the Nambiti Private Game Reserve …

Your Springbok Lodge rangers
Nicole, Jonathan, Michael and Holly

Monday, January 21, 2013

Ranger Diaries January 2013

The Festive Season is over and we all had a great time celebrating Christmas and New Year with our guests from all over the World.  We also celebrated two engagements as well as Anniversaries, post wedding safaris and birthdays with our guests over the this special holiday period.

The babies have all arrived! The bush is buzzing with array of big eyed baby Wildebeest, Hartebeest, Impala, Zebra, Jackal, Elephant and even the Warthog are proudly showing off their cute little piglets.
The Impala, Eland and Wildebeest mothers are putting their babies into creches and so all the little ones can be seen together, while two or three females look after them while the other mothers are busy feeding. The little 2 month old Elephant baby is too cute to describe – you need to come and see ‘it’ for yourselves. It’s always up for fun and play with its siblings. The little trunk doesn't yet want to follow the brains instruction and it’s hilarious to watch him trying to copy the adults.

Long legged and cute (the only time in their lifeJ) are the Wildebeest babies chasing each other over the plains, then sleep exhausted in the long grass while ever so watchful mom grazes near by.
The Eland have been seen in herds of about 150 animals on the different plains. It is such a special sight and to have this very impressive animal in such abundance in our reserve and is a real treat. Some Eland bulls are so big, from a distance they are easily confused with rhino. We've also seen them jump over (imaginary) obstacles. It’s just unbelievable and so impressive.

Our guests got a very special treat when they saw a 3 meter Rock-Python crossing the road right in front of our Lodge access gate. As it was quite a chilly evening the Python was crossing the road very slowly, and had its last third of the body sticking out into the road. The ranger first believed it to be a stick lying across the road, but suddenly saw the snake patterns and managed to stop the car just centimetres before the snake. Unimpressed the snake continued to make its way very slowly into grass on the side of the road. This gave the guests about 10 minutes to watch and study it carefully.
African Rock Pythons are not venomous snakes; they suffocate  their pray by wrapping themselves around it. They usually hunt at night by using their heat sensors on their lips to detect warm blooded animals like birds, small mammals, monkeys or other reptiles.

The secretive leopard has started to be less secretive and we had some great sightings in the reserve. It seems that there are two young male leopards that don’t seem to mind the noisy game viewers and are even posing for a few pictures.

Our lion ‘babies’ have gotten big and the three little males, now as tall as their mother, are starting to grow their mane’s.  Mom has started to teach them to hunt and will probably be very glad when they start catching their own food as it is hard work for her to feed 4 hungry teenagers.
The two young male lions are challenging dad at the moment and would like to take over territory and pride. So we were witness to some very intense and interesting interactions between the three of them. It seems nobody has won the battle yet, but it is just a question of time until the two beautiful young male lions will rule the reserve.

Our Rhino dehorning just before Christmas went well and hopefully it will protect our Rhino from poachers.  668 Rhinos were poached in 2012 in South Africa!!!!   A figure that scares us; if this onslaught continues our children will probably never be able to see a Rhino in the wild!
We wish everybody a wonderful and successful 2013 and hope to see you soon at Springbok Lodge to experience a Very Special Time in a Very Special Place.

We welcome Michael and Holly to our Springbok Lodge and Ranger family … they look forward to meeting you on your next visit to the Lodge.

Your rangers
Nicole, Stephanie, Jonathan, Michael and Holly

Friday, September 14, 2012

Ranger Diaries September 2012

After about 40% of the Reserve being burned in block burns to get rid of all the old vegetable matter, the much needed first rain arrived. We have already seen an abundance of grazers on these burnt blocks including; Wildebeest, Zebra, Warthog, and Red Hartebeest.
The trees are getting their first new green shoots making the browsers are just as happy as the grazers.

Nambiti is filled with so many difference shades of green – it almost seems as though an artist came along with his palette of green colours and painted the trees and bushes…
Three of the endangered Blue Crane pairs have returned to the Reserve, taking advantage of the open newly burnt areas.  Hopefully we will be lucky again this year… last season a breeding pair settled down and raised their chicks with us.  As Blue Cranes are very picky breeders they may abandon the nest if the area is disturbed. 

Being South Africa’s National Bird, the Blue Crane is listed as a “vulnerable species”.

They are poisoned by farmers, killed by power line collisions or by loss of the grassland breeding habitat.

Spring is a very exciting time in Nambiti as the season’s first babies have already been born.   The Eland herd is growing by the day and it’s amusing to watch the long legged and big eyed babies chasing each other around on the open plains.  The warthog are having fun with their little piglets and watching them is absolutely hilarious as they scurry around and jump in circles. What great entertainment!!    Fuzzy fluffy little baby Zebras as well as some very small Giraffe babies were also recently spotted during game drives.
It’s definitely the “oh it’s so cute” time of our year.

The Lion pride is extending their movements and we have excellent sightings of the fast growing cubs. They are very curios and like to investigate our game viewers and use them as targets to practice their poaching and hunting skills.

We hope to see you soon!

The Springbok Lodge Rangers Nicole, Lee, Ruan and Stephanie 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Ranger diaries August 2012

Until now, we had a very mild and pleasant winter with just a few cold patches here and there.  Even though the vegetation is very dry our game drives have still been rewarding and the animals enjoyed the warm winter sun during the day. Today (7th August) was a very special day though, as it has been snowing in the Reserve!  The ground on the Northern side of the Reserve got completely covered with snow, which is a first. The change in temperature must surely have come as a shock for the animals as yesterday was a very warm day.  Whoever can, will surely be cuddling up tonight to stay warm!!

The Reserve has done some of their block burns and we can see vast black patches of burned grassland and bush areas.  This might not look great, but burning is very important for the re-growth of the vegetation in our savannah area.  Burning gets rid of old vegetable matter (moribund) that builds up in layers thus preventing new plants from penetrating.  It also eradicates ticks, which carry a lot of dreadful diseases, and plants that are not indigenous to the area.

The ash that goes back into the ground after a fire contains of a lot of minerals and nutrients and is an excellent fertilizer which in turn strengthens the new growth into nutritious and healthy plants.  

A lot of the animals come into the burnt areas right after the fire and lick the burned trees and ground to get extra minerals.  For the naked eye as well as through the camera lens - the black background really brings out the intense colours of the animals which make for stunning photos.

After the rain and snow we experienced today, the green grass shoots will push through in no time across these burnt areas and will provide nutritious grazing for animals like Zebra, Blue Wildebeest, Rhino, Steenbuck, Impala and Buffalo.  We also find a lot of the ground scraping and insect eating birds in the burnt areas as it is much easier for them to spot food like insects, lizards and earth-worms.
We already welcomed the first migratory birds back from their trip to the North.  So far we have spotted the White Stork, Stepp Buzzard and some Barn Swallows.  This is a clear indication that Spring is approaching fast.

“Baby” season has already started - last week our rangers spotted the first Eland calves playing and running after mothers.  Eland and Red Hartebeest are normally the first antelope to have their young. This is a very exciting time of the year and we cannot wait for all the cute, fluffy and big eyed babies all over the Reserve.

We recently had a very exciting game drive – our own Olympic Games … well almost - there was a winner and a loser …. We witnessed the interaction between the Lion pride and the Buffalo herd.  The male Lion, our Lioness with their 4 cubs (about 7 months old) were on a Giraffe kill, filling up their stomachs when the three sub-adult lions (just over 2 years old) approached the kill to get their share of the meal.  ‘Mom’ and ‘Dad’ would not have it and chased the three youngsters (their own offspring) off the kill.  Then the Buffalo herd arrived and immediately chased these hungry sub-adult lions even further away from the carcass.  Then the whole Buffalo herd turned around and chased the Lion and Lioness including their cubs for about 400m through the bushes.  The sub adults lions couldn’t believe their luck and swiftly came back to feed.  The Buffalo herd were not happy with their ‘enemies’ around and the herd came back to chase the three young lions off.   This game carried on for about 2 hours and we just sat there with them, watched and enjoyed the scene.

We hope we can soon share some amazing game-drives with you too in the not too distant future!

Till we meet on the plains of Nambiti…
The Springbok Lodge Rangers ~  Lee, Ruan, Stephanie and Nicole

July at The Springbok Lodge

Howdy happy campers, our South African winter season is in full swing here at Nambiti Reserve and the grasses are all complimenting the brown savanna type earth tones as one would see in the likes of the National Geographic books. All this makes you feel like you in a different world out here. To coin a well-known phrase: “I’m loving it!”

The fire breaks are midway and the outstanding efforts of all who live and work here have saved us from some potentially disastrous runaway fires in the reserve the last month. I can’t wait until the green grasses start pushing thru which im sure will be any day now.
One of the things that I just love about Nambiti Reserve is that every day of the year holds something special.

Regular sightings of the four lion cubs are on the increase - which is great. They are all so cute and very inquisitive.

Aren’t the seasons of Nambiti comparable to our pride with cubs?
They are all different, but special in their own way.

Till we meet on the plains of Nambiti
The Springbok Lodge Rangers ~ Lee, Ruan, Stephanie and Nicole

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Ranger diaries June 2012

Winter has arrived; the grass is dry and shining golden in the warm winter sun. The trees are losing their leaves as the mornings and evenings are pretty chilly, offering a crystal clear sky. This is the perfect time to sit in front of a cosy fire and relax with a hot amarula-coffee or a glass of your favourite red wine after an exciting game drive.
The animals are enjoying the warm rays of the rising sun and are seen coming out into the open more often. This gives us even better sightings of the shyer species like the eland, oribi, duiker and genets.

We started our block-burns this week. This year the Reserve Management aims to burn about 40% of the reserve. This encourages new grass to grow stronger and faster and aids in riding of ticks and bush encroachments. Fires occurring naturally in the savannah are normally started by lightening (we prefer it a bit more controlled).
Controlled fires are a very important process in conservation. Old layers of grass and plant matter decompose very slowly, preventing the growth of new vegetation. The fire removes all the old, matter called ‘moribund’ and gives nutrients back to the ground in form of ash. This helps to strengthen the growth of high quality grasses and plants.

Our three sub-adult lions (now 2 years old) have finally gone off on their own and hardly ever meet up with their mom and dad. On the rare occasions that they do meet, the young males find themselves being challenged by their Father. The young female has turned out to be an excellent huntress to her impatient brothers, who are often seen messing up her hunts on a regular basis. It’s not surprising that she is going off on her own more often, leaving the two brothers to look after themselves.

The four new lion cubs (born in December 2011) are doing well and are growing up fast. Sightings have improved considerably as mom is not hiding them away. The four are quite adventurous and love playing and investigating around our game viewers.

The Elephant herd has migrated to the south of the reserve. We have had great sightings of the youngsters playing right here at Springbok Lodge. It is too cute to watch them pushing each other around; bathing in the sand and mud while dad (BFE) tries to keep an eye on his females as well as keep the 4 young bulls in place.

The buffalo herd has got a brand new addition - a new calf born about 3 weeks ago! We have seen the buffalo herd together with the Elephants. Some of the buffalo tried to ‘play’ with the “big grey” things, but were put into place very quickly by the elephants.

We look forward to sharing our amazing ‘backyard’ with you on your next visit.

The Springbok Lodge Rangers: Lee, Ruan, Stephanie and Nicole

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Ranger Diaries March 2012

Ranger Diaries March 2012

March was a very exciting month in the Reserve, with the season changes we are heading fast towards Autumn. The grass is slowly drying out, the evenings are getting rather nippy and we’ve had some wonderful afternoon lightning storms as well as spectacular sunsets over the bushveld.  Babies are growing fast and our game is in excellent condition and getting ready for the cold winter months, which are just around the corner!

We had excellent sightings over the last month.  Our Lion population is up to 11 as there were 4 new cubs born in December 2011. The mother is still hiding the cubs very well, but every now and then we get a glimpse of the cute little ones. The adult and sub adult lions guaranteed us great sightings on an almost daily basis. These three sub adult lions are getting independent and are showing that they are excellent hunters already. Watching them stalking a zebra is always an exciting sighting and we were able to witness a few stalk’s over the past weeks, some more successful than others.  

Our guests were very lucky, as one of the adult females came right up to our game viewer while roaring. To feel the vibration of a lions roar vibrating off your ‘soul’ is a totally awesome feeling and not something that we experience every day.

The Elephants have been enjoying the Sundays River for quite a time but have now moved to the centre of the reserve and we had great sightings of the little ones.
The 4 new bulls we received end of last year from Zimbabwe, seem to have settled in very well and made for some great game viewing. Every now and then one gets a bit cheeky and shows us who the boss of the bush is. 

The Buffalo herd is growing as we had 3 new arrivals over the past three months and the fluffy little calves are too cute for words. The lonely old bulls are still full of nonsense and guarantee us exciting sightings and a vehicle chase every now and then!

After all the terrible news about the rhinos poached countrywide, we are very lucky to have a healthy Rhino population. The dehorning done a while ago seems to have paid off and we have had magnificent sightings, most often of mothers with their calves.

We are looking forward to meeting you at this stunning Reserve WE CALL HOME.

The Springbok Lodge Rangers, Lee, Ruan and Nicole