With the days growing steadily warmer, it’s clear that summer is rapidly approaching. And the vegetation is readying itself for the occasion with an abundance of blossoming flowers. During the last two weeks the average temperature has hovered around 30ºC. That’s what we Africans like to call spring! As the seasons change, what strikes one most are the wonderful aromas the bush has to offer. Driving past the Acacia trees, Stink Sheppard’s bushes, Wild sage, and many other shrubs and trees that dot our landscape, is a truly heady experience.
We’re definitely heading towards the end of the dry season, but for the herbivores – especially the eland and kudu – that’s small consolation. While most of the animals are still in reasonable condition at this time of year, we’ll often come across a very thin looking impala, kudu or eland. The photo of the old eland bull shows the condition that some of the more mature individuals currently find themselves in. This old guy is working his way along the major riverine areas, where the vegetation is still dense and therefore makes for more nutritious feeding. He’s taking a big risk searching for food around here though, as these parts are also where the lions like to hunt and rest. I mentioned in a previous newsletter how the predators are literally picking the buck from the riverbeds like fruit from a tree. Warthogs have it a little easier though, as they often move into the camps to feed on the oasis of green pastures. And being omnivorous, they’re also not adverse to tucking into the carnivores’ leftovers.
Sightings of the big predators: leopards, lions, spotted hyenas and cheetah, have been good over the past two weeks. The female leopard and her three cubs are definitely the star attraction of the show, particularly as we manage to find them on an almost daily basis. On a couple of occasions I found the cubs hanging out in a large Mashatu tree, waiting patiently for their mom to fetch them and lead them back to the kill she’d made. In some areas these trees grow in close proximity to one another, and it’s really interesting to note how the little leopards will each go off into their own tree when given the opportunity.
We end this week’s update with some really good news. We’ve found the pack of Wild dogs again! This particular pack consists of four adults and five healthy looking pups. The pack’s alpha female looks to be in very good condition as well. And because they form part of our Northern Tuli Predator Project, we’ll be fitting a satellite collar onto one of the pack members. This will enable us to further our understanding of how these endangered carnivores function within the ecosystem. They have such massive home ranges that it’s often quite difficult to keep track of them, so the collar will definitely help in this regard.
See you out there,
PLEASE NOTE: This blog is still in it’s infancy stages so the Sightings maps, Predator maps and CyberDiary Archives aren’t up and running just yet. The Pete’s Pond is live however, so make sure to wander over there and see what the animals are up to.