Archive for the ‘Wildlife’ Category

The unusual Tail

March 23rd, 2010, posted in Wildlife

What’s unusual about this Tail? Well, it’s short…

zebra on the left lost half its tail

“ The one that got away” becomes the talking point of an open-landrover, wildlife safari, the question asked on a game walk “What happened to that Zebra’s tail?”

It is in these moments that the field guide or game ranger must decide to tell the truth or make up a story to entertain the guests.

I don’t know why this Zebra has a stump tail, I would guess it escaped some sort of attack, but I had no one to ask, perhaps it lost the remainder due to an infection, the possibilities are endless and though this animal species is often seen on the African Plains, I decided to dedicate this blog post to the Zebra with almost no tail making it an unusual sighting, even though the zebra is a common sighting!

Pangolin sighting

March 9th, 2010, posted in Wildlife

Living your life in the African wild means your chances of seeing unusual sightings is better than when taking a short safari!  More often than not these scarce sightings take place on an unscheduled game walk, or whenever you do not have a camera nearby.  It as though these unbelievable moments are kept sacred, it is more than ”  Murphy’s law” it’s as though the bush is sharing a secret with you!

You can imagine our excitement when one of the guests out on a game drive with Pieter saw something running through the grass. Pieter looked in the direction she was pointing and saw a Pangolin making its way through the long grass! They are solitary animals and mainly nocturnal, with occasional daytime activity making this sighting extra special! What is even better, is that this time cameras were available to capture this uncommon species.

The Ietermagô (Afrikaans for Pangolin) is distinguished by other mammals by its covering of overlapping horny plates. The eyes are small and the ears are just slits in the side of the head.  The legs are short and heavily built; the forefeet have a nail on the first toe, curved claws up to 5cm long on the second, third and fourth toeas and  a short claw on the fifth. All five toes on each hind foot have a small nail-like claw.  The tail is long and heavy.

The Pangolin eats ants and sometimes termites. They hide during the day in Aardvark or springhare burrows, holes or under piles of vegetation. It locates ants’ nests by smell, scratches them open with its claws and licks the ants with its long sticky tongue.

What makes it unusual:

  • The Pangolin walks on its hind legs; the front feet rarely touch the ground.
  • It has a well-developed anal gland produces a stinking secretion.
  • Pangolins have no teeth; they grind their food in a muscular gizzard.
  • When threatened a pangolin rolls up with its head protected by its tail.
  • Young ride crossways on the base of their mothers tail and when they are older, they ride lengthways on her back.

Why we are sharing this safari sighting with you:

Although Pangolin’s are widespread, they are uncommon. Pangolins are exceptionally sensitive to insecticides.  Their habit of rolling up when threatened leads to their getting tangled in, and killed by, electrified game fences. Pangolin scales are sought after for traditional medicine, and poaching is a major cause of death.

Red Data Book: Vulnerable, CITES: Appendix II.

To book your wildlife safari, please complete this enquiry form.

African Wild Cat Update

January 20th, 2010, posted in Wildlife

Our African Wild Cat Update due to popular demand:
Day 4 in the life of custodians to an African Wild cat kitten means I get to tell you only a few basics…

african wild cat

Our African Wild cat is settling in well, due to the relocation we need keep him indoors for about 6 weeks, Joshua is freaking out! We are opposed to cages and animals kept in cages and this almost 6year old is letting us know how much he disapproves of all of this – a good thing!
This African Wild cat is proving to be just that – wild, but beautiful and that’s the way we like it, although on a cool rainy day it does not mind to sleep for about 10 minutes on Joshua’s lap, much to his delight!
It has discovered its tail and sometimes paw-pounces onto his tail, tassels from a chair throw seem to be his favourite to paw! We have placed a tree stump into the room and will watch and wait for it to claw it.
For now, we are observing it’s grooming habits which for such a tiny kitten are quite exemplary! He licks his paws then uses his paws to clean his face, then licks his paws again to clean his paws that were just cleaning his face, then he grooms his back and side and hind legs, getting distracted every so often by his tail which he just has to grab with a free paw! Cute and clever! That I say because of its toilet training; mother-taught or self taught it only uses the litter tray! (Wish potty-training children was that easy!)

An African Wild cat

January 18th, 2010, posted in Wildlife

An African Wildcat has joined us in the Nyala breeding camp next to the reserve! Although it is only 7 weeks old, it has an instinctive wild cat reaction to us – hissing and spitting when it sees us.

I have a list of “toys” we should make to stimulate its natural hunting instinct and we’ll be learning as we go along, following Pieter’s ability to read animals and all the advice I can get from my sister, a vetinary nurse!

We are on day 2 and so far so cute!

reddish hair on the backs of the ears

The first time I saw an African Wild Cat, was whilst we were on honeymoon in the Kalahari National Park. The African Wild Cats of the Kgalakgadi National Park are fat and worth watching for hours as they stalk and pounce on the readily available “vluit rotte” or Brants whistling rat. Now, to have the privilege of watching a young African Wild cat grow, observe its behaviour and be a part of its life is an honour and just another blessing we as a family have received from living in the African bush.

The African Wild Cat, Felis silvestris is similar in build an form to a domestic cat, variable in colour, but backs of ears rich reddish-brown and its vertical body stripes can be distinct to very faint, great, that helps!!! Ok, so the ear-colour is important!!! It is generally longer in the leg and larger too.

Why it is threatened: in some areas it has bred with domestic and feral cats, so its bloodline needs to be pure! They are primarily nocturnal and its food consists mainly of small rodents and birds are taken readily, occasionally the African Wild Cat will take reptiles and invertebrates, but recordings of mammals up to the size of hares and the young of small antelope have been recorded, making it quite an impressive little hunter!

joshua sits with wild cat

re-uniting a cheetah cub with its mother

December 30th, 2009, posted in Wildlife

We are actualy a hands-off family, but we are also human and some times we are blessed by the impulsive decisions we make, this bushtrail post is about the eventful afternoon we shared with a baby cheetah…

cheetah and cubs

female cheetah with 3 of her cubs

Our story starts with an explanation of how the cheetah cub got lost. We live in a Nyala-breeding camp adjacent to the game reserve. The warthogs had dug under the fence and the very hungry cheetah thought it best to crawl under and take her cubs to a place where she could find food for her also very hungry, meat-eating cubs.

When the game ranger found her, she had killed one of the female Nyala. A vet was called to dart the cheetah family and take them back home, (we weren’t home at the time we went birding at Nylsvley). We are told one of the cubs made a dash before the vet could dart it, only the minimum amount of drug was used so they had to quickly transport them back into the reserve. They found the little cub but, by the time they took her to the others it was dark. We guess she did not locate her mother and walked back to the last place they had been together as a family – the nyala breeding camp…

Meanwhile, the next day, Pieter was helping me to set up the irrigation system to water our vegetable garden when he heard a cry, I was singing at the time and he asked me to listen, that’s when we heard the call of a creature coming from the Nyala-breeding camp. Pieter looked towards the sound and spotted the cub, only then did I see it!

Pieter ran into the house and grabbed a blanket and I took two towels, we set off to try and catch this little wild cat. As we approached her she ran down the hill and Pieter followed closely behind – I was amazed at the acceleration of the cheetah cub even at such a young age! Fortunately she chose a relatively open area and tired. Although cheetahs are the fastest animals on earth, they do not have the stamina to keep up a pro-longed chase, and this is why Pieter was able to catch up to her!

He threw the blanket over her and carefully wrapped her up in it, making sure no claws or teeth could lash out at him. We placed her into the back of our bakkie and took her back to the game reserve. When we got within 20 metres of the cheetah mother, Pieter took the towels and lifted the rather timid-looking little cub. Well, it growled and hissed and tried to bite and scratch Pieter, proving to be rather ferocious.

The Scene it made and loud alarm screams called its mother to attention, and when Pieter released the cub, the mother was only about 10 metres away – at that moment she called out to the cub, it stopped running turned and responded to her call. The young cheetah cub was calmed by her mothers gentle licking and was now re-united with its mother, brothers and sister.

Pieter checked on the family today and they all seem relaxed and happy!

So, even though we do not like fences and human contact with animals, this time, our intervention helped a lost cub find its way home.

cheetah cubs

cheetah, witwater game reserve

cheetah and her cubs

Four cubs and their mother

Accommodation options on this reserve are at Witwater Safari Lodge or self-catering Chalets

Beautiful Impala

December 10th, 2009, posted in Wildlife

I think Impala are beautiful!

Impala and lamb resting

Impala and lamb resting

pretty buck

pretty buck

In my opinion, Impala are the most beautiful of all the antelope in Southern Africa, they are not cutesy small, nor are they robustly handsome, they are the perfect size, have beautiful faces and proportionate colouring.

In December, you will find many young Impala, born at the beginning of our summer and they are not only beautiful, but these antelope are adorable. You will find these buck to be in large numbers in most game reserves, so photographing them and observing their habits will be easy.

No matter how many I see, I appreciate them all!

Our brief visit to Balule Camp in Kruger, allowed us to see many Impala, some young male rams were horn wrestling, some baby impala were running and jumping, similar to the way young sheep lambs do!

young impala

young impala

beautiful antelope

beautiful antelope

impala

Rhino rubs

October 30th, 2009, posted in Wildlife

One sunny summer morning we took a game walk and watched some sleepy rhino. The young calf walked up to his mother and tried to suckle while she was still lying down! Somewhere in that intimate moment the youngster must have mentioned to his mother that he was rather itchy.

Take a look at these pics to see what we saw…

sleeping rhino

sleeping rhino

rhino-wakeup

sneaking-a-drink

sneaking-a-drink

rhino finds a rubbing post

rhino finds a rubbing post

calf tries to copy mom

calf tries to copy mom

aah! that's better

aah! that's better

cheetah cubs

October 19th, 2009, posted in Wildlife

The early morning bush trail was all about plants and insects but a strange sound coming from a thick bush caught Pieter’s attention. Using his binoculars he scanned the bush and found that the female cheetah  (that they had followed the previous week) was now a mother.  She had given birth to four cubs.

peering through the bush but not getting too close

peering through the bush but not getting too close

cheetah cub's head (left)

cheetah cub's head (left)

These pictures are not the best, but give you a glimpse of the surprise the guests got that morning!  We’ll be sure to post some better shots a little later…

For now, I have a renewed peace of mind to take me through another week, knowing new life is always beautiful!

checking up on pregnant cheetah

October 16th, 2009, posted in Wildlife

As you know cheetahs are very special and when it’s a pregnant cheetah, well, that’s even better! This morning’s game walk was more of a mission to locate her and make sure all is well! Not only was the weather perfect and a slight breeze blowing in our favour but the air was clear so we could see for miles and we found some Hyena tracks too!

view of the waterberg bush and mountains

view of the waterberg bush and mountains

large hyeana tracks in soft sand

large hyena tracks in soft sand

cheetah with her impala

cheetah with her impala

old bull buffalo found dead

October 14th, 2009, posted in Wildlife

Something unexpected is always seen during a bush walk, but this time, it was not so nice.  An old Buffalo Bull’s remains were found on the ridge between Goergap and Witwater.  He died of old age and nature has a way of dealing with it’s wild creatures.  We are sorry old boy but glad you found a quiet place to lay your head and avoided being taken down by one of the stronger wild beasts.

what was left of the buffalo

what was left of the buffalo

the remains of an old buffalo bull

the remains of an old buffalo bull

 
 
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