Tag Archives: Cape Buffalo

Khotavuxika / June 2013 Safari Journal

Giraffe

Khotavuxika / June 2013The weather: The last of the rains has fallen and the leaves are starting to change to beautiful shades of orange and red and covering the ground below them. We have had the most glorious weather during June and we are still waiting for a really cold snap to arrive. Although there is a definite nip in the air in the early mornings and evenings, the daytime temperatures have still risen to between 25c & 34c.   June 1

Wildlife: As for the wildlife goes, they are all here in large numbers on their top form, fighting, mating, hunting and rearing young, we were  entertained for the whole month of this report. Khotavuxika June

LEOPARD (PANTHERA PARDUS)

This month’s Leopard viewing has been exceptional….

KHASHANE MALE AND DAYONE MALE

Khashane male and Dayone male

The dispute between these two males continues with neither of the males is backing down. They have met few times this month again growling, walking parallel displaying strength to one another.

The furious Khashane male…. About 70 percent of his territory is outside our traversing area but we have been seeing frequent now as he tries to keep our resident male, Dayone away from his territory.

Khashane maleAfter 2 days of matching around with Khashane male, Dayone went on to Dam 3 female and stole her hard earned meal, an impala carcass and didn’t even share.

Dayone male

HLABANKUNZI AND CUB

Hlabankunzi and cub

Hlabankunzi and cub

This mother leopard is covering great distances in search of food, patrolling and marking her territory. The cub is sometimes left alone for two days, she have become more comfortable being alone and started working on her hunting skill stalking anything and everything that moves.

Hlabankunzis cub

These long distance hunting sessions often result on her losing carcasses to hyenas. She will hunt and kill an impala, then put it under some bushes as she doesn’t like putting her prey up a tree like most leopards, she will then walk far to fetch the cub only to return and find that the hyenas have stolen the carcasses.

RAVENSCOURT FEMALE

Sadly the great mother has moved on…..

Ravenscourt female

Sadly the great mother has moved on…..

Ravenscourt got into a confrontation with the male leopard, Nyeleti who was set to kill her cub, she gave her all and successfully saved her cub but unfortunately she lost her life to this male. She will be missed dearly, we will forever cherish great moments were shared and the young she raised will save as reminder of how great mother she was.

Tlangisa female

Tlangisa femaleOur beloved young leopard, Tlangisa was seen few times during the month of this report , she seem to be shifting her territory more east to an area that is little more open and is frequently traversed by the game viewers allowing to find her easier. She is not so young any more in fact we think she is pregnant. We found her one morning after impalas uttered their alarm calls suggesting that there was a predator in the area, upon investigation she was found resting on a termite mound. The Othawa lionesses having heard the alarm calls of impalas also arrived in the area forcing the leopard to find safety on high branches of marula tree.

LION (PANTHERA LEO)

SELATI COALITION

Selati Coalition

The coalition has given us wonderful viewing throughout the month. The male with injured ribs was battling again at the beginning of the month but he seems to be recovering now.

Selati Coalition Buffalo

Some of our guests were lucky to witness an amazing sighting of the Selati males killing a buffalo cow. The males quickly brought the buffalo down, we presume they broke her neck, but the herd of about 400 buffalo turned and chased the lions off their fallen sister. Despite their best efforts the cow was unable to stand up. The Bulls fiercely held the lions at bay for about an hour but it was only a matter of time before the herd had to move on and lions claimed their hard earn price.   One of the cow taking the last glance at the lions and their kill, relactantly moving away as she had to stay with the herd otherwise she would fall victim as well.

Selati coalition buffalo kill

The one Othawa lioness with no cubs, the one that we believed was pregnant was seen with one of the Selati boys mating, this male made clear that he wasn’t sharing her with anyone not even his brothers.

Othawa lioness

OTHAWA PRIDE

After some few months monitoring Ottawa pride’s movement one can securely say that this animals have settle in our area or maybe for while. They are becoming more comfortable and started moving south-east into Ximhungwe pride territory. Their eight cubs are well feed and growing fast.

Othawa prideOn one afternoon we tracked them for couple of hours before finding them resting after having gorged themselves of nyala bull they killed. The cubs were playing with their full belies on the nearby fallen down marula tree.   The pride also came across a dead hippo which they fed on it for couple of days before the salati males join them to feast on large meal. The hippo had some huge puncher wounds that seem to be from a battle with another hippo.Othawa pride cubs

Othawa pride 2

XIMHUNGWE PRIDE

Ximhungwe prideThe pride have been successful in their hunting they have started to move further in the northern part of their territory, kudu and zebra is some of the thing they killed during the month of this report. Unfortunately the Selati males have killed one of the cubs, leaving 5 cubs. It is unusual that the male will kill their own cubs, here is what is we think is reason of this behaviour. The pride have suffered losing cubs to pride males on few times in the days of Mapogo coalition of male, they now don’t trust any male lion, they hardly ever interact with the Selati males, as of recent they ran when confront these males. On many occasion the males don’t even follow them but on one situation they chased them got hold of the cub and killed it, instinctively. We hope the situation change, which is the lionesses stop running and accept the Selati male as pride males otherwise the result will be dreadful to the pride.

Ximhungwe pride cubs

ELEPHANT (LOXODONTA AFRICANA)

lephant (Loxodonta africana)

We have had some exceptional and regular sightings of elephants. As the bush dries the animals covers long distances in a day in search of better food. Elephants at the waterhole are awesome to watch; there are lots of calves at the moment always full of energy as they play fight pushes each other around the area.

lephant (Loxodonta africana)

CAPE BUFFALO (SYNCERUS CAFFER)

Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer)Buffalo viewing have been constant in recent months, with a number of small herds of bulls scatted around our traversing area. The large herd was here with us on few occasions .One of the most thrilling sighting is to see a herd of about 500 buffalo heading towards a waterhole. We also had great viewing opportunities of the solitary bulls that always look very angry, stares at you like you owe them money.

CHEETAH (ACINONYX JUBATUS)

 

Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus)We have had some great cheetah viewing in the last couple of months, we been seeing males coming through our traversing area. This month we even got more excited when the mother and two cubs crossed to our reserve. The mother appeared very nervous, we later heard a leopard calling in the area which she would have sense earliar. She moved way completely out of the area with her two beatiful cubs,a smart move on her side becouse given the oppoturnity the leopard will kill the cubs or even the mother.

 

More than the big five…..

Have you ever wondered why the enormous hippopotamus or a giraffe, such a magnificent animal that always represent Africa in many way isn’t a member of Africa’s big five? The Big 5, a household term, which animals and why or how were they selected? Read on…Repeat Guest

The term Big 5 originated from the long-gone days of hunting safari days of Africa. They were the most dangerous animals to hunt and were therefore regarded as the ultimate trophy. They include the Elephant, Rhino, Lion, Leopard and Buffalo. The buffalo is regarded to be the most dangerous for the simple reason that it does not have a mock or warning charge. The other animals will first give you a sign of aggression, to indicate that they are not happy with your presence, before initiating a full charge. When you see a buffalo coming, the chances are it won’t stop. The problem lies more with the solitary bulls or “Dugga Boys”. “Dugga” meaning mud for they spend most of their time in mud wallows or concealed amongst the reeds on the water’s edge. For this reason, they are often disturbed at close quarters and this can result in catastrophic consequences. They seem to release a huge amount of adrenalin when charging, rendering them difficult to stop, thus have killed more hunters than any animals in southern Africa. Today we choose to shoot with our cameras and they animals have become accustomed to vehicles and people in it providing us with some great photographs to hang on our walls. Giraffe is vulnerable when lying down there are normally weary and will stand up when sense any danger but this male below couldn’t be bothered about us.

INY Dagga boy HULKIn and around camp

The water hole in front of the lodge has become a popular drink spot for lots of animals. From the comfort of your room you may see a dazzle of zebra coming, journey of giraffes and waterbuck and of course impalas always come for a drink. The Selati male lions also wondered through the camp on one morning always exciting to see, reminding us that they see this whole area as their territory, we are the intruders not them.

We have been having lots of repeat guests at Inyati and it is wonderful to see you all coming back.

That’s all from us this month. We thank you for spending few moments with us in the wilderness, sharing our experiences and joining our adventures. We are committed to keep you updated. Please follow our Facebook page for daily updates.

A Journey With Giraffe by Keith Jenkinson

Africa is home to many iconic animals, and people flock from all corners of the globe to see and study these animals in their natural habitat. At first visitors are enthralled by the so called “big 5”, the usual suspects – one could say.

The term big five was first used by President Theodore Rooseveldt who often hunted in southern Africa and as a result grew to respect the dangers the Lion, Cape Buffalo, African Elephant, Leopard and Rhinoceros present to hunters. These animals are either: large, tough, cunning or ferocious, all traits that make them extremely dangerous if pursued with malice intent. In the safari or eco-tourism industry this is often very far from the truth as the big five we view have for many years not been hunted and the aggression that the hunters of old experienced has now turned to acceptance and, I would like to imagine, trust. Thus the
formerly frothing, head swinging, beady eyed buffalo has now become the relaxed ruminant allowing vehicles and their occupants a close view for that perfect out of Africa sunset. Don’t get me wrong, any of the big five can quickly undergo a personality change if mistreated or by getting carelessly close on foot, all I am getting at is that the term big five is often the reason for visitors to Africa arriving with an expectation that is far less than Africa can offer .

A visit to Africa is more spiritual and holistic than many a marketer would sell, simple things like the smell of the soil after the first rain, the colours that no wide angle lens or painters brush has been able to capture and the cool evening breeze that no health
therapist or spa can attempt to recreate. These are the things that combine to make Africa unique. There is also an animal unique to Africa that can capture the imagination of many without adrenaline or blood lust, the Giraffe.

Humans have always been fascinated by Giraffe, many etchings depicting giraffe are found throughout Africa proving that humans have been enthralled by Giraffe from the early stone-age.

You will often hear guides comment on how their guests have calmed down and relaxed after their first drive.

The highly strung A-type personality can forget his all-conquering ways and just relax as the bush and its rhythms are
not affected by the business world and it stresses. Africa has a way to unknowingly force its visitors into this ancient rhythm, and an animal that in my opinion epitomizes this is the Giraffe.

Giraffe evolved from a smaller horse like animal that frequented the forests. There are only two members of the Giraffe family in existence today, the giraffe and the Okapi that occurs in the rain forests of central Africa and surprisingly was only described in 1901. The Okapi is also very similar looking to the giraffes’ forest dwelling ancestors.

Okapia johnstoni,

The giraffe is an engineering marvel and has many fascinating traits to deal with it’s at times cumbersome height.
The reason for it evolving into the World’s tallest mammal and largest ruminant is simple, it is socially aloof and likes things to itself, it has thus evolved to be the tallest animal in Africa that has a band of approximately two meters of leaves mostly to itself, mostly only because they share with elephants at this level. Exclusivity comes at a price though, having your head in the clouds means your heart needs to work extremely hard to fuel the brain with blood, a giraffes heart is about 60 centimetres (2 feet) long and can weigh up to ten kilograms. This heart is so powerful that the arteries split into a delta of elastic vessels that bring the blood pressure down before damaging the fine capillaries in the brain. This system is called a Rete mirable and is also found in many other ruminants, another function of the delta of vessels is to transfer heat to intertwined blood vessels not flowing to the brain, a kind of biological radiator.

The Zulu name for Giraffe is ndlulamiti (ndlula-pass; miti-trees) this beautifully descriptive name points out another problem giraffe are faced with. If you are taller than many of the trees your access to shade is limited and overheating of your brain in a sweltering African summer could be fatal. A giraffes ears and head is very light in colour, this reflects a lot of the heat from the sun and acts as a beacon to other
giraffe, both male and female giraffe have “horns”, these horns are an
extension of the scull that gives the cranium more surface area and more
surface area means more heat can be radiated from the brain!

Weight and the distribution thereof is yet another challenge for giraffe, a giraffe bull can weigh more than a ton, and that on stilts. As a result giraffe have only two gaits a sauntering walk and a gallop. When a giraffe is walking the right and left legs work in unison unlike the scissor like action of other ungulates.
This swagger largely contributes to the animals well documented grace. When in a gallop the front legs and back legs kick and push together in long strides that look slow but due to leverage propel the animal forward in excess of 50km/h. It is speculated that the Genus and common English name “Giraffe” was derived from an Arabic word Zirapha that translates to moving with haste or walking swiftly.

Giraffe have only 7 vertebrae in the neck

The weight of the head and neck has also led so some interesting physical adaptions. The head and vertebrae are very dense and heavy and as you can see in the image, Giraffe have only 7 vertebrae in the neck, the same amount as a human. A giraffe has a very strong tendon that runs below the skin on the back of the neck, this tendon is under  constant strain as it short and wide thus being able to hold up the neck and head automatically. A giraffe has to strain to drop its head but the weight of the head and neck put stain on the tendon and keeps the head and neck up an a natural position with little to no energy being wasted.

Giraffe have phenomenal eyesight, together with their height this makes them the periscopes of the bushveld, many animals such as Impala and Zebra will associate with giraffe as they rely on the giraffe to spot predators at a distance. Rangers often also use giraffe as sentries as a group of giraffe staring intently in the same direction is often and indication of the whereabouts of a predator.
There is actually and Egyptian hieroglyph that depicts a giraffe, it is said to signify a prophecy or future vision, this most probably due to the animals astounding eyesight.

Inyati camp and the surrounding area is a preferred winter feeding ground for giraffe. The Sand River is one of the few rivers in the Greater Kruger National Park to hold water throughout the year and trees with deep tap root systems such as Knob-Thorns and Bush-willows bear green leaves well into late winter.  A journey of about 16 bulls is often seen on the clearings in front of camp in the afternoons. Groups of cows and their calves are often a highlight of guided walks as giraffe will allow you
surprisingly close if approached correctly. These graceful turrets often complete a day’s game viewing.