Tag Archives: Kruger National Park

Safari greetings from Inyati Game Lodge Rangers

This month has presented us with huge fluctuations in temperature as pressure systems clash in the never-ending ebb and flow off seasonal change.

The temperature gauge has passed 40 degrees celsius already, one day late in October it crept up to 42 degrees celsius (107.6 Fahrenheit), this prefrontal heat wave was followed by a cool and rainy day of about 20 degrees celsius.

The variations in temperature translated to diversity in animal behavior.  The piping hot days drew huge herds of Elephant to the water to quench their thirst and cool down in the waters of the Sand River. As Elephants, like many animals, do not sweat and their substantial surface area is covered in thick hide that bakes in the sun making temperature regulation a challenging feat.

The Buffalo bulls made the pan in front of camp their home and spent the hot days wallowing in the cool mud that in turn cakes on their bodies and assists in removing ecto-parasites and serves as a natural bush sunscreen.

The predators tend to find shade and lay low on hot days, only emerging after sunset when cool breezes wash over parched bushveld.

The days that the temperature dropped were accompanied by some welcome sprinkles of rain, just enough to sustain the green flush of grass and leaves after the winter. Even though we didn’t have any significant showers October produced a respectable 43 mm of rain.

The cool rainy days gave the predators an opportunity to extend their hunting hours. After the rain, the moist ground cover muffles foot falls and erratic wind conditions, cloaks their scent and sounds, making stalking prey an easier task.

Our resident leopards have still been passing through camp, creating unique viewing opportunities, and keeping the Nyala herd on their toes.

The Tumbela males have settled with the Othawa pride and have been spending a lot of time close to camp. As the males settled, they have now been vocalizing every night in an attempt to maintain their new territory. Magical evenings around the fire with lions roaring in the background have become a regular dinner treat at Inyati.

The game viewing in camp continues to delight staff and guests. Our local Nyala ewes have had lambs and the little “bambies” have quickly relaxed around staff and guests. A large herd of Impala spends its time in camp in the afternoon, if the leopards allow.

Misava, one of our male Leopards, was able to kill one of the Impala in camp. He dragged the carcass to the comfort of the veranda of Room 11 and spent a few days lounging on the daybed. We had guests that were supposed to check in to the room, but we had to move them as the house keepers at Inyati embrace many challenges but cleaning up after big cats is not one of them.  Once again, the animals dictate what a happens at Inyati, as it should be.

We have refurbished the river deck in camp. The old wooden surface has been replaced with ecologically friendly recycled plastic composite. The result is a beautiful new deck from which our guests can enjoy the best view in the Reserve

Bush beat…….

The Lion population has remained stable this month. The Othawa pride and cubs are still the dominant force in the area, and the little ones have been thriving. The Lioness’ have made giraffe and buffalo kills so their hunting prowess seems to be progressing to larger species.

The Ximhungwe Lioness seems to be pregnant, and her daughter has rejoined her mother after a bit of a walkabout.

The Mungen pride is still roaming the south and killing the odd Buffalo. The two Tumbela males are still dominating the area and keeping their cubs safe.

The Leopard viewing has been amazing as per the norm at Inyati. The territorial dynamics with the males seem to have settled with Nyeleti occupying the east and Ravenscourt and Euphorbia setting south and north of the Sand River. Misava has accepted his status as a vagabond in the area. He is considerably smaller than the other males in the area so it seems unlikely that this situation will change.

Ravenscourt met up with Misava in Inyati camp, the large male lured by the scent of Misavas kill, and he once again put Misava in his place and chased him east.

Thamba is still holding the fort in the south.

The exciting news for the month is that we presume that both Khokovela and Basile have had cubs. Not one of the den sites have been established or viewed as the cubs are still too young.

Tlangisa and her cubs are doing well, and it seems she will again be able to raise these cubs to independence.

Species feature……

The humble Impala is probably the most overlooked mammal on safari in the Sabi Sand, and understandably so. There are thousands of them, and after the third herd of impala one can forgive people thinking “just another impala”.

Impala are plentiful indeed, but this is the very reason one should appreciate the species. Impala are probably the most well-adapted ungulate in the Greater Kruger National park.  They make some very simple adaptions to life to be able to thrive. Impala are one of the only hooved animals that practice allogrooming, they simply groom each other as well as themselves. This removes ectoparasites such as ticks that in turn can carry an array of diseases.

Impala are selective in their feeding habits utilizing only the most nutrient rich plants species to maintain their condition. They also adapt their feeding habits seasonally. In the summer when grasses are juicy and sweet due to our summer rainfall, the impala predominantly graze. The nutrient yield from grasses is much higher than leaves so again good nutrient intake is maximized. Grasses are difficult to digest though, but the Impala have again improvised. In simple terms, the lining of the gut increases in thickness and surface area and the pH drops slightly to improve efficiency. The nutrient yield still outweighs the extra energy that the digestive track is using and again the Impala is ahead of the game.

In winter, as the bush dries out so do the grasses and Impala adapt by starting to browse leaves off the trees and the forbs. Dicots generally have deeper root systems and trees can tap into groundwater which means this browse is available even during the dry season. Leaves are easier to digest and the digestive tract changes to use less energy and make up for a lower nutrient yield from leaves. Now we see, these animals are more than cannon fodder for predators.

The core elements to thrive have been covered by the species, they look after themselves well, so parasites and other nasties are kept at a minimum due to a strict hygiene regime.

Their diet is optimized by intelligent feeding habits as well as physiological adaptions. And they stay in shape by moving around all the time to find food and water and, yes, being alert 24/7 so as not to get eaten.

The entire herd is always vigilant and skittish and their senses are well developed so predators are detected, most of the time. If a predator is observed or even smelt, the individuals and herd will sound an alarm to warn other herd members and let the predator know it has been detected.

Due to the Impalas impressive physique, they are very agile and are generally able to leave a detected predator in their dust if there is no element of surprise on the predator’s side.

The Impala’s reproduction is also a very streamlined and efficient process. In May when our days start to shorten as we head into winter in Southern Africa the shortening day stimulates a testosterone boost in male Impala. This testosterone boost makes for significant behavioral changes referred to as the rutt. Males will start becoming territorial driving other males out of the area with head dropping and snorting and running after fleeing intruders. If males are evenly matched ,violent fights may occur, but the lesser males usually will pick life and limb over territory and back off. Dominant males also create territorial beacons by defecating and urinating in middens in the periphery of their territories. These create a boundary of scent and sight that need to be adhered to by lesser males. Even unruly females that dare to stray away from the herd during the rutt are also quickly escorted back to the harem.

All this flexing, fighting, posturing and herding means less time to feed and more energy used, other males are thus able to oust dominant males from time to time but it is still the “crème de la crème” that are in charge. This ensures that only the best genes are allowed to filter into the next generation of impala. Impala ewes tend to synchronize their cycles and this in turn results in most of the fertilization happening at a similar time.

Impala ewes have a 6–7-month gestation that results in a mass birthing of lambs in late October into early November. It is often said that Impala have the ability to delay the birth of their calves until after the first rains. This is most likely a fallacy fueled by naturalists noticing the Impalas’ uncanny synchronization with its environment. The Impala simply get their timing spot on due to the system mentioned above. Early births are possible if early rains lead to better condition of the ewes that could lead to more rapid fetal development. If rains are late and ewes lose condition, they could re- absorb a fetus or abandon still born or weak calves, that are rarely if ever seen by humans.

Our first report of a calf being born was late in October and by the end of the month many healthy little calves were frolicking in the herds.

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.

Hope to see you soon! Keith and the Inyati team.

.

October bushtales

Safari greetings……
 
As temperatures slowly rise and the humidity increases, we have had the first few sprinkles for the season. These very light downpours driven mostly by the temperature drops brought about by the last cold fronts washing over the lowveld.
The Natal Mahogany trees in camp are flowering in anticipation of the new season and the camp is filled with the sweet scent of spring in the early morning and late afternoons. All the flowering trees have attracted bees and birds, and birds feeding on the bees. The result is a beautiful cacophony of Bird calls as the birds shake off their winter slumber and prepare for mating and a time of plenty.

The impala ewes are all starting to show clear signs of pregnancy, with little pot bellies nurturing developing lambs. The impalas have certainly benefitted from the previous rainy season, and it seems that the rate of conception is up to the impressive norm. Research has indicated that up to 98% of ewes over two years old can conceive, this certainly seems to be the case and we look forward to a massive recruitment in November.

The change in season and a bit of precipitation has caused a slight flush of grass and the hardier fast growing tree species are budding, many of the animals that were utilizing Inyati’s garden for grazing and browsing have reluctantly dispersed, leaving the resident Inyala to rule the roost again.

The elephants that did their best to consume the garden in the winter months, tend not to visit the lodge as frequently, to the delight of the ground keeping staff.
We have had amazing lion viewing from camp as the Othawa pride hardly ever move away from the abundant food source that the Sand River provides. They killed a massive Kudu bull in front of camp and numerous impalas and even a buffalo just west of Inyati.

The resident leopard have reacted to the lions presence around Inyati and we have seen less of them in camp. They do still pass through, but they no longer have the luxury of lazing on the lawn as their larger more dominant competitors scent linger in the air.
An old buffalo bull has been spending evenings between the river and the camp as the soft grasses on the banks of the river are more manageable for his weary molars. He seems to be blind in one eye and as a result has given many a ranger the scare of his life on the way back to the staff village. The old boy simply stops and listens to whatever is approaching and by the time a flashlight reveals his presence he is often at very close quarters. Luckily only egos have thus far been bruised.

Bush beat…….
The Othawa pride as mentioned is doing very well. The six little cubs are growing at a rapid pace as their mothers and aunt keep providing meals and keeping their little bellies bulging.

The one Tumbela male lion are also benefiting from the Othawa lioness’ hunting prowess, and the one male is now developing an impressive strawberry blonde mane. He has also proven to be a very patient father, by lion standards, often letting cubs clamber and play on him. But cubs are often reminded of his status with a snarl and a metered swat.

His brother is still battling with his leg injury, but he is managing to keep up with the pride and shares the meals provided. Let’s hope his condition keeps improving as we head into the rainy season.
The leopard Tlangisa and both her cubs are doing well. She still needs to manage killing and avoiding the Tsalala lioness and at times the one Tumbela male lion.
On one occasion she made a kill and the lions arrived shortly after as they respond to the alarm call emitted by impala. Tlangisa spotted the lions closing in and quickly dragged her kill through a thicket to reach a tree to hoist it, in the process she sustained a bad cut to her right back leg. She was able to larder the kill out of reach of the lions and the scavenging lions moved off during the night.

The following morning Tlangisa was found with her cubs by the Sand River, she led the two cubs to the kill, quite precariously hoisted but safe. The cubs managed to feed on the kill, even though it was hoisted as high as Tlangisa could go, on a thin limb of a knob thorn tree. The cubs acrobatic and balancing skills were on display as they fed and managed not to fall. 
After this encounter, Tlangisa moved into her normal haven, a lush drainage line with a myriad of tributaries. The drainage line supplies her with ample structure and cover to hide her kills form the lions and keep her cubs safe. She was found on an impala kill in this drainage and we are happy to report that her injury healed well and hardly broke her stride.

Staying with leopards both Basile and Khokovela are pregnant, and we are monitoring their movements very closely. Khokovela seems to have shifted her territory west, further away from Nyeleti and embracing Ravenscourts domain, and her natal territory, once again.

The end of the dry season sees a die off grassy thickets that usually conceal the smaller cats and creatures. We have had some great sightings of Honey Badgers, Mellers Mongooses, and Servals of late.

A very special find was an African wild Cat den site.  The mother and her little kitten found refuge in an old termite mound in a clearing .This allowed Rangers to get to see the pair without disturbing them. Roger managed to get this amazing shot of the kitten.

Special feature……

Humans have used fire to manipulate our environment for centuries. The ability to manipulate and harness fire may well have paved the way to our domination of the planet, whether this is a positive thing is a debate for a campfire and many bottles of wine.

Conservationists in Africa have also used fire as a management tool for many years and research is ongoing into fire regimes best suited for the many different habitats in Southern Africa. This overview only skims the surface of these intricacies in order not to put you to sleep.
The theory behind burning as a land management tool is to simulate natural occurrences as far as possible. Historically vast tracts of land used to burn in the late winter, ignited by humans or even lighting strikes, fueled by hot dry winds and tinder box like vegetation. These fires were allowed to burn unhindered by modern fire breaks, roads, crops, or villages. If there was enough fuel and conditions suited, it would burn.

Fire is known to promote the growth of certain species of grass, especially grasses that tend to be more palatable to animals. It would seem grasses have thus adapted to fire under the correct circumstances. Animals tend to have preference for certain species of grass due to digestibility and palatability, or they just taste good. So, these grasses are grazed heavily and tend to diminish in number if many animals are in the area. The unpalatable, less yummy species start dominating as they are grazed less So in broad terms, over or under grazing could lead to a dominance of certain species of grass that in the long run leads to monotonous areas of “undesirable” veld(bush).


In the Greater Kruger National Park annual surveys are done to determine the composition of grass species across different types of veld. Also, the amount of tonnage of grass per hectare is measured and woody species are recorded. This data is used to monitor veld condition and plan burning regimes and to test burning regimes.
You can imagine the mammoth task and the amount of data collected and processed over the past 30 to 40 years. This data allows the ecologists and conservationists in the Greater Kruger National Park and the Sabi Sand Wildtuin to make decisions on when and where to burn.

In summation, fire can be a very good thing for the bush by: 
· Leveling the playing field for grasses, 
· opening areas by killing saplings of encroaching woody species,
· removing old (moribund) grass and allowing light to ignite the growth of new palatable grass shoots and promoting palatable grass species.

This year the ecologists found indicators that some areas were ready to be burnt and Inyati has burnt a large block north of the Sand River.

One fire was a wildfire that burnt in from the north and was stopped to protect infrastructure, but the other fire was a controlled burn that was managed and done by reserve staff and all our neighboring lodges.
These large areas are burnt from the perimeter of the designated area and left to burn as naturally as possible. This creates a patch mosaic type burn where many areas are left unburnt and drainage lines and natural barriers to fire create a natural patchy burn. These patchy burns allow small animals to reestablish quickly as there is still cover available after the burn.

The larger mammals and reptiles can avoid the fire as the fires move slowly and are done on cool days with little wind. As the grasses have evolved with fire mammals have also adapted to fire and are generally unscathed.
 We have had some rain after the burn and the beautiful green flush of grass is already evident and the grazers are happily munching on yummy grass now. 

We look forward to hosting you at Inyati Game Lodge and sharing an experience which typifies the African safari, without compromising on accommodation and incredible game viewing.  

Keith and the Inyati team

September bushtales

Rolling lawns at Inyati…….

Safari greetings……

Days have slowly but surely become longer, and long chilly nights are washed away with more vibrant sunrises as we head toward spring.

 Winter is far from over, the dusty dry landscape is very much proof of this.

The Sand river snakes through the reserve like a green vein, providing life giving water to the parched environment that in turn provides browse and grazing for the secondary producers like impala, nyala, kudu and bush buck.

The concentration of food along the banks of the sand river draws and keeps the herds on it banks, this in turn attracts predators to the abundant food source.

The lion prides have had kills on the river and our resident leopard are also thriving.

The Inyati philosophy is one of being part of the environment, this is evident with the camp not being fenced. Animals wonder through the grounds freely and the concentration of game in camp in the late winter can be spectacular. Our resident herd of nyala and impala feasting on our indigenous gardens. We have decided to view them as part of the garden rather than the consumers of it, the gardener’s relationship with them remains ‘complicated’ though.

A bull elephant took a liking to the Aloes in camp, and he created havoc as only a five-ton pachyderm can. Unfortunately, some days the aloe gardens were pruned with the finesse of a cyclone, but these are the punches we roll with in the bush. The bull has had his fill and moved on, and the gardeners are propagating aloes.

Our resident leopards have still been passing through camp, creating unique viewing opportunities, and keeping the nyala herd on their toes.

The Tumbela males have settled with the Othawa pride and have been spending a lot of time close to camp. As the males settled, they have now been vocalizing every night in an attempt to maintain their new territory. Magical evenings around the fire with lions roaring in the background have become a regular dinner treat at Inyati.

Bush beat…….

The Othawa pride has managed to maintain their little pride, all the cubs are doing well and growing strong.

The pride brought down a buffalo in the Sand river, it seems the new males have been assisting the pride in brining down larger prey like the formidable Cape buffalo. The days of leisure are numbered for the old buffalo bulls along the Sand river.

Tumbela male lion

The Tumbela males certainly have lion hearts, or they seem to bite off way more than they can chew.

Two of the males were spotted from the lodge at early morning tea, and tea was cut short! We rushed out to see the two boys at sunrise. On arrival it was evident that there had been a scuffle at the pan north of the lodge, and a drag mark led into the pan. The two males had attempted to pull down a young hippo bull!

The visibly upset hippo bull was still in the pan keeping a lazy eye on the two lions. We sat with the lions enjoying the warm sunrise when the hippo lost his nerve and tried to make a run for the safety of the river. The one male was on the hippo like a flash, but then pure physics failed the lion. The two-ton beast had built up a head of steam and was now hurtling toward the river, downhill. The lion held on to the hippo’s substantial rump and bit his tail like a poor rider tugging at reins.

 The lion certainly inflicted some damage but was dragged across the Sand rivers banks and was forced to “jump ship” as the hippo hit the water.

The hippo was left with a pain in the butt and the lion with a dent in the ego and a lesson in perspective.

Two new male lions have been visiting the north, they ventured into the Sabi Sand all the way from the Matimanthle area in the Kruger National Park.

These males could have posed a serious threat to the Othawa cubs if the Tumbelas were unable to fend them off. We found one of the Nwalungu males visibly shaken after following his tracks running in from the east. Our eastern neighbor confirmed that one male lion had been killed by hyena. His traumatized brother ran into the lodge area the following morning and has been keeping his head down since. This probably means the end of the road for the Nwalungu as one male taking over a territory is unlikely.

Tlangisa and cub

Tlangisa has been able to keep her cubs alive even though they had another close shave. She was with her cubs on an impala kill when one of the lioness’ from the Tsalala pride arrived. The cubs scampered up a tree together and the mother was isolated in another tree nearby. Patience often equates to survival in the wild and the little cubs passed this trial with flying colours. The cubs simply stayed in the tree with the lioness at the base staring up at them. It took a full day for the lioness to lose interest and move off.

 Tlangisa waited for the lioness to move out of sight, called the cubs down and marched them straight to the safety of their rocky den site.

The cubs are still developing integral survival skills and nerves of steel.

Species feature……

You may well have noticed that we never post updates of rhino sightings on social media, and we discourage guests from posting any rhino images they may get during a safari at Inyati. This policy is unfortunately necessary to ensure the safety of the rhino population within the Sabi Sand and Greater Kruger National Park.

 In China, unfounded beliefs that the horn can cure cancer and increase virility have driven the monetary value of rhino horn to astronomical values. This has created a very intricate criminal network to poach and traffic rhino horn from Africa to China. In short, the African rhino population is under massive threat of extinction in the wild as a result.

Inyati and the Sabi Sand Wildtuin are proud to be part of one the most effective anti-poaching operations on the planet. This is not only due to the incredible work of the men and women on the ground, but also to every single guest that visits the reserve. Inyati and the Sabi Sand Wildtuin channels revenue from guests straight to the anti-poaching operation. The anti-poaching effort uses the lion’s share of the reserves budget to keep our rhino, and all animals in the reserve safe.

Every visitor to the Sabi Sand Wildtuin hence makes a huge contribution in the fight against rhino poaching by visiting Inyati and our neighbors.

Veterinary intervention is usually very limited in the reserve and we only “lend a hand” if an animal is injured because of humans or human infrastructure. But in the case of rhino, we do whatever we can to ensure we do not lose a single animal.

Two large rhino bulls had a territorial battle earlier this month. One bull sustained some injuries to his front and hind legs in the fight and rangers were asked to monitor the animal and report back on his movements and injuries. A while after the fight it looked like the wound had turned septic and it was for a vet to intervene.

As you can imagine, treating a wild rhino bull comes with many challenges. One must find the animal, dart it with a sedative to immobilize it, get a team in quick to monitor vitals and start the work needed in as short a time as possible to minimize stress, then get the team out safely, administer a reversal drug and monitor the animal’s recovery. Simple.

With a team of dedicated guides, rangers, security personnel and a fantastic vet this mammoth task was done without any hiccups.

We were glad to hear that the animal is healing well and should make a full recovery, hopefully not to fight another day.

We would like to thank each and every visitor to the Sabi Sand Wildtuin and Inyati Game Lodge for making these conservation and Anti-poaching efforts possible.

Hope to see you soon!

Keith and the Inyati team

The Inyati family have been vaccinated!

The COVID-19 vaccination rollout took place from the 30th of August to the 1st of September 2021. Temporary COVID-19 vaccination stations within the Sabi Sand at Ulusaba and our neighbouring community administration facilities were set up. The Inyati staff members alongside staff from various other lodges within the Sabi Sand Game Reserve have “rolled up their sleeves” and had their Covid-19 vaccinations , leading the way to further recovery within our tourism industry.
The vaccine drive aimed to achieve reserve and community-wide immunity, attract visitors back to our lodges in the Sabi Sand. Thus, securing current livelihoods, creating new employment opportunities and saving jobs.

We are grateful to our partners Dis-Chem Pharmacies and Eurolab, for their support in providing much-needed expertise with so much zeal. We are thankful to all lodges for the support; without their support and collaborative spirit, this would not have seen the light of success; more than 2000 people were vaccinated in just three days.
Thank you to Ulusaba for hosting the venue.

💪💉 #vaccinated #jab4tourism #southafricaistravelready #StartPlanning #WeAreReady

Safari greetings…… 

The mid-winter chill has reached the lowveld and we have experienced low temperatures in the early mornings. The temperature had dipped as low as four degrees Celsius this season, still not nearly as chilly as the Highveld or the escarpment but some of the hardiest of rangers sported trousers on early morning drives.

On evening drives guests often notice a drop in temperature as we drop into the drainage lines and rivers. This is simply air cooling down, and becoming more dense, heavy, and settling in lower lying areas as temperatures drop after sunset, this air flow is referred to as Katabatic flow or Katabatic winds.

The opposite happens after sunrise.  At dawn the sun brings some welcome heat after a chilly evening, and as the air heats up it creates a mini low-pressure system that draws the dense cool air up from the low-lying areas. As this happens moisture is also “dragged” up and condensation takes place to the extend that bands of mist rise from the lower lying areas making these Anabatic flows visible as waves of mist slowly sweeping up from drainage lines.

These misty waves light up as the first golden rays hit them after sunrise making for a spectacular dawn.  

Bush beat…….

The Othawa lions have done very well, and the six new cubs are thriving. The pride managed to bring down a giraffe that provided a fantastic meal for the adults and cubs alike.

The Tumbela males joined the feast, and the new kings spent some quality time with their new offspring. The Big male showed his soft side as he accepted his little daughters climbing on him and using his tail as a chew toy.

Our Leopard Queen, Tlangisa has done a phenomenal job with her two new cubs. The little cubs have grown from waddling balls of fluff to miniature leopards that are able to scale trees and even digest meat.

Tlangisa introduced them to their staple diet by supplying steenbok and impala kills this month. This extra boost of nutrients combined with moms milk has seen the two little cubs grow from strength to strength.

The little family did have a close shave though. One morning early in June we followed Tlangisa into a rocky outcrop she was using as a den for the cubs. One could see she was determined as she took no time to call the cubs form their rocky haven with soft grunting contact calls. To our delight the cubs answered with their bird-like squeals form within the outcrop and an enthusiastic greeting and grooming session followed.

Tlangisa, being the fantastic mother she is, first allowed the cubs to suckle for a while to top up their energy reserves. She the then stood up and marched out of the den site. The little cubs followed her cue, instinctively interpreting the mothers body language without any questions asked. Tlangisa blazed a trail to the west with two extremely excited cubs in tow, one could see the anticipation in their demeanour as they confidently trailed mom.

Tlangisa took them into a thick grassland, and we lost site of them as we viewed from a distance, a few minutes after they did not emerge from the thicket, we went in to investigate. Our suspicions were confirmed, Tlangisa had managed to bring down an adult Impala ram that she had stashed in the grass. There were no suitable trees to hoist the kill into, so she took the gamble of stashing the kill in a ticket on the ground.

After all her effort she unselfishly allowed the cubs to feed first, also a learning experience as they discovered how to open a carcass by targeting the areas where skin is thin enough break.

Tlangisa then emerged from the thicket. Every muscle was bristling as she anticipated approaching danger, her acute senses alerted her to another predator in the area and she used her sense of smell and the breeze to determine the direction of the approaching danger. The cubs again reacting to mother’s body language scuttled off deeper into the thicket, a few seconds later the leopards’ nemesis arrived. Three spotted hyenas stormed in and luckily focused on the free meal. They ripped into the carcass with far less finesse than the leopards and tore it in half. Tlangisa stayed for a few minutes hoping to salvage some of the carnage, but to no avail. Once the hyena settled, we left the area as extra noises and scents could be detrimental the cubs ability to avoid Hyenas.

Elation quickly turned to concern as we left the area.

For three days there was no sign of Tlangisa and our concern grew every day. On day four we found tracks of the mother heading into a favourite drainage line of hers. With many thickets, outcrops, and a maze of gully’s it provided a perfect refuge for cubs. We had decided that Tlangisa had entered an area that is inaccessible and once again accepted defeat. At this stage, an avid photographer in the vehicle decided to take a time laps and just enjoy the late afternoon sounds. A few minutes into the time laps Tlangisa emerged from the east walked straight past the vehicle and dropped into the drainage line. Once again, we heard her characteristic calls, answered by a chirp. To our utter delight two cubs emerged from the drainage line with Tlangisa, unscathed. They faced many dangerous trials but have emerged wiser and more equipped to survive this wild Eden.

Species feature……

Temmincks Ground Pangolin (Smutsia temminckii)

The extremely illusive creature is so rarely encountered in the wild that it has an almost mythical reputation. Very few people are lucky enough to lay eyes on a Pangolin  in the wild. This scaly little mammal moves about on its back legs scouring the ground for ants and at times some termites. If startled it will roll itself into an impenetrable ball of armoured keratinous scales, but if one sits very quietly to gain its trust it will unravel and happily feed whilst being followed.

The Temmincks Ground Pangolin is one of four species that occur in Africa, and the only species that occurs in Southern Africa and at Inyati. They are entirely terrestrial and nocturnal and will take shelter in burrows during daylight hours. The Pangolin is not only rare, but also difficult to spot as it moves low to the ground and in this grassy environment cuts its way through the grassy cover and hardly ever exposes itself. As a result, most Pangolin sightings are on night drives at the end of the dry season when cover is sparse.

Pangolins do not dig their own burrows but make use of abandoned aardvark and warthog burrows. These burrows serve as sleeping quarters in daylight hours and safe havens for little ones. One “pup” will be born after a gestation of approximately 140 days. The mother will keep the pup in the burrow at first and move it from time to time. A few incredibly lucky individuals have found females giving their pups “piggyback” rides between burrows. The little Pangolin is believed to stay on mother’s territory for about a year before venturing out becoming sexually mature at 4-5 years.

Pangolin numbers in Africa are decreasing at an alarmin rate, all the species are on the red list and our Temmincks ground Pangolins are listed as Vulnerable. Unfortunately, Pangolins are one of the most trafficked species of wildlife in the world with conservative estimates being 10 000 pangolins being trafficked every year. Pangolin scales are used as an ingredient in Traditional Asian Medicine fuelling the illegal trade of these slow breeding species. In Africa Pangolin scales are also sought after but the value is not enough to drive huge local trade. In central Africa an estimated 400 000 pangolin are hunted for meat and scales.

There is certainly a silver lining to the cloud though. Many areas in Africa are well protected, and dedicated Conservationists and Anti-poaching operations keep the wilderness free of greed driven poachers. Inyati is situated within one of the best protected areas in Africa and our Pangolins and much larger neighbours are in a safe haven.   

Inyati Game Lodge is excited to announce the launch of our updated website www.inyati.co.za. The new site has a fresh new look and was designed with your safari needs in mind. 

Hope to see you soon!

Keith and the Inyati team

Updates from isolation

Each day on safari brings a new experience.
Each day on safari brings a new experience.

The year 2020 is a year that will never be and should never be forgotten. There are many negative memories of the year, but one would be foolish to ignore the positive lessons that it taught us.

Firstly, we have learnt to love our guests more than ever!

Not having people to share this wonderful environment with has been challenging for all. For months we yearned for the emotions that guest share whilst on game drive at Inyati. The mixed bag of fear and awe of the first Elephant sighting, the amazement of looking up at a towering Giraffe and the surprise of sitting next to a massive male Leopard without even changing his behavior.

We also missed the “evolution” of our guests. The initial reaction in a sighting tends to be confused excitement and grappling with a camera to get the shot before the animal slinks away. Then the realization that most of our animals are happy to stick around, and at times seem to ‘pose’ for that once in a lifetime shot. Slowly but surely the guests emerge themselves into the environment and the bushveld and city clocks start syncing. A calmness that only the bushveld can provide washes over and the frantic pointing, grabbing, and shuffling make room for calm observant viewing. Many guests start noticing behavior and the questions become more challenging, the birds perched on the Rhino become a talking point, trees, flowers and even grasses are noticed and an entire new world that the majestic “Big 5” live in is revealed.

Some guests return to follow their favourite cat and become an extended part of the Inyati family, we dearly missed the connoisseurs.

We also missed the more lighthearted questions that previously may have stirred an internal sigh in the most patient guides. We are happy to stop and look at the sixth lilac breasted roller as the bright aqua blue flash catches every guest’s eye. No longer will we think “ABR”, another bloody roller.

We are happy to clarify that the half-eaten impala hoisted in a Maroela tree is in fact dead.

We enjoy explaining that all the trees you see have been here for hundreds of years and, unlike Central Park, the Kruger Park was not planted but is an actual time capsule.

We missed every single guest, and we now have a new appreciation for the lifeblood that kept the lodges and in turn  conservation efforts afloat, and we are ready with open arms to welcome you all back!

We have learnt to appreciate the little things. The impala grazing on the lawn, a sunset on the river and the crisp starlit winter skies. When you have time you stop and notice many of the small beauties that enhance this magical place even more.

We decided to use this time to be productive. Tending to the run of the mill kind of maintenance like repairing roads and painting decks and gardening. But one very unusual opportunity presented itself during the lockdown.

Herds of Impala settled in camp, the Inyala settled as well and shy Bushbuck made the pool their home. Due to the camp being quiet no man-made noises and smells overwhelmed their acute senses and these animals never left camp.

The predators that have always passed through camp now settled inside the lodge for longer, keeping an eye on potential prey, not being disturbed by vigilant tourists and clicking cameras.

A few leopards started using the buildings and veranda to stalk and catch prey and the Guides that stayed in camp for lockdown got some amazing footage and images.

This was noticed by well-known naturalist and film maker Russel Mac Laughlin and culminated in Inyati featuring in the BBC documentary The Year the Earth Changed, narrated by David Attenborough.

The cameramen and guides spent almost a month filming leopard only inside Inyati camp and the sequence of footage collected is breath taking, as is the rest of the Documentary that aired in April 2021 on Apple TV .

The last rainy season produced some fantastic rain that lasted late into the season and as a result the rivers are flowing, and the bush is still lush and even green in places.

Winter has started a bit later than usual with temperatures only dropping significantly late in May. Crisp dry winter evenings have been great for stargazing and winding down around a log fire.

As a result of the good rains our watering holes are full, and the lush vegetation and grass has attracted numerous browser and grazers to Inyati. A dazzle of Zebra has settled at the pan in front of camp and a journey of Giraffe have made treehouse pan their home.

Large herds of elephant have returned to the river, making full use of the riparian vegetation and the cool waters of the Sand river.

Three new male lions arrived from the north during lockdown. We first noticed their tracks, but they managed to avoid us for almost a month before our first sighting. We named them the Tumbela (to hide) males as a result.

These young guns took no time to take over the Othawa pride and the Old Matimba male was driven off. The young males in the pride broke away out of fear of the Tumbelas and unfortunately their sister followed. For now they are known as ‘the break-away’ but have settled in the south.

Two of the older Lionesses have had cubs. The younger Lioness has had three cubs which we have had brief glimpses of as they are only about three months old and not yet used to the vehicles. We have not yet seen the older females’ cubs as they are still hidden in the den.

The Mungen pride still visits the area, but sadly the Othawa male was killed when he decided to venture too far east and was cornered by a powerful coalition of males called the Birmingham males. The old Birminghams unfortunately killed the Othawa male leaving the Mungen pride without a patriarch for now.

The Leopard dynamics at Inyati has been fluid and fascinating. As the lodge is situated in the highest leopard population on the planet, huge competition and smaller territories are inevitable.

During lockdown we counted no less than seven different male leopards at various times in camp, as well as our resident females. Luckily, Ravenscourt and Nyeleti made short work of some of the young nomads and the dynamics, in camp at least, settled down.

 An over population of male leopards makes it difficult for females to raise their cubs as males that have not mated with females will kill cubs if they find them. Females cleverly confuse paternity by mating with all the males in their territory, and even expanding their territory when they are in estrus, and in so doing, also mating with neighboring males. It is also presumed that females can give birth to litters with multiple fathers further confusing males.

Unfortunately, this intricate process of confusing paternity did not work for Tlangisa, Basile or Khokovela of late. Tlangisa lost a litter in the north, we presume to the male, Euphorbia.  We did see Tlangisa mate with Ravenscourt and saw Ravenscourt with the cub that he had accepted. Sadly, Euphorbia took over the north at the time and we presume he killed the cub when Tlangisa moved it north.

Khokovela has her territory wedged between Ravenscourt and Nyeleti, unfortunately she has had little success with cubs as a result.

Ravenscourt again killed Basiles’ cubs, well within his territory. This is very confusing and unfortunate.

Tlangisa has once again proven herself as the leopard queen of the Western Sabi Sand. She has moved back to her northern domain and settled her territory well within Euphorbias. Euphorbia has proven himself as a formidable male that manages to keep his neighbors at bay. Tlangisa and Euphorbia have mated, and they now have a litter of two in the north west. The two little cubs are now three months old and thriving.

 Let us hope they survive in this challenging environment.

Emerging from lockdown

As we adjust to the world opening post the severe Covid lockdowns, we are delighted to tell you that the lodge is open and ready to receive guests. During the lockdown the lodge, in accordance with WHO guidelines and with the assistance of our onsite medical partner Africa Safe-T, tried and tested Covid 19 protocols to ensure our guests have a safe and carefree stay at Inyati.

Hand sanitizing stations have been placed at every entrance to public areas, a rigid sanitation regime has been implemented and all the staff have been trained and are practicing the protocols today.

Even safari vehicles are sanitized before, and after, every drive and guest are offered hand sanitizer at each stop.

We are fortunate to have roomy open air dining facilities that make social distancing and safety a breeze.

In short, we are ready and waiting and for our repeat guests to return and for new guests to come explore the splendor of the African bush. Hope to see you soon!

Make memories that last a lifetime!


Make memories that last a lifetime!

Martial Eagle Conservation – Kruger National Park update.

In December 2013 Rowen van Eeden successfully GPS tagged a martial eagle chick that was soon to fledge (Figure 1).

Figure 1

Figure 1. Rowen van Eeden fitting the GPS tag on the young martial eagle.

The nest was in the Crocodile Bridge section of Kruger National Park and this was the first time a tag was deployed on a martial eagle still in the nest. The aim of the tagging was to find out about the movements of young eagles as they disperse from the nest, and there were high hopes that we might follow it through to adulthood. In total 18 martial eagles have now been GPS tagged for this project (this includes a combination of both young and adult eagles), but this one remains particularly special.

Although the tags provide us with a way to closely follow the movements of eagles in the ‘virtual’ world and we can view their locations on Google Earth almost daily, we rarely get to see them in the real world as they’re always on the move. However, in Jan 2016 Keith Jenkinson sent us a beautiful picture of this individual photographed at Inyati Game Lodge. By then he was two years old and was obviously doing well for himself. In the picture he had the tail of a rock monitor in his feet (Figure 2).

Figure 2

Figure 2. Photo taken by Keith Jenkinson of the young eagle, aged two years old (2016).

Last week we were concerned that the tag had stopped moving and quickly contacted Ulusaba Private Reserve (owned by Sir Richard Branson) where his last known location was recorded. The guides there responded quickly and searched the area where he was thought to be but didn’t find anything. We waited anxiously hoping the tag would come back online and then on Sunday I got a call from one of Ulusaba’s guides, Kyle Michel, saying they had found the eagle – well actually, he was perched in a tree close to the lodge eating another rock monitor he had caught (Figure 3). Just over four years since he was tagged, he is looking magnificent. We are thrilled and his tag is again functioning perfectly.

Figure 3

Figure 3. Martial eagle aged four years old photographed by Kyle Michel (2018).

He’s been to Mozambique a few times, spent a lot of time in southern Kruger and in the network of private game reserves to the west of Kruger and now we’re really hopeful that one day soon he might settle down for his first breeding attempt – watch this space!

Figure 4

Figure 4. Movements of the GPS tagged martial eagle since tagging. Each colour represents a different year. 2014:blue, 2015: green, 2016: purple, 2017: yellow, 2018: red.

Many thanks to everyone who has been involved in tagging and following this individual. 

~Meg Murgatroyd

Source – https://www.facebook.com/MartialEagleConservation

http://www.fitzpatrick.uct.ac.za/

The bush revived by Matt

big-skiesAt its worst the drought left the bush barren of life. Mother Nature herself wanted us to see the value of water and the suffering that happens when it doesn’t fall. Mercifully though one afternoon a giant cumulonimbus cloud rolled up from the south, bringing with it a light show of thunder and lightning, tempestuous winds whirled and whipped the dust bowl and finally a light sprinkling of the most precious fluid on earth. This auspicious start has compounded over the rainy season, and as I write this we have had non-stop rain for five days. The revival has been astounding, the browns, greys and whites have all but faded and the greens have taken over. The soil left an open canvas by the drought has been painted by the pioneering wild flowers and grasses, the insects that follow cycles and held on through the drought then went about making enough offspring to fertilise all the wonderful plants.

othawa cubsTraditionally predators do better in the dryer seasons as the herbivores lose condition, but with three new Othawa cubs and two cubs for Tlangisa it appears that the cats do well no matter what the conditions are. tlangisas-2nd-babyXhikavi’s adult offspring is still hanging around his mom almost two years into his life, Dewane seems to like him more than his mom does. His name is Mondzo and he really is a beautiful leopard and even has blue eyes. Ravenscourt has been pushing further and further into Dewane’s territory. Schotia had cubs several months ago but she hasn’t brought them out for inspection yet. Torchwood took some heavy beatings of late and has faded a bit into obscurity as he licks his wounds.

mondzo #leopardWith the dams filling up nicely and the river flooding regularly I think we will sail through the next winter and while it will take a few years for the smaller animal populations to recover, the drought is truly behind us.

glorious-waterThat’s all from Matt for 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.

tlangisa-never-disappointsRegards, THE INYATI TEAM

Keith & Francis – Managers
George , Solly, Khimbini , Matthew , Nelson  ,Omega  & Rodger

This month’s sightings report compiled by Matthew Brennan. *Photographs by Keith and Matthew

Lodge recognised for offering the best visitors’ experience.

The Lilizela Tourism Awards gives us the opportunity to celebrate trailblazers, as well as service excellence in the South African tourism industry in general.
A local lodge recently received top honours at the fourth Lilizela Tourism Awards, in which the South African tourism industry celebrated its top business owners and service providers.

Inyati Game Lodge,situated about 60 kilometres from Hazyview, walked away with the Visitor’s Experience Award for Best Wildlife Encounters.

Inyati is set in 65 000 hectares of unspoiled bushveld within the Sabi Sands Reserve, on the doorstep of the Kruger National Park and on the banks of the Sand River. Diversity of species and relaxed big game allow for close-up game viewing and photography.

“The gives us the opportunity to celebrate trailblazers, as well as service excellence in the South African tourism industry in general. The awards is an opportunity to pause and thank these individuals and businesses for their contribution to putting South Africa firmly on the global stage by ensuring their product and service offerings are of the highest standard,” said minister for tourism, Mr Derek Hanekom.

“With 5,8 million people having visited South Africa from January to July this year, the number of tourists is on the rise. By being service oriented, the businesses celebrated today help to ensure that this growth path continues, guaranteeing memorable experiences for all tourists,” he added.

The awards were established in 2013 to recognise and reward exemplary service among businesses in the local tourism sector, ranging from accommodation establishments and tour operators to scenic attractions and cultural heritage sites.

In 2016, the awards attracted a record number of 1 122 entries, up 18 per cent from the previous year’s total. Tourism businesses across the nine provinces were encouraged to enter, with a great call that they be graded with the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa, a unit of South African Tourism.

Members of the public were then invited to have their say on the Lilizela Tourism Awards website by voting. These votes, together with those from various platforms such as TripAdvisor and TGCSA’s Tourism Analytics Programme, formed 80 per cent of the score for each entry.

A panel of high-level judges, drawn from the industry and academia, contributed the remaining 20 per cent of each establishment’s score. From these calculations, 589 finalists were selected nationwide and each province held its own awards ceremony in the run-up to the national finals.

During these provincial award ceremonies, 262 provincial winners were celebrated. This was further narrowed down to 53 national winners, who were honoured on Sunday night.

Awards were made in a number of categories including the Service Excellence Award (with subcategories Accommodation, Visitor Experience, Tourist Guides and Tour Operators), Entrepreneurship (for emerging tourism businesses), Sustainability and Good Governance, and the prestigious Minister’s Award.

Source – http://hazyviewherald.co.za/199219/lodge-recognised-for-offering-the-best-visitors-experience/

 

« Older Entries