Ranger Diaries March 2011 - April 2011
The month started with a bang with three cheetahs successfully killing two impala right in front of our game viewers. It was quite a surprise to all who witnessed it as initially the cheetah were just lounging around completely disinterested in the herd of impala grazing in the distance. We were fortunate
enough to watch the cheetah in full speed as they chased, turning at the slightest change in direction of the chosen impala, and caught their prey..
Cheetah can reach speeds of 120km/hr depending on the terrain, but this amazing speed only lasts for short periods with the cheetah having to rest before being able to eat.
The Machaton pride has been out in full force with the five new additions doing extremely well, playing with each other and their older siblings, sharing carcasses with the pride and even having a bit of fun with their food… The pride has been extremely vocal, announcing their presence for all to hear and as
a result have been located almost every morning.
The wild dogs surprised the Umlani managers one morning by waking them up with twittering and whoops as they killed an impala ewe outside the manager’s bedroom window. The pack of eight stayed within the camp area the entire day giving all the Umlani staff an opportunity to see the wild dogs up close and learn a bit about their feeding habits and their social behaviour.
The white rhinoceros is very scarce in the area, but a handful of great rhino sightings have been had lately, even on the odd occasion where the rhino has been so relaxed that he thought nothing of the vehicles and continued with his morning nap, unperturbed by the sounds. Eventually he moved off to wallow in a near-by puddle, completing his morning duties with a bath to protect his skin from biting insects and the sun.
For those who can remember Umlani has always been the local spot for nocturnal visitors and not much has changed with the nightly visits by honey badgers, porcupines and hyenas. The past two months have been no different, with many an exciting uninvited visit from feisty honey badgers in the kitchen, to Thembi’s irritation and athletic skills. Honey badgers are fierce little creatures which are extremely tough and do not stand down or submit to any animal.
Their natural food ranges from honeybee larvae (hence their name), small rodents, all snakes including the highly venomous species, and every thing else they can get at, thus making our kitchen an irresistible temptation.
A few of the secretive predominantly nocturnal species have been see on drive such as porcupines and fantastic honey badger sightings, with the animals being completely at ease with the vehicles. Absolutely fantastic as this does not usually happen!
The large herd of buffalo has frequently been at the Umlani waterhole wallowing in the cool refreshing water, providing easy lunch time viewing for all at the bar. The elephants are back after a period of having to search for them. Large breeding herds with very small calves have been scattered throughout the reserve resulting in wonderful viewing and photographic opportunities.
As the temperature begins to drop and the change of the seasons is well under way the migratory birds have all but gone, with the Woodlands Kingfisher remaining until the very end. Not only are the migratory birds returning to the warmer weather, but the insects, which play a vital food source for many of the birds, have also dropped due to the unfavourable temperate changes. A small exciting bird which has left camp is the Pygmy Kingfisher, with his beautiful and striking coloured feathers.
For more, please see the Timbavati Nature Reserve Blog