Friday, December 31, 2010

Summer time and summer times

Summer is in full swing here in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve and despite the world being full of young animals, colourful insects and spectacular flowers there are other implications too. One of these is the time the sun rises and sets and the other is the maximum temperature that we feel on a daily basis.

In order to maximise our viewing experience, WE will be starting a half hour earlier in the mornings and a half hour later each day. This means that our AM safari will start at 05h00 CAT and the PM drive will start at 16h00 CAT. These times will be effective as from the 1st January 2011.

Hmmm, it feels funny writing that date for the first time: 2011!

WE wish everyone a wonderful, festive day and hope that the new year brings with it Health, love and happiness.


...and thank you all for all your support over the last 12 months.


Sightings from the 22nd to the 25th

Seasons greetings everyone from a very chili UK!
It is great to be home with the family, but missing the WE family! Here is the last installment of sightings from me for a short while!

Wednesday the 22nd PM drive, we had a wonderful hyena sighting with the cubs and mother. She had been sleeping at the den entrance and the cubs were no where to be seen. Just as I thought we were not going to catch a glimpse of them, she stood up and walked towards us followed by the 2 little tykes! Just like a pet dog she began eating grass and sure enough the desired effect took place. For some reason the cubs immediately rolled in it, which I have never seen before. After they were satisfied with the way the smelled, I can assure you it wasn't pleasant! She was ready to give them dinner and a few meters from the vehicle she allowed them to feed! Perfect!

After seeing buffalo, hippo and also a great zebra, wildebeest and impala sighting, on the AM drive of the 23rd, Herman spotted a small Crested Francolin family. The chicks couldn't have been more than 2 days old! They were tiny and still a bit shell shocked to say the least! Trying to keep up with the parents, they copied their movements running when the parents did and feeding when they were still! Such a treasured moment to see them, it is one to watch out for!

We had a gem of a PM drive on the 24th! We found the short horned male rhino on route to the dam, marking territory as he went, only to hear the crash of 5 were also there! I was hoping to see some interaction between him and the large male in the 5, who we also see marking territory, but short horn deflected. This makes me think the boundary between the territories was around there! Interesting! If that wasn't enough, we finally caught up with Mixo! He was found just South of Gowrie dam, sleeping the day away in the khaki bush, maybe trying to avoid the flies. As the sun set, he made his way past the gate to Inga's house, where some of the crew live. No matter how many times this happens, it is still a thrill to know how close these majestic creatures can and do get to us!

Evidently he was unsuccessful with making a kill and decided to stay in a marula tree in the area as he was found the following morning close to the house again. Sadly with the power being out over night and the morning, radio communication was very bad and we only found out a bit later into the drive he was there! By this time he was on the move into the thick bush, where we struggled to keep up with him. But it is great to know both the boys are still around! Amazing!
I hope you have a great couple of weeks and I shall see you all when I get back!
Written by Tara

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Sightings from 17 to 21st Dec

Hi everyone!
Here is the second installment for the weeks sightings!

AM drive of the 17th started a bit slow, but changed after we found a fairly big breeding herd of buffalo on Impala plains. We left them briefly to check out where the sound of a hyena was calling from, but sadly I could not locate it. We did find however a giraffe bull busy browsing and while we sat with him I noticed a family of dwarf mongoose on the opposite side of the road, sunning themselves before finding breakfast. I have been very careful to not off road as there has been a lot of rain, but didn't see any harm in placing the front of Ganda off the road to view the mongoose better. The ground looked firm and it was just the front part of the vehicle off the road. Little did I know how wrong I was! As I tried to pull back, the front wheels sank into the black cotton soil that had been hidden from view. Not even any plant species indicated it's presence! Only after jacking up the vehicle, placing some branches under the wheels to give traction, and Herman helping to push, did the Ganda become free! Just goes to show there are hidden surprises everywhere this time of year! The morning was rounded off by seeing a flap necked chameleon crossing the road!

Induna made another brief appearance on Bufflesh
oek cutline during PM drive on the 18 Dec, south of where the Nkahuma females had made a buffalo kill on Buffleshoek property. I was told by one of the guides Snaggletooth was not with them. They have not seen her or any cubs for the last few months. Once he had made his way back across the boundary it was time to check out the activity from the hyena den on Zoe's road. Our lady with the two notches in her right ear has taken up residence there and the cubs are on form!

The rain returned briefly on the 19th, but we managed to find a gap to go out and spend time with a herd of elephants playing in the mud on galago short cut. It was great fun watching them and having a bull come right up to us he was an absolute gentleman!

Monday 20th AM drive was not meant to be I have decided! We managed to find a hyena making it's way north on Mvubu road, but as we followed we got a flat tyre. By the time we had finished changing the flat, the hyena had disappeared over the boundary so we continued with the drive hoping to find the clan. They were found on Vultures nest road so we responded only to have a brief glimpse of an adult heading into the bush! With no luck relocating we started to head towards Chela pan only to find we had another flat! What a Monday Morning!

Tuesday 21st PM drive was a lot more successful! We had a wonderful sighting of the same 2 hyena cubs on Zoe's road. They were full of beans and so curious! They were checking out Ganda and once they had tired of that it was time to play with a bone and chase a Burchell's Coucal! Mean while mum was resting, with a double rainbow as her backdrop!

Written by Tara

Sightings from 12 to 16 Dec.

Hi everyone! Sorry for the silence, but we have just come back online so here is the first part in the run down on the latest sightings we have had. It has been quiet over all but we have had a few great sightings!

The Lady of Djuma has shown her self a couple of times this week. The first being the PM drive on the 12 Dec. She was found sitting beneath a Marula tree on the West side of the quarantine area. After she climbed the majestic specimen, it became clear she had recently killed 2 young impala. The mother of one still calling out to try and find her lost baby. Later on that evening after drive ended we found 7 young hyenas all from 6 months on wards outside our house waiting for the adults to call them to food!

Dec 14th. The PM drive brought more buffalo males at twin dams and a particularly nice and peaceful sighting of a single old bull in a mud pool for 1, with a couple of oxpeckers dinning out on his ticks! After driving around for a while, we heard a squirrel shouting in the drainage line East of Twin Dams. After some investigating we found a huge monitor lizard strolling towards the dam. It was so relaxed we spent some time with it until a call came in about Induna being on Mvubu road. We got there just in time to watch him meander past the vehicle and in to the drainage line.

There seems to be a cycle of rain every 3 days at the moment, this was true for the 15th Dec. When we finally got out on drive we had such a special sighting of giraffe sparing! They were oblivious to our presence and allowed us to get up close to the action! As we sat there, two younger males also decided to follow their example, it was like a master class for necking!

Patrick had a wonderful Am drive on the 16th, seeing a Elephant bull, buffalo and the crash of 5 rhino again! The luck stayed with us for the PM drive too. We found 3 rhino on Cheetah cutline, a bull and what at first I thought was a female with a calf of around 5 years old. She was being agressive towards the bull. I thought he was trying to pursue her and she wasn't interested. I later noticed it was actually a young male and he was being agressive towards the older bull who was the territory owner and it looked like he was gently persuading him to leave! If that wasn't exciting enough, we had a family of elephants join us during the whole escapade! We decided to leave the rhinos, as the dispute wasn't being resolved and followed the elephants. Much to our surprise they were joined by another family herd including the female with the odd tusk growth. She gave us such a thrill by coming right up to the vehicle in such a gentle manner, what a grand old lady! With a spectacular sunset it was certainly a fitting way to end the day! Over whelmed by the day's events we heading back for dinner.

One thing you learn about living in the bush , is magic moments can happen by being in the right place at the right time and it was never more true than that night! As I drove back from the house, after dinner, I noticed a large shape moving into the road from the fence around the house. As I drove closer I saw it was Karula! She must have been at the fence listening to us talking! Nobody had seen her or tracks since the 12th and now it seemed as if she was waiting to show herself. She stepped into the road as i came around the corner. I would have missed her if I had left a few seconds before or after! I was hoping to find her in the morning but alas she vanished again with out trace! What a special lady!

Written by Tara

Sunday, December 19, 2010

New Camera operator Catherine Corrett

The Safari TV team would like to welcome Catherine Corrett as our new Camera operator and editor. Catherine has a masters in Television journalism which she studied at the city university in London and an undergraduate degree in Social Anthropology. She has worked for the BBC and Reuters, and several other production companies in London, and after her travels around South Africa enrolled to do the Wildlife film Academy, where she realised her desire to work in the South African bush, and which has inturn led her to our door, she now joins us on our journey forward. She has assited in wildlife documentary filmaeking before in the Eastern Cape of South Africa and we know that she will make an excellent addition to the team and will excel at bringing you, our viewers the best footage possible!

Friday, December 10, 2010

News of Karula and recent drives

Hi everyone!

What a lucky lady! Siphiwe had a very quick glimpse of Karula crossing Vuyatela access road, on her way to work yesterday morning! She looked to be carrying a cub across the road into the North. I wonder if her den is somewhere behind camp! Unfortunately we haven't seen her since but we will keep you up dated!

I can't believe the turn around since my last blog! After a very unsuccessful drive a couple of days ago, yesterday, Dec 9th, we had 4 out of the big 5!

At Buffleshoek dam we were entertained by the raft of hippo including young Bob, who insisted the old dagga boy buffalo moved out of their sunning spot. Bob tried to show how fierce he/she was by yawning but it was only when the rest of the family came to help, did the buffalo take any notice and decide to move!

After such a long absence of the tawny cat we were excited to even see the 2 young males from the Nkahuma pride sleeping in some thick bush. I spent some time with them, but it soon became clear they were not going to move any time soon. In the morning I tried to follow up on the tracks, but it looks like they have headed West. From their sleeping spot on Drakensberg drive, taking Bateleur road onto Weaver's Nest and then to Philamons cutline.

We happen to be driving past Buffleshoek dam again after seeing the hippo and buffalo, when I noticed two rhino sitting in the water on the Northern side of the dam. It turned out to be the crash of 5 rhino including the floppy eared male!

After a wonderful afternoon drive which included a brief encounter with a male elephant who was in the early stages of musth and decided to tell me so by giving a warning charge! We were lucky enough to spend some quality time with a couple of small families during this morning's, Dec 10th drive. The first family on Mamba road was a female with 2 calves of different ages, she was so relaxed she came close to the vehicle and even the young bull around 4 years old was intrigued by us!
The second family had a baby around 4 months old and a female with an unusual tusk growth. I hoped to attach pictures but alas the laptop is still down. I will publish them as soon as possible.

The morning was a little quiet except for the elephants and we did have a nice buffalo sighting at twin dams. I followed the lion tracks but they have gone to the West and there were large male leopard tracks on cheetah cut line heading north, then turned west, but he was not located. Maybe Patrick will have some luck with the illusive leopard this afternoon!

That's all for now folks! Thank you for being so patient, we hope to show this footage soon, but will let you know when to look out for it. I will try and get the pictures up as soon as possible too.

Have a great day everyone!
Written by Tara

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

PM drive 7 Dec

Hi everyone!
This is going to be a short one! Although there was rain through the night and day until about 14.45, only about 20ml fell! The roads were extremely wet due to the high amount of rain that had fallen a few days before and I think it had an impact on the game. We found a small herd of Dagga boys by the pump house, but they moved quickly into the bush to catch on camera. There have been plenty of impala young out and about on quarantine and I think Mixo was hoping to hunt when we saw him 3 nights ago on the way to dinner!

The hyena den on Zoe's road was reported as being active, but by the time we got there the adult and juvenile cub were gone. I understand it wasn't the female with two notches in her right ear who we followed for a while, but another with a much older cub. We shall keep an eye on the den in case she uses it again!

I hope we have more success with game tomorrow! We shall keep you posted on the sightings to look out for on the pre recorded drives.

Written by Tara

Monday, December 6, 2010

Encoder trouble.

As some might already have seen on our Facebook page or heard from Final Control, our 'encoder' stopped working. From what we can see a chip on the motherboard has burned through, but whether it's that or something else, the unfortunate situation is that it is not working. Melusi has tried every way possible to 'contact' the device, but without success.

As this is not something that can be fixed in the bush, it will need to be sent to the manufacturer for exchange or repair. As Will is on his way to the UK, he will take it with him and send it to Canada (where the manufacturer is located from there) once he gets to London as that seems the quickest way.

In the mean time we are working on getting a replacement unit sent to us as soon as possible, but have no feedback yet how much time this will take. As soon as we hear more, we'll let all of you know too!

Until the new unit arrives it will unfortunately not be possible to broadcast LIVE game drives as the encoder is an essential piece of equipment on the Ganda. It's role is to take the video and audio from the camera and microphone respectively and convert it into a form that can be read by the receiving equipment in Final Control. Without it we can still record on the vehicle, but we'll have to take the recording and then do this conversion ('encoding') on a computer in Final Control afterwards.

Until the new encoder arrives we will therefore still go out on drive, 'encode' these in Final Control after the Ganda is back at camp, and then play them out as pre-recorded. While this is obviously not the same as seeing them LIVE, its the best we can do for now.

--- Peter

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Baby Boom!

Hi everyone!

With the large animal sightings being few, we have been privileged in seeing so many new borns this week!

In the early morning golden glow, baby impala are taking their first glimpses of their new home, the daunting but beautiful African bush. In a short while we will be viewing the impala races, as they become more aware of their abilities and strengthening their muscles by chasing each other round and round the adults! For the time being though, they are happy to stay close to the mothers for protection. Which is a wise decision with the Lady of Djuma also needing to provide for her, possible, two cubs! Marc has been lucky to see her in Impala plains area, which seems to have been her area of preference for hunting recently. By the looks of it she may have already moved den sites though. This is normal to avoid detection by other predators, but I wonder if it is also to move the cubs closer to hunting grounds, so she isn't away too long from them, with all the hyena in the area!

We were also able to catch the day old wildebeest on camera. Marc found the very fresh afterbirth on the open area and sure enough the next day I saw the tan coloured calf also keeping very close to mum's side! The baby zebra, on the other hand, from the same family we have seen a lot of, has been entertaining us with it's antics! It is becoming bolder every time we find them, giving us a wonderful sight!

The Gowrie Gang have also had a baby boom, with Mrs Psycho and LB giving birth within a couple of days of each other! They are so full of beans and only just a week old! I am looking forward to following their development in the next few months!

Written by Tara