From our home to yours, we send you fond Autumn bush greetings!
Taking “pen to paper” today, whilst gazing out at our Nzumba Waterhole watching an array of game coming to drink, who could ask for a better inspiration!
It has certainly been one of the most interesting & challenging ends to our summer with regards to the weather:
Until the end of Jan, we were very much under our average rainfall requirements, & a sense of foreboding set in … winter was not looking good for water & food supplies for our wildlife.
And then February arrived! Two cyclones swept through Madagascar / Mozambique / South Africa & we received a deluge of rain! Whilst this was an absolute blessing, it went to the extreme of threatening flooding ….flashback to 2012!
In the past when we have had good rains upriver, the Klaserie River would rise fast & drop fast. It was not the case this time, with massive amounts of rain upriver & continuous rainfall, the Klaserie River rose & stayed high for an extended period, making access into the reserve a challenge as the causeway was flooded, making it impassable …. or a thrill for those bold enough to take the chance!
Our average season rainfall requirement is 460mm, in Feb alone we got 325mm!
From March, we have continued to receive some rainfall, every single mm is welcome!
Rainfall figures on 31 Mar is 565mm, 100mm over our seasonal requirement – happy days, we are sorted for winter!
Jaime & Siobhan & our team are looking forward to a wonderfully busy peak season coming up & sharing our little piece of paradise with you!
Photo: Aerial view of Nzumba’s Waterhole
General Game Sightings
Our general game sightings are prolific as always!
The impala lambs dropped earlier than usual in November, as we received some earlier rains.
Our resident herd of wildebeest around Nzumba waterhole are doing well again this year.
There have also been quite a few sightings of Black Mamba’s on gamedrives, whilst they are an extremely dangerous specie, it is fascinating to learn about how powerful they are.
We have a resident hippo this season in wild dog dam, & with the Klaserie River being so full & so many water sources there have also been sightings of hippo at Nzumba & Dundee Waterholes, Bernitz crossing, Hot Spot & in front of Last Word Kitara.
Interesting sightings included: a green water snake at wild dog dam, various sightings of African wild cat.
Photos – Jaime, Siobhan & Stefan
|Big Game Sightings
What is not to love about elephant sightings!
The way their soft padded giant feet gently carry them vast distances through the bush, enabling them to move unheard.
Or is it the way they watch you with such interest behind those beautiful eyelashes.
Or perhaps its their incredible family dynamics, where the Matriarch can make a large breeding herd move immediately with her gentle coaxing that we can’t hear or sometimes her very vocal instructions, & where the young are looked after by the whole herd.
It is a humbling experience to be able to sit in their presence, where our guides share information about these family dynamics or the behaviour of a lone bull, that might not be feeling relaxed at that time.
Our Klaserie elephants never disappoint, even at times rather exhilarating!
We have had a summer of elephant abundance & with so much food & water around, the breeding herds are relaxed.
Buffalo sightings have been consistent during the summer season, throughout our & neighbouring properties.
The makeup sightings are of single or small herds of Dagga Boys, no large breeding herds.
Dagga means “mud”, as they usually seem in or close to a water source. “Dagga Boys” is a term used to describe old bulls that have been forced out of the herd or have fallen behind a herd due to their need for softer vegetation. They tend to move from one wallow to the next, as preferred areas for soft fresh grass for their worn teeth but also a source to wallow in mud to get their coats covered as a form of protection.
Hyena sightings are still frequent, throughout the property & they are very often caught on our camera traps.
There are two hyena whose territory is around Nzumba airstrip & they are incredibly relaxed to come & find out why humans are on their airstrip & what we are doing.
They do not get close enough to be a danger & we do not feed them, they are just inquisitive & move in circles, but just awesome to watch them.
Jaime had a sighting of a hyena stealing a kill from a leopard recently.
Being opportunistic, they were also seeing following the dogs, just in case!
Liz from Last Word Kitara witnessed a hyena kill a baby waterbuck in the river in front of camp.
Photos – Bob Reeve (guest) & Jaime
We enjoyed a magical quarter of 14 different wild dog sightings!
The pack is 28 strong, but not all sightings have been of the full pack.
The majority of sightings have been around Nzumba airstrip & waterhole.
Other areas have been entrance road, Dundee Waterhole, Bach (Corona Pan), Makumu, Windmill Pan, Thompsons Airstrip, Wild Dog Dam & Last Word Kitara riverbed.
Probably the most special day was having the dogs wallowing in Nzumba waterhole the entire day during the heat, while guests lay at the pool!
Photos – Bob Reeve (guest) & Jaime
|KING OF THE JUNGLE
We have had 38 different lion sightings in the last quarter, this is exceptional especially as we had stretches of no guests.
The areas of sightings have been: Nzumba, Dundee, Thompsons, Bach, Mopani Drive, Kruger View, Nyeleti, Hot Spot, van der Skyf cutline, to mention a few.
The River Pride became an impressive super-pride & have started splitting up: in January we still saw 14 of them all together, February there were a few sightings of one of the males & in March we saw 7 of the pride together consistently.
At the beginning of Jan, the Mashaton Pride were seen frequently around Dundee, van der Skyf cutline & on Thompsons Pan 1. But they have moved off & haven’t been seen since then.
The Timbila Pride have also been seen a lot this quarter, including the sighting of a new born cub on one the drives in January. In the first week in Jan, 14 of the pride were seen together. Since then, we haven’t seen them all together but numerous sightings of different members of the pride, including cubs. They remain very relaxed with the vehicles.
On a variety of occasions, our guests have had the pleasure of lion vocalizing close to the gamedrive vehicles in the black of night, this sound permeates right into our soul & lives in your memory forever!
Photos – Bob Reeve (guest), Corlius & Stefan
|THE SPOTTED BEAUTIES
Leopard! Leopard! Leopard!
Wow, what an incredible start to the year we have had with incredible leopard sightings!
One of the guide’s personal best was 4 different leopard in one drive!
Manzi is doing well, we have had 3 different sightings of her.
Manzi’s youngsters – they are just beautiful & confident & getting big now. They are still seen with mom sometimes, the 2 of them spend a most of their time together. We had 4 different sightings of them, one combined with their mom.
The Windmill Pan Female was seen often in January.
The Emfuleni Male (named for being in the Rodseth area), has been seen on Thompsons airstrip & Wild Dog Dam. He was first seen on 8 Aug 2022 & is a full-grown male, the same size as the green eyed male.
The Nzumba airstrip male is incredibly relaxed & we have enjoyed some amazing (6 different) sightings of him, including a sighting with him & a kill in a tree.
Karula & her brother are still exceptional sightings, before we used to just see her most frequently, but it seems her brother is more comfortable with vehicles now & is seen with her often.
Photos – Bob Reeve (guest), Jaime, Corlius & Stefan
|THE INGWE LEOPARD PROJECT
On Track Safaris
We post our camera traps sightings weekly on our social media platforms – we trust that you all enjoy seeing some interesting sightings.
Below is an article written by Marine Servonnat, who is passionately heading the On Track Safaris Ingwe Leopard Research project. Klaserie Camps Nzumba is so proud to be partnering with On Track Safaris on this project & we thank Jaime for spearheading the input from Nzumba, as well as Stefan & Corlius from Last Word Kitara for their valuable input.The Ingwe Leopard Research is funded by the On Track Foundation, a UK based charity, which is itself funded by On Track Safaris owned by wildlife conservationists, Will and Carol Fox. Through their wide offer of safaris worldwide, they show that conservation and tourism can work hand in hand.
Mid 2022, Marine Servonnat, a French citizen living in Southern Africa for the past seven years, made a research proposal to the foundation. Being a conservation ecologist herself and while working in the Okavango Delta in Botswana as a camp manager, it became obvious that the safari industry has a role to play in conservation. Indeed, by going daily on safari, guides and guests have constant and long-term access to information on wildlife. In the Okavango Delta, Rafiq et al. (2019) collaborated with a lodge to collect wildlife photograph of five large carnivores from tourists. In the same period, three other methodologies were deployed to assess large carnivore density: call-in station, spoor survey and camera traps. The results showed that all four methods estimated similar density for four out of the five carnivores but only the citizen-science method allow identifying cheetahs in the study area. The use of citizen science was the cheapest method (USD 300) and the camera trap surveys the most expensive one (USD 9,550). As data collection were done during safari game drive, the collection time was little compared to other methods, which in turn allowed researchers to rather spend more time on data processing.
There is an opportunity for the safari industry to participate in large citizen science monitoring programs together with the tourists who will become actors of conservation. All reserves that already have camera traps deployed can also form part of the Ingwe Leopard Research. Tourists can learn about camera trapping and collect images with their guides, residents of wildlife estates and managers of farms can set up and share their images. It is through the creation of a network of reserves, lodges, farms and wildlife estates, that we will better understand leopard distribution.
The sighting data are collected using a mobile app – the SMART conservation tool. The SMART platform is used worldwide by conservation organisations to conduct anti-poaching patrol but also to monitor wildlife. GPS location, number of individual, age & sex and photographs are all uploaded on the app and exported in the secure SMART cloud. All photographs, taken either with a camera or with a smartphone are then uploaded on the African Carnivore Wildbook to help with individual identification. All images are run against all leopard pictures ever uploaded on the Wildbook database, allowing conservationists to see if a leopard is a match to another one from a different reserve. The data are analysed by Marine who creates reports with sighting and territory maps, and updates ID kits for each reserve. She ultimately wishes to involve universities and give opportunities to students to analyse the data as part of their thesis. With such a valuable experience, these students will hopefully become the next generation of wildlife conservationists. When enough data are collected, the results will be published and shared with the relevant stakeholders to enhance leopard conservation in South Africa.
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