Babies of pretty much any species are super cute!
Yesterday Kim and Hannes spotted one of the very rarest cats on earth, right on our reserve, on their way to work (now THAT'S a way to get to work, not bad huh?). And not only that, it was a mum, waiting in the thicket, while her little ones were making it over the dirt road on the reserve: baby Caracals! The cutest ever, one could eat them up. But judge for yourselves and see the photos that Hannes swiftly took of the two sweet little things. I hope they will grow up to become happy and successful Caracals on our reserve. I am delighted to see that our conservancy has become home to yet another rare and endangered species. That's something to be extremely proud of!
There is always lots to see on our reserve when you are out with our guides Hendrick, Uyani Themba or Togara ... and every day is a surprise. And now and then, nature throws in one of those "perfect" days when we see pretty much the entire spectrum of animals that one can see here, in one day, on a day with just wonderful weather.
Yesterday was one of those days.
The weather was terrific, and the animals kept coming: cheetahs, owls, elephants, lions, lots of plains game. All oft them gave our guests some of the best photo opportunities that one can get in Africa, and that's what South Africa is famous for. It's one of those days when I am jealous of our own guests, because they get to see so much more than myself, which is ironic. Just kidding .... I couldn't be any more pleased when our guests are returning, beaming all over, when their expectations have been surpassed.
See for yourselves!
Our safari blog had gotten hacked a couple of days ago, which is why it had been down for that time. All is back up again, thank God we have a great IT guy who was able to undo the damage that some Russian trolls attempted to cause to our blog. And to celebrate the return of our blog, I have great news to announce:
One of our lionesses has given birth to 3 cubs !! First litter in well over 2 years, so that's amazing news. We suspected for a while that she had given birth, as she had disappeared from sight for several weeks. Lions' lives are particularly vulnerable in the first weeks, so what mother lions do is that they hide them in dens to protect them and regularly move them from one den to another in order to not give the location away because of the smell buildup. Very clever.
The lioness was also very aggressive when we found her, and soon we knew why: 3 cubs! The encounter was quite short, and this is the best picture Uyai managed in the situation. Nonetheless, amazing news! Fingers crossed that the 3 cubs make it, that would be wonderful ... ! I'll let you know as soon as we know more.
This is the beauty about living in the bush! No one safari is ever the same. We started out with some White Backed Vultures and the eye of a Nile crocodile. He didn’t want to show himself. Moving along, we saw Wildebeest Jackal and Impala. A big Male Kudu and a Yellow billed Kite. Got some great shots of Giraffe with the mountain in the background and we also saw Zebras.
We stopped and picked up a Chameleon to show our guests as he was crossing the road. And a Leopard tortoise.
We were actually in search of the lions but they were eluding us. We stopped by Big Dam for sundowners when Uyai and Hendrick heard the leopard calling. Not even two minutes later the Lion was calling. What a decision to make!! Uyai eventually made the call and decided to go for the Leopard. And not 8 minutes into tracking. Stopping. Listening. There he was!!!!!!!!!!!! Our guests were so excited! We got some amazing photos from our Guest Clifford Barber as Uyai had to hold the spotlight and take pics. Many thanks to Clifford to let us share his outstanding footage of this stunning sighting. Very, very cool.
For the sake of being objective, and fair, I think it's nice to show a range of animals we typically see on a given day. I'd say that yesterday was a "typical" day, in the sense that we saw a wide range of animals, some "plain game", and some very rare ones. Overall, a very good day out of course! With the world's highest density of animals to be found in this area, you are guaranteed up-close animal sightings pretty much every 5 minutes, on average, and that is spectacular, if you compare it to most areas anywhere else in the world. I always call it "nature on steroids".
Here the photos we took yesterday, of some of the animals we saw. Of course this wasn't all we spotted, far from it, but it is a good example of the sort of wildlife one can expect to see on an average day when out on safari with us.
If you have beautiful photos of animals you saw here, please email them in to me at Bernard@vuyanilodge.com, I will be more than happy to post them here as a "safari report", and of course I will mention you as the photos' author!
Everyone knows what an elephant is. And most also know it is the largest of all mammals on land. They weigh up to 7 tons (that's 3 pickup trucks for you), and can be as tall as 4 meters and sometimes a bit more. I have seen some examples that defy the imaginable.
They are the sole survivors of the branch of the "Proboscidea", the other (now extinct members) are the Mastodons and of course the well known (since the Ice Age film) Mammoths.
Despite huge efforts of conservation, elephants remain endangered, habitat loss, as well as poaching for their tusks, being main reasons for this.
We have a growing herd here on the reserve, having grown by over 50% over the last 6 years, so the herd is now counting close to 20 specimen, I believe. The reserve is so large, we could easily have up to 60 elephants here, and even more, so over coming years, this bodes very well! There are not many reserves where you experience elephants as close-up as here, so that's what you can expect over here.
We saw the herd yesterday, foraging around in the bush. They eat up to (and exceeding) 300kg of food each day, and in order to hit this target, they eat 22 hours out of 24. Now that is a lot of eating! They quasi never sleep because of this, so I am not sure this is too pleasant. They must be hungry all the time ... their digestive system is not efficient, so this makes the matter all the worse.
Here the photos we took yesterday, when we ran into the whole herd. Awesome sighting!
... still is the lion. Yep. There's no other way to put it.
And to see one of these lions close up-front, there isn't much better. Well, maybe an elephant sighting, or a rhino sighting, but there is one thing that strikes all our guests, and that is the sheer size of these cats. Lions can weigh up to 300kg (that's about 90 times the weight of a house cat!!), and this makes it the most powerful and feared predator in the African veld.
Lions are not too endangered yet, but their numbers are falling, as continued habitat loss is causing pressure on this species. So reserves such as ours are pivotal so that lions will roam this earth for many generations to see, hopefully forever of course. I remain optimistic that mankind will realise one day that taking 99% of the world's land, and leaving 1% for wildlife is greedy, and that we need to give back a lot to wildlife, and share this planet more fairly.
So here photos of our pride, as seen 2 days ago. What beauty.
...when I said that you can walk up very close to our cheetahs and get some of the best shots you can imagine here in South Africa. This is as unique an experience as it gets.
Of all cats, the cheetahs are the very rarest in Africa, with only about 3000 left in the wild on a continent that is larger than North America, Latin America and Europe combined. So you can imagine how unique a sighting like this one is. There are only about 300-400 cheetahs known to live in the wild in South Africa, and that is a country twice the size of France. I think that shows what a rare gem such a sighting really is.
Uyai took photos of guests taking close-up shots of the cheetahs yesterday. We are able to find the cheetahs 2-3 times per week, so if you stay a week with us, you will see them, that's quasi guaranteed. What a joy!
Guests were treated to some fabulous sights today, they really were!
Fans of the big cats saw both cheetahs and lions feasting on a baby wildebeest. That's rare and incredible.
White rhinos were grazing and sitting in the warm sun, a young giraffe was using a bush to scratch an itch on its rump whilst another was sitting quietly with a red billed ox-pecker perched on its back. Beautiful, that's African nature at its most stunning.
Other birds sighted were a cape gloss starling, a stepped eagle, a white backed vulture and a three banded plover, all posing nicely for the camera.
Other sightings included male kudu with their spectacular corks-screw horns, baboons drinking from water puddles in the river bed, black backed jackals, zebra, warthog and two shy waterbuck hiding in the bush.
I am posting the best shots of the many that were taken today, but I would saw a good dozen truly amazing sightings happened today, which is incredible. Our guests were treated to many of Africa's rarest or most iconic animals, in one single day. The Vuyani Safari Lodge at its very best, I'd say. Well done to Themba and Uyai for their excellent work, today was spectacular.
It's a difficult one ... but I would say it is Togara and his guests that are photobombing here. The cheetahs didn't eke their way into the photo by surprise. I think this photo illustrates exactly what I mean by "as close-up as a safari gets". This is nature as palpable as one could possibly imagine it, I think.
A great experience for our guests, and something so unique that it is breathtaking. Only 300 cheetahs are left in the wild in South Africa, so to get this close to two of them (in a country twice the size of France!), that's quite something.
As we say in South Africa: you must enjoy!