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South Africa Camp News – March 2013

March 4, 2013 Southern Africa Bush Tails


Ta Shebube to open 3 luxury camps in Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
June opening date for Rooiputs

Ta Shebube’s 3 luxury desert camps, Rooiputs, Polentswa and Union’s End, are set in their own private areas which are strategically located a long the predator -rich Nossob River Valley on the Botswana side of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. For Opening Celebration Offer , please contact our office –

The Kgalagadi is characterised by the red, rolling sand dunes, dune bushveld, scattered pans, dune crests, the fossil river environment of the Nossob and Auob River valleys, vast open Acacia savannas and expansive, grassy plains. The dry river beds show predators and antelopes off at a premium and provide excellent photographic opportunities. Eighty well -established water holes along the Auob and Nossob Rivers attract large numbers of desert plains game and predators and, their proximity to the game drive roads makes them an ideal close -up vantage point for photographers.

With its rugged, scenic beauty, abundance and variety of wildlife, atmosphere of desert solitude, 4×4 wilderness trails and its culture, the Kgalagadi is an unspoilt and undiscovered treasure trove. Due to its extremely isolated location and harsh terrain the park gets relatively few visitors.

Predators are the area’s big attraction and include: the black -maned Kgalagadi lion, leopard, brown and spotted hyena, jackal and wildcat and it is one of Africa’s best parks for the ch eetah, which thrive by hunting in its fossil river valleys and the surrounding dunes. Over 300 bird species have been recorded and Nossob and Polentswa Pan are rated as one of the best places to view raptors, particularly in summer.

Rooiputs, located 25 k m north of Twee Rivieren, will comprise of 11 luxury thatched chalets constructed from a clever mix of wood, canvas and glass with furnishings reflecting the rich, ethnic textures of Africa and the desert. Whereas Polentswa and Union’s End, located 190 km north, will be classic, tented camps capturing the romance of a nostalgic bygone era (9 and 6 tents respectively). A luxury desert suite and a family unit, lapa, boma, library, plunge pool, wellness massages and bird hide will be additional features at selected camps. Additionally to fully inclusive rates Ta Shebube will also be offering full board/self-drive rates. All camps can be accessed by road and there are daily scheduled flights from Cape Town and Johannesburg into Upington . The Twee Rivieren airs trip is a 50 minute charter from Upington.

Weekly sightings of the MalaMala Seven: 17 February – 23 February 2013
Here are the sightings for the week ending 23 February 2013 :
 Number of lion sightings: 12
 Number of leopard sightings: 17
 Number of elephant sightings: 47
 Number of buffalo sightings: 28
 Number of wild dog sightings: 2
 Number of cheetah sightings: 1

*Rhino sightings currently unavailable.

Last year was not always a time of plenty for the Styx pride. With only two fit adult lionesses hunting for the entire pride, the felines often struggled to bring down large game. In last month’s Game Report, we mentioned that it is about time the sub adult lions of the Styx pride start to contribute more meaningfully to hunts. During the week, the lions managed to successfully hunt an adult female giraffe. Th is is no easy task, and the hunt would have required strategy and cooperation by the lions. Hopefully it is a sign that the youngsters in the pride are coming of age, and that the lions can enjoy preying on larger prey species more consistently. Portrait of the unknown young male lion – Gary Hill
The lions fed on the giraffe for three days before an unknown male lion was attracted to the area. The Styx lions were not prepared to fight for the little remains of the carcass, and they moved off, leaving the male to feed. This male appears to be about five years of age, and his identity is still a mystery at this stage. He is not the only unfamiliar male lion th at has been moving through the property of late. There has been another older male, perhaps around seven or eight years of age, that has been trailing a large herd of buffalo in the northeastern parts of the property. This older male has very worn teeth in dicating that he may be even older, yet he has almost no scarring on his face. It could be that he has not run into much trouble in his life and has not been dominant over a pride. This would explain his lack of scars.

The older unknown male lion has a prominent ‘gape’ on the right side of his mouth – Gary Hill

Both of these males have been moving throughout the territory of the Manyelethi males. It is understandable for them to be able to lurk on the fringes of the Manyelethi male’s domain. These males have a huge territory, and it is a tall order for them to keep a watertight grip on their kingdom. However this male lion managed to sneak right within the core territory of the Styx pride and steal the giraffe carcass. With their young cubs present, t his could have easily been a disaster for the pride. The Manyelethi males have been spending much of their time to the west, opening up a huge portion of their territory to intruders. We invite you to have a look at the pictures and see if you recognize ei ther of the unknown males.

Two weeks ago a Cape hunting dog was sadly ambushed by the Styx pride whilst feeding on a duiker. The dog was one of two, and the remaining canine was left howling alone into the night. Early one morning, on arrival at the scene where the Styx pride had killed the giraffe, we found yet another carcass belonging to a Cape hunting dog. We believe that the carcass belongs to the second dog in the pairing. At least its period of loneliness is over.

Two lionesses from the Marthly pride spent the early parts of last week feeding on a zebra close to large rocky outcrop known as Stwise. The remainder of the pride did not show up at the carcass. Perhaps they already had another kill nearby.

The Fourways pride had a busy week. We have oft en remarked on the incredible distance that these lions travel, and in the past while has been no different, as they ventured from the northern boundary to the Kapen River in quick time. The Eyrefield pride, as with the Manyelethi males, has been spending time in the west. This leaves any of their territory to the east of the river unoccupied, with the Fourways lions enjoying their absence. They have been roaring frequently in the area, a sure sign of their confidence.

Gary Hill
Weekly sightings of the Ma laMala Seven: 10 February – 16 February 2013
Here are the sightings for the week ending 16 February 2013 :
 Number of lion sightings: 7
 Number of leopard sightings: 15
 Number of elephant sightings: 55
 Number of buffalo sightings: 25
 Number of wild dog sightings: 2
 Number of cheetah sightings: 6

*Rhino sightings currently unavailable.

Francois Fourie, Field Guide at Singita Sabi Sand, had the great fortune of spotting the female Ravenscourt leopard last week, while in action defending her young. The Sabi Sand Reserve is well known for frequent leopard sightings (as well as a general diversity of game), since the big cats are attracted to the camouflage afforded them by the lush riverine flora. You can read regular updates on wildlife sightings in the area by following our fascinating monthly Guides’ Diaries.

It was once again one of those mornings that will stick with me forever. We are so privileged to wake up in this amazing place every day and get to see such incredible things; this morning just proved that we really have the best job in world.
We headed out from the lodge with our main aim being to spot a leopard. We headed south and not even ten minutes into the excursion, our tracker Sandile saw the spoor of a female leopard and her cub. We knew she must be in the area because there had been a report that she had killed a you ng impala lamb the day before. She wasn’t on the site of the kill, instead there were plenty of hyena tracks and a drag mark suggesting that she lost her lamb to a hungry pack.
We followed the fresh tracks and about 15 minutes later we found her and th e cub with another impala lamb hoisted in a marula tree. Lurking hopefully at the base of the tree was an opportunistic hyena, while the Ravenscourt female lay not too far from the tree keeping a wary eye on the predator. Suddenly the cub decided to come d own from his perch and with that motion the hyena promptly got to his feet, most likely assuming that the leopard had dropped the kill. In the blink of an eye, the protective female was up and flying to attack the hyena that was threatening her cub, successfully warding him off. It was amazing to see how quickly and naturally her mothering instinct kicked in within a matter of seconds and I will remember it along with some of the greatest moments experienced in the bush.