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Monday, 30 April 2012

Idube Safari Highlights #141: 14 - 18 April 2012

In this Highlights video:
The title sequence shows the Tlangisa female leopard walking towards the camera.
Elephant herd with calves close to the lodge.
Shangwa 3:3 young male leopard up a tree feeding on an impala whilst the Shangwa female watches from the ground.
The three Othawa lionesses, seen together for the first time for weeks. They were left hunting impala.
A nice big bull elephant on Idube access road.
Tlangisa female leopard drinking in a puddle at the side of the road.
A dark chanting goshawk feeding on a small snake.
A lone buffalo bull feeding in the reeds.
The pack of African wild dogs chasing impala and then feeding on the kill.
Three of the four Selati male lions, they had been responding to the calls of one of the Ximhungwe lionesses. 
Dewane male leopard patrolling, then taking a break to clean himself.
One of the troop of baboons that have been hanging around the lodge.
The Ximhungwe pride of lions (minus one female) sleeping close to the western boundary.
A hyena right outside the lodge grounds.
A nice relaxed elephant herd.
The Ximhungwe pride moving towards the eastern boundary.
The Shangwa 3:3 young male leopard, we spent almost the whole drive with him as he stalked various animals.
Zebra outside the lodge.
Kashane male leopard up a tree, looking rather unhappy as he had just lost his kill to a clan of hyena.
The african wild dog pack feeding and playing, they had caught another impala.
The hyena clan resting with the remains of their stolen impala.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Idube Safari Highlights #140: 05 - 08 April 2012

In this Highlights video:
The title page features a herd of zebra.
A large herd of elephants coming to drink at Ebony dam, north of the lodge.
A small herd of buffalo (a few males and one female) in the dry Mabrak riverbed.
Tlangisa female leopard posing in a tree with the moon rising behind her.
A quick glimpse of the Dam 3 female as she walked off from an attempt to mate with the Dewane male (who we did not see).
The Shangwa 3:3 young male leopard on a walkabout. 
The four Selati male lions at the confluence of the Kloof and Sand rivers.
A baby crocodile sunning itself on part of the broken causeway in the Sand river.
The Ximhungwe pride of lions resting in some long grass and teak thickets.
A huge bull elephant close up.
Hlab'nkunzi female leopard throwing herself at the Dewane male again, eventually they would mate...
The same huge bull elephant as earlier in the moonlight (And Ronald in the clip too!).
A side-striped jackal next to the road.
The Selati male lions caught a buffalo early in the morning, we missed the hunt but arrived as the last life was being strangled from the huge beast.
Kashane male leopard on patrol close to the lodge.
Returning to the Selati males in the afternoon, the kill now dragged into a bit of shade.
A small family of elephants at the confluence of the Mabrak and Sand rivers.
Kashane male leopard after an unsuccessful kudu hunt close to the lodge.
Reedbuck and hippo at Marula dam.
A nice herd of elephants with a few feisty calves.
Hippo at Xikwenga dam during a coffe break.
On a drive with Wessel:
Another playful young elephant.
A nice view of a herd off zebra.
The Ximhungwe pride of lions fast asleep.
A fascinating sighting of a young side-striped jackal catching flying termites.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Idube Safari Highlights #139: 02 - 04 April 2012

In this Highlights video:
The title credits feature the Shangwa 3:3 young male leopard
The Ximhungwe pride were deep in the south west, away from the Selati males. Here the youngsters are relaxed and playing.
After leaving the lions we had drinks and headed back to the lodge, bumping into the Hlab'nkunzi female leopard on the way back.
A herd of elephants that were feeding in the thick bush below Alberts koppies
A lone buffalo bull feeding on the side of the road.
A big bull elephant having a drink at Piva pan.
Hlab'nkunzi female leopard trailing the Dewane male, trying to tempt him to mate with her. She was not having much luck, her attempts were violently rejected mostly!
A herd of elephants close to the lodge.
The Selati males resting next to the road, north of the river.
Shangwa female leopard grooming her son before he moves off to feed on their impala kill.
A surprise sighting of the Selati males on a morning patrol, their tracks were still being followed on the other side of the reserve when we found them!
A herd of giraffe that the lions walked past.
A lovely bull elephant feeding on some lush green grass.
Another herd of giraffe. One of the males was keen to mate, but the female kept walking away.
At the end of the drive the Selati males were seen resting just to the south of the lodge.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Idube Safari Highlights #138: 31 March - 02 April 2012

In This Highlights video:
The title credits show a crocodile in the Sand River.
A small herd of elephants close to the lodge.
The Ximhungwe pride of lions feeding on a wildebeest, lots of interaction and growling. The kill was not far from the lodge.
Elephant bulls splashing around in Dam 5.
The Selati Males on a night patrol, they passed close to the Ximhungwe pride but did not notice them.
The Tassleberry female leopard in the Tulamznzi drainage line.
A young hyena that had the scent of the Tassleberry female but could not find her.
Zebra on the clearings in the south.
Giraffe on the camp clearings, they could be seen from breakfast.
A small group of buffalo bulls resting, with red-billed oxpeckers picking off parasites.
Shangwa female leopard on patrol in the new reaches of her territory, North of the river.
The Selati males on a morning patrol, North of the river. the four males had covered a huge distance. they did stop and rest at Kiri crossing for the day.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Strange Creatures: The Pangolin


This video features one of the strangest creatures we come across on drive, it is also one of the rarest sightings. It is the Ground Pangolin (Manis temminckii), also known as Temminck's Pangolin or the Cape Pangolin, one of four species of pangolin which can be found in Africa and the only one in southern and eastern Africa. Although it is present over quite a large area, it is rare throughout it and notoriously difficult to spot. Its scarcity is partly because it is hunted by humans for its scales, which are used in love charms, and partly because it is often burnt in bush fires.
With the exception of the underside, it is covered in extremely hard scales. When threatened, it usually will roll up into a ball to protect the vulnerable belly. The scales on the tail can also be used as blades to slash at attackers.
The Ground Pangolin can grow to a length of about 1 metre, with the tail typically between 30 and 50 cm. It has a disproportionately small head, powerful hindlegs, and small forelegs. Walking is done almost entirely on the backlegs with the heavy dragging tail acting as a counterweight.
Like other pangolin species, it is largely nocturnal, although it is also entirely terrestrial and usually found in savanna or open woodland, generally feeding on termites or ants. It is well adapted to this, with a very long (up to 50 cm) sticky tongue which is stored inside a pocket in the mouth until needed. Although it is capable of digging its own burrow, it prefers to occupy disused holes dug by a Warthog or an Aardvark or to lie in dense vegetation, making it even more difficult to observe.
This animal was named for the Dutch zoologist Coenraad Jacob Temminck.
The physical appearance of pangolins is marked by large, hardened, plate-like scales. The scales, which are soft on newborn pangolins but harden as the animal matures, are made of keratin, the same material of which human fingernails and tetrapod claws are made. The pangolin is often compared to a walking pine cone or globe artichoke. It can curl up into a ball when threatened, with its overlapping scales acting as armour and its face tucked under its tail. The scales are razor-sharp, providing extra defence. The front claws are so long they are unsuited for walking, so the animal walks with its fore paws curled over to protect them. Pangolins can also emit a noxious-smelling acid from glands near the anus, similar to the spray of a skunk. They have short legs, with sharp claws which they use for burrowing into termite and ant mounds, as well as climbing.
Gestation is 120–150 days. Females usually give birth to a single offspring at a time. Weight at birth is 80–450 g (3–18 ounces). The young cling to the mother's tail as she moves about. Weaning takes place at around three months of age, and pangolins become sexually mature at two years.
Pangolins are hunted and eaten in many parts of Africa, and are one of the more popular types of bush meat. They are also in great demand in China because their meat is considered a delicacy and some Chinese believe pangolin scales reduce swelling, promote blood circulation and help breast-feeding women produce milk.  In November 2010, pangolins were added to the Zoological Society of London's list of genetically distinct and endangered mammals.
Pangolin populations have suffered from illegal trafficking. In May 2007, for example, 31 pangolins were found aboard an abandoned vessel off the coast of China. The boat contained some 5,000 endangered animals.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Happy Hippopotami?

Statistics show that the hippopotamus is responsible for more human deaths per year in Africa than all of the other large mammals put together. In fact on the list of deadly African creatures the hippo ranks fourth, behind mosquitoes, bees and crocodiles. All of these top four creatures have something in common – frequent contact with humans. The first three on the list deserve their ranking – disease and allergy are the reasons for the mosquitoes and bees being up at the top and the crocodile’s surprise attacks combined with the fact that humans are easy prey give them their high ranking. Hippo on the other hand are largely peaceful grazers who spend their days lazing around in the water – Human stupidity is the reason for their high ranking, much more so than the actual danger that a hippo can pose to a human.

Hippos occur widely in the larger watercourses and dams around Africa, and so do human settlements so some interaction is inevitable. The stupidity aspect come with not understanding the behaviour of a hippo. At night hippos come out of the water to feed, returning at sunrise. At sunrise many people head to the water to wash so the people and the hippo meet at the waters edge. Hippo will generally run straight through a person to get into the safety of the water, not as an aggressive manoeuvre, but out of fear. The hippo feels threatened by humans so moves straight into the safety of the water, usually along a well defined path. People make the mistake of using the same paths to go to the water, hence the contact between the two. If people stayed off the hippo paths in the early morning they would be a lot safer, but they don’t…

When a hippo is in the water it feels safe and will not come out to bother people on the edges of the waterways as long as they do not get in the water as well. People do still get in the water – to swim , bathe and fish. The hippo can then perceive this as a thread and may attack to defend itself. Simple rule here would be ‘Don't get in the water with a hippo” but this rule is often broken.

Could it be that people do not know there is a hippo in the water where they are? Perhaps so, but the hippo are kind enough to give a series of warnings before they attack. The warnings include vocalization, yawning and scent marking. If these warnings are ignored then it is down to human stupidity if anything goes wrong.

The selection of videos here show that the warning displays from hippos are hard to miss!


The final video was used for the opening sequence of the Discovery Channel’s series “Dual Survival” episode entitled “Hippo Island”