Thanda Private Game Reserve - Ranger Diary for July 2013 – by Christian Sperka
My guests, Bheki - my tracker - and I had many great sightings in July. As I am the Specialist Photography Guide on the reserve I provide a short photographic journal of some of our best sightings and of some special events during this month.
Christian Sperka, Specialist Photography Guide and Resident Wildlife Photographer – Thanda Private Game Reserve
13 July 2013
No “thorny” rides
The most important task for the Thanda Guiding Team is to show guests the many aspects of the Thanda ecosystem on game drives.
Another important responsibility is the bush-clearing of roads. During the summer many plants grow into the roadways and can turn a game drive into a “thorny” ride.
This collage shows the “before” and “after” of the road maintenance work of the guiding team, which ensures that the guests have a comfortable drive on the major routes through the reserve.
14 July 2013
Over 1,000 additional antelopes and zebra arrived over the last few month at Thanda Private Game Reserve. These Impala, Wildebeest, Nyala, Zebra and Kudu will enhance the excellent Thanda Game Drive Experience even further. Besides seeing the Big Five on daily drives it is very exciting to see large groups of these herbivores roaming on the reserve.
The images show the release of a young Nyala bull and a group of Zebra.
15 July 2013
Sunscreen, Insect Repellent and Cooling System!
Thanda guests enjoyed watching the herd of Elephants taking a mud bath at a waterhole. After an enjoyable swim and the mud bath they were dusting themselves before they disappeared back into the bush.
Elephant use mud and sand as a sunscreen, protecting their skin from ultraviolet light. Although tough, elephant’s skin is very sensitive. Without regular mud baths and dust baths to protect it from burning, insect bites and moisture loss, elephant’s skin may suffer serious damage.
16 July 2013
In a hurry!
These Burchell’s Zebra were all the sudden in a hurry when they spotted us.
We also saw a Water Monitor on the same game drive …
… and a Buffalo cow was calling for her youngster.
17 July 2013
On today’s evening game drive we followed the Thanda Elephant herd for almost three hours. We saw them moving over a hill, drinking at a waterhole, racing away from the water, crossing one of Thanda’s major roads and then feeding in a beautiful fever tree area.
It was difficult to choose one image for today’s post, but my favorite shots are of the two youngest Elephants in the group. The Thanda guests on my vehicle agreed on the high “cuteness factor” for these two!
18 July 2013
Our guest enjoyed this beautiful sunrise over Thanda …
… before we encountered the Thanda North Pride walking up the road.
19 July 2013
The most common Hornbill on Thanda is the Southern Yellow-billed species. But on this day we sighted the much rarer Crowned Hornbill. A treat for the birders on board J
20 July 2013
A crash of six!
Watching this crash of six Rhino was exciting. They were not relaxed as they shuffled back and forth. One of the female was not happy about the presence of an older bull around her calf.
21 July 2013
Our two Cheetah boys were lying in a recently burned area when we spotted them from the road. Driving off-road is not allowed on freshly burned ground so Bheki and I walked our guest a few meters to get a good view of those two magnificent creatures. Our guest enjoyed the experience very much. The two brothers kept us in view for a few minutes and then lost interest in the six humans nearby. What a sighting!
22 July 2013
At the start of today’s morning game drive we found ourselves in the middle of Thanda’s herd of Cape Buffalo …
… Then we watched a herd of Elephants drinking at a waterhole and …
… at the end tracked down the North Pride of Lions (the images shows a young male at his morning cleaning routine).
Three out of five – a good morning!
23 July 2013
Thanda’s two Cheetah brothers had an exciting encounter today. When walking along Thanda’s fence line they walked into two Lionesses which gave immediate chase.
The Cheetah out-ran the Lions to the open Savanna and then were very alert for a while to make sure that the “ladies” were no longer around.
24 July 2013
My favorite Elephant …
I like all the wild animals on Thanda but if I had to name my favorite Elephant this is the one. His name is Thulani.
Normally I do not use individual names for wildlife, but for our two largest bulls (40-45 years old / approx 6 tons in weight) I make an exception. Thulani can be identified by his calm nature and the “slightly out of line” tusks.
The Thanda guests on my vehicle really enjoyed the recent sighting of this gentle giant.
Major Game Sighting Statistics July 2013
This is a summary of all our major game sightings year to date.
(Data for Thanda Guiding Team Christian Sperka / Bheki Ngubane only)
Lion 8 in July / 97 Year to date
Elephant 4 in July / 61 Year to date
White Rhino 5 in July / 60 Year to date
Buffalo 3 in July / 43 Year to date
Cheetah 4 in July / 34 Year to date
Leopard 0 in July / 9 Year to date
Black Rhino 0 in July / 2 Year to date
Others 0 in July / 4 Year to date
The total number of our major game sightings “year to date” is 317 (on 348 game drives).
272 were Big Five sightings.
Note: Recording period in July: 13 – 24 July 2013
End of diary