Thanda Private Game Reserve - Ranger Diary for April 2013 – by Christian Sperka
My guests, Bheki - my tracker - and I had many great sightings in April. As I am the Specialist Photography Guide on the reserve I thought 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
2 April 2013
Symbols of Africa!
For me these are two true symbols for the African bush: Giraffe and Fever Tree! The Thanda guests on my vehicle enjoyed this beautiful scene in the morning sun. The Fever Tree (Acacia xanthophloea) is a species of Acacia native to eastern and southern Africa. The trees grow to a height of 15–25 m. The characteristic bark is smooth, powdery and greenish-yellow in color. It is one of the few trees where photosynthesis takes place in the bark. Fever trees are fast-growing and short-lived.
10 April 2013
I remember Thanda’s North Pride Lion cubs when they were not even four month old; small little cats with tiny teeth, small claws and a very playful nature. Well, the only thing that is left is the playful nature
With almost one year of age they have quite formidable teeth and claws and they can play already very rough. They are still youngster, fully depended on mum and the pride to provide food, but they will start learning the hunting trade soon. This one was keeping an eye on the Thanda guests on my vehicle while the rest of the pride was sleeping after a night’s hunt.
11 April 2013
Hundreds of additional Impalas, Wildebeest, Nyala, Zebra and Kudus have arrived at Thanda Private Game Reserve. This large number of additional plains game enhances 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.
Thanda will also receive additional Cape Buffalo Bulls. Together with over 30 Buffalo birth in this rainy season, this will bring the number of Buffalo at Thanda to well over 160.
The images show the release of Impala and Wildebeest onto the reserve…
… and this is a link to a short video from one of the Impala arrivals: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=67OVEjBepFw
13 April 2013
On the way back from our Bush Dinner we spotted a group of Spotted Hyena. They obviously had a bit of family trouble. A few of the animals showed injuries from fighting.
14 April 2013
Imagine you are a Cheetah male!
You have not a had a meal for a while and you and your brother are getting hungry …
… you stalk some newly arrived Impala. It is a good thing (for you not them) that they do not know the area so well yet and …
… you got one. And after a good and hasty meal (not touching the prey’s stomach – its smell could attract some nasty company) …
… you can hardly move …
… so you decide to clean yourself up a bit and get some needed rest – A good day!
18 April 2013
This White Rhino mum and her small male calf were not afraid of our vehicle. They came very close to our vehicle when the little one had a good “drinking session”. A very special sighting not only for the Thanda guests on my vehicle.
19 April 2013
Great news for Cheetah conservation. A Cheetah female on Thanda Private Game Reserve gave birth to four cubs. Yesterday we managed to get pictures of the five weeks old cubs for the first time. They played around a thicket in which their mum hides them when she goes hunting.
The collage shows a few images of the cubs and the mother. These pictures were taken with 910 mm lens length across a valley (hence the marginal quality).
21 April 2013
When we were on the way to pick up our Thanda guests for the afternoon game drive we ran into these two Black Mambas. The two males were fighting for mating rights with a female in the midday sun on one of the main roads at Thanda. Both of them were so engaged in their actions that they were completely oblivious of us. What a sighting!
About Black Mambas:
The Black Mamba (Dendroaspis polylepis) is the longest venomous snake in Africa. It is named for the black color of the inside of the mouth rather than the color of its scales which varies from dull yellowish-green to a gun-metal grey. It is also the fastest snake in the world, capable of moving at 4.32 to 5.4 meters per second (16–20 km/h, 10–12 mph). The Black Mamba has a reputation for being very aggressive, but it usually attempts to flee from humans like most snakes, unless it is threatened. Without rapid and vigorous anti-venom therapy, a bite from a Black Mamba is almost always fatal.
23 April 2013
Giraffe at Sunset!
My favorite place for drinks at sundown is on the eastern side of our largest dam. When the sun sets one gets perfect reflections in the water und on this day we were lucky enough to catch a journey of Giraffes at the right time.
25 April 2013
It might look like something from a science fiction movie, but is a small insect, a Praying Mantis.
This specimen took a ride on my vehicle for over 20 minutes. The Thanda guests enjoyed taking pictures of this little “alien”
PS: If you are male Praying Mantis you live very dangerously – see below!
About Praying Mantis:
Mantodea (or mantises, mantes) is an order of insects that contains over 2,400 valid species in 15 families worldwide. The English common name for any species in the order is “Praying Mantis”, because of the typical “prayer-like” posture with folded fore-limbs.
Sexual cannibalism is common among mantises in captivity, and may also be observed in the field. The female may begin feeding by biting off the male’s head, and if mating has begun, the male’s movements may become even more vigorous in its delivery of sperm. The male engages the female in courtship dance, to change her interest from feeding to mating.
27 April 2013
Big Five in One Drive !
What a day – During today’s evening game drive we saw all the Big Five – Lion, Leopard, Elephant, Rhino and Buffalo. The Thanda guests were delighted – and so was I!
27 April 2013
These are a few recent and very special Thanda sightings.
We spotted a small Serval on the fence to our base camp. This was my first Serval sighting at Thanda …
… our dominant male Lion got quite a fright when he almost stepped on this Puff Adder in the dark. The snake gave him a warning hiss and continued on its path …
... and another first for me was a Secretary Bird hunting on our savanna …
… and last but not least a Rhino having a mud bath – pure bliss!
28 April 2013
Vodka Martini, shaken not stirred J
One of my guests was kind enough to take a picture of me with my bar setup. Next to G&Ts (Gin and Tonic), the most important safari drink, I now serve Vodka Martinis at our drink stop (inspired by a guest who commented that Thanda was so luxurious that James Bond would choose it J.
30 April 2013
Romeo and Juliet
The guests on my vehicle thought it was a bit like Romeo and Juliet, the Montgues and the Capulets.
One of our Lionesses had split away from the pride and was obviously looking for a mate. But the perfectly good dominant male Lion provided by the Thanda management was not of her choosing!
She had an eye on one of the male Lions on the neighboring property. After she roared for a while he came to the fence and then walked up and down with her for a while.
But, as in the Shakespeare play, “a happy end” was not possible and after a while both of them went their own way.
Our Lioness re-joined her own pride the next day and looked again content in her familiar surroundings. And … as we have a lot of Lions already … it was a good thing that she did not mate at this stage!
Major Game Sighting Statistics April 2013
This is a summary of all our major game sightings year to date.
(Data for Thanda Guiding Team Christian Sperka / Bheki Ngubane only)
(Data for Thanda Guiding Team Christian Sperka / Bheki Ngubane only)
Lion 16 in April / 60 Year to date
Elephant 7 in April / 44 Year to date
White Rhino 9 in April / 32 Year to date
Buffalo 9 in April / 30 Year to date
Cheetah 6 in April / 18 Year to date
Leopard 1 in April / 6 Year to date
Black Rhino 0 in April / 0 Year to date
Others 1 in April / 10 Year to date
The total number of our major game sightings “year to date” is 200 (on 195 game drives).
172 were Big Five sightings.