How Leopard, Cheetah and Lions Take Down Prey
Jul26

How Leopard, Cheetah and Lions Take Down Prey

Leopard, cheetah and lions are all part of the big cat family but have vastly different hunting and eating techniques. Let’s look at how leopard, cheetah and lions take down prey. How they Hunt Leopard : Leopards are solitary hunters. They dart between areas of cover until they are within close proximity of prey, and then they ambush. They approach prey by stalking and are experts at stealth mode. They keep low to the ground, and their tawny mottled colouring ensures they remain camouflaged during the most complex of hunts. When they are within a few metres, they lunge forward and get their quarry in a lethal stronghold, executing a swift kill tactic of strangulation and suffocation. They’re adaptable hunters and target a variety of prey, from birds to small antelope. Hunts are generally conducted at night and during the cooler hours of dawn and dusk. Although they are lone hunters, on occasion you will see a female hunting together with her cub.  Their modus operandi is the element of surprise.  Lion : Lions are pride orientated cats, and hunt together with their pride. It’s mainly the females that hunt, and it’s a well-thought out strategic method of hunting. The females target their prey and make eye contact with the rest of the pride, who are strategically surrounding the prey. The go ahead is given with one look, and lions fly from all angles. They claw their prey’s rump, shredding the area and clamber towards the throat region where they strangle their prey. When prey does escape the deathly clutches of the lions, they often die from injuries inflicted by the lion. The positions the lions take are similar to positions on a football field. It is believed that male lions don’t always hunt because their lustrous manes are hard to hide!  Their modus operandi is the element of power.  Cheetah : When cheetah hunt alone they tend to take down small prey, but when they hunt in coalitions (normally cheetah brothers) they will target larger prey. Cheetah pretty much have only one hunting skill : speed. They don’t have the strength of their big cat counterparts, and don’t even have the power to fight if under attack. They are so susceptible to losing prey and thus tend to be diurnal hunters, which eliminates plenty of carnivore competition.  Cheetah will target their prey and use the tall grasses or vegetation as cover while they stalk their prey. They cannot sustain long distances at speeds over 70km/h, so they approach their prey with caution and when within 100 m they will start their electric sprint.  Their modus operandi is the...

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5 Interesting Facts About the Spotted Hyena
Jul24

5 Interesting Facts About the Spotted Hyena

The scavenging hyena is often cast as a villainous half-wit in literature and movies, giving it a bad reputation for being a good-for-nothing cackling thief. They hyena is said to embody all that is evil, and  there are also many myths and legends associated with these creatures. It is falsely believed that hyena are cowards, but in actual fact they’re make for fierce competition in the wild and certainly aren’t afraid of their competitors. With all wildlife, there is reason for for species specific behaviour. And it’s our job to understand each species’ role in the wild. Spotted hyena don’t do themselves any favours when they live up to their stereotype, but their role in the wild is vital. And spotting one loping across the road at night while you’re out on game drive is an exciting experience! Not only do hyena serve an important role in the wild, but they often lead guides and trackers to exciting predator sightings. 5 Interesting Facts About the Misunderstood Spotted Hyena :  The hyena is the ultimate opportunist and constantly scours the bushveld for signs of recent kills. They listen intently for cries of prey being taken down by predators, and head straight to the area in the hopes of finding a free meal. They steal from leopards, and even attempt to displace lions from a kill. With their bone-crushing jaws, hyena will devour everything at a kill site (often with the help of vultures). They clean up all that is discarded by the big cats. If it weren’t for hyena we’d have graveyards of bones, decaying flesh and messy scenes littering the pristine bushveld. Ultimately, they are the janitors of the bushveld. Hyena have a digestive system of steel and simply aren’t affected by diseased flesh. If there is a diseased carcass littering the land, it will affect other scavengers and those that feast of the remains of the kill. Hyena actually prevent the spread of disease by eating contaminated carcasses. The familiar whooping sound that echoes through the night is one of the many vocalisations from a hyena. Another sound synonymous with a hyena is its high-pitched laughing cackle. Many people think that the sounds emitted from the hyena are quite menacing, but each of their 14 vocalisations is a method of communicating with their clan members. A hyena’s laughter is actually one of anxiety and fear. It’s a response to being attacked, or chased from the kill site. And their series of grunts and groans form part of their unique greeting ceremony. Interestingly enough, hyena aren’t related to cats or dogs, and are actually more closely related to  civets...

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Our Top 5 Strangely Cute Animals to Spot on Safari
Jul04

Our Top 5 Strangely Cute Animals to Spot on Safari

There is nothing more endearing than spotting a bumbling ball of lion cub fluff stumbling over tiny obstacles. The pups, cubs and calves of the safari world almost always evoke a “aaah cute” response. It’s a natural reaction to spotting one of the youngsters belonging to the big five. First time safari-goers will no doubt have a list of wildlife they’d like to see while out in the wild, but there are probably numerous species that haven’t made the list, and they’re the “smaller” things that bring an added dimension to game viewing. In this blog post, we chat about our top 5 strangely cute animals to spot on safari – the ones that play second fiddle to the more popular wildlife. Dwarf Mongoose The dwarf mongoose is the smallest carnivore in the bushveld, and are diurnal creatures which make them easy to spot while out on drive.  These creatures are gregarious and highly social animals that live in communities in homes comprising a network of underground burrows. Mongoose tend to dart back and forth in the low-lying shrubbery in search of scorpions, spiders and insects, which make up the bulk of their diet. The dwarf mongoose has a strong hierarchal social structure between same sexes, with a dominant pair heading up the group. Dwarf mongoose are strong in spirit and character, and are actually extremely territorial! Honey Badger The honey badger is a ferocious and industrious animal that has an adorable appearance, but should actually be feared. It looks adorable, but it has a menacing streak. A honey badger has the ability to sleep off a massive dose of cobra venom and simply becomes vaguely drowsy when injected with the potential poison. Honey badgers don’t fear much and will quite happily waltz straight into the grounds of a lodge in search of food. Their blade-like claws are used to dig up termite mounds in search of prey, break locks off doors and for stripping bark off trees to access a supply of protein-filled grubs and insects. A honey badger has a leathery and loose skin which actually protects its body. If gripped by the jaws of a predator, a honey badger can twist and turn freely within its skin, avoiding damage to major organs. Moral of the story? Don’t ever mess with a honey badger! Bushbaby The bushbaby is an adorable little creature with human-like extremities. Its fingernails are rounded like a humans and the feet resemble that of a baby. It’s a nocturnal primate that spends most of its time clinging to branches, and they’re quite hard to spot given their minute size. It has disc shaped...

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Lake Bogoria in Kenya is Pink Because of its Flamingo Population
Jun02

Lake Bogoria in Kenya is Pink Because of its Flamingo Population

A rippling lake sparkles with hues of blues, reflections of green and deep graphite colours. These are the spectrum of colours you would associate with the colour of a lake. Whether it’s Lake Tanganyika, Lake Malawi or even Lake Victoria; their common denominator is that they all fall within the same colour spectrum at first glance. One of the Great African Lakes that falls out of the normal-colour-of-lakes category is Lake Bogoria in the northern Kenyan Rift Valley that forms part of the Lake Bogoria National Reserve. Between August – October Lake Bogoria turns a shade of pink, and upon first seeing the lake you will notice an expansive sea of pink. Upon closer inspection you will notice those dots of pink candy-floss are actually a flamboyance of lesser flamingoes. Lake Bogoria is a fascinating geographical marvel. The lake is dotted with hot springs and geysers on the western shore, which is caused by geothermal activity. The water source of Lake Bogoria is derived from the heavy rains during the green season and from the numerous hot springs feeding into the lake. The lake does not flow into the sea or follow any river course. The water simply dissipates during the dry season from the excessive heat, and leaves behind a massive area with a high salinity level. When the water levels begin to drop, that’s when the flamingoes flock to the shores. August – October is the time to visit this area if you’d like to witness this wildlife spectacle. However – Lake Bogoria is worth a visit, given that it is has the highest number of natural geysers in Africa. Another recommended time of year to visit is during the drier season, which is peak safari season in Africa. The rainy season disappears which means so does the availability of reliable water sources. Wildlife will flock to the shores of the many lakes and waterholes in their surrounding habitat as it’s their only source of water. With the fluctuating rains and volatile climatic conditions, the chemistry of the lake can change which always sees an influx of unique wildlife – or none at all when the salt levels are too high. We recommend staying at the Lake Bogoria Hotel which has a variety of accommodation options. Lake Bogoria is dramatic, fascinating and most certainly worth a visit.    ...

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We Answer 5 Unusual FAQs About Travelling to South Africa
May31

We Answer 5 Unusual FAQs About Travelling to South Africa

In previous blog posts we set out to answer common FAQs from travellers to South Africa. In this blog post, we’ve tackled a few of the more unusual questions that we’ve stumbled across from guests prior to their arrival in this country. It’s always important to have a vague understanding of local customs, rules and what to expect upon arrival. But it’s equally important to relax, roll with the punches and not stress too much about you upcoming holiday to South Africa, a world-in-one.  What is the public bathroom/toilet situation like in South Africa? You’re in a new country sampling strange foods and your body clock is out of whack, which is why this is a perfectly valid question. In short, there aren’t many public bathrooms in South Africa. The public toilet situation is generally clean and safe in coastal areas where facilities tend to spill out from the beach area. Restaurants will quite happily let you use their facilities, and malls have very good bathroom facilities. Even small shopping centres will have facilities, and most gas stations will have secure bathrooms for public use. Public toilets are normally free and sometimes have a security guard outside. Toilets are clean, and they’re flush, raised toilets one would expect in most western countries. If you do use public toilet that seems remote, please approach with caution and remember – “safety in numbers”! We’ve heard about the high crime rate in South Africa. Do we need to be vigilant while at our private safari lodge? Not really, no. It’s always important to exercise common sense, and that goes without saying for any travel destination. Keep your valuables in your suitcase, or lock them in a safe. Lodges are slightly more relaxed than city hotels, which makes sense given that they’re generally upmarket establishments located in exclusive reserves. When entering these private reserves, there is a warden and tight security – only guests staying at lodges are allowed into reserves. At lodges you can’t walk around – you are surrounded by untamed bushveld and hectares of wild terrain, which means no opportunistic thieves wandering about. The only thing you should worry about? Having fun! Is public transport reliable? No. And it’s not particularly safe for tourists. The train lines in Cape Town are okay, and the main route from Cape Town to Simon’s Town is incredibly scenic. If you do decide to do this journey, travel at peak hours and don’t board an empty carriage. For a hair raising experience you could catch a short journey on a local taxi, or grab a bus. Do these methods of transport come recommended for first-time...

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Know Before You Go : 4 Facts About a Giraffe’s Eating Habits
May28

Know Before You Go : 4 Facts About a Giraffe’s Eating Habits

The giraffe is the world’s tallest terrestrial animal and thrives on a diet of fresh greens. These curious creatures tower above the bushveld and, despite their  gangly appearance and awkward gait, they move with ease through their environment. They survive in arid landscapes, savanna and open plains; and vary in size and colour depending on their region. The next time you’re in a game viewer and come across a giraffe devouring greenery, take a moment to observe their eating habits. Here are 4 facts about a giraffe’s eating habits that will ensure you have a deeper understanding of their dietary habits. 1. Giraffe don’t need to compete for food. Giraffe are browsers that feed off fresh shoots and leaves, and their height advantage means they have access to plenty of foliage that other herbivores cannot reach. There’s not much competition for food sources with these delightfully curious terrestrial animals. The only other animal that can reach into the giraffe feeding zone is the elephant. The pachyderms stretch upwards and reach branches with their trunks, also allowing them to grapple lush greens outside of the zone of other browsers. Male giraffe are always in an enviable position given that are almost always taller than their female counterparts! 2. Giraffe eat old bones. When herbivores animals eat bones, it is commonly referred to as osteophagia.  The reason for digesting such unpalatable items is purely to supplement their diet with calcium and phosphorus. If their diet lacks in nutrients giraffe will bend down to the ground to scrounge for old bones. They will then chew/twirl the bones in their mouth to extract as many minerals as possible. 3. Giraffe’s favourite food is acacia. But acacia trees talk.  The bushveld is dotted with African acacia trees which have juicy leaves and a thorny spine. Giraffe use their prehensile tongue to grip the leaves and extract the greenery without disturbing the thorny bits. Because this is their favourite meal, it means that our tall creatures tend to journey towards belts of acacia. Acacia will release an excess of tannins when under threat from overfeeding, and this compound leaves the greenery tasting incredibly bitter. The other trees will recognise the tannin release as an alarm system and follow suit. Giraffe activate the natural alarm system in acacia trees – a truly fascinating fact! 4. When a giraffe drinks water, it’s quite a process.  Giraffe only drink every few days and gain most of their moisture from their herbivorous diet. When they do drink they approach their water source with caution. They scan their environment for potential threats, hesitate, stand for a while and then make a decision...

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Celebrating the Powerful Females of the Bushveld
Apr22

Celebrating the Powerful Females of the Bushveld

Males in the animal kingdom are celebrated for their warrior status and their ability to protect their domain and females. Filled with testosterone and eager to engage in ruthless showdowns and battles of epic proportions, there’s no stopping our males. They are the guardians and soldiers of the landscape constantly seeking a king like status. Asserting dominance from an early age can be seen with young elephant bulls play fighting, young waterbuck engaging in pushing, and sub-adult lions being ousted and encouraged to find their own way in the wild. In the wild there dwells the equally powerful female species, not quite as aggressive and dominant in their pursuit of land and prey, but equally as remarkable as their male counterparts. And some of these female species completely rule their clans, herds and are even the driving force of species success in the bushveld. Here are 3 of our most powerful females of the ‘veld. Some are dominant in their herds, while others take on the all important matriarchal role. Elephants Elephants are raised in a matriarchal herds, which means the young are raised by related females within the herd. The sub-adults teach the newborns how to navigate obstacles in the wild, and tend take on a “nannying” role. The bond in elephant herds is strong and they’re led by the oldest and often largest female in the herd. Young elephants enjoy protection from all the females within the herd, from cousins to aunts and more. As the young bulls get older they will spend time attempting to assert their dominance by engaging in sparring matches. These matches will take place in water as it cushions the blow and makes for a great soft landing. When the bulls reach sexual maturity they will leave the herd at 12 – 15 years where they will seek out a solitary lifestyle or get together with other bachelors to form loose associations for periods of time. It’s the females that stay within the herd. Spotted Hyena The female of the species is larger and more aggressive than her male counterpart. She even has a “pseudo penis” which makes it hard to distinguish between a male and female species when out on game drive. This appendage is actually an external clitoris through which they give birth. Hyenas operate in clans and the females, with their high levels of testosterone, lead the clans with their power and aggression. They have a matrilineal social system, which means the lineage is traced through the female and not male. The bone crushing ones to fear? The females – not the males. Lionesses Our rather robust lionesses aren’t necessarily...

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