Highlights for August 2019

Highlights for August 2019

Every Game drive/Safari in the Pilanesberg is different, as field guides we drive through the gate and never know exactly what is going to happen. This all adds to the excitement as we head out on a game drive or Hot air balloon flight. 

August has been a phenomenal  month for cat sightings, probably because it is also the driest time of the year. Here are some highlights from the month we would like to share with you. 

What a sighting! Two male Leopards Fight Over Warthog While it Escapes

What a sighting! Two male Leopards Fight Over Warthog While it Escapes

A few weeks ago some of our guides and their guests got to witness an amazing sighting!

Here is the full story about the sighting from one of our field guides:

“On this particular day, I was out with a guest on a 6-hour game drive with lunch. My guest had mentioned to me that the top of his sightings wishlist for the day was a Leopard (Wishful thinking as I don’t have the best of luck with Leopard sightings).” “I must admit, the first three hours were a little quiet as it was still rather cold and no one had seen any big cats. We stopped for a troop of baboons that were walking around and playing on the road. While watching the baboons having a great time, I heard that a leopard had been spotted about 2km up the road we were on.” “While we waited for the baboons to move off, we heard that the leopard had climbed down the tree it was in and disappeared.

I told my guest about it and said we should head up there anyway and give it a try, maybe it comes out again” “The game viewer ahead of me had gone to the area where the leopard had been seen and said there was no sign of it. So when we then stopped to look at two small warthogs for a brief second and while watching them, I mentioned to my guest that leopards love eating warthogs. I couldn’t even finish my sentence when my guest said “there’s a leopard!!” – sure as nuts, there was a massive warthog with a Leopard attached to it.” “The Leopard had just jumped on a warthog which was bigger than him. He had only managed to get a grip of the back of the warthog’s neck, putting him an awkward position as the warthog kept trying to fling him off. If the Leopard had to let go at that point he could possibly get injured by the massive tusks the warthog has.

The leopard kept hold of his prize, constantly trying to get a better grip, with the warthog giving a high pitched squeal.” “They eventually ended up in a bush. I then turned to my guest and said all the squealing is going to attract some attention from other predators. The next thing we looked up and another big male leopard was crossing the road in the direction of the squealing warthog. This was possibly the leopard that had originally been spotted and reported further down the road.” “He stopped to smell around the trees where the warthog had first been caught and then headed toward the bush where the squealing was coming from. The leopards came face to face with each other and it was almost as though they said: “Let’s take this outside” as they started to follow each other out of the bush. I thought the one was dragging the warthog but as they stepped into the clearing we could see the blood all over its face but no warthog insight.” “They stood eyeing each other out for a second and then the claws came out and a fight erupted. After they had their fight, the intruder that stumbled across the leopard with his warthog became submissive. In the meantime, the Leopards were so busy fighting they didn’t notice the very shocked, injured but determined warthog walking out from the bush and make its way towards a burrow. The two then chased each other up a hill and out of sight.

They were seen around there a few times throughout the day probably looking for the warthog.” “This was a first for me! I have never seen a leopard catch something let alone two leopards having a fight. It was really such an adrenaline rush and a feeling of gratitude to be in a position to witness this kind of interaction. It was sad to see the warthog fighting for its life and the squealing does get to you – but you realize that the leopard has to eat too. At the end on this day, it was the warthogs lucky day, if he survived his injuries.”

Highlights from July 2019

Highlights from July 2019

Every Game drive/Safari in the Pilanesberg is different, as field guides we drive through the gate and never know exactly what is going to happen. This all adds to the excitement as we head out on a game drive or Hot air balloon flight.

July was a great month for sightings. It is very dry at the moment so the animals seem to be staying close to the dams.

A once in a lifetime sighting

A once in a lifetime sighting

A couple of weeks ago field guide Greg Esterhuysen had stopped to look at a herd of Kudus and give his guests some information about them. After a few seconds, something caught his eye. There was a slight movement in the shadows of a small tree…A leopard!

The leopard was keeping a very close eye on the Kudus as they moved closer to her. She lay behind the small tree dead still in order to remain undetected. What unfolded was nothing short of spectacular.

When one of the younger Kudus got even closer it got distracted for a second and looked in the other direction, the leopard took its chance. She ran and before the Kudu even realized what was happening leaped into the air and managed to take hold of the kudu around its throat. Within minutes the Kudu was dead and the leopard dragged its meal away.

Right place at the right time as it is not often we get to see something like this. Here are the photos Greg Esterhuysen managed to get of the action.

Things you may not know about Lions

Things you may not know about Lions

There is so much to be said about these magnificent big cats. Here are just a few facts we would like to share with you.

Lions are the largest cats in Africa and second largest in the world (Tigers being first).

They are also the only truly social cats living in prides. Females within a pride are usually related and will often stay with their pride for life. Males are however chased out of the pride at around the age of three. At this point, they will often lead a nomadic lifestyle or live in a coalition with other males, often their brothers.

The females in a pride do most of the hunting however the males do offer help, especially to take down bigger prey such as buffalo and giraffe. Male lions will eat first at a kill, while the females and cubs wait their turn. The females put up with this behavior because the males offer protection for the pride. The beautiful big mane of a male not only shows status but also protects the male’s neck during a fight. When other males want to try and take over the pride they will fight the existing male or coalition of males.  If they win the new victorious males will often kill any cubs that are still dependent on their mothers (this is known as infanticide). It may seem cruel but by doing this the new pride males are making sure that they spend their time and energy raising and protecting their own cubs.

When hunting lions make use of their protractile claws. The claws are kept sharp by being retracted into a protective sheath when the lion doesn’t need to use them. When the lion is hunting or fighting they contract their muscles and the claws push out.

The large canine teeth are used to catch and kill prey but are useless when it comes to eating. The molar and premolar teeth, however, are very well designed for this task. Being carnivores lions have what is known as a carnassial shear, this consists of the fourth upper premolar and first lower molar. These teeth articulate against each other cutting through meat and sinew. That is why when watching lions on a kill you will see them tilting their heads to the side while trying to chew. If you have ever had a domestic cat lick you, you will know how rough their tongues can be, lions are no different. They have very rough barbs on their tongues which they use not only for grooming purposes but also to remove meat and fur from their prey.

As most of us know lions spend a large amount of their time laying around, even more so during the heat of the day. They also spend time grooming each other and resting close together, all of which is a way of bonding and socializing as a pride.

Lions are apex predators and are at the top of the food chain, however they will give way when confronted by bigger animals.

Every now and then we get breathtaking sightings of these big cats and we love sharing special moments like this with our guests. Last year while on one of our morning safaris we got to share an amazing sighting of lions on a hunt. It is not often that we get to witness a hunt from start to finish. Below is a video of the sighting.

Activity around a rhino that was unfortunately poached

It is always extremely sad news when we hear that yet another Pilanesberg Rhino has been murdered at the hands of poachers. It is always a heartbreaking thing to see and for us to share but people need to know that this is the harsh reality of what is happening to South African wildlife.

This bull white rhino was killed close to the road and for a few days, there were a number of visitors around the sight. Even some vultures came to investigate which is a rare sighting for us.

This is how we love to see our rhinos and should be the way we all get to see them for now and many years to come. The Pilanesberg Wildlife Trust and counter poaching team do all that they can to try and prevent a tragedy like this from happening. They have to rely on donations to do what they need to which means that every cent counts. http://pilanesbergwildlifetrust.co.za/

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