Highlights from December 2018

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. 

December brought on the rain, the park is looking so green again and the Wildebeest have started giving birth (a little late this year). We have shared some great moments with our guests during the festive season. Here are some highlights we would like to share with you.

What is the difference between the black and white rhino? Updated

In the photo below we see the Black rhino on the left and White rhino on the right.

Black Rhino (Diceros bicornis)

White Rhino (Ceratotherium simum)

*There are two types of rhino in Africa – the black rhino and the white rhino.

*Don’t let the name fool you, rhinos are grey in color not black or white as their names suggest. One of the theories is that the term white rhino is a mistranslation;
the Dutch settlers in South Africa initially called them “Weid mond rhino”, meaning “Wide-mouth rhino.”

*They should be referred to as the square-lipped (white) and hook-lipped (black) rhinoceros.

*Rhinos have poor eyesight but they make up for this with an acute sense of hearing and smell.

*Both the black and white rhinos have two horns.

*A rhinos gestation period is around 15-16 months with the female giving birth to only one calf at a time.

White Rhino (Ceratotherium simum)

*The white rhino is a grazer with a wide mouth best designed for eating grass.
*It is not unusual to see White rhinos in a herd called a “Crash” of Rhinos (Make them run and you will know why).
*White rhinos are heavier then black rhinos with bulls weighing up to 2 300kg.

Black Rhino (Diceros bicornis)

*Black rhino’s are browsers, using their pointed upper lip to grasp leaves and twigs.
*Black rhinos are more solitary, being seen most often on their own.
*Black rhinos can reach up to around 1 000kg.

Rhinos use their horns for self-defense against predators and fighting off opponents.
The horns are the reason that the species overall are classified as Critically Endangered.
This is due to the demand of rhino horn on the black market for medicinal use in the Far East.
The horns are ever-growing at a rate around 6 cm a year.

Want to see these amazing animals up close? Why not do your bit to help the Rhinos and take part in Rhino notching:

Rhino darting – Something special

Most of us know about the plight of the Rhino.

Both the black and white rhino populations, along with other mammals, are in huge trouble of being wiped out. The thought of Africa no longer being home to “The Big Five” is something really unsettling to think about, yet this is the reality of what is happening every day. Often one can feel helpless and wonder what they can do to help. This is part of what Rhino notching is all about, getting to help be a part of something that goes a long way to helping our precious Rhinos here in Pilanesberg.

The Group being briefed on the proceedings for the morning and all about the Rhinos.

Some of our guides ready for the adventure to begin.

The chopper is ready with the Vet and pilot.

Getting ready to go and look for an un-notched Rhino.

The Rhino has been darted by the vet in the chopper, waiting for the drug to take full effect.

Once the Rhino is down a cover is put over its eyes and plugs are put in its ears in order to help make it a less stressful situation for the rhino.

While the Vets and everyone are doing the notching, taking DNA samples etc everyone gets to have a closer look at these magnificent animals.

The Rhino is given the reversal drug and everyone gets back into the vehicles to watch as the Rhinos wake up.

And just like that the Rhinos are awake, they regroup and head off again.

 

For more information on this adventure please visit our website:

https://www.mankwegametrackers.co.za/game-drives-mankwe-gametrackers-sun-city/safaris/rhino-notching/

The Famous BIG 5

Of all the mammals in Africa why were these ones chosen as the BIG 5?

In the19th and early 20thcenturies The Big Five quickly became known as the most dangerous animals to hunt on foot. With hunters seeking the thrill of hunting one of these well known animals. This is where the whole idea of the big five began.

Now the Big 5 namely Elephant, Lion, Leopard, Buffalo and Rhino are highly sought after by guests coming to visit Africa.

The African Elephant 

Always great to share a sighting of these gentle giants while out on a game drive with guests. Elephants are very social animals and live in family groups where every member is of great importance. In the breeding herds the oldest female is the matriarch and makes all the dissensions within the herd. After carrying the calf for around 22 months the female will do anything to protect her calf from danger. If a threat is around the adults in the herd will often form a close group with the little ones in the middle.

Lion

We don’t meet many guests that don’t want to see a lion. There is nothing better then hearing them roar, that sound goes right through you. Lions are the only truly social cats living in close nit prides. Female lions are the pride’s primary hunters however the males do help from time to time. Although lions can be active at any time, their activity generally peaks at dawn and after dusk when it cools down. That is why we do most of our game drives during these times.

Buffalo

One of the big five that we don’t see very often, they have been nicknamed “The ghosts of the Pilanesberg” for a good reason. During the summer months they like to hide in the north of the reserve but in the winter months we start seeing them again.

Leopard

There is always great excitement when we get the privilege to see one of these cats. Leopards just seem to appear when you least expect it. They tend to be nocturnal (active mainly at night) when their great night vision gives them an advantage. Unlike lions, leopards are solitary cats only one might see them together if it is a female with cubs or a mating pair but the rest of the time they wonder around alone. The white spot on the end of the tail is used by the female to communicate with cubs while hunting or in long grass.

Rhino

We get both the Black and the White Rhino in Pilanesberg. One is very lucky to see a Black Rhino as there are fewer of them and they like to hide in bushy areas. The white rhino being a grazer is easier to spot as they standout in the open. Poaching of rhinos is a huge problem that even we battle with, but we have an amazing anti-poaching team which make a huge difference.

A sighting that the guides and guests will not soon forget.

Field guide Tarryn Rae elaborates for us: “It was a rather cold morning in Pilanesberg and I was actually taking guests to do the hot air balloon safari. The weather wasn’t playing along and at the last minute the wind picked up and balloon had to be cancelled”.

“As we were making our way back I heard an update on the radio that there were lions on a kill down one of the dirt roads we were going to be passing. I told my guests about the sighting and everyone agreed that it would make the early start to the day worth it, if we could go to the sighting. . . So glad that we did”.

“When we arrived you could see the lions were on a wildebeest kill. They had probably killed it during the night in the open grass area where they now lay. We sat there for awhile watching them eat and move around to a more comfy spot to have a snooze. I noticed some movement behind us as a “crash” of White Rhinos emerged from the tree line. At first I didn’t think they would come too close to the lions but they kept coming as if they were inquisitive about all the commotion”.

“They seemed to have a mutual respect, the lions however were not comfortable with the intruders. We were all so excited, it was so great to see this type of interaction between two phenomenal animals”.

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