Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Mosetlha Newsletter October 2013

It has been an exciting month here at The Bush Camp. We have welcomed back Fran to our kitchen and housekeeping staff after being away for most of 2013, the camp won an Eco-Award for our water usage, and we have had many, many exciting visitors of the four legged kind. Our three buffalo bulls still come and prowl the bird baths, come water holes, every evening. The first half of October saw no rain and so many of Madikwe’s zebra, kudu, warthog and scrubhare could be seen daily coming for a drink in front of the owners' house. Our resident Brown Hyena - Harry - and the Civet still visit us every evening and the Honeybadger has come round a time or two this month, thankfully not upsetting anything at Mosetlha! Four Wild Dog were seen in camp on the 12th running from drinking at the Main House and then down into camp for another drink and to say hello to the early rising guests in the lapa! A pride of five lions left their fresh tracks through camp early in the month as well.

Game Drives have been jam-packed with wonderful sightings. Kgomotso and Justice had thirteen Wild Dog playing in the shade of their vehicles. The pack had a kill nearby and the Alpha Female brought some food for the pups, regurgitating the morsels into their mouths mere meters from the Mosetlha vehicles.

Earlier in the month Jonny and Kgomotso found the Kwande Male lions at Vlei Pan eying a herd of Wildebeest. The chase was unsuccessful but still exciting to photograph and watch. Later in the month the Kwande Males were found by Justice and Kgomotso on a Wildebeest kill, stuffed full to the brim, but happy to give our guests a show of how lions like to eat their meat.

The giraffe, zebra, kudu, hartebeest, warthog, tssessbe, and even gemsbok have been seen aplenty as well.

Kgomotso was lucky enough to find a Caracal on the way back to camp during the evening. It was busy hunting a Steenbok, unsuccessfully unfortunately. Caracal, or Rooikat as they are known locally, are mostly seen at night but can be seen during daylight hours, especially in the cool winter months. They are one of the smaller cats found on the reserve and specialise in eating small antelopes like Steenbok and birds like guinea fowl and francolins. Not often seen so relaxed, this was a rare and special sighting indeed.

We have had many old friends come and visit us this October once again at Mosetlha. One afternoon a baby Bushbaby fell from its nest in Cabin Nine. It sat on top of the cabinet calling and calling until the parents came out from their nap and grabbed him by the neck and jumped him up to safety. Ron was kind enough to come and fetch us and some of our guests to come and have a look at the youngster, who after being rescued, poked his head out to spy on the gathering crowd. Thank you Ron for sharing such a special sighting with us!

The Lesser Galago, more commonly known as a Bushbaby, are nocturnal primates no larger than an average sized person’s hand. Their eyes are fixed in the sockets and are quite large so as to utilise the small amount of light at night to find their prey of insects. They also favour tree sap and are known to visit almost three hundred trees a night in search of sustenance. They wee on their hands and feet before jumping to a new tree so as to mark their territory as they go. They nest in holes in trees or in the eaves of our cabins or other bush buildings. In other places in Southern Africa one may also find Thick-Tailed Bushbabies, or Greater Galagos.

The rain is coming more often now, thank goodness, and the bush is starting to sprout new leaves. The frogs are slowly making an appearance along with cicadas calling as Summer is finally here. The sightings are still wonderful with the end of the month seeing Jonny and Justice finding two lionesses and their six cubs, Wild Dog feeding their pups, lots and lots of elephants with small calves as well as our four cheetah brothers making a kill of a young Hartebeest for Kgomotso and her guests.

Here is a short story to get you in the mood to revisit the bush. Can you guess from whose perspective the story is told? (Answer to come in our November newsletter.)

Streeeetch...Waking up is not high on any favorites list, that is for sure. Well, here we go again. Stretch, pause, have a nice look around. Amongst the sound of Southern yellow billed Hornbills clacking and a family of francolins hurriedly digging through the underbrush, you can hear long low guttural sounds coming ever closer. No, not the same as that of The Family ambling on their way, their soundless steps padded with time and purpose. The heat is almost unbearable. Flies attracted to any bit of moisture plague the eyes, nose, mouth. It is almost time. Maybe just a bit longer. The guttural sounds have stopped. Stretch, yawn, slap flies, stretch again. The heat, unbearable, sticky, like trying to breath through water. High pitched screeches, long in the wind, blow past. Clear blue skies dotted with dancing forms on thermals from the heat of the day, give way to a flock of Red Billed Quiellas blowing past like dead leaves. Their pursuits in touch with one another down to the most minute change in attitude, longing, wind direction. They seem to float, to flit, but then become strong as they pick up speed only to flit, to float once more like dusty dry leaves. The sound is closer. It is almost time. Stretch one more time. The heat is abating, moving lazily down the horizon into an explosive orange glow. The family of francolins has stopped rustling to call an alarm, cut short by lack of a threat, only to rise up again, and cut short. They go back to scratching in the parched dirt. You can almost smell the rain now. The cool wet lurid smell. The dirt seems to cry out in agony. The flies now pestering all over and the sound, that low guttural sound, is crawling ever closer now laced through with a low sing song noise. It is usually this way. It is almost time. One more stretch. A quick bath and on to cleaning the work tools. Unsheathing each one by one, making sure to get every nook and cranny. You have accomplished much when you can look at a meal you have brought down for your litter and see the gleam of hunger in little eyes replaced by happiness, by satisfaction. The guttural sounds have stopped succeeded by the sing song noises. Bathing finished, tools sharpened, a bit of ‘Downward Dog’. The clicking noise starts as I roll-over, arise and slowly walk away, tawny fur catching the last of the light, towards the waterhole where The Family drinks, their long trunks extended into the crisp clear water. The sing song voices rise in glee, replaced with click-clacking and the guttural noise comes alive, following close behind as the wind picks up and gives hint to what will be brought home to the little ones tonight. Last loooong stretch, ‘Downward Dog.’ Tools glinting in the sun. Click-click, click-click. Drops fall. The guttural sounds increase and float away. Rain’s here.

All of us here at Mosetlha hope to see you all again soon to come and get more African dust on your feet...

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