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Ranger Diary - 4 December 2017

Content by Ranger Neale Howarth.

Our Oldest Lioness

Our oldest white lioness has a habit of sitting in a very specific spot, under  a very specific tree. But brilliantly enough, her spot is just 2 metres off the road, at eye level with the vehicle. There is always a brilliant moment of truth as we come around the corner to see if she is in her spot, which she has really been enjoying recently in the heat. Her relaxed nature allows for some amazing, close up viewing. 

BirdLife South Africa

BirdLife South Africa hosted Birding Big Day this past Saturday, with a push to identify as many species as possible in one day. Our ranging team banded together and managed to identify 84 species. Pictured here is a nesting Green Woodhoopoe, always a favourite die to their friendly nature. The winning team ended up identifying a whopping 302 species! 

Leopard spots

We were lucky to see 2 different leopards this week, with the highlight being a sighting of the incredibly elusive 'short tailed' female, a sighting that is incredibly rare. But, as usual, the male outdid himself, with sightings so close that we were able to get some fantastic detailed images of his 'spots'. 

Leopard sighting

The highlight of any day at Pumba is a leopard sighting, but it gets even better when you have sightings like this past Wednesday morning. Our dominant male was found striding along the Brook, our river valley, marking his territory as he went. Our delighted guests managed to follow him for well over an hour, with one lucky set of guests actually seeing him mark his territory on another vehicle!! 

Verreaux's Eagle Owl

Our Verreaux's Eagle Owl is almost fully-grown and we are not looking forward to the day that both parents and the chick disappear. It has been an absolute pleasure to watch this little chick grow up and we will hopefully see a bit more of it if they choose to settle in the area. 

Elusive Cheetah

The elusive cheetahs have been active over the past week with numerous good sightings, the best of which being the three brothers relaxing quietly in the shade, digesting their meal from the morning.

Dominant Male Lion

A constant battle Pumba is the dominance of our lions. Our current dominant male, the big tawny male on the property, was seen to push off the sub adult 5 year old male a few days ago, simply for being in his space. This white male has the signs of being very big lion so the tawny better hope he has a short memory, because in 2 short years this fight is going to get a lot more interesting. 

Weather Update

It has been a very temperamental week out at Pumba with hot days and late afternoon thundershowers. Besides the welcome relief from the heat, the sunsets and stormy clouds have provided some uniquely African settings!

Beautiful Birds

The summer heat has brought with it a multitude of beautiful birds, migratory species that visit us only for the spring and summer months. One of the most beautiful birds on property is undoubtedly the African Paradise Flycatcher. We were lucky enough to catch as many as 8 on a recent photographic drive! 

White Lioness

Our lion sightings have been quite challenging this past week and so we found ourselves searching areas that we may not usually concentrate on. One such area, far up north on the foot of our Zuurberg hills, is covered in wild heather and it is always a photographers dream to find animals in amongst the purple carpet.

The problem is that due to the steep hill, most animals avoid the area. It was therefore to our great surprise and excitement when an excited guest spotted our young white lioness and our young tawny boy relaxing in style! It seems like that sighting broke the curse and our lions have been seen regularly since then with plenty of great visuals, but still none as colourful as our girl! 

Highlight of the Week

The highlight of our week was a visit from the Holy Cross School. Girls and boys from Grade R – 3 spent the morning seeing lions, elephant, hippo, giraffe and a wide variety of antelope and other smaller animals! We are thrilled to have been able to host these amazing kids and can’t wait until they visit us again next year. 

A Rare Sighting

A pair of exceptionally rare Verreaux's Eagle Owls (formerly the Giant Eagle Owl) moved into a Hamerkop nest about 2 months ago and we are excited to have seen the first signs of the little chick peaking his eyes over the ledge. the pale pink eyelids are a clear indication of the Verreaux's Eagle Owl. 

Our Male Leopard  

Our resident male leopard has been very active over the past week as he has visited the lodge a few times, going as far as killing his breakfast underneath one of the rooms in our lodge. This image was taken as he walked towards the lodge one evening just after sunset.

RIP to One of our Hippo

We sadly lost one of our hippo last week to what appears to be a dominance fight. Hippo are able to open their jaws incredibly wide and will use their large tusks to fight for dominance and territory.

Spring is Here!

As spring comes into full swing, we are starting to see a lot of young zebra and giraffe, building into the true kidding and calving season in summer, when we will see all of our new impala, blesbuck and wildebeest. 

A Change in Reptile Sightings

As temperatures increase, so do reptile sightings! Leopard tortoises are prolific across the reserve, as well as numerous monitor lizard and snack species starting to creep out of hibernation. 

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