Tuningi Ranger’s Journal March 2017

By gavintonkinson on April 2, 2017

YAY !!!!


Yes, after having our computers back from the lightning strike we suffered in November last year, it has been very frustrating not to have been able to write any newsletters for all of you fans….

Anyway, that is now in the past and lets not waste any more time… lets get into this Months happenings in the bush…..

Ever heard of GEOPHAGEA ?

This what this giraffe is doing… They will actively search out old bones lying around in the bush, and chew them to get calcium which is lacking in the vegetation that they eat. This is quite a lengthy awkward looking exercise, as they jostle the bone in their mouths towards the back teeth which makes for a very comical sighting, pulling very funny faces as they do so.

Giraffe eats bone 1 Giraffe eats bone 2 Giraffe eats bone 4 Giraffe eats bone 5

We don’t often get to put up some worthy images of buffalos, as they seem never to portray their beauty, power and danger through the camera too well…. Until you are lucky enough to witness this…

One fresh morning, we arrived at one of the larger waterholes in the south, and found these two old bulls having one serious go at each other !! They bashed heads with the crack of a gun sounding as they wrestled each other for about 30 minutes with no sign of either of the males giving up. If you look closely you can even see the horns penetrating the eyes of the one bull, and also the blood oozing from his body from the lusty blows been dealt out in the fight.Males within the herd will fight and set up a hierarchy among themselves in order to win the breeding rights on the females.Nevertheless, the buffalo in this sighting got some well earned respect for their power and aggression once more.

Buff fight at tau dam 3 Buff fight at tau dam 2 Buff fight at tau dam 1 Buff fight at tau dam 6 Buff fight at tau dam 9

Our local pride, The Mica pride, is blooming !!

There have been 2 new cubs born to the Matlapa female, they are around 3 months old now, and together with 4 other cubs in the pride their total is now at 14. Yes they are growing their need for food, and are having to search harder for prey, and that they are doing !!

We located them one day on a very large giraffe that they must have killed in the middle of the day, as we did see them the previous morning looking very hungry. The afternoon revealed that they had killed the giraffe, which is one of the bigger kills they have had for some time now. The interactions between all the males and the older Mica females was an awesome to witness, and it was a sighting that lasted for 3 days…

Mica pride eat girffe at vleis 4 mica pride eat giraffe at vleis 2 Mica pride eat girffe at vleis 2 Jamala cubs play 3 Jamala cubs play 2 Jamala cubs play 1

On another occasion, we located them at Tau dam, and noticed that they were not all together… The males seem to be splitting away from the pride very often, as they are moving to the extremities of their territories to patrol and reinforce the scents for other males which may want to enter the now very fragile territory with all the cubs running around at this stage. This never stopped the cubs from enjoying some naïve fun unbeknown to them the possible dangers they could face.

Pride drinks at Tau dam 1 Pride drinks at Tau dam 2 Pride drinks at Tau dam 6 Pride drinks at Tau dam 7 Pride drinks at Tau dam 8 Pride drinks at Tau dam 10 Pride drinks at Tau dam 9

The males have also been helping the pride out with kills of their own… Yes, males od hunt. In fact they are very good killers, they just go after the more cumbersome larger prey, such as buffalo and giraffe, etc, much to the appreciation of the females in the pride.

Majestic Chimbro 1 Chimbros on wonderboom 1 Chimbro eat buff calf 1 Bafefo drinks 1 Chimbro and cubs 1

In the months that we have been offline, the rains came down hard, which created a party atmosphere for the bullfrogs, and as you can see here they seem to be in their element with all the free standing water around, where the males are hard at work trying to secure a female to mate and create more little bullfrogs for the next season.

Where do they go when it is dry ?

They can actually bury themselves into the mud and go into a very inactive stage called aestivation, which means that they lower their heart rate to almost nothing, where they waiting for the following years rain before emerging and staring the cycle again.

bullfrogs mating 4 bullfrogs mating 3 bullfrogs mating 2 bullfrogs mating 1

The cheetahs and wild dogs have been very scarce over the last couple months due to the very long grass that has taken over the Ophir plains area where they liked to hunt frequently. You can see below by the size of the grass that it will make life very difficult for them to hunt, as you can barely even see a full grown kudu in this grass… try to see if you can spot the kudu yourself….

Long Grass 2 Long Grass 1

We did however manage to see them on a few occasions and they are doing very well…. The Wild dogs are moving vast distances throughout the park at the moment trying to locate a possible den site for them to have their next batch of puppies. The alpha pair have shown signs of mating, and now we are hoping with bated breath that they will give us the amazing sightings around the den soon….

wild dogs on matswani 3 wild dogs on matswani 2 wild dogs on matswani 1 Cheetah on mound_

Tsala has been also very elusive, as it is hard enough trying to find tracks of her, never mind to try and spot her in this long grass at the moment. But, she has given us some great sightings of her up in the maroela trees she loves so much. The last reports of her having cubs have seem to be something of the past, as she no longer is lactating, and we have not seen any signs of her cubs anywhere. So we presume she has lost them once more… This is the umpteenth time that I have seen of her not raising her cubs to any decent size. Maybe she just doesn’t have what it takes to raise them successfully, but we still hope that she will have another shot at it soon !!

Tsala on none link inkwe 1 Tsala on none link inkwe 3 Tsala on none link inkwe 2 Tsala on diperoro 7 Tsala on diperoro 5 Tsala on diperoro 1

Munye, the young male has also been very active here in the south west, and is definitely showing signs that he wants to kick out the massive territorial male that resides there, so he will have to be very careful before he takes on this monster of a male leopard. You can see the result of the last fight on his upper lip, but it has healed rather nicely now, and we look forward to him becoming the new Prince of stealth in our area.

Munye in dead tree 1

Closer to home, we have also got some very exciting news… “Klippie” our local klipspringer has finally brought home a female !! Yes, they seem to have created that monogamous bond, and are enjoying the confines of the camp and can be seen lazing around the camp on the room pathways, or even popping in to the lodge to say hi… They are our ambassadors, and gave us a nice surprise one morning as they were lying on top of our entrance gate posing and admiring their territory that is Tuningi !!

Klipspringer on lodge sign 1

Some other random sights from the last couple of months….

Rhino Sunset at Phakalane pan 1 Cruiser Sunset at Phakalane pan 1 eles swimming at kubu pan 1 Herd at tlou dam 2 Herd at tlou dam 1 Coffee break

So to finish off… we have had some really nice sundowner stops on top of the Tschwene Tschwene Mountain in the centre of the park which makes for some unbelievable landscape photography.

Tshwene Tswene Sundowners 7 Tshwene Tswene Sundowners 9 Tshwene Tswene Sundowners 8 Tshwene Tswene Sundowners 11 Tshwene Tswene Sundowners 10 Tshwene Tswene Sundowners 15 Tshwene Tswene Sundowners 3 Tshwene Tswene Sundowners 4 Tshwene Tswene Sundowners 13 Tshwene Tswene Sundowners 12

So ….. until next time….

I send you my best bush regards,

Gavin & The T-Team

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