By Gawie Lindeque – Responsible Resource Use Department
Regular readers of this column will know about my love for the dry season. I just love the pastel yellows and reds at sunset that finish of yet another dry dusty day. Regardless I must now admit that I have found a new absolute favourite time of year. Although it is not a season as such but rather a very brief period, the first two weeks after the first good summer rains have stolen my heart once again. As I write this, my thoughts go back to our first proper storm about two weeks ago. Although the rainfall was not as much as we had hoped for, it at least was sufficient to get the grass going and also put a bit of water into a few pans. I again watched in awe as the bush transformed from drab to fabulous almost overnight.
Two weeks ago the only water left on the Kempiana property was a puddle of stinking pea soup in “Dog” dam. Although not very appealing, it at least sustained a whole lot of animals through the last couple of weeks of dry weather.. Even a hippo found itself a suitable home. Walking around in the area between the College and “Dog” dam, it was interesting to watch a network of pathways develop over time as all the animals had to make their way there and back daily. Despite the hardship of a really dry spell all the animals seemed to stay in fairly good condition, except maybe for some elephants that had started to show the effects of long walks and dry nutrient poor fodder.
And then the rain came and shortly thereafter the return of old faithful friends. Almost on the first afternoon we noticed the first flight of flying termites and two days later we saw the first Steppe eagle feasting on them. The Woodlands kingfishers returned with gusto on Monday 18 November and we saw the first impala lamb on the training area on Tuesday morning directly thereafter.
Despite the dry conditions game viewing has been fairly good most of the time. Going out almost daily with a group of guiding students we had a good number of leopard sightings and enjoyed a couple of good sightings of the Birmingham lion pride with the two white cubs.
Elephant is almost a daily sighting with at least two decent sized herds and a few bulls roaming the training area. One particular big bull afforded us a number of good opportunities for approaching on foot with the students. Although we were almost guaranteed to bump into a few dugga boys walking the area between “Nathan’s” pan and the old Orpen road the buffalo herds have been mostly absent. We did however manage to get to see one herd on a few occasions when they came through, finally followed by a massive herd that congregated at “Hippo” hollow. Giraffe has become common sighting on drives lately to the delight of all.