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The beauty and cruelty of nature

Nature can be beautiful and cruel at once. The sightings of our student guides show that these go hand in hand.

Cheetha and lion meet

The week started off with an amazing sighting. The lions “Nala“ and “Dinokeng“ were both just in front of our gate into Welgevonden Game Reserve feeding on a blue Wildebeest kill. It was our first time to see “Dinokeng“ close and in action. We have to say we are impressed and spellbound by this male lion. Due to Nala being such a consistently successful hunter of zebra and wildebeest, their bellies are always full”

The next day brought us a flurry of excitement. “Nala“ bumped into the resting cheetahs and chased them away. Unconfirmed sources were saying she killed one of the cheetah cubs. After this episode it took us two days to relocate the “Mother of 4“. When we found her again and we saw all four cubs alive and with their mother we were struggling to find words to express our gladness. Two days later we saw the “Mother of 4“ again. This time she was hunting and got a young Wildebeest, but unfortunately we have not seen the cheetahs since then.

Birding on Kololo/welgevonden

Arriving at kololo we realized that we are not in the Lowveld anymore. There are a few birdspecies common around here that we have never seen before. We saw our first Giant Kingfisher and a pair Malachite Kingfishers.

Other than that we saw a pair of Blue Cranes (South Africas national bird), quite often around Diesel Dam. The population dropped from a historical estimate of about 100.000 birds to only about 26.000 so we are happy and spoiled to see them on a regular basis.

Giant Kingfisher

Malachite Kingfisher Blue Cranes

Longtailed Widowbird

Secretary bird

African Fish Eagle

We also noticed a huge amount of longtailed Widowbirds, enjoying every second, watching the males with their long tales which they only have during the summer months. We also saw a pair of Secretary birds that live in the open grasslands of the south.

Towards the end of this week we observed something special. “Nala” took down a baby Zebra that was born a couple days ago. We missed the kill but saw her feeding on it and pulling the kill into dense vegetation. When we came back later an African Fish Eagle was sitting on a tree next to the dead Zebra, we assume he was feeding on the carcass as well. We have never heard of an African Fish Eagle behaving like this and it was amazing how close we got to him.

Leopard luck

This week also provided us with not only one but two leopard sightings. We stumbled on the first leopard while picking up a waterpipe. On the way there a beautiful male leopard was sitting in the middle of the road. Unfortunately nobody had a camera with him and we had to try taking pictures and videos with our phones. Only three days later we had our second leopard sighting. This time on a Bush pig kill and with camera, but sadly further so the sighting was not as clear as on the first sighting.

The cruelty of nature

Jackal

Nature is sanguinary and we had to see this with our own eyes. We just started our AM-Drive when we saw a young blue Wildebeest, probably just a couple of minutes old and not able to walk properly yet, being attacked by black-backed Jackals. The Jackals went straight for the hindlegs and started to sever the muscles in this area. The young Wildbeest tried to flee with a never-ending strength, but due to its injuries there was no way to escape.

     The notoriously secretive and shy Bushpig

Bushpig

Last but not least we saw bushpigs feeding on a Blue Wildebeest carcass. We knew that pigs are omnivores but to see them feeding on a dead animal and hear them cracking trough bones and flesh was definitely an experience to remember.

Written by Erik / Jan / Kelvin
Photo credits:  @jan__wilke