10 October 2018
These last few weeks have been an absolute treat on game drives at Kings Camp. From incredible big five encounters to special little critters in between, our guests have been spoiled on every drive.
Our favourite resident female leopard, Ntombi (“little girl”) has been showing off around camp with her tiny cub, and we have been blessed to have had several special sightings with the little ball of inquisitive fluff recently. ‘Ntombi Junior’ has got over her initial fear of the big hulking game viewers, and we are able to get an intimate glimpse into her young life as a leopard cub, bonding with her mom and experiencing the thrills and threats of life in the bush. A few days ago Ntombi made a bushbuck kill right inside the camp! There is always small herds of impala, bushbuck and nyala inside the camp grounds feeding on the well- watered lawns and shrubs, and also enjoying the relative safety of the camp. Ntombi takes good advantage of this perceived safety, and regularly stalks into the camp at night to grab an unwary antelope and perhaps even corner it against a building! Now you know why you get an escort to and from your room at night!
Needless to say, the bushbuck was taken outside the camp by our strong rangers, and hauled up a tree nearby which proved incredibly difficult – how do leopards do it so gracefully?! Ntombi located her kill again soon afterwards, and treated us to two days of viewing as she fed, guarded her kill, suckled her little one and rested.
We have also had another special birth right outside our home- a tiny white rhino calf was born about 5 days ago. It is incredible to see any newborn wild animal experiencing the new sights, sounds and smells of the bush, but to see an endangered, precious rhino calf is something that takes your breath away. The calf is the size of a warthog, with crinkled soft skin, curious eyes and flicking ears. Immediately I felt incredibly protective over this precious calf, and seeing two hyaenas eyeing it on its 5th day of life was awful to watch. Thankfully that afternoon we came across the pair again, with the little one as spirited and bouncy as ever.
Huge herds of buffalo have been in and out, with a memorable sighting a few days ago when a breeding herd of about 200 buffalo visited a pool of water in the riverbed in front of our camp. While the buffalo were clambering to get to the water, we noticed two water monitor lizards basking on the rocks on the opposite side of the buffalo. The buffalo pushed each other further and further into the pool, and suddenly we saw a water monitor appear from the water with a fish! The buffalo, with their pushing and shoving and muddying up the water, had provided a perfect ambush fishing opportunity for the monitor lizard! He took his kill up the rocks and proceeded to smash it against the rocks to break it up. My guests had said they wanted to see a kill!
Lion sightings have also been a treat, with the Black Dam male from Thornybush Game Reserve in the south making an appearance and mating with the Ross lionesses. The Zebanine females and two small cubs are also a special sighting, especially due to the young cubs becoming more and more curious about the game viewers, as well as playing with each other while mom rests during the day.
Elephants are always wonderful to watch, and they are so relaxed with the vehicles it is fascinating just to sit with them and watch their natural behaviour, and how the little ones are taught and cared for by the elders. I could watch elephants for hours- they have so much character and personality!
The large pack of African wild dogs is spotted every few days, which is an incredibly rare sighting, due to the endangered status of these beautiful animals, the fact that they roam so widely, and that this pack has 16 little pups! We have been blessed to watch them hunting, feeding, playing, resting, and everything in between.
Going into Spring, our bird sightings are spectacular. The huge Verreaux’s eagle owl pair is often spotted on their nest during the day, now boasting a new fluffy chick! Other raptors such as martial eagles, African fish eagles and Wahlberg’s eagles are also frequently seen. We will soon see more migrant species returning for the summer.