private game reserve & luxury lodge, march 2020
Photos © R.Leeuw
While I had booked for Elandela's River Lodge, they had us upgraded to Elandela's Lake Lodge, for cancelled bookings by the spreading of the Covid-19 Corona virus (at that time no one was infected on the African continent but it was spreading through Europe).
While this lodge is also near Hoedspruit, the game drives
don't go into the Klaserie Nature Reserve but they have their own private game reserve with a different flora.
We were housed at the far end of the row of cabins. The main building including the restaurant is seen at the far end.
Our rooms had been exquisitely decorated. Rarely have I stayed in such luxurious surroundings.
The bathroom was very spacious; besides a heart-shaped bath inside there was also a shower outside, useful for a
in the late afternoon, before the gamedrive.
In our room was a striking painting of a herd of Cape Buffalo; surprisingly the Cape Buffalo was missing from the
Big Five Game in both lodges we stayed at this trip. Not a great loss, we are very pleased with the wildlife we've seen.
On the grounds of the lodge there was this warning sign. We did have a scare when one time, while walking back from the bar in the dark two young hippo's surprised us out of the water. But they scared as much as we did! The adult hippo's roam at night away from the lodge and guests, as a rule.
Unidentified antilope: female kudu and juvenile male kudu?
common African antelope, black and white 'M-shaped' markings on ther behind.
The lodge has two young orphaned rhinos, but in recent years they had to put them in an enclosed area as
with reaching puberty they became somewhat 'unruly'.
They already had to reenforce the gate as they ran through the previous one..
The landscape in the Elandela Private Game Reserve is different from the Klaserie Private Nature Reserve as there
are no elephants here to decimate trees and bushes.
Warthog and Vervet monkeys.
The vervet monkey (Chlorocebus pygerythrus; NL: Vervet, Zuid-Afrikaanse groene meerkat, Blauwaap), or simply vervet,
is an Old World monkey of the family Cercopithecidae native to Africa. The five distinct subspecies can be found
mostly throughout Southern Africa, as well as some of the eastern countries. [Wikipedia]
Warthogs have adapted the kneeling posture to scrounge food from the surface.
Young zebra's cross our tracks and we get a grin from feeding zebra's.
A very young zebra gets tired and has a rest. Not a common sight, for the zebra's have to remain weary of predators.
Is it white stripes on black or the other way around? It is in fact white stripes on a black/brown skin!
Young one have more brown than black.
I think this is a female Bushbuck (Tragelaphus scriptus), but not sure.. EMAIL
That first gamedrive we were told that the ranger would try to locate the pride of white lions, but the previous two gamedrives they could not be find. However, we got lucky!
They were still digesting a kill, sleeping it off. After a kill they go in hiding and sleep for 20 hours or so. We found them near a waterpool where they could drink and sleep some more.
The white lion is a rare color mutation of the lion, specifically the Southern African lion.
White lions in the area of Timbavati
were thought to have been indigenous to the Timbavati region of South Africa for centuries, although the earliest recorded sighting in this region was in 1938.
Regarded as divine by locals, white lions first came to public attention in the 1970s, in Chris McBride's book 'The White Lions of Timbavati'. [Wikipedia
From the 1970s onwards, prized for their rarity, the white lions and many 'normal' coloured (tawny) lions carrying the white lion gene were removed from the wild and put into captive breeding and hunting programs and sent to zoos and circuses around the globe.
No adult white lion had been seen in their natural habitat since 1994.
The Global White Lion Protection Trust (WLT) therefore initiated a world-first re-establishment of white lions within their natural habitat in 2004, based on successful reintroduction techniques. The wild born offspring of rehabilitated white lions were integrated with resident wild tawny lions, and released through a soft release process.
Three prides of white lions of high genetic integrity integrated with tawny lions have been successfully established, and are hunting self-sufficiently in their natural habitat, at a predation rate comparable to the wild tawny lions in the same habitat.
The genetic marker determining the white colouration was identified in a collaborative study with 5 other countries in October 2013 and is being used to ensure genetic integrity and ultimately to determine the frequency of occurrence of the gene in the wild population. [Wikipedia
The drive through this wilderness instills a powerful feeling, with the odd sighting and changing landscapes, and the
ranger sharing information and points of interest while driving.
Giraffes are very graceful creatures. The big cats, except perhaps lions, don't attack an adult giraffe, but their
young ones are a prey and
so the family will try to hide them among the trees and bushes.
A kick of a giraffe can be deadly, so the big cats steer clear of them. The ranger told of a recent death of a tourist who had tried to make a selfie with a giraffe and came too close: she got a kick and died of her wounds.
Giraffes have slightly elongated forelegs, about 10% longer than their hind legs.
The pace of the giraffe is an amble, though when pursued it can run extremely fast, up to 55 km/h. It cannot sustain a lengthy chase. Its leg length compels an unusual gait with the left legs moving together followed by right (similar to pacing) at low speed (like a camel I believe), and the back legs crossing outside the front at high speed (like a horse).
When hunting adult giraffes, lions try to knock the lanky animal off its feet and pull it down.
Giraffes are difficult and dangerous prey. The giraffe defends itself with a powerful kick. A single well-placed kick from an adult giraffe can shatter a lion’s skull or break its spine.
Lions are the only predators which pose a serious threat to an adult giraffe.
Oxpickers pick ticks and insects but are also on alert for danger
Young giraffes play-fighting!
While they do have horns, their heads are used as a swinging wrecking ball and can do serious damage!
After the 'fight': good friends!
Millipede (NL: Miljoenpoot). Quite possibly the giant African millipede or shongololo.
Millipedes are a group of arthropods that are characterised by having two pairs of jointed legs on most body segments; they are known scientifically as the class Diplopoda, the name being derived from this feature.
Most millipedes are slow-moving detritivores, eating decaying leaves and other dead plant matter. Some eat fungi or suck plant fluids, and a small minority are predatory. Millipedes are generally harmless to humans, although some can become household or garden pests.
First appearing in the Silurian period, millipedes are some of the oldest known land animals. Some members of prehistoric groups grew to over 2 m (6 ft 7 in); the largest modern species reach maximum lengths of 27 to 38 cm (11 to 15 in). The longest extant species is the giant African millipede (Archispirostreptus gigas).
Archispirostreptus gigas, known as the giant African millipede or shongololo, is the largest extant species of millipede, growing up to 38.5 centimetres (15.2 in) in length, 67 millimetres (2.6 in) in circumference. It has approximately 256 legs, although the number of legs changes with each molting so it can vary according to each individual.
Giant millipedes have two main modes of defence if they feel threatened: curling into a tight spiral exposing only the hard exoskeleton, and secretion of an irritating liquid from pores on their body. This liquid can be harmful if introduced into the eyes or mouth.
Sunsets are impressive
Zebra's caught in the headlights; the animals have right
of way and they are not to be rushed.
The Hippo's resting in the pool at the lodge; we had a scare one night when we walked back from
the bar and din't see two young hippo's were feeding in the grounds. But the
hippo's scared as much as we did!
The power of the landrover while negotiating rough tracks and crossing dry river beds was impressive. The ranger is
looking down the riverbed for tracks because we'd seen leopard tracks but lost them on rocky surfaces.
Sharing a glimpse of the variety of fauna.
On the left a relative young baobab tree. On the right and insert the kill of (probably) an owl by a bird of prey.
Ranger Simon found the actual kill site and not too far off the owl had been taken apart on the track we were driving on.
Simon could make a lot out of the remains, he determined a Lizard Hawk had killed an owl, quite unusual.
Left: The Cape starling, red-shouldered glossy-starling or Cape glossy starling (Lamprotornis nitens; NL: Roodschouderglansspreeuw) is a species of
starling in the family Sturnidae. It is found in southern Africa, where it
lives in woodlands, bushveld and in suburbs. Note the yellow eye as a distinguishing feature.
Right: Violet-backed starling (Cinnyricinclus leucogaster; NL: Amethistspreeuw), female.
Note: some of these birds loose their striking colours when they are ‘non-breeding’, not in its breeding season, for example colourful birds (like a Long-tailed Widowbird for example) lose their striking colours or plumage when ‘non-breeding.
I was told: "The 'buff' marking on the flanks are a giveaway.'
The Red-backed shrike (Lanius collurio
; NL: Grauwe_klauwier) is a carnivorous passerine bird and member of the shrike family Laniidae
The breeding range stretches from Western Europe east to central Russia but it only rarely occurs in the British Isles. It is migratory and winters in the eastern areas of tropical Africa and southern Africa.
Crested Francolin (Dendroperdix sephaena
; NL: Kuiffrankolijn) is a species of bird in the Phasianidae
found in many
countries on the African continent. One of its subspecies, Dendroperdix sephaena rovuma
sometimes considered a
separate species, Kirk's francolin. [Wikipedia
|The Red-billed hornbills are a group of hornbills found in the savannas and woodlands of sub-Saharan Africa.
They are now usually split into 5 species:
the northern red-billed hornbill (Tockus erythrorhynchus), western red-billed hornbill (T. kempi), Tanzanian red-billed hornbill (T. ruahae), southern red-billed hornbill (T. rufirostris) and Damara red-billed hornbill (T. damarensis), but some authorities consider the latter 4 all subspecies of Tockus erythrorhynchus.
A glimpse how outstretched these roads are. Constantly we were scanning our surroundings, while the ranger also
kept his ears open for alarm calls by birds, indicating perhaps the presence of larger animals.
Some of the nests were large and expansive while others small and glued to the tree.
|A few interesting facts. The dominant male of the Zebra herd can smell off a newborn if it is his or from another male in
the herd; if it is from another male, the dominant male may try to kill the newborn!
Another fun fact: after a young
zebra is born, it will
seperate a little from the herd with the mother, so the newborn will memorize the mother's stripes!
Zebra's often look fat, like the one center in the photo, but they show distended bellies because of gasses in their digestive system.
A squirrel and an Egyptian goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca; NL: Nijlgans of Vosgans) is a member of the duck, goose
and swan family Anatidae. It is native to Africa south of the Sahara and the Nile Valley. Egyptian geese were
considered sacred by the Ancient Egyptians, and appeared in much of their artwork. Because of their popularity
chiefly as an ornamental bird, escapees are common and feral populations have become established in Western
Europe, the United States and New Zealand. [Wikipedia]
Male leopard taking its time (fortunately) to get off the track; the female was very skittish and had hid in the
undergrowth as soon as we appeared. We circled round and tried to find them again, but by the time we did, at a
watering hole, it was too dark for a decent photo.
BIRDS OF PREY
Either a juvenile Pale- or Dark chanting goshawk
"The Pale has a more westerly distribution. It extends into Gauteng but not as far east as Jo'burg and Pretoria, and into the top of Limpopo; but probably not east of the N1 I would guess. A Chanting Goshawk in Hoedspruit is almost definitely Dark
A pair of African Hawk Eagles.
They tend to be in pairs. Can be identified by a spotted or streaked breast.
Juvenile Bateleur, lucky enough to come across it twice!
Their eyesight is better than those of Vultures, which often sees them arriving earlier on the scene of
a kill; but it also means they are more susceptible to dying by poisoned bait (poachers don't like circling
vultures at their kill site for it may attract rangers and so they put poisoned bait in a circle around the kill site).
Could this one, above and below, be a Wahlberg's Eagle?
|Wahlberg's Eagle is native to sub-Saharan Africa, where it is a seasonal migrant in the woodlands and savannas.
It is named after the Swedish naturalist Johan August Wahlberg. Like all eagles, it belongs to the family Accipitridae.
Wahlberg's eagle is a medium-sized raptor, and the sexes are similar. It is about 53–61 cm (21–24 in) in length with a wingspan of 130–146 cm (51–57.5 in).
The legs are yellow. In flight, this species is very cross-shaped, with long, evenly wide wings, a slim body, and a narrow, square-ended tail. The wings are held very flat.
Hippo's enjoying each others company in the lake in front of the lodge. Unfortunately I wasn't treated on a yawn... Actually there wasn't as much time to relax and enjoy the immediate vicinity of the lodge as one would think.
There is an early start, a gamedrive that lasts several hours, followed by breakfast. A short break (nap!) enjoyed in the cabin or a coffee on the terrace, followed by lunch. Next could be an excursion (Elandela had several of interest on offer) and shortly after returning away on another gamedrive, followed by evening meal and drinks at the bar.
Quite exhausting but in a very pleasant way!
The river has crocodiles.
The Common Antelope also referred to Impala, identified by the the 3-tone dark brown, light-brown and white underneath plus the M-shaped (for 'McDonalds', you probably get the joke) mark on their behind.
A young suckling from the mother. With the trees and plants full of leaves and the high grass they have plenty to hide in.
And there's still enough drinking water. This is a good time for young to grow strong and healthy, avoiding the predators.
Antelopes are of course the main staple on the predators menu.
A very, very old Baobab tree.
Scarred in its formative years, probably over a a period of two thousand years, by elephants and rhinos
rubbing their itching hides on it.
Oxpickers and a giraffe in a beautiful sunset.
A celebration dinner with barbeque and folklore dancing was set up for all the guests in 'the boma' (a.k.a. the kraal)
The staff certainly went the extra mile to make this stay an unforgettable experience for us.
At safari lodges the Boma is a gathering place where people congregate for dinners, entertainment, and conversation. It is a place for storytelling and a coming together of people.
If you have the chance to visit a safari lodge during your trip to Africa, you may enjoy candlelit dining in a Boma, an open air eating area usually enclosed by reed walls, lit by lanterns and surrounding a welcoming fire pit.
The Boma is a place which provides shelter from the elements, and a magical setting for gathering around a fire and learning local folklore.
The meals is usually a barbecue with some of Africa’s delicious delicacies such as pot bread, Boerewors, and Bobotie.
We went in search for the leopards again, but failed to find them. We did come across this African Fish Eagle
at quite a distance. When we got a little closer it took off. Astonishing how far they can turn their heads!
The American cousin is black and white, African is brown and cream. Bald eagle (North America: Haliaeetus leucocephalus
) has white only above the shoulders, i.e., from the neck up. It can also be deduced from the Latin species name 'leuco
' (white), 'cephalus
' (head). The African Fish Eagle (Haliaeetus vocifer
) has white down the back between the shoulder blades and down the front on the chest (in addition to the head). Also, I was informed Bald Eagles don't have a dark patch at the end of the beak.
Helpful contributions from Facebook's BirdLife South Africa
Rhinos taking a mud bath!
Well, we had a bit of a scare here..
Our group consisted of 6 French people besides our family of 3 on this afternoon gamedrive. The French were new arrivals that day and
were very talkative during the drive, talking increasingly louder, much to our irritation.
And also from the ranger; he could not share his information and after a while kept it to a minimum. A woman who seemed to be a leader of sorts started talking (during the gamedrive!) about interesting houses she'd seen in Durban..?
We noticed wildlife was getting scarce: no more zebra's, no more giraffes. They all hid when they heard the French chatter approaching.
at this point we were watching rhinos on our right from a small higher vantage point. The dominant male hiding in the bushes on our left heard the French chatter and came to investigate, making
a somewhat noisy, snorting approach. The ranger abruptly silenced the French, for we were in danger of being toppled, landrover and all, by the irritated male rhinoceros. Alas, the French were not to be silenced for long after the incident passed..
On previous trips abroad I found the French, in a group, behave with total disregard to other people. I wish they would all stay at home in France, in their own reservation.
Since the French were on their first gamedrive (fortunately we did not join them a second time) we went
for another search for the white lions and soon found them near the previous location. Perhaps still enjoying their kill.
Close! But our vehicle & occupants are not recognized as food nor danger; still, we certainly kept our arms inside!
A young male gazes at the photographer!
Vultures awaiting their turn
Vultures waiting for the lions to move on so they can pick on the leftovers.
The lions ignored the vultures.
Vultures sure are ugly but very useful and equally fascinating, I think
At another drinking place we came across these two rhinos, but the leopards kept eluding us.
I thank Francesco and Karina plus their staff for a wonderful stay!
The Elandela Lodge offered several excursions, this one we could do without giving up on a game drive.
TO MY REPORT OF OUR VISIT TO HESC
A popular albeit widely discredited theory of the origins of the name "white rhinoceros" is a mistranslation from Dutch to English. The English word "white" is said to have been derived by mistranslation of the Dutch word "wijd", which means "wide" in English.
The word "wide" refers to the width of the rhinoceros's mouth. So early English-speaking settlers in South Africa misinterpreted the "wijd" for "white" and the rhino with the wide mouth ended up being called the white rhino and the other one, with the narrow pointed mouth, was called the black rhinoceros.
Ironically, Dutch (and Afrikaans) later used a calque of the English word, and now also call it a white rhino. This suggests the origin of the word was before codification by Dutch writers.
A review of Dutch and Afrikaans literature about the rhinoceros has failed to produce any evidence that the word wijd was ever used to describe the rhino outside of oral use [¬Wikipedia
Created 20-Apr-2020 | Updated