Hi there everyone!
The full-time FGASA level one course has begun and what a super start it has been! We have another excellent group of bush-lovers and we are already starting to build the bigger picture that is nature…
Everyone settled in very quickly here at Nkombe Camp, as you are surrounded by nothing but true wilderness. No man-made sounds, no artificial lights in the surrounding environment… only spectacular African bushveld. We all sat around the mesmerizing fire and got to know each other followed by Mandla’s signature potjie (stew) to make everyone feel right at home 😉
Day one was brought to life by the most amazing sunrise and a concert of melodious bird calls (most of which our students can now identify). We went for a relaxing game drive to introduce everyone to the incredible area we are so privileged to be a part of – the greater Kruger National Park!
The first morning walk was an absolute delight! We spent most of our time identifying new tracks, trees and birds and then soon the intense alarm call of a tree squirrel!
We immediately followed up to see what all the chattering was about when all of a sudden we found the culprit… a gorgeous female leopard walking (oh so elegantly) on the opposite bank of a dry river bed. This incredible sighting was brief but unforgettable for us all!
The elephants decided to welcome the students to the bush as they decided to stick around camp for a couple of days. This made for great game viewing from the front of our tents as we observed these magnificent creatures feeding and even sleeping in the heat of the day whilst standing under the surrounding Jackalberry trees.
We even had the pleasure of seeing the cutest, clumsy elephant calf… only hours old. The youngster could hardly walk as mom gently nudged the baby with her trunk to cross a riverbed. What a sight!
On one particular evening we heard the bone-chilling moans of Africa’s largest cat… lions! Even though we know these calls can carry for over seven kilometres, we definitely knew this was close, very close. It turns out they were less than five-hundred metres from camp!
We had a wonderful, private sighting of three impressive lionesses as they laid in the soft sand of a dry river bed. They seem to be lactating which means we might have the opportunity to see the cubs in the nearby future! This was yet again another spectacular sighting…
As if spending more than seven hours a day out in the field learning about nature is not enough to get you excited… nature surprised us again with another marvelous sighting.
One of our students (amazingly) spotted a small, spotted tail hanging from a Weeping Boer-Bean tree. As we drove closer to investigate, we found that it was a young leopard cub feeding on a Nyala kill! We couldn’t believe our eyes as we watched the scene unfold. But where was the mother? We spent quite a bit of time observing the adorable cub as she continued feeding… until she dropped her meal to the ground. She briefly looked at us before clumsily heading down the tree to reclaim her food after which the cub disappeared into the distance. We thought we had lost her when we found the mother lying in a tall stand of Red Grass. The leopards were amazing to see and it was such a rare and incredible experience which will stay with us forever…
This course is truly amazing as we have the privilege to see the transformation of the bush. Everything is now coming to life as the first rains have arrived and rejuvenated the earth! The tortoises are back, as well as most of the insects and reptiles. The evenings are beginning to gain character with the continuous calls made by surrounding frogs. The trees are starting to flower and regain their brilliant canopies. It is amazing to witness!
If all of this can happen in just over ten days… then I can’t wait to see what the next couple of weeks have in store for us!
The ANT Blog
(A special thank you to Henrico Muller for all of these beautiful photographs!)