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Sad story of a dead leopard
Hilltop Camp
Sociable Weaver
Green Mamba
Yellow-bellied Greenbul
Blog posts June 2015
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1st August 2015 - Sad story of a dead leopard

A dead leopard in Kruger National Park

In June 2013 I was driving north on the H3 in Kruger National Park when I got word of a Leopard sleeping in the sun at the bridge over the Mlambane River. After taking a few photos I realised that this leopard was in rather a dead sleep and decided it was dead.

I went back a few hours later and the Leopard was in the same position confirming my suspicions that the animal had died. Who knows how? It seemed thin and not in great condition but there were no noticable wounds.

The interesting thing for me is how many people had 'ticked' off the 'sleeping' Leopard as one of their Big 5 sightings. Does it matter that they unknowingly saw a dead leopard? Isn't it harder to find a dead leopard than a live one?

Less than a week before seeing this sight I had seen photos on Twitter of a dead Leopard near Skukuza. This one had been killed by two male Lions. Not a good week for leopards, but it does remind us that life is tough for all animals and it doesn't matter where you are in the food chain.

Click here for more information on Leopards

27th July 2015 - Hilltop Camp, Hluhluwe Game Reserve

Hilltop Camp in Hluhluwe Game Reserve

Hilltop Camp is the main camp in Hluhluwe Game Reserve in KwaZulu-Natal. It is aptly named as it is perched on top of a hill and offers amazing views over the rolling hills of the game reserve. Although many people consider iMfolozi Game Reserve to offer better game viewing than Hluhluwe there are still lots of reasons why you should enjoy a few days at Hilltop Camp.

Hluhluwe Game Reserve is the oldest game reserve in Africa, having been established on 30th April 1895. The reserve is administered by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and Hilltop Camp is their flagship. It offers a variety of accommodation ranging from rondavels to units with two bedrooms and bathrooms downstairs and a kitchen and living area upstairs.

The camp has a nice restaurant and bar area with amazing views. One of the highlights is the patio area where one can enjoy a drink or meal while looking for game on the distant slopes or birds of prey soaring overhead. There is a gift shop which also offers some basic food and convenience items.

Game viewing in Hluhluwe Game Reserve can be hit and miss. On a recent visit to the park we hardly saw anything yet over Christmas we had amazing sightings. Like any game reserve you need to just take a chance on what you will see but be sure that you will enjoy a comfortable and relaxed stay at a great camp.

For more information on Hluhluwe Game Reserve click here

11th July 2015 - Sociable Weavers and their giant nests

A tree that has been engulfed by Sociable Weaver nests

If you are travelling through the drier western regions of South Africa and you see something that resembles a hay stack in a tree, then you have more than likely found a Sociable Weaver nest or, more accurately, a colony.

Sociable Weavers definitely believe that there is safety in numbers as these communal nests may house 100 pairs. Each pair has its own chamber in the nest and the nest is occupied all year round. The weavers work together to maintain the nests as well as to add new ones.

These nests, which are the largest in the bird world, also help provide some sort of temperature controlled environment with it being warmer at night and cooler during the heat of the day. Fire and snakes are the enemies of the Sociable Weaver. A fire is almost guaranteed to destroy the whole structure while snakes such as the Cape Cobra will eat as many eggs as they can find.

For more information on Sociable Weavers click here

8th July 2015 - The beautiful but deadly Green Mamba

A beautiful photo of a Green Mamba

The Green Mamba is an awesome snake! One bite from a Green Mamba can kill you in less than a half-hour. One bite contains enough venom to kill several humans. And some people keep them in glass tanks at home!

Fortunately the Green Mamba is not as aggressive as its cousin the Black Mamba. Its beautiful green colouration camouflages it perfectly amongst the leaves high up in trees. It preys upon birds, including their eggs, and rodents. Females are larger than males and can reach a length of over 2 metres.

Not everything is in favour of the mamba. Some animals are brave enough to hunt them! Genets, Mongooses and Snake Eagles eat Green Mambas.

For more information on the Green Mamba click here

4th July 2015 - Yellow-bellied Greenbul

Yellow-bellied Greenbul feeding on ticks on a female Bushbuck

The Yellow-bellied Greenbul is a timid bird that loves the shelter of thick bush. I was very surprised to see one leave the protection of a Yellowwood Tree to pick ticks off a female Bushbuck.

As the bird landed on the head of the Bushbuck it looked surprised, but not startled, and it soon carried on feeding. The Greenbul got to work on the Bushbucks ears. Every now and then the Greenbul would return to the shelter of the tree but would soon return to the back or head of the buck.

Despite being a birder for many years I hadn't heard or seen this behaviour from a Yellow-bellied Greenbul but I have since done some research and there are records of such behaviour. It just shows that the more time you specnd out in the field the more wonderful things you are exposed to.

For more information on the Yellow-bellied Greenbul click here

For more information on Bushbuck click here


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