Seldom do we see the Waterberg as dry as it has been this year with most of the mountain streams and dams drying up and the bush looking as sparse and open as you will find it. Hopefully the rain is only 2 months away, but for the moment we will enjoy the extra visibility as animals congregate around the water and the thinner bush allows us to find the elusive predators.
Game viewing for the last month has been exceptional and we have been very fortunate to have had a number of different predators with their young being regularly sighted.
The elephants are regular visitors at our private waterhole and also frequently empty our swimming pool! Sitting quietly on our deck watching the herd whilst they interact and drink from the pool remains an incredibly special sighting.
The leopards in the Waterberg are notoriously known for being some of the craftiest and elusive, but with Welgevonden Reserve existing for more than 20 years now, some of the Leopards have become far more comfortable with vehicle activity. We have recently had our best 2 months ever regarding the number of leopard sightings. A female with 2 cubs is regularly seen, and a few of our larger males take little notice of the game viewing vehicles allowing for some really close encounters.
Spotted Hyena were never introduced into the Welgevonden Reserve. Historically they were found in most parts of the Waterberg, but due to conflict with farmers and hunting pressure, they were almost eradicated with only a few isolated recordings in recent times. Somehow a few of these surviving Hyena found their way into the protected area of Welgevonden where we have heard them calling and occasionally seen them over the years. We were very excited to find the first conclusive evidence that they are denning on the reserve when our guide, Herbert found the mother with young a few kilometers from the lodge. We have also had Hyena around the Lodge – even wandering onto the main deck. This is a huge plus for the reserve and conservation in general. It shows the value of conserving a large area like Welgevonden. Two days later while transferring guests from West Gate, we were even more fortunate to witness the two adult Hyenas had brought down a fully grown Wildebeest and were dragging the carcass to the den area. We eventually lost sight, but it was quite astonishing to see them dragging this large antelope over 2 kilometers! Although better known for being scavengers, it is clear that these 2 predators faced with a numerical disadvantaged smaller clan have had to become very successful hunters.
The Cheetah sightings continue to be very good with one of our females recently giving birth to a litter of 3 cubs. We look forward to joining the young ones on their journey to adulthood. The Cheetah female’s 2 cubs of the central Reserve are now almost fully-grown, and we have numerous sightings of this family.
The second pride of lions is due to be released soon, so we look forward to a very busy few months all culminating in the early rains as summer approaches.
Our favorite resident Genet, who’s made her home in the thatch roof of the main lodge, still continues to enthrall our guests. Occasionally, you can see her during the day sleeping on the top rafters. However, it’s at night when she becomes really active. Being very comfortable with humans, you can see her almost every night looking for any scraps of food left over, running along the rafters, drinking from the pool, or on occasion sharing brief moments with her shy male ‘friend’.
Special thanks from the Wild Ivory team