The night an unexpected hippo arrived

Its raining elephants and a hippo for good measure

January has come and gone in a flash and now we are halfway through February already. I am convinced time has started to travel faster and it’s not because I’m getting older! Since the last newsletter there has been quite a lot of activity and events in and around the camp.

As you can expect there were plenty of elephants to be seen and photographed. In fact, I estimated on some days that maybe 150-200 individuals turned up. From 6th January until 6th February there was not a day when at least one elephant showed up. After having downloaded the photos from the camera I had over 10 000 photos to go through and extrapolate the information for the sightings sheet and also to choose what to possibly include in the monthly blog. As much as I would love to share all the photos with you it just isn’t practically possible. One day I hope to have in place a webcam that you will be able to tune into and follow whenever you choose, but that is a project for the future.

From all those photos I chose quite a few that show a mixture of species drinking together at the waterhole which I thought would be of interest to you all. It certainly helps to show that there is a variety of wildlife that can be encountered and photographed from the hide and that we are not just about elephants. I often get asked what the difference is between a nyala and a kudu. These pictures quite clearly show you that in both males and females of both species. The difference between the female nyala and bushbuck is also clearly shown now. I must eat humble pie, as a few months ago I said that they were both Bushbuck, but the one has grown and is most definitely a female Nyala.

Some of you may have seen our posts on Social media in January where the surprise visitor was a hippo. He has now shown up twice but on both occasions has just been a brief visit. One of these days I am sure we will wake up in the morning to discover he/she has decided to stay put. That would be amazing especially if we were able to get footage of the interaction between the hippo and some elephants. I’ll be honest I wouldn’t want a hippo permanently in the waterhole as the water may get a bit smelly after a while!

Other notable visitors during the month were:

a Civet, Buffalo, Ramses the dominant male leopard, a pair of African Hawk Eagles, an Nyala ram who showed up frequently, the female pair of Nyala and Bushbuck are also regulars now.

Other sightings around the camp

Inside the camp life is still busy. The hornbills are still nesting in the Marula tree in front of hornbill deck and are constantly feeding their offspring. In the other Marula tree between the pool and the waterhole, a family of Green Woodhoopoes are nesting. They are quite vocal and as you can imagine with all the help from the flock members there is almost always constant activity at the nest entrance. Photographically the nest is not in the best location but if you sit on a chair by the fire pit or Leadwood tree there is a good enough side angle to get some great shots.

The hide is left under water

In this past week we have had our fair share of the heavy rains that affected the Kruger park. Thankfully we didn’t have quite as much as they did and we didn’t suffer the same damage. We did however record over 100mm of rain in 24 hours and the dry riverbed inside the reserve came down in flash flood. There were concerns that the guests would not be able to get out to get to Jo’burg and catch their flight. Thankfully though the river started to subside and they did get their flight back to the UK with memories of an adventure that wasn’t on the itinerary originally. By the next day the river had subsided completely, and the roads were left in a slightly worse condition that earlier in the week, but still accessible to normal cars with caution.

The hide was left submerged after that downpour, as the runoff from the pathway broke through a small section and diverted down the ramp. Thankfully no lasting damage was done, and no equipment was affected in any way. The fridge did get submerged in about 20cm of water but after drying out for 24 hours and a good clean is still functioning, meaning you can still enjoy a cold beer inside the hide. It took me a whole day to clean up and remove the silt and debris left behind but at least it is looking sparkling clean again. Sandbags are now permanently in place to minimise any chance of a repeat performance.