From time to time, I am reminded that Nature appears to have extremely cruel animals. For example, the way in which wild dogs bite and dismember still-alive prey has given them a reputation for cruelty. The experts advise that the prey is in such a state of shock that it is unaware of being literally eaten alive.
The ragged-tooth shark produces up to 10 embryos but usually only 1 or 2 are born. This means that the bigger embryos eat their brothers and sisters before being born. This phenomenon is known as intra-uterine cannibalism.
In the bird word, siblicide is also seen in certain species. If there is a large time gap between laying and incubating eggs, then the first-born chick gets to eat all the food brought by the parents and the siblings may die of hunger. In certain raptors, one may peck the other to death. The Black Eagle (Verreaux Eagle) was one of the first species in which siblicide was described. There is a three-day gap between the laying of the 2 eggs and by the time the second chick hatches, the first chick is significantly larger. What follows is quite disturbing : the firstborn will relentlessly attack the newborn chick and literally peck it to death.
I have bred doves for many decades and can testify that it sometimes happens that one chick gets to eat all the food and the second chick dies. This happens when the first-laid egg is immediately incubated before the second egg is laid. I can advise that this usually happens with young hens. Older hens will only start incubating once both eggs are laid – this usually happens within 24 hours.
You may recall that my doctor daughter Natasha was advised to have her twins prematurely as the boy, Rafael, was hogging the nutrients and his sister, Juliette, was not receiving sufficient nourishment.
On my recent visit to Tremisana earlier this month, I had an unusual sighting : cannibalism in lions. In fact, both Elias and Yuri had seen a three-year old male lion about 2 km from Tremisana. Elias then proceeded on his way to the Olifants River to conduct a bush walk. Yuri also drove on and 3 minutes later heard an almighty din – two 5 year old lions had arrived and chased the younger lion. They caught and killed him and then proceeded to eat the carcass. At breakfast Elias was inconsolable and Yuri was also visibly upset. The guests were in a state of shock. I have only once before seen a lion eating another lion.
All the lodge owners and managers were concerned that the 2 intruders would kill other lions. Just as quickly as they had appeared, they also disappeared. We understand that they came from a region about 20 km away. It makes for some interesting study on lion behaviour.
Lion sightings on Balule were the best I have experienced in many years. Our guests had some terrific sightings this month. My wife, Sandra, usually goes for evening walks around the camp but was unable to do so because of the daily lion presence at Tremisana!
GAME VIEWING REPORTS FROM OUR GUIDES
YURI reports :
Middle of winter has been a bit chilly. So many guests I speak to are surprised by how cold it gets here. It is true, South Africa does get very cold at this time of year, but as the Norwegians say “there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes”, and nothing makes you better forget about the cold weather than a few hot animal sightings.
My radar has been hot this month and I managed to get some great game viewing.
It has been a good rhino month and we managed to get some fantastic sightings of both Black and White Rhino. It saddens me that numbers are dwindling and magnificent animals have to be dehorned because some idiot halfway around the world believes it will solve his performance problems!
A gruesome but unique sighting.
On an early morning game drive we came across a young male lion by himself. He kept calling and seemed a bit nervous. After a while he got up and quickly started moving in a northerly direction. But he ran into an ambush! Two big male lions, that I had never seen here before, were waiting for him and after a brief battle, the young male was killed by the two big boys. The interesting thing though, they started eating him and eventually completely consumed him. I’ve seen lions kill each other before and maybe take a bite or two, but completely consuming it like this…never before !
SPOTTED CATS, SAME PLACE…SAME TIME
Now this doesn’t happen very often:
We found two cheetah brothers in a riverbed, drinking water. The first one crossed to the other side of the river, but the second one came back to our side of the river and lay down in the tall grass. While waiting to catch another glimpse of this cheetah I caught some movement on the opposite side of the river, and what was skulking there? A beautiful big male leopard! Awesome!!!
ELIAS reports :
July 2022 produced some great sightings in the bush.
On a Sunset Drive on Oxford Main we saw a lot of impalas and zebras. My clients were excited to see them so we stopped a few times to admire them and snapped some pictures. Heading towards Big Dam I spotted a rare black rhino. This was the famous Zulu and he just stopped walking, as if on cue, and my clients were able to get some great photos. Further on we found a pride of 9 lions relaxing. In this pride there was one of my favourite young male lions appropriately named Vincent. He is missing his right ear from when he was a tiny cub. (So, Vincent…as in Van Gogh). Just before leaving Oxford we were able to find some very relaxed elephants near the road.
On the way to Marula Boma, we found a young hyena near the road.
Upon arrival at Marula Boma for dinner we were greeted by a honey badger, a real treat since these animals are difficult to find. They sleep in holes and crevices during the day and are nocturnal.
On a bushwalk/drive we saw a pod of hippos in the Olifants River. Walking back from the river we encountered elephants. Meeting up with elephants while on foot is an intimidating experience for the clients. Before every bushwalk I brief my clients on the safety precautions of walking in Big 5 territory to ensure the safety of clients and animals. My clients had listened!! They understood the gravity of this situation and returned to the lodge safely, with a great bush story to tell.
One morning while driving around Cambridge we came across one of the sub adult males from the Takazile pride calling for his brothers and sisters. We did not hear a response so we continued on with our bush walk. Afterwards I checked with other guides in the area for an update on the sub adult male lion. The news I received was terribly sad : the sub adult Takazile lion had been killed by 2 full grown Masungulo male lions that came from the south east. In a show of dominance, these 2 male lions proceeded to eat the Takazile the sub adult. A lion’s life is harsh and brutal, driven only by their instincts to survive, protect their territory and continue their bloodline.
On a Sundowner Drive I heard impala alarm-calling in the distance. This indicates that predators are nearby, so I followed their sounds until I located them. All the impala were facing in one direction so I knew exactly where to look and was rewarded with a sighting of a beautiful female leopard. She was very relaxed, sitting on a mound licking her paws, allowing my very excited clients to take some great pics.
To close the month on a perfect note we had an awesome sighting of lions.
During the Sundowner Drive at Tremisana with only two guests, we saw a pride of nine lions on Tremisana property drinking at the waterhole in front of the breakfast area. My guests were very excited and took a lot of pictures. The lions were in very close proximity to the vehicle, so close that you could easily stretch your hand and touch them. We also saw two white rhinos at the Campfire link. My clients were very happy to conclude their safari on such a high note.
On the 2nd of July during the bush walk on Balule we found a leopard trying to catch baboons. When the leopard saw us, he ran off. We also found a hippo walking in the bush and when we approached her, she ran to the river.
On the 5th we found a pride of lions on Balule right next to Tremisana lodge.
On Marula extension we found four male Buffalos (daga boys) and on the drainage line we found a big herd of 60 + elephants.
On 7th in Kruger about 7km north of Satara we found seven female lions lying on the road. We found more than 20 wild dogs lying next to the road at the Welverdiend waterhole on the Sweni Road. We also found a big herd of buffalo and numerous elephants.
At Kingfisherspruit we found a female leopard trying to catch an impala but it failed.
We had lots of close sightings of general game including zebra.
Four km before Orpen gate we enjoyed a fantastic sighting of wild dogs with some hyenas following them. Ever the opportunists, the hyena wait for the wild dogs to make a kill and then try to push them off their kill.
On the 16th at the Barnard property on Balule we found a leopard with two cubs at Mhunti road. At Ngwenya dam we found buffalos and elephants.
On the 24th during the Sunset Drive on Balule we found four male elephants at Tremisana lodge. At Sven’s waterhole we found a black rhino and it came right up and next to our vehicle.
At the big dam on Oxford we found two young male lions lying next to the water. Not far from Marula Boma we found a big herd of buffalos. After a great dinner at the Boma on the way back to Tremisana we found a leopard on tree having dinner. He was feasting on a grey duiker. We completed the Big Five on the first day.
On the 24th during the Sunset Drive on Balule we found a pride of lions at Oxford big dam. Later we found a herd of elephants together with the big black rhino, Zulu at Rosies’s waterhole.
On the 25th in Kruger we saw wild dogs at the Orpen entrance. We found a white lion walking on the road towards Satara and it ended up lying down on the road in front of us.
On the H7 near Nwamatsatsa Bridge we found a male leopard eating a porcupine. At Kingfisherspruit entrance we found a female leopard trying to catch impala. The baboons alerted the impala and it got away.
PATRICK reports :
As you know, I only do Kruger Park safaris.
On 9 July, we had good sightings : elephants all over and big herds on the H 7 and at Nsemani Dam, a mating pair of lions just north of Satara, close-up hyenas near Orpen.
On 10 July, we found elephants on the H 7, wild dogs near Rabelais, lions on the S 90, leopard on the H 7 near Nsemani, buffalos at Ximangwanini Dam and more wild dogs near hyenas on the H 7 near Orpen.
On 11 July. There were wild dogs and leopard on the H7, cheetah near the S 39 junction, loads of elephants and a big buffalo herd on the S 100.We had a brilliant sighting of a big male lion right in front of our open vehicle, hyenas near Orpen and buffalo right at exit gate.
On 12July, we had lion sightings at Xibotwana Dam and on the S100, elephants and buffalos on the Sweni Road and baboons chasing a young hyena near Orpen.
On 13 July, we saw a pride of 4 lions near Nsemani Dam including a white lioness, huge elephant on the Sweni Road, an ostrich family near Mudzanzeni picnic spot, elephants and buffalos at Rockvale waterhole, a leopard on the Nwamatsatsa loop, and elephants and buffalos on the way out.
On 19 July, we saw lions at Girivana, buffalos at Kingfisherspruit, elephants at Nsemani dam and lots of general game.
On 20 July, we found lions at Phelwana bridge, a leopard near Girivana, elephant herd of 50+ on the S 40, hippos out the water at Nsemani and hyenas near Orpen.
On 21 July, we had a good sighting of many elephants at Nsemani, lions on the S 147, a single lioness at Girivana who was lactating so cubs must be there somewhere and a very large herd of buffalos near Phelwana.
VICTOR reports :
On 2 July we had impalas and zebras welcome us at the entrance gate. On the H 7 we found a pack of 17 wild dogs. Elephants drinking from the Timbavati River, about 120 buffalos at Mudzanzeni waterhole, 3 lionesses at Welverdiend waterhole on the Sweni Road and near the Nwanedzi picnic spot we found a large male leopard up a Marula tree.
After lunch we found 2 male lions chasing impala at Girivana, 2 male cheetah near the S36/S 39junction, elephants near Orpen and the usual hyenas near the exit gate.
On 8 July we found a huge herd of elephants neat Nwamatsatsa, 3 old buffalo bulls lying in the Timbavati River near Bobbejannkrans, 17 wild dogs at Rockvale waterhole, a lovely leopard drinking at Welvediend waterhole and 2 lionesses at Xibotwana.
After lunch we saw12 hippos out the water at Nsemani, the usual 2 cheetah near S 36/S 39 junction and a White Rhino bull a little further. We finished the day with good sightings of hyenas and black-backed jackals.
On 14 July, we were welcomed at the front entrance by some giraffes. On the H 7 we found 14 wild dogs, the regular cheetah brothers were near the S 39 and elephants on the way to the Timbavati picnic spot. At Girivana we found 2 lionesses with 5 cubs. We found a large herd of buffalos moving towards Ntomeni waterhole and elephants near Satara.
After lunch, we found a leopard in a tree near the Shishangani waterhole. A big herd of elephants held us up near Rabelais and the hyena clan was on hand to say goodbye at the exit gate.
On 24 July, zebras and wildebeest (the first our guests had seen) welcomed us at Orpen. On the H7 we had a huge herd of buffalo on the road and my 2 cheetah mates did not let me down.
At the Timbavati picnic spot we saw a herd of elephants and on the way to Satara we saw some ostriches. Near Nsemani we had a group of 27 zebras and 12 giraffes.
After lunch, we saw the famous male white lion, Casper, right on the road near Nsemani.
Near Rabelais we had a fantastic sighting of a young female leopard dragging her impala kill into the shade of a tree and started eating. Further on we were so happy to see two white rhino.
On 25 July, within a few minutes of entering we found a cheetah mother with two cubs. What a way to start !!! Our luck continued : On the H7 we saw a mating pair of lions near the Tamboti turnoff.
Within a minute we saw a beautiful white lioness cross the road in front of us on her way to a wildebeest kill. Near Kingfisherspruit we found a leopard up a tree feeding on an impala. Five km further another pair of mating lions !! What a fantastic cat morning !! At Nsemani Dam we saw elephants, buffalos and hippo.
After lunch we found two lionesses and five cubs at Ngirivana. Near Bobbejaankrans we found 12 wild dogs on the hunt eagerly followed by two hungry hyenas. What a day !
PIERO reports :
I spent a long time at the lodges as there were many issues to resolve and many improvements to effect.
At Tremisana, I managed to go on a few game drives and was very pleased with the sightings. We traverse over 3000 hectares in Balule and are happy that most of the other lodges are now operating well so that we can share news of sightings.
I took the following pics :
NEWS FROM OUR LODGES
The month of July has been a very different month for me. They say absence makes the heart grow fonder and having been away for so long I must say it feels good to be back to my second home. The vegetation is dry and many of the water sources within the reserve are drying up. This encourages the animals to move around some time great distances in search of water sources. The beautiful thing about Tremisana is that we have waterholes as well as a dam on our property. I am writing this with a smile on my face. For someone who spends most of her time on the desk this means that the animals come to me and I don’t really have to go far from the lodge to see them.
Talking about animals, someone tell me who told the lions to make Tremisana their playground just when I was planning to start taking walks seriously. I even had my walking gear ready. When I came back from my leave in the middle of the month, I realized that the lodge was busy. Maybe I had to take that break for things to pick up. The day after I arrived, we had a sighting of three lions at the back of Tremisana property. One thing I realized is that I have not really comprehended the size of lions. I am always in awe of their size and how once can easily sense their strength just by being close to them.
A lot of improvements to the lodge took place in my absence from renovations to the rooms, the gardens and adding on more equipment for housekeeping and food and beverage department. With the increase in the number of guests it is essential that we always be ready to cater for our guests. We take pride in giving guests at Tremisana a feel of home away from home with an authentic safari experience.
I had to take compassionate leave before I had even settled in. Upon my return as the month came to its close, I was welcomed by elephants at the back parking lot. I had so much to catch up on that it was a few minutes of awe and back to my desk. I am glad that the bookings for the month of July kept on improving even in my absence. August looks promising and I am excited about it. Special thanks to the agents and guests that continue to support us.
One guest asked me a few days ago whether I prefer monkeys to baboons. I prefer monkeys maybe because I see them every day and they are not that much of a nuisance. On the last Friday of this month, after we had just finished lunch, lo and behold four baboons appeared in front of the Lapa. I spent a minute debating on what to do. My fear of baboons is based purely on stories of other people’s face to face encounters of them. I had to call Elvis to chase them away. I was not ready for any self-defense mission. Maybe I should write a book with short stories full of hilarious and scary tales.
In the evening we had a pride of nine lions on the property. Being slow sometimes, by the time I got to the Lapa only three remained at the watering hole. I was still happy to see them even though I missed the others.
The month of July has been very eventful for me in all spheres of my life. One thing that came to mind, Mother always used to say always show gratitude for every blessing that you receive for that seed of gratitude will birth more blessings. I was away for the greater part of the month and missed out on a lot but I just want to thank the family I have here at Tremisana for the love and the support and keeping the ship sailing smoothly. From a heart filled with gratitude till next month, stay blessed.
JEVAN sent the following :
It has been very, very cold. We welcome all guests warmly and offer more blankets and hot water bottles to help against the physical cold.
I have received numerous compliments from many guests about the warmth of our staff and the warmth of the treehouse beds.
I am also so pleased to host the guests at night. We build a big fire every night and, together with the guests, I warm myself by standing close to the fire.
I am so very pleased and pleasantly surprised by the standards of the meals here. I previously worked at a fancy 5 star lodge and am amazed at how favourably the meals prepared at Marcs Camp compare with those offered there.
The treehouse camp is unfenced, so animals can be found everywhere. We have numerous buffalos walking in the riverbed. They sometimes come up to the Breakfast Dam. We have also seen a female leopard with two young cubs. On one occasion, two Italian guests found a different leopard on their way back after dinner. I think it is very important that all guests have their own torches to be able to see all the nocturnal animal life. We have thick-tailed bushbabies, hyenas, civets, porcupines, genets and honey badgers that are not often seen at night but are on the premises. Nyala, impala, kudu and wildebeest are seen by guests daily.
MASANGO CAMP and KATEKANI TENTED LODGE
These camps have been relatively quiet and our staff have had the opportunity to spring-clean all the units. We do have more bookings in August. In fact, Masango has been booked out by a family group of 26 for a few days at the end of the month.
Animals sightings have been good : Buffalos are seen daily at Masango and Bushbuck, Impala and Nyala are regular visitors to Katekani.
NEWS FOR OUR TRAVEL PARTNERS
July 2022 has been a good month in terms of tourist numbers.
All our travel partners and tourists have accepted the increase associated with the fuel subsidy.
I anticipate a drop in European tourists in the short term because of issues related to gas and fuel shortages and associated cost increases.
I appreciate the gratitude expressed by our agents for our flexibility in bookings. With the recent problems associated with airline departures, we have had quite a few guests that have been delayed.
Other operators that have made bookings for accommodation in Kruger camps and other lodges very often must try to cancel these bookings at the last minute because of the problems associated with the airlines. In some cases, there is no accommodation for alternative days so their guests lose out. Fortunately, Viva Safaris own our accommodation so, if a guest has no option but to postpone by a day or two, we can easily provide alternative accommodation at a later date.
The recent strikes at Lufthansa and the issues with British Airways and other airlines pose a serious challenge and I hope that these problems will soon be resolved.
I include the following reviews posted on Tripadvisor in July 2022 :
Value for money safari experience with Game Viewing at its heart
“Viva Safaris do a stunning job with very good quality safari experience. It is a budget safari and therefore the prices are substantially lower than many other comparable safari experiences. But for that price they provide excellent guides who know their stuff. A special shout to Smiley Halala and Victor who were both excellent guides who kept us informed and entertained. The rooms are clean and well maintained and all the hotel staff are friendly. The food is basic but delicious and they catered to us as vegetarians always ensuring we had a veggie alternative. Balule Reserve is decent with our best lion and rhino sightings inside Balule. The drive to Kruger is 90 min and the access from the Orpen Gate often results in amazing animal views. The whole lodge is surrounded by an electric fence which keeps the animals (apart from vervet monkeys) out which can be both positive and negative from your viewpoint. Overall a good safari experience especially given the competitive price offered”
“During my first trip to South Africa, I was most pleased with my 5 day safari with Viva Safaris. Prior to arrival, the company provided quick responses to all my questions as I was planning my trip. Upon arrival at Tremisana, the staff was courteous and worked hard to make their guests comfortable. The guides, Yuri and Raymond, were knowledgeable about the animals on the drives.
When I arrived at Marc’s Treehouse, I felt spoiled because the employees catered to my every need, including cooking gluten free meals to meet my dietary restrictions. Because I was the only guest on my first night, JB ate dinner with me so that I wasn’t alone. Every morning he took me on a bush walk, and I shared my desire to see a leopard. Every night and every morning he would look for the leopard for me. I felt like he truly went above expectations so that my safari experience couble be memorable and personalized.
I am already looking forward to booking another safari with Viva Safaris.”
6 Day Katekani – Awesome
“Fantastic experience with Viva. Guides were first rate and worked to get us to the best possible animal interactions. The visit to the rehabilitation center was a family favorite but all of the game drives were great. Lodge is in a good location and the rooms were very nice. If debating on spending the extra money to stay here..definitely do it. Margaret and Manda took great care of us and served up outstanding meals. Every day exceeded our expectations.”
We also received the following wonderful email from Bruno:
From: Bruno Diana-Oliaro
Sent: Monday, 18 July 2022 14:55
To: Piero Colia
Subject: Newsletter of June 2022
Good day Piero,
Hope you and your family are all well. I so enjoyed reading the June 2022 Newsletter that I feel the need to firstly, thank you for keeping me on your mailing list and, secondly, to compliment you and your staff for a well-written and informative newsletter as well as the many excellent photographs. I hope that the newsletter is widely disseminated and serves as an invitation, especially to overseas visitors looking for a Safari experience, to visit your, no doubt, well-run camps etc in terms of service and Kitchen, as well as the consideration given for the well-being and safety of your guests on the rides and in the camps etc , not to mention the knowledgeable guides. Regrettably, my travel days, because of loss of balance and general unsteadiness, are over, otherwise I would gladly return to Tremisana of which I have fond memories of my stay there.
In the hope that the business will, in a not too distant future, improve dramatically, I send you, and your family, my very best wishes.
PS: Your comment on feeling the cold rationalizes the cause. Despite having been on blood thinners for many years, I had not thought of the possibility that they are the reason why I always feel cold. I kept putting it down to getting “younger”. Thanks for that. Ciao.
Until next month,
With kind regards,