I have had a few responses and enquiries in relation to the photos of the white lions taken by Tolli – see newsletter September 2021 on Home Page of www.vivasafaris.com.
Most people that wish to see a white lion do so at a zoo. According to the Global White Lion Protection Trust, there are presently 13 white lions in the wild. Of these, 10 are found on the routes travelled by Viva Safaris in the Kruger Park. Our guides have seen them in a west/east belt from Orpen through Satara to Nwanedzi over the last 18 months.
Many of our lucky tourists initially think that the white lions are albinos. This is not the case. Albino animals are born without melanin, resulting in white skin and hair and pinkish eyes. This is likely to impair vision and may result in an inability to find food. Of course, if the rest of the group is darker-coloured, then the albino animal stands out and can be easily located and preyed upon. The inability to blend naturally into the bush makes the chances of survival very slim. As a result, albino animals usually succumb early in life and are quite rare to observe in nature.
The white lions that the Viva guides are finding on our trips into Kruger have a condition called leucism. This condition results in paler or patchy conditions in animals. Unlike albinism, where there is a total absence of melanin, leucism occurs because of a reduction in concentration of pigment. Tolli’s photo of the lions on the buffalo kill show the normal eye colour and dark nose and lips.
Compared to other animal species that display leucism, lions have a far greater chance of survival. Being pride animals, other normal coloured lions usually initiate and take the lead in the hunt as they stand out less obviously that white lions.
I include a lovely photo of a “pink “ elephant that has been seen on the Rome 1 property of Olifants West Nature Reserve, where we conduct our 4 hour Bush Walks with armed rangers.
GAME VIEWING REPORTS FROM OUR GUIDES
As predicted, October was a great month for game viewing. The rain received was insufficient to get the animals away from watering points and the dams, pans and river roads produced excellent sightings.
TOLLI sent the following :
I send a summary that includes a few special moments on safari this month
Day 1: Doing admin at Orpen gate
Day 2: Wonderful bush walk with elephants, giraffe and zebra
Day 3: A little bit of love for a good mother, Pearl Spotted Owl, and wild dog pups
Day 4: Teach your child how to yawn and run quickly from danger
Day 5: White Rhino, Elephants, Dark Chanting Goshawk etc. on the bushwalk at Balule
Day 6: Buffalo on bushwalk at Marc Camp
Day 7: Leopard feeding on a kill in Kruger and hippo’s playing
Day 8: Young elephant bull lets us know who is boss
Day 9: Lions at Tremisana Lodge dam
Day 10: White Rhino on the bushwalk
Day 11: Brown Headed Parrot, a leopard tortoise and a juvenile saddle bill stork
Day 12: Who’s the boss? Impala rutting for mating rights and a pride of lions on a hippo kill
Day 13: Three young male lions chased of a pride of lions at the hippo kill and a big crocodile on our bushwalk
Day 14: Ground Hornbill or the new name thunderbirds, running giraffes look so clumsy but graceful
Day 15: Cute baby elephant, sleeping lions chased up by angry elephants and a beautiful giraffe African sunset to top off the day
Day 17: A baby elephant showing his funky running skills and a beautiful male lion with a blow wave hair day
Day 21: A visit to the giant baobab tree, Jurie and one of our guests contemplating on the meaning of life on the bushwalk
Day 24: Lions and elephants on our way to the bushwalk and Jurie talking about the small five
Day 25: Firstly buffalo, hunting fish eagle and look at the crocodile trying to catch the wildebeest and to end of the day a big male white lion and a waterbuck with a malformed horn.
Day 26: giraffes on the morning bushwalk
YURI sent the following report :
Sho!!! 10 months into 2021 and 2 to go! Where has the time gone?
October has been a really weird month as far as the weather goes. Every Saturday scorching hot and Sunday below 20°c and miserable.
WELCOME PARTY: My client, Miguel, received a very warm welcome. I picked him up at Olifants West gate and lo and behold, before he had even seen an impala, there was a whole pride of lions right at Tremisana dam. It took a lot of explaining from my side to convince him that these were REAL lions and not trained ones.
HIPPO TODAY…GONE TOMORROW: On a Sunset drive my guests & I came across a hippo bull on the bank of one of the dams in the area. It was limping badly and had a bad cut on its back. The obvious loser of a territorial battle with a larger bull. My first thought was that this guy was going to be in serious trouble if he doesn’t get into the water. The next morning, on an early morning game drive, we saw the same hippo, only this time with 9 hungry lions feasting on it!!! That’s the way of the bush…
BOMA BADGERS: The Sunset Drive and Marula Boma dinner can be full of surprises. Apart from hyena at the Boma on a regular basis, we received a very rare and very welcome visit from 2 honey badgers! A real treat, as they are not animals you would see on a regular drive.
RHINO! One morning, on route to our bush walk we decided to take a bit of a detour. Man, did that pay off. It is hard enough to find an adult rhino, but a mother AND a baby. Simply wonderful!!!
KRUGER NATIONAL PARK: Having been up in East Africa for 15 years, I had to get all my paperwork done all over again to be able to do game drives in Kruger National Park. Finally, during the last 10 days of this month it came through and I’m thrilled to be back there. It is an incredible wildlife oasis. On my first 2 drives I managed to find loads of elephant, buffalo, giraffe, wildebeest, hippo and good sightings of lions, leopard and white rhino. Awesome place!
Into November we push and edging closer to Christmas and New Year. Make it memorable by spending it here, with us in the greatest place on earth! Hope to see you soon.
RAYMOND has been employed on a fulltime basis and reports as follows:
On the 27th of October on the Bush Walk we got four bull elephants and we managed to approach them until we were at a distance from where we were able to get good pictures.
After that we got a big bull giraffe looking to us and he was very relaxed.
On the Sunset Drive we found a female leopard trying to catch an impala next to the road. Unfortunately the Impala looked past the vehicle and saw the leopard and started alarm- calling to the other impalas. The leopard then moved into the bush.
On the 28th during the bush walk we got a pride of lions on the river bed and while we were still watching them a hippo with its calf crossed in front of us and entered the water.
On the 30th in Kruger Park we got a big herd of elephants – over 100 – crossing the S100 road moving towards the river.
I include the following shots I took. I use my cellular phone so cannot realistically compete with Tolli and Yuri.
I had a super Bush BBQ at Marula Boma. The 3 young US tourists look the part and when we heard lions in the distance, I was thinking about asking them to remove their zebra blankets !
NEWS FROM OUR LODGES
I spent a week at Tremisana and was impressed with the state of the gardens. The rains have made a significant difference. On the 9th October there was a tremendous hailstorm.
The last such hailstorm was about 10 years ago.
The level of Tremisana Dam rose significantly. The previous day, we had a great sighting of 9 lions under a tree right at the dam.
Nyarai sent the following report:
October was characterized with a lot of sunshine and clear skies and the perfect combo that is essential for this month always is an awesome safari, complete with hat, sunscreen lotion, pool time and a refreshing drink. The month of October has been a very warm month with a very small amount of rainfall. We have had days where the temperature has gone up to 40 degrees Celsius but most days have been really pleasant.
With the days being warmer at the lodge we now have a wide variety of birds easily visible around the lodge including the black collared barbet, golden tailed woodpecker, grey headed kingfisher and our recently returned European bee-eater. The garden at Tremisana provides travelers with a plethora of bird life. It is the ideal place to relax for the avid bird watcher. Some days after work I sit at the guesthouse and watch the birds drinking water from the watering hole. I must say the guest house is the perfect spot for bird watching on a hot day.
I haven’t seen the family of warthogs for some time now. I do hope that they come back soon. We had a great co-existence I am sure. They had stopped running away when they saw me. A bit of a staring competition but we would both calmly get on with our business. We also have a leopard tortoise in the garden. He was stationed in the bar for a full two days that I became worried that something awful had happened to him. I was relieved to see him make his way back to the garden. We have also had giraffes, elephants and the usual impalas around the lodge.
The month of October has been awesome has we have seen a steady increase in the number of guests. With the world opening up again there is renewed hope for the tourism industry. I am optimistic that we will experience more numbers as the year draws to an end.
Until next month, cheers to not giving up and pushing until we get the desired results. Like the tortoise, every man must stick out his neck if he wants to go forward.
Marc’s Treehouse Lodge, Masango Camp and Katekani Luxury Tented Lodge have all had the usual maintenance work done.
The Klaserie River is flowing steadily and a large buffalo herd frequents the river near the tents.
The Leopard at Katekani is keeping Mandla indoors after dark – I think he is exaggerating when he says he hears it every night. Usually leopards move around and this particular female has, in the past, been seen at Masango, Marc’s Treehouses and at Dumela Lodge. We are told that there are 4 different leopards operating on these properties – a very high concentration.
NEWS FOR OUR TRAVEL PARTNERS
October has been the best month so far this year in terms of guest arrivals. We are pleased to advise that 3 more members of staff have returned to their jobs. With the expected increase in bookings, I anticipate that we shall employ yet another 5 staff by the end of November. This is particularly pleasing as this indicates that we are showing signs of returning to normality.
Thanks to our travel agents that have been booking guests on Viva safaris packages, we are likely to have a very good December.
We have signed an agreement by which Viva Safaris will now traverse an area of about 3500 hectares on Olifants West Nature Reserve. I believe that this is a larger area than areas traversed by any other lodge. Viva is joined by 7 other lodges on some areas on which we traverse and we all benefit by sharing sightings.
I include a photo of each of the lodges we use:
Katekani Tented Lodge:
Marc’s Treehouse Lodge:
Pumusa Bush Camp:
Until next month,
With kind regards,