October 2005

A famous South African poet called Louis Leipold wrote a poem about October & he called it “die mooiste, mooiste maand”. He was never at Mohlabetsi before the rains came – it is dry, dry, dry! We wait in anticipation for the cumulus clouds to build up over Mariepskop, heralding the first thunderstorm of the season.

This month we welcome back Quentin Swanevelder, who left us 2 years ago to guide walking safaris. Getaway magazine dubbed him “SUPERGUIDE.” Sporting long, flowing blonde locks, he is now the fully rounded ranger, with an excellent manner & a raconteur of note - any trip into the bush with him is a memorable experience.

Joining him is Cecilia Oosthuizen, looking after the office, hostessing & guiding as well. These two make a formidable duo & we encourage you to come enjoy their company in the Bush.

Game viewing is awesome, compliments of the dry. Rhinos are wandering in & out of the area, searching for grazing & there are mud wallows aplenty as the waterholes dry up. Breeding herds of elephants spend the heat of the day around our largest waterholes & the young bulls love immersing themselves into the deepest part, with just their trunks showing above the surface.

Our lion population continues to grow. The York pride have an addition of 5 cubs in their midst, now making the pride 13 strong. Their offspring, who have split up & operate independently, are now named “Bafana Bafana” by the trackers as they consist of 4 males & only one female. Poor lass, she is doing all the hunting & the males all the eating, so she looks permanently anorexic & the males positively blossoming!

Sundowners with “Bafana Bafana

On the bird side, Quentin got a “lifer” last week, being the violeteared waxbill (Uraeginthus granatinus). As I write this, a natal robin (Cossypha natalensis) is feeding outside the office, a most unusual species for this area. The summer migrants are starting to appear in numbers & the Wahlberg’s eagles (Aquila wahlbergi) are already on their nests.

Most of the trees are waiting for the rain, but the marulas (Sclerocarya birrea) blossoming now & the monkeys, baboons & browsers are feeding off them. The sjambok pods (cassia abbreviata) already have their bright green leaves & appear as beacons over the dry landscape.

Hamilton, one of our Rangers, with his favourite animal!

Trivia of the month: The purple pan-weed (Sphaeranthus incisus), now growing profusely in our drying waterholes, is considered by certain tribes of Africa as a powerful anti-conception medicine. An infusion of the plant with water is drunk immediately before the sexual act.