Winter hit us hard this year, but amazingly did not last too long, invariably though, by saying this, I am cursing us, and we are sure to feel the full wrath of icy winds over the coming few days. Those that have visited us in winter before, can attest to the fact that there are marked temperature changes between the hours that the sun is above the horizon, and when it is below the horizon. Winter abated to a degree from the middle of the month, but knowing that August is now upon us, we have not been too rushed to pack away the fleeces, jackets, gloves and beanies. Daily temperatures averaged well into the mid twenties, and the sun provided an extra bit of comfort on the days that the temperatures were a little lower. Herein lies the advantage of our winters, clear blue sky, with a bright sun overhead. Drives are still going out at 06:30 in the mornings, and those that may still be planning a visit over the next month and a half or so are well advised to bring the winter warmers along as essential companions out on the open vehicles during drive times.
Early July saw the end of the Soccer World Cup, and what a pleasure to have had a few Spanish guests at the lodge a few days after the famous victory. Congratulations to the Spanish team and country for your sportsmanship, and ultimately becoming deserved victors of this World Championship. The tournament had us running around at the lodge, and occupancy levels only started dropping nearer the end of the month, once the Tournament specific travellers started returning home to their various countries. Luckily I can report that we are again busy, and to compliment this the drives have been just as eventful and busy.
The vegetation is now starting to resemble a true winter landscape, as the green colour fades from the plants, and are replaced by the brown and tan textures of desiccated grass and leaves. The risk of runaway fires becomes a head ache to the staff as we are constantly on the lookout for any puff of smoke that may indicate the start of a fire. To combat the destructive possibilities of an encounter with such a natural disaster, we have a burning regime whereby we try to rotate burning different blocks each year, to prevent the fuel load (Dead grass and Leaves), from building up to dangerous levels. This is done, because of numerous reasons, too many to mention here, annually. We have already burnt one small area close to the lodge itself, and this should act as a natural fire break, preventing any damage to the lodge, should a runaway fire be encountered. We will be burning 2 more areas of the reserve over the coming weeks in compliance with our yearly burning schedule.
The lodge though, is still looking beautiful, bathed in the emerald greens from the evergreen trees and lawns that are privileged enough to be watered regularly. This is also done with guest comfort in mind, as the dust would become overbearing were we to leave the grass to die in the lodge. August sees the arrival of the winds, this due to shifting high and low pressure cells over the Indian and Atlantic oceans, that occur with the changing seasons.
Rob will be able to give you a detailed run down of the animal activities that were witnessed out on drive this month. I will just touch on a few notable points, to keep you interested, and entice you into opening up his newsletter and reading about many of our phenomenal sightings.
The month started on a sad note, with the death of a legendary leopard female here at Idube, namely the Makubela female, who had spent the better part of 6 years using a core territory based around the lodge. She was, as could have been read from last month’s letters, injured in a fight with a much larger male leopard, from which she did not recover. We have over the last month though not had a shortage of leopard activity around the lodge, and it seems that we will soon be seeing regular confrontations between 2 males that are being seen more frequently around the lodge, both of whom are staking claims to the prime area around the Lodge.
With an ever growing young female ( Mambirri’s Daughter) in the south, we are all hoping that she can come and fill the vacuum left at present, by the absence of Makubela. There is also always the Young blue eyed daughter of Shangwa that has been independent for about 4 months now that could also fill the void. Only time will tell when and by which leopard the vacant territory will be filled.
Elephants have been seen more and more around the lodge premises, as they come to 1 of the 2 large water points on opposite sides of the lodge. They have made their presence known, rather unpopularly, by breaking into the lodge to get access to the succulent green vegetation within the boundaries.
There was also a dead giraffe encountered just north of the lodge this month. Wait, am I saying too much, I should probably leave some news for Rob. What I will say though is that at least 2 leopards, 3 Male Lions, 12 Hyaenas, and 2 Porcupines were seen feeding here, we managed to get some phenomenal pictures and video footage of them, and posted them to the newly created online updating centres.
Technology, Blogs, Facebook groups, and Twitter were the buzz words around the office this month. Not the usual, lions, leopards, zebras and giraffes, although there were plenty of them to be seen.
I must admit, being a Bush Person, the new challenge of currently getting up to speed with all the online advertising and updating, that we are attempting to streamline, has posed more of a challenge than initially expected. Make no mistake, I am not totally in the dark, but without the help of Rob, we would still be struggling to get pages registered, let alone being able to post updates at will at various times during the day. What am I on you may be asking yourselves?
Well, we have taken the tech leap, and have registered and opened Fan/Group pages on both Facebook and Twitter. Added to this, Weekly blog updates will be loaded onto our newly created blogspot.
Personally, the time that I spent away from the western sector of the Sabi Sand Wildtuin, before returning in February this year, was frustrating from the perspective of wanting to know what was happening to the different individual animals seen on a regular basis out on drives. Hours was spent trolling around the different websites of various lodges to try and get an idea of what was happening. We have thus started the above mentioned pages, to give regular updates, that those of you, who may want to follow the animal antics, can, and further to this, we will be posting general updates from the lodge and the reserve as well. I know reading about new buildings isn’t quite as exciting as reading about a Lion Kill, but this all contributes equally to the lodge and its operation, and we want to be able to share all Idube news with you at any time. Updates will include written posts, photographs, and video footage. For a full experience we thus now have many options for you to follow:
http://www.facebook.com/idubelodge is our Facebook page, please join us to get your daily bush dose. This page is linked with our Twitter account: http://twitter.com/idube_lodge and all posted updates will thus also be visible here. Our blog spot can be found at http://idubelodge.blogspot.com
Rob has for a while now been a regular poster on Youtube and Facebook, and his posts which include updated video footage captured out on Idube drives with guests can be accessed at http://www.facebook.com/rtrwildlifevideos and http://www.youtube.com/iduberobtheranger
I have also started a new blog, which will feature Images taken over the past few years of working in this area, and new ones that I have captured since February. I will be posting features such as daily events, game drive happenings, and lodge specific updates on a regular basis. This can be found at http://www.big5africansafari.blogspot.com
Please join our pages, we are sure they will only enhance your experiences that you have had, and are still to have at our little paradise. We look forward to making your acquaintance on the net, before personally, when you come and visit us.
Rudi Hulshof and the Idube Private Game Reserve Team