Rangers Report April 2011
A dash of red
On one of our evening drives we chanced upon one of the less seen members of the feline family, a Caracal. These short, stocky felines are known as "Rooikat" in Afrikaans which directly translated means "Red cat" in reference to their reddish colored coats. They are normally very shy are very difficult to spot in the wild. One of the things that make them difficult to find is their solitary behavior. This particular individual, although shy was not completely terrified by the vehicles sudden appearance and we sat quietly in the dark and he began to relax under the spot light. Gradually he emerged from cover and slowly walked around a bush about 30 meters from the vehicle, giving us a brief although full on side view. He then glanced over his shoulder at us and slinked off into the bushes. Everyone was very excited at this rare and special sight and we moved off all satisfied at our very unique experience.
White Buffalo update
Our white buffalo is still doing very well and is growing steadily, the second one appears to have moved off with a smaller family unit. This calf is still nursing as seen and is fitting in very well with the rest of the herd.
We were following one of the young male Leopards that we currently have with us and he gave a good show in his never ending bouts of looking for food and exploring. He chanced upon a hole in the ground that looked as though it was occupied by something. It had clear signs of recent activity and probably could smell something in the hole. He might have smelled a White tailed mongoose or warthog that could have been using the burrow. Showing his youthful inexperience he proceeded to enter the hole and soon completely disappeared from sight underground. Luckily there were no warthogs in the burrow as a large one may have injured him badly with its tusks if confronted underground in close quarters.
He emerged about a minute later and moved off into the bushes obviously not having found anything. This ability to look for food in obscure and hard to reach places makes the leopard one of the most successful and versatile predators in the bush.
Another surprising sighting this month that we had was a small Woodland Dormouse. Although a common inhabitant of the area they are rarely seen because of their size and nocturnal habits. I spotted his tail sticking out of a gap in the trees and initially confused it for a squirrel. We sat and waited for the "squirrel" to emerge as it was right next to the vehicle and would have given us a pretty good sighting.
When he did finally come out we were all surprised at what is was, nobody had expected a Dormouse, especially for that time of day out in an open area on a bare tree. This was potentially quite dangerous for him as there were still a myriad of predators that were active. The little chap then proceeded to scurry all over the tree and forage for a while probably looking for insects which make up part of their diet. They also feed on fruits and seeds.
Late one afternoon as we were winding our way towards a place to stop for drinks, we startled a Dark Chanting Goshawk in the scrub next to the road that quickly flitted up onto a dead tree next to the road. He was obviously not too perturbed by our presence after his initial scare as he was right next to the road almost straight above the vehicle. He quizzically looked us up and down and then turned his attention back to the scrub he was in initially. After a few moments a slender mongoose dashed from cover and down the road. The Goshawk gave chase and cornered the mongoose in a thicket. We hung back and allowed this little triad to play out. Eventually the mongoose took a gap when the Goshawk had repositioned himself and darted from the scrub, into an old termite mound and safety, away from the Goshawk's snatching claws. As he disappeared the tip of his tail gave a characteristic flick upwards almost as if to brush off the Goshawk.