Rangers Report April 2012
Well as you know April always kicks off with a bit of silliness and this April was no different. On the morning of the 1st of April known to many as April fool's day us rangers all stood waiting for the guests at morning coffee trying to decide who was going to get pranked by who on that day. In the end it was Ronnie a Main lodge Ranger who caught out and made a fool of Pierre a Ranger at Chapungu. What Ronnie did was stop on a open area or bare patch of ground and wrote the word CHEETAH on the ground he then called it in on the radio and Pierre unfortunately happened to be the closest person to where Ronnie was and asked if he could join him, after telling his guests that they were going to the cheetah he raced to where Ronnie called in the sighting and to his dismay and Ronnie's delight all he found was the word written on the ground.
But in the end April would bring a lot more pleasant surprises for us and the most exciting one was the 4 Wild dogs that came to visit they managed squeeze their way through the fence and come and explore the reserve. They were last seen on Thornybush Game Reserve almost two years back to the day. We have identified them as two males and two females. They also have made a couple kills on the reserve mainly impalas and we hope that this time they will stay longer that the two weeks they visited us for two years ago. Wild dogs will normally establish den sites (they will predominantly use drains under roads or abandon termite mounds and warthog burrows) for breading from the end of may beginning of June and we really hope that these for will choose Thornybush as theirs. The gestation period for the wild dogs is 69 to 73 days so it's much shorter than most other predators if compared to lion's leopards and cheetahs. Litter sizes will vary but on average six pups is a good litter size.
If seeing wild dogs wasn't enough of a surprise April proved to be the month of love as well as the Male of the Monwana pride mated with the youngest female this month. Mating amongst lions is quite an energy sapping affair as the pair will mate for three or more days with 15 minute intervals between mating but the actual mating only last a few seconds at a time.
We will definitely be keeping an eye on this female and hopefully in the next 110 days she will give birth to some healthy lion cubs. Females will usually give birth to around 3 - 4 cubs in their litter. Females will generally start to breed at around 4 years of age. We also hope that the other two remaining females will be mated with soon too.
April also marks the change in game drive times at the lodge which means everyone gets to sleep in 30 min longer in the morning and then with the seasons changing it starts to get darker quicker and that allows us to spend a bit more time in the dark during the evening safari to look for those very interesting and somewhat illusive night creatures like the pangolin, aardvark, civets, genets and porcupines to name just a few we were also lucky enough this month to have a couple of sightings of serval on one occasion we actually saw two serval cubs which could only have been about a month old unfortunately we were unable to get pictures of them.
Until next month hope to see you on safari soon
Photo credit Craig Wild