The weather this week has been like a yoyo, one day it is boiling, where any chance I get I find myself gravitating towards the walk in freezer at Longlee Manor; and the next day its pouring with rain, the type where one really gets the feeling the universe is emotional, thunder and lightning can really put on a beautiful show.

Despite the extreme change in weather the sightings have been phenomenal

One of our female leopards is currently in heat and thus has been contact calling for the big male whom I have yet to have the privilege of meeting. She has been very relaxed in sightings and stays in the open for many hours, allowing all the guests to see her.

This week I was working out of Riverdene, our kiddies based lodge, and have loved the additional element the children bring to a drive. We give the children a kiddies bag full of goodies and a work book which is completed throughout their stay. It’s fun for the kids as well as the adults, although I think sometimes the adults enjoy it more!

This time of year the tall white squill are all dying but the fire lilies are popping up everywhere bringing with them a flash of red that highlights the green back drop, which is the palette of the Eastern Cape Bush. The reserve is looking wonderful and I welcome the rain as I worry about the water levels of the Bushmen’s River decreasing.

The most memorable moment of the week is a tossup between two different lion sightings. (I don’t think choosing one moment can describe the fun had in one week!) The first sighting was with the females of the pride; they were all lazing around in the open, camouflaged in the long, bronze grass. It had just rained and the clouds were parting slightly and out of nowhere not one but two rainbows appeared in the vast grey sky. Both rainbows silhouetted the lions perfectly; a moment I regret not having my camera! After watching the scene for a while one of the females got up to get a little more comfortable. She walked straight over to her sister, gave her a cuddle and then lay directly on top of her. This action caused havoc on the unsuspecting sister who obviously got such a fright from the weight of her slightly heavier sister. This behaviour had all the guests and myself in stitches.

Shamwari Lioness

The second sighting is when three of the lionesses of the southern pride were sitting under a guarri tree when out of the blue one of the females spots a herd of unsuspecting zebra. After a tiresome few minutes of watching the second female yawning they both get up and move in opposite directions, they are stalking, low and slow, the adrenaline spiked tension in the vehicle was exhilarating, then after what felt like ages one of the females attacks from behind a bush, spooking the zebra. This gets the second female into action and she starts off at a serious pace lunging forward with strength and agility, she jumps but unfortunately does not make it. The zebra escapes and the disdain in the female’s eyes is evident. Once she meets up with the impatient female she gives her a huge smack with her front paw. Apparently she was not impressed with her sister’s inadequacy. To give her some credit they are both young and still have a lot to learn, practice makes perfect.

Shamwari Alert Lioness

This week the conservation department located and darted the young Northern male lion, he has now been put into a boma. He will be sold to another reserve, where he can grow into a dominant male that can take control of his own pride. The purpose for the sale is because one of the main reasons conservation exists is to maintain genetic diversity with animals, who because of human expansion are limited to existing in fenced reserves.

I hope all our readers have had a great week, until next time!

Dimitra Holiasmenos
Field Guide
Shamwari Game Reserve