…and exit 2017

054 grass

I think this photo is supposed to be symbolic of this blog coming back to life.


Okay, so I’ll admit, I haven’t done very well at fulfilling my promise to finally get back on track with this blog. I just needed a break. A roughly one-year-long break.

Once again there is way too much to update on the entire past year to try and do a detailed post about it, so this will mostly be a photo post. But there was one series of events worth taking time over, which will have its own entry.

In summary this year has had its ups and downs, but mostly turned out good. We lost two members of staff, including the guy who I did Bushwise with which I was pretty gutted about. I miss having him around. But he did come back to visit towards the end of the year and we even spent a couple of days in Kruger together which was most welcome. Our newest Bushwise intern is a Danish lady who rocks, so much that we’re keeping her for an extra three months past her official term here. And the replacements for the staff who quit are both people who’ve been here as long-term interns and worked for us as unpaid staff before, so we had no doubts about taking them on and they’ve settled into the team perfectly.

One highlight for me this year was a holiday I took in August/September to meet up with my parents down in Plettenberg. Rather than fly down I decided to drive the 2,000km and stop off at a couple of places along the way to see a bit more of the country. My first stop was the Golden Gate Highlands National Park, a mountainous expanse of grass, grass, and more grass. Being winter the grass was all yellow-brown and as the sun rose and set the place really lived up to its name in the golden light. It was an expansive landscape and I saw some cool new antelope like springbok, black wildebeest, and blesbok, though beyond that it was sort of uninspiring just due to how sparse it is. I was hoping to see bearded vultures – only found in that particular area of SA – but had no luck.

The second stop-off was Camdeboo National Park which is in the karoo, a semi-desert landscape with lots of thorn trees and succulents. This place I loved. The bird life was fantastic despite it being winter and I saw some more cool new mammals, mountain zebra, meerkats and gemsbok/oryx. But it was mostly the landscape I enjoyed. It is a harsh environment (especially when waking up in a tent and discovering frost outside) but the wide open spaces combined with the surrounding mountains were breathtaking. I would definitely like to return to the karoo before I leave South Africa.

Finally I reached Plettenberg, and with my parents and their friends spent two nights in Addo Elephant Park. The habitat there is incredibly dense ‘albany thicket’, very green and lush but kind of tricky for viewing anything that isn’t actually standing on the road. Still, I got some new birds and we saw plenty of the famous (mostly tuskless.) Addo elephants. As well as a major highlight for me – the Addo flightless dung beetle! Not exciting to most people as it’s ‘just’ an insect, but I like invertebrates, and dung beetles are my favourite of the lot, and this is a unique species found only in the Addo area. I was worried I wouldn’t see any as it was winter but we ended up seeing quite a lot. But although that was the biggest ‘win’ of the trip for me, the elephants were definitely special. They are extremely relaxed in Addo and females were happy to let tiny babies come right up to the vehicle instead of keeping them hidden away in the herd like is often the case in Kruger. And the experience of quietly watching a herd feed only to have the peace broken by one huge bull suddenly chasing another down a hill into the road, where they flanked our car and thundered past, weaving in and out of all the vehicles in the sighting, leaving only dust as the herd suddenly vanished, was definitely one everyone in our car will remember.

054 babs

Some thoughtful-looking Kruger baboons.

054 dbsg

Double-banded sand grouse. Easy to identify as a male because of the striking black-and-white markings.

054 dbsg2

Female double-banded sand grouse with young. The babies of ground birds are born feathered and able to follow their parents much sooner than those of perching birds.

054 eleblock

A classic Kruger road block. No choice but to wait for him to give up his shady spot.

054 cubmess2

LF3’s cubs on a juicy kudu kill.

054 cubmess

The aftermath of a meal without cutlery or hands.

054 heron

Green-backed heron.

054 r22

R22, a young male on Karongwe.

054 eagle

Tawny eagle feeding on a crowned lapwing, a ground bird.

054 gwp

Green-winged pytilia, a small finch-like bird. This one flew into a window at our base and stunned itself. It didn’t seem badly hurt.

054 fricky

‘Frickie’, a red-headed weaver who returns to base each year to build his globe-shaped nests. This year he has attracted three wives, their nests and his own in a neat row on this wire. His arrival at the start of summer is one of my favourite times.

054 gbb

Golden-breasted bunting.

054 wbrc

Very tame white-browed robin-chat who kept me company in Camdeboo.

054 lf

LF3 giving us a winning smile.

054 mutambu

Matambu, an old bull in the Timbavati. I was privileged to get to observe him having his tracking collar replaced. Note the sticks holding open his trunk so he doesn’t struggle to breath while unconscious.

054 puff1

Puff adder, caught in a house and taken for release.

054 zebs

We all need somebody to lean on.

054 lion

Kruger lion.

054 slender

Slender mongoose.

054 sub1

One of my last sightings of LF4’s female cubs, now 2 years old and adults themselves, before they were removed from the reserve.

054 elebuff

Two bulls sharing a waterhole in Addo Elephant Park.

054 bwil

Black wildebeest in Camdeboo National Park. One of the most striking looking places I have ever been, I completely fell in love with it.

054 harte

Red hartebeest.

055 trclcub

Female yearling leopard on Karongwe. Her mother, called Treacle, is one of the most relaxed cats on the property. Her daughter seems to have inherited her calm nature and happily strolled out the block right in front of our car.

054 subs

The king of Karongwe, Subzero.



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Enter 2017

Hello. I am still alive. And still in Africa. I  have been letting this blog slip down my to-do list constantly, but will try and catch back up to a somewhat regular schedule. For now here is another photo-dump post, because I have a growing backlog of pictures and not enough time to write much about them.
































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Moving on up

I intended to update again soon after my last post but the last couple of weeks have been very busy. When I got back from Kruger on my last week off I discovered one of my colleagues had resigned to go and guide for the lodges on the reserve, and my boss offered me her old position. I didn’t have to think about it for long before accepting. It’s a promotion, and it’s much more science focused than my old role. In fact the job is called Science Officer so it doesn’t get much more sciencey than that. I am basically now in charge of managing all the science aspects of this wildlife research project. Which is pretty exciting and a tiny bit terrifying. It does mean that finally, 7 years after graduating with a science degree, I am actually in a job doing science. Got there in the end.

I officially took over on the 28th September and the first job I had to tackle was writing the annual report. This is pretty huge and coincidentally always seems to be the first thing a new science officer has to do because the old science officers always mysteriously quit right before it’s due. It has basically been my entire life for the past 12 days but I finally finished it today so I’m feeling pretty good right now.

I’m also feeling pretty good because, even with having missed half of my scheduled drives over the last week in order to get the report done, the run of sightings we have been having has been absolutely bonkers.


I can never get over how pretty this lion is. He should be in cologne adverts for lions.


A rock python, my first of the season and the biggest I’ve seen – 4 metres long and at least 20cm in diameter at its thickest section.

The first crazy sighting I had came courtesy of Khwezi the cheetah. We found her one day just walking in the road towards us and she pretty immediately stopped and lay down, so I parked up. We were all chatting while we watched her laze about and it got onto the subject of her hunting, as it frequently does. One of the volunteers on the back had just uttered the words “I’d love to see her chase something.” when a duiker trotted out from the bushes. Khwezi went from static to running faster than my brain could register it. She chased the duiker around the back of the car, caught up to it within 50 metres, and took it down right there next to us. I’ve seen Khwezi chase things before, and I’ve seen her just as she’s finishing killing something, but that was the first time I’ve ever witnessed a full hunt from her and it was all over, from the duiker first appearing to stone cold dead, in less than 60 seconds.


Not even 6:30am, and without breaking a sweat, Khwezi gets herself some breakfast.


Kori bustard, the world’s heaviest flying bird. They only appear on the reserve during the breeding season and last year I kept missing them so this was my first sighting on Karongwe.


African hawk eagle


LF4 looking regal as ever


One of LF4’s year-old cubs

A few days after seeing Khwezi’s kill I had probably one of my best drives yet. First I found the elephants and we had Fumbe, one of the bulls, walk within a metre of the car, which is always a good time. Then we spent ages looking for LF4 and, just as I was about to give up, found her and had her walk down the road towards us and lead her four yearling cubs in a single file parade past the car. We headed up north next to try and find a pair of mating leopards that had been called in. We had no luck there, but did come across Khwezi after giving up on the leopards. Amazingly we had a near repeat of the previous time I’d seen her, as another volunteer commented on how they’d love to see her hunt and almost immediately Khwezi chased a bushbuck we hadn’t even seen. It and she ran up a steep bank and we lost sight of them so I had to turn the car around and follow the road up. When we relocated her she was having a standoff against a different bushbuck which ended with the bushbuck chasing her. They might commonly be dinner for her but when one decides to stop running away and start running at her she wisely gets the hell out of there, because they might not be large antelope but their horns can still do some damage.

So that was a pretty unusual thing to see, and we were all happy with the drive so far and ready to call it a day. But on the way home we came past a female leopard, Maatia, in the process of strangling a bushbuck of her own. She must have caught it and brought it down literally a minute before we got there, and she was out in the open no more than 6 or 7 metres from the road. We couldn’t believe our luck. She finished killing it, took a minute or two to catch her breath, and then dragged it away from the road and stashed it in a bush. 5 minutes sooner or later driving along that road and we would never have seen her.

Incidentally this is only the third time I have ever seen Maatia. The first was almost exactly a year ago, and on that occasion she killed a kudu right in front of my car. Needless to say she is one of my favourite leopards on the reserve.




Ellies sharing a drinking hole, which they dig in the sand with one foot to reach the fresh water sitting just below the surface of the dry river

You never know what you’re going to get day to day in the bush. Sometimes it’s so quiet, and sometimes it’s generous. This week it’s been very generous. The day after this awesome drive brought us a one-of-a-kind sighting. LF3 has been largely unseen for the past month as she has been denning with her new litter of cubs, but this week they were seen for the first time. Myself and Hopkins were on drive at the time and patiently waited our turn, as we have to give the lodge vehicles priority and obviously everybody wanted a chance to see these new baby lions in the reeds. I’m thankful we had to wait, because it was only after everybody else had left that LF3 decided to bring her cubs right out of the river where she is denning, as if she wanted to show them off to us.

I have seen very small lion cubs before in Kruger, but not very close. We spent half an hour with LF3 and three of her cubs as she walked them back and forth across the road, passing withing metres of our cars, picking cubs up and carrying them directly towards us. You could not have asked for a better view. Hopkins and I kept looking at each other with stunned faces, unable to believe what we were seeing. Eventually she just turned around and took them all back to the den. They haven’t been seen since.




Every day in this place I’m reminded how lucky I am to be here. I don’t know how a person could ever get bored or become complacent. You really can’t predict what you will see from one minute to the next. Spend enough time here and you experience things you never imagined could be real for you.

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If pictures speak a thousand words, here’s a thesis

Another photo-dump post as it’s been a long delay since my last update and there is too much to catch up on.

My last week off was spent in Kruger with my old placement buddy who is now an official work colleague. We decided to go up north, where neither of us have been before, as we wanted to do some birding. Northern Kruger is a lot quieter than the south, with fewer roads and people. You generally get fewer sightings of the standard exciting stuff like big cats, but the birding is good and you are more likely to see rare antelope or the big tusker elephants. Our trip was very successful, with both of us getting a decent number of new birds, plus rare antelope and one of those tuskers.

The highlight for us both was sitting at a waterhole watching a flock of red billed queleas. These are small, finch-like birds, and are the most abundant bird species in the world, thought to number as many as 10 billion across sub-Saharan Africa. They are considered a serious agricultural pest due to their tendency to aggregate in huge flocks and devastate crop fields like swarms of locusts. It was impossible to accurately count the flock we saw at the waterhole but by the end (as smaller groups kept arriving) there must have been around 2,000 birds. Which is still pretty small, flocks of these guys can reach millions of birds. They would all periodically take off together and fly around in a mesmerising, shifting pattern above us. It was amazing to watch, and hear as the sound of so many birds moving at once was just like waves washing up on a beach. Definitely one of the best things I’ve seen. I uploaded a video to youtube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Ec9x4IZQNU) It doesn’t quite do it justice but you get the idea.

After three days north with Hopkins I went back by myself and spent a day trip around the Satara area, and then three days south. It’s the longest continual period I’ve spent in Kruger and it was a productive week. All in all over 7 days I saw 15 new bird species, two new antelopes, my first proper tusker, tiny hyena cubs, mating lions, a white lion (one of three known in the Kruger area), the best elephant sighting I’ve ever had, a cheetah with three cubs, two wild dog sightings in one day including pups, and my first ever Kruger black rhino. As well as a lot of cool smaller stuff like honey badgers, a daytime civet, crocodiles fishing, and awesome bird sightings.

So yeah, I’ll write more later in the week but for now here’s some pictures.

050 waterbuck

Young waterbuck

050 subby


050 subby2

050 lf4

LF4 watching to see if vultures were going to try and steal her zebra

050 senegal

Senegal lapwing

050 bat2

Juvenile bateleur with a scrub hare kill

050 bat1

050 buff

050 bat3

Adult bateleur picking over an old piece of bone

050 bat4

050 hyena portrait

050 tsessebe

My first ever tsessebe sighting

050 tusker

Our tusker enjoying a mud bath

050 white lion

The S100 lion pride, which includes the white sub-adult male. White lions are unique to Kruger and there are currently only three known. I have seen this guy once before but much further away.

050 sable

Second rare antelope sighting – my first ever sable

050 faga1

Mating pair of lions

050 faga2

050 faga3

050 eliesmud

The best elephant sighting of my life. A herd of 30 or so at a dam, mud wallowing, playing, chasing baboons. Including this tiny calf.

050 eliesmud2

050 magpie

Magpie shrike

050 elieears

Young ellie with weird ears that are folded the opposite way to usual

050 view1

View from the high point of the H10, one of my favourite roads in the park

050 view2

050 rhinospeed

050 thick knee

Water thick-knee

050 hyenapup1

050 black

One of the luckiest sightings I’ve ever had. I have waited so long to see a black rhino in Kruger.

050 hippobuff

A spruit crossing that puts you eye level with a dam wall gives an awesome perspective on Africa’s two most dangerous mammals

050 dogs

A pack of 19 wild dogs, including 12 pups. This was another complete fluke of a sighting. I ended up sitting there for three hours.

050 dog

050 dogview

Unzoomed view of the dog sighting. The pack were lying in the shade of that tree, across a river. If other cars hadn’t already been stopped there I would never have seen them.

050 hyenapup3

Hyena cub, probably about 6-8 weeks old.

050 hyenapup2

050 hornbill

One of my favourite things about Kruger is how calm the animals are, and the opportunities for photos of things I see all the time but which never usually hang around long enough for pictures.

050 woodpecker

Golden-tailed woodpecker

050 waterbucks

050 saddle

Saddle-billed stork preening

050 heron

Grey heron with a platanna (clawed frog) for lunch

050 rhinoshade

Love Kruger

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Keep on keeping on

Some unfortunate news to start with, as just a just a few days after my last post Khwezi lost her cubs, for the second time. We weren’t sure what happened to the first litter but this time we do know – they were found by the lions. Lions are the joint number 1 cause of fatality in cheetahs (alongside humans) so this is not a big surprise and not unusual, but it’s still a massive disappointment. The cubs were doing so well and growing fast, and Khwezi was being a very attentive mother, so we had high hopes for them.

The main thing is that she is fine, either she was away from the den or managed to run quickly enough when the lions showed up. It is a shame to lose the cubs but would have been terrible to lose Khwezi, so it is a huge relief that she wasn’t harmed. We were all cursing the lions when it happened, but as soon as I saw them again I realised I can’t hold any bad feelings towards them. It’s frustrating, but they’re just being lions. You don’t get to be the apex predator of the savanna by playing nice with the other carnivore species.

I spent my latest leave with with my brother and sister-in-law who came out to visit South Africa for the first time. We had four days together in Kruger and had a great time. We got all of the Big 5 including two good leopard sightings and some nice, close rhinos, lots of ellies including babies, a new bird for myself, and not one of our lion sightings were sleeping.

049 woodhoopoe

Green woodhoopoe. Their long, decurved beaks are used for probing inside trees for insects. This was the first time I’ve seen it in action.

049 wonkytusk

Big old elephant mumma with a wonky tusk

049 leopard0

We stopped at a huge crowd of cars and got boxed in for a dead impala in a tree and a fat leopard deep in the bushes. After a while though he decided to come closer to the road and lie where we could see him.

049 liondrink

We stopped at Mazithi dam and I mentioned how I often see lions there. After watching crocs and hippos for a while we started to leave, when two lionesses approached through the grass, had a long drink, then disappeared again.

049 baboons

One of the highlights was our second leopard sighting, which Kylie spotted at the side of the road after I had managed to drive straight past it. I braked and reversed, and was worried it would run away because we had stopped so close, but he just looked at us for a moment and then crossed the road a few metres from our bonnet. Then instead of disappearing straight into the block he walked parallel with the road so we could drive with him for a while. He sat down a couple of times, posing nicely, until eventually heading off into the bush. He was so relaxed, and as it was a dirt road we had him all to ourselves for most of the time until one game drive pulled up behind us (in contrast to our leopard the previous day where we got boxed in amongst probably fifteen cars on one of the main tar roads). Definitely my nicest Kruger leopard so far!

049 leopard2

049 leopard

049 hyenasdrink

Another highlight for me was the night drive we booked on. Kruger has a sunset curfew for self-driving so the only way to see it at night is by booking a guided drive on an open game viewer. I’ve done this once before, when Jess and I went earlier this year, and all we saw were some genets. This time we got a brief hyena and a side-striped jackal, and then near the end found a male lion lying near Renosterkoppies dam. That was pretty cool, but even cooler was when he got up and started roaring as he walked away from the dam. Lions roaring up close is one of my top experiences to have in the bush and I’ve never heard Kruger lions roar before because they really only do it at night. It was great to hear and I was psyched that Andrew and Kylie got to hear it while they were here. Then another male joined in, and after losing sight of the first lion for a while we eventually found him again just as he met up with his brother, who promptly flopped onto the ground and rolled around on his back next to the car. We had them for a while as they walked slowly down the road, coming up close on both sides of the vehicle. There were a lot of people on the car and I really enjoyed hearing how excited people were getting. When you spend so much time around these animals it’s easy to forget how thrilling it was when it was new, and I love being reminded of it.

049 lion night

049 lion night2

Those were two of the standout sightings, but we had a lot of very cool moments with the smaller stuff too. just sitting watching giraffes or zebras, or seeing a fish eagle getting mobbed by small birds at a dam. As well as herds of elephants surrounding the car, and rhinos peacefully grazing beside the road. I love Kruger to bits (if that point hasn’t been driven into the ground in this blog already) and it was so much fun sharing it with family, like it was last year when my parents came out. In fact I think my favourite moment was probably the noise my brother made when we saw our first elephant, which I don’t think I’ve ever heard him make before.

049 kudu

Do you think she can hear us?

049 hyenacub

Spotted hyena and cub, lying near a den where I saw cubs last year. I wonder if they’re of the same family.

049 woodowl

My first ever African wood owl

049 tawny

Tawny eagle with its dinner, which I think was some kind of spurfowl

049 lasthyena

The last animal we saw before leaving. It crossed in front of us 300m before we reached the gate.

Back on Karongwe things stay the same while always slowly changing. The lion cubs are growing at a barely believable rate, and LF3 is due to drop a litter any day now to expand the pride some more. We have been lucky with leopard sightings recently, with Tlatlani and her cubs being seen frequently like they were back in February, though in a different part of the reserve. The cubs have names now – Taavi (suspected boy) and Tabia (suspected girl) and are growing up incredibly relaxed around vehicles thanks to how much they are seen. We have seen Tanda a few times lately as well, the newly-prime-aged son of the late Scar, and as we anticipated he is being seen much more often across areas Scar used to dominate, quickly expanding his territory now that dad is no longer around.

The elephants came to visit while I was on leave and hung around for a week or so. We have done a better job of burying our pipes so they can no longer break them in places they used to. Unfortunately they’ve now taken to just trashing the pump itself, which will be a massive problem if they end up permanently breaking it. But for now at least they’ve gone back north and left us alone.

The main new development at base is we have a new solar power system. Previously we had one set of solar panels, which provided just enough power to give us lights, run the wi-fi, and power a single plug socket so staff could charge laptops one at a time. To do any more, like letting the volunteers charge all their stuff, and fully charge the house batteries (literally a rack of car batteries in the office) we had to run a diesel generator for about 4 hours a day. This was less than ideal but sufficient, until lately when a) the generator started breaking from overuse, and b) the batteries and inverter started packing up because when the generator breaks down while charging them it messes them up. So our boss campaigned head office for a rather pricey solar upgrade, and after a long while of negotiation and persuasion it got the all clear. The new system was installed just last week. New panels to replace the old ones (about five times more efficient), plus extras for the two staff houses, and new batteries and inverters. Now we have electricity sufficient for lights, wi-fi, and all the charging we want, 24 HOURS A DAY. With NO GENERATOR. I know that doesn’t sound that exciting to most people but it is kind of mindblowing for us, being used to how it was before. I simply thought solar power was not that effective yet, and had to keep asking “Wait… we can charge stuff… even at night?

The best part for me and my housemates is our little house of three people is on an entirely separate system to the main house, so even if the volunteers leave lights on (which they do, all the time) and leave their stuff charging unnecessarily (which they do, all the time), and run their batteries in the main house flat, we will still have power. It is literally magic.

049 lf4yawn

LF4 apparently finds us boring

049 khwezikill

Khwezi doesn’t seem too affected by the loss of her cubs, and after a day or two of skittishness has returned to her normal state as a cold, ruthless killing machine.

049 khwezi

049 taavi

Taavi is the relaxed one of Tlatlani’s cubs

049 tabia

Tabia is more attentive and cautious than her brother

We had a brief bit of rain while I was on leave. A storm that actually woke me up in Kruger, which thankfully also fell on Karongwe. It was only one night of rain but it was enough to fill most of the dams in the southern half of the reserve, most of which had been dust dry for months. Spectra dam, one of the closest to base, hasn’t had water in it since 2015! It is already dropping again but for a while at least the animals have a bit more to drink, and the buffalo and rhinos have certainly been making the most of the additional mud wallowing opportunities.

It’s also brought some green into the reserve again. It always amazes me how much, and how quickly, this place responds to the smallest bit of rain. There are areas that have been dustbowls for half a year, which look so dry you’d think they’d take years to recover, and two days after a single night of rain there is green everywhere. Not huge amounts, but everywhere. The grasses are just waiting for moisture and the moment it comes they creep back to life. It makes me hope so much that we get good rains this year, so I can see this place the way it should be in summer.

049 gerbil

I have been running a small mammal study as part of the internship program. Our most common capture so far has been bushveld gerbils.

049 ellieshrew

Short-snouted elephant shrew

049 dwarfie

Dwarf mongoose

049 taavi2

Taavi again

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Winter days

Midwinter is here. In the lowveld that means average daily highs of about 25°C and nightly lows around 6°C, morning mists, lots of sunshine with a chilly breeze, and dust. So much dust. Winter is the dry season and right now it’s the driest it’s been in a century.

It’s been an eventful few weeks on the reserve. We said goodbye to all our long term volunteers and a new batch arrived. Just before the changeover though we got a different new addition, in the form of a baby duiker which I named Dinner. He had been handed over to the reserve manager by a family who I suspect originally took him out of the bush (whether because they wanted a pet, or thought he was abandoned) and then decided against keeping him. So he ended up with us. Sadly, if predictably, he didn’t last very long. Baby antelope are supposed to be raised by their mothers on her milk, not by some well meaning but inexperienced humans using human baby formula. We tried our best, following instructions from a wildlife rehabilitation project we are partnered with, but the little guy got sick with diarrhea not long after arriving and his condition quickly went downhill. One of the staff members has worked in a vet’s before and wanted to try giving him subcutaneous fluids which may have saved his life, but sadly he died about 10 minutes before people arrived from town with the necessary equipment.

It was a shame but rather than getting sad it mainly made us all angry that someone had taken this guy out of the bush where he belonged and made him our responsibility.

048 duiker

Dinner, the day he arrived

In much happier baby news our female cheetah, Khwezi, gave birth to a new litter of cubs on Saturday 2nd July. There are five this time and things are already going better than her first attempt with two cubs who only survived five days. The new batch are ten days old now and looking fatter and stronger every day. Khwezi is also behaving differently, spending all of her time denning except for when she needs to hunt, in contrast to when she had the first litter she spent a lot of time away from the den. It seems like the mothering instincts have actually kicked in this time.


There is a long and nerve-wracking road ahead, with no guarantee that any of these cubs will make it to adulthood, and the older they get the harder it will be for us if they die. But the privilege of being here and able to see them progress is something I never would have imagined. It is without doubt the crown jewel of the experiences I’ve been so lucky to have since coming out to Africa.

048 owlet

African barred owlet

048 z4

Z4, who we found investigating a dead impala left hanging in a tree by a leopard. Maybe she was frustrated by the kill being out of reach or maybe she smelled blood on the tree, as she took the branches in her mouth and shook them.

048 aardvark

Awesome aardvark seen on fence patrol. My first time getting one on camera. Very happy 🙂

We’ve also hit a speedbump in some of our research this week, specifically relating to the hyena that we track, Z5. He was last seen about two weeks ago, and for several days after that we would track his signal to the same block but not be able to see him. We thought this meant there could be a new den there which he was hanging out at, and one day myself and Kutullo decided to walk in and investigate as he hadn’t been seen in so long. We spent quite a while walking in circles around this termite mound where the signal seemed to be, gradually getting closer and closer, sure that any second he would notice us and bolt out of  hiding. But he never did, and as we continued getting closer we got worried he might be dead, and then confused as we were just a few metres away and still couldn’t see him. Then I spotted it – his tracking collar lying in the dirt, apparently chewed through. Which explained why his signal had been in the same place for so long.

So now we can’t track a hyena any more, which is disappointing. All the time and effort spent raising the money to get one collared and it only lasted 5 months. We have yet to see Z5 since finding the collar so are left hoping he is okay, and scratching our heads over how exactly he managed to remove it.

048 z5

My last sighting of Z5

048 collar

The discarded collar. It’s made to be extremely durable and is reinforced with thick metal wires, but that’s clearly nothing against the jaws of a hyena.

I’ve had a couple of really nice lion sightings as well this week, after not really seeing them much for a while because they’ve been hiding in rivers. A few days ago we found one of the lionesses relaxing on top of a rock in the afternoon sun. As we sat with her all of her cubs gradually appeared from the bushes and joined her on the rock. They were playing, rolling around and climbing on top of her, which was really nice to see. The next morning we found them again not too far away. We saw the two lionesses chase an adult giraffe, and then all of the cubs climbing a termite mound and playing. It’s been so long since I’ve had quality lion time, and the cubs are getting so big now, so it was really nice to see.

048 family

LF4 and cubs

048 family2




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After such a long break there’s no way I’m remembering and writing down everything that has happened, so instead here is a photo dump. They say a picture is worth 1,000 words so imagine this is actually a very long post.


047 subbygrr

Subby, showing off his missing upper-left canine

046 bushbaby

Lesser bushbaby. Only time I’ve seen one out in the day. It was struggling to fit through a hole into this tree.

045 mutumba


045 subb1

045 subb2

045 subb3

045 lf4 cubs

045 sisters

045 lf3

LF3’s new scars, from leopard fighting

046 dwarfies

Dwarf mongooses

045 coucal

Burchell’s coucal

046 tt bushbaby

Thick-tailed bushbaby

045 buff

046 matumi

Matumi, seen for the first time in a year

046 impala

046 khwezi roll

046 khwezi river



045 kudu

046 roller

Lilac-breasted roller

045 dwarfies

046 lions

046 tortoise

046 lionrock1

045 crowned

Crowned hornbill

046 leopard

Male leopard rubbing his head in dung

046 hyena smile

046 kingfisher

Giant kingfisher

045 ele phuza

046 hyena baby

046 hyena baby2

046 baboons

046 baboon2

046 baboon

047 tawny

Tawny eagle

047 agama

Blue-headed tree agama

047 pride

Pride seen by the main road on my way out of Kruger

047 lionsh7

Same pride were on the same road on the way back in two days later

045 tchagra

Black-crowned tchagra

047 pikeymonkeys

Ververt monkey eating my lunch, which it stole from my car because I left the window open. Oops.

047 megacroc

047 lionsrock

047 giraffe phuza

047 lionslate

Lioness with the smallest cubs I’ve seen, about 1 month old


I will attempt to get back to some kind of normal update schedule from now on.

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