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Written by Isaiah Banda

Another incredible month in the Mabula Private Game Reserve has come and gone, leaving guests, and guides with wonderful memories and experiences. As the greens and lush colouration of summer begin to fade, I cannot help but be excited for the change in season. From beautiful orange sunsets to browner, natural, and drier open landscapes once again, the change in season is always something to behold.

African Fish Eagle make Lake Kyle dam a home.

Of late we have not been seeing fish eagles at our popular dams. We all thought they moved away into a different area, perharps due to the number of vehicles around these dams had disturbed them. Recently I found the spot where they are hiding. TPA dam is the spot if you want to see beautiful fish eagles.

The quintessential sound of Africa, the fish eagle regularly graces Mabula Private Game Reserve with his penetrating call daily. This sound is hard to describe, but when you hear it you know you are exactly where you are meant to be. The fish eagle swooped above TPA dam hoping to catch his breakfast and we all reaped the reward of hearing his beautiful call.

The African fish eagle is a striking bird of prey that has a beautiful call synonymous with the African bush. This call, no matter how many times you have heard it, is something I will never get used to. It is a sound that demands attention, a sound that will stop you in your tracks while you gaze upwards towards the sun in the hopes to put an image to the distinctive sound.

Just below where the fish eagle soars, a resident hippo lives. This particular hippo is not one for the lime-light and often stays hidden from the cameras, however they do like to remind us that they are around by letting out a loud honk. A hippo’s grunt can be heard up to nearly 2 kilometers away and can create the same volume of that of loud thunder in a storm.

This particular hippo is very vocal and is a constant sound that floats through TPA plains and guests daily activities such as safaris and quad bike trails get to enjoy every moment when they get to the dam. You will be blessed with their array of grunts, wheezes and snorts.

Spending time with hippos can be very much the same as spending time with lions. They spend most of their day sleeping and usually all you get is a flick of an ear or a nostril as they breathe. One of the better times of day to spend with hippos is just as the sun goes down and they start getting active, this is when, just like lions, they start yawning and playing. As hippos are nocturnal herbivores, they tend to become more active as the sun sets and can cover large distances under the cover of darkness in search of their primary food source, grass.

Birdlife is plentiful as the migrants fatten themselves up for the long journey back north while the lambs and calves of the plains game have grown fast into young adolescents. With all the abundance that the rainy season brings, it certainly has its discomforts which slowly fall away as we dip into winter; the classical safari season.

April was filled with phenomenal sightings. On the predator front, lions and cheetahs seemed to have dominated most of the viewings as the Lake Kyle Pride flexed their hunting prowess by successfully bringing down a kudu bull one morning, followed by wildebeest after three days and a zebra was the next kill. With 10 mouths to feed, this illustrates both their opportunism and need to hunt so frequently.

Lion sightings this month have entertained our guests on every single safari they went on. More especially with so many kills in one month. Interestingly enough is they have spend most of the time in the central parts being around serengeti area, this area is very rich with zebras and wildebeest.

More towards the western side of this area is rich with kudu. I must say this was the first kudu kill in many months. I think the part most of our guests enjoyed was to sit and watch the cubs going at each other around the carcass while feeding.

One would take a small piece of  meat and another will fight for the same small piece leaving the whole chunck alone. While we thought the fight had ended over the meat, another cub started moaning to let the mother that they were thirsty, and they would all go fight over the milk.

They are really entertaining, at some stage you want them to remain small and never grow up. A highlight of all the sightings was how the cubs harrassed their father. All he wanted to do was sleep, however the cubs kept him busy all the time preventing him going to sleep.

Every time he would try lie down they would jump on top of him, he will slap them but they would keep coming back to keep him busy. All these ups and downs with male is very important for them to strengthen their family bond among the pride members.

The afternoon safari is the perfect opportunity to venture down to the north western parts of the reserve in search of elephants drinking, cooling off or feeding, buffaloes relaxing in mud wallows, and many others enjoying the shade of the magnificent trees dotted along Whole Owner and Modjadji plains while waiting for the heat of the day to subside. The warm autumn rays begin to waver as the warm golden light of the fading sun illuminates the land. Slowly the sun begins to set over the Waterberg mountains and oranges and reds begin to fill the sky. Typically, an afternoon safari is interrupted with a classic sundowner with drinks and snacks.

I must say I am inspired by nature every day when I am out on a safari with my guests. However, nature is not just our inspiration; it is our greatest teacher. What lesson will you take away from your next encounter with the natural world on Mabula Private Game Reserve?

Until next time…
From Isaiah Banda & Mabula family.
Safari Greetings.