July Game Report

MalaMala Game Reserve - Elephant & Rhino

Elephant and rhino interaction by Brett Ross

Once a month the rangers compile a comprehensive game report summarising the activities of each member of the MalaMala 7 (Big 5 plus cheetah and wild dog). As our CyberDiaries tend to focus mainly on the big cats, the herbivores don’t get much more than a cursory mention. To this end we’ve decided to post a brief summary of rhino, buffalo and elephant sightings for the month.

That way those of you with a soft spot for these animals can get your fix right here on the blog, without having to wade through the far more technical looking pages on the website. However, if those full and unabridged scientific reports blow your hair back, then by all means, click here to view them. Those of you that preferred the original wildlife diary posts (pre-Social Media) will no doubt love these in-depth updates.

CAPE BUFFALO

It’s that time of the year when the herds of buffalo are tormented by the various lion prides. Their dependency on water makes them extremely vulnerable to these large predators. We sighted buffalo along the Sand River on most days throughout the month. The herds’ movements are very predictable, and most of the times that they have been caught it has been either in or very close to the riverbed. The grass layer at this time of year is not that nutritious, and this only serves to compound the problem for the bovines. They lose a lot of strength during the dry months, and this makes them even more vulnerable to the lions. Surprisingly though, there are a lot of young calves in the herds. At the beginning of the report period we even saw a female giving birth.

RHINO

Rhino sightings have been numerous throughout the month. All the sightings have been of White rhino, but in the past when Black rhino have been sighted it has been during the drier months. There are several cows with calves around, which always makes for great viewing. Like the buffalo, rhino are also very dependent on water. One just has to check the waterholes in the late afternoon – which is the time of day they like to drink – in order to find them.

ELEPHANT

Surprisingly (given the time of year), there were days during the month that elephant herds were scarce. Although that said, on most days we found elephants in abundance along the river. At night, as well as on the cooler mornings, the herds would move away from the river and onto the higher lying areas where it’s usually a little warmer. They would then make their way back down towards the river once the day warmed up, spending the afternoon leisurely feeding and drinking. With the grasses being less nutritious, the elephants tend to feed mostly on the trees, stripping off bark, or pushing them over in order to get at the top most leaves, or to feed on the upturned roots.

Total sightings for the month

Elephant: 86
Rhino: 72
Buffalo: 62

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