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 Post subject: Re: Phalaborwa Gate Sightings
Unread postPosted: Wed Nov 13, 2013 9:28 am 
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:think: Good morning to all the special forumites!!!

Where do I start today? This last year was really like an sms I got one day which said, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Happy Easter, Happy Birthday now leave me alone for the rest of the year.

Some of you might have seen on my facebook that I enrolled last year November for my Higher Education Diploma, and that was the studies that kept me soooooo busy this year between the work. But luckily I am finished for the year and only have 5 subjects left, with the previous 3 passed with distinctions, waiting for the other 2 subjects' Results.

In between I also went and did a ISO14001 (Implementing Environmental Management Systems) course at North West University (Potchefstroom)- and was really the busiest week of my life. But 2 days ago got my results that I passed!!!

And in between work and great sightings I send my Video of Lions trying killing a Buffalo to one of our Television programmes, and now it is in the FINALS!!! So as you can see some real good memories happened in my life through hard work and motivation this last year, so to treat you as well, for all the support and waiting for my reports here it goes: :D

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 Post subject: Re: Phalaborwa Gate Sightings
Unread postPosted: Wed Nov 13, 2013 9:42 am 
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Lourens, Congratulations on all your achievements, well deserved after all your hard work
:congrats:

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 Post subject: Re: Phalaborwa Gate Sightings
Unread postPosted: Wed Nov 13, 2013 9:46 am 
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:D Luckily I kept a diary of all the activities and some not so great sightings, but some real awesome experiences to share with you once again.

Now to take you back to the 18th of December 2012 :shock: after the Morning walk where we didn't see much on the walk, but that evening went on a Bush Braai and I did the security work, so not to much detail there.

The next morning up early again and the nice thing of this walk was to track some Rhino's, the few that are these days left in our area, but elusive they get day by day, so with no luck we only found Zebras and Impalas.

On the 23rd of December on the Night Drive I went up the Mankavi road and came back on the Mopani tar road and referring back to my diary found Lions twice, the good old days, hahaha, African Wild Cat, Buffalo Bulls everywhere, Zebras, Steenbok and Giraffes.

As usual busy this time of the year, and another Morning Walk the next day with finding 4 Wild Dogs running up the road and on the walk had a nice sighting from a Termite Mount watching a Herd of Elephants walking by. Seen also Impalas and Warthog.

The special sighting of that evening's Bush Braai drive was a Caracal we found!!

On Christmas day a guest came to celebrate his 50th Birthday on the Morning Walk and damn it was hot!!! And walked everywhere into Herd's of Elephants behind Sable Dam. That evening on the drive only found the usual, hahaha, 3 herds of Elephants, Zebras, Giraffes, Steenbok, Duiker and Kudus.

I never would have thought that my day on the 26th of December will start with such a special sighting before the walk- We drove in to Shivhulani waterhole when we saw this sub-adult Hyeana running with an Impala in her mouth and ran so fast, trying to get away from us, that she dropped the Impala and disappeared, with amazement still standing there, suddenly the owner of the Impala jumped out between the Red Spike Thorns, and the Leopard quickly picked up his kill and pulled it up into a nearby Russet Bushwillow tree. It was something I will never forget. :D

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 Post subject: Re: Phalaborwa Gate Sightings
Unread postPosted: Wed Nov 13, 2013 10:02 am 
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:D If you wake up early (04:00) for many mornings in a row and already start working at 04:30 after a few days you do start feeling it, and for the 27th of December 2012 woke up early once again for a Morning Drive, not in a mood, your mind change when you see the beautiful Sunrise and hearing all the birds welcoming another hot day, then you know it was worth it. On this particular drive we found Elephants, but they looked like Chameleons, with all the brown and red mud colours, and saw some Giraffes and Zebras and Kudu at Shikumbu.

Now and then I slipped up, and not writing in my diary what we have seen that particular activity, like the Night Drive on the 27th of December.

The morning of the 28th of December we were tracking a Rhino Bull on the walk and it lead us to what I thought I never want to experience, but that was the 1st of already a few that followed, a poached Rhino... :cry: I can't tell you what went through my mind, it will mess up this writing of mine, and see now in my diary, that we found 2 Leopards and 3 Lions on the way to the walking area, and on the way back to the gate Elephants, Buffaloes and another Leopard, a conciliation price (troosprys) for such a loss of Biodiversity busy happening on an tremendous rate.

Saturday the 29th of December did a Morning Safari and found looooots of Buffaloes and Elephants everywhere!!! :D

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 Post subject: Re: Phalaborwa Gate Sightings
Unread postPosted: Wed Nov 13, 2013 10:14 am 
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:D After the Morning Safari did Bush Braai Security that evening. The next morning another 6 hour game drive and found Leopard at Masorini- taking you the Leopard pictures I posted on the rocks and following the Impalas, that Leopard. On the way to our secluded Reenvoel Dam we found Buffaloes and Elephants.

Another Bush Braai security evening and another early morning it was on the 31st of December 2012.
The special sighting on that Morning Drive was our local Blackbacked Jackals at Ngwenyeni waterhole with their 5 pups. The evening on the drive found maannnyyyy ELephants at the gate as we entered, and on the Bush Braai road towards Sable dam found a African Wild Cat, Genet, and baby Impala in the tree, but the Leopard was gone.

1 January 2013- another early morning with lots of great sightings on the 6 hour game drive- Wild Dogs at Erfplaas waterhole, all the general animals, Hyeanas, Ostrich closer to Letaba, and Hippo, Crocodile at Hlanganini dam and Letaba River.

2nd of January a Wednesday morning on our way to the walking area West of Masorini we found 3 Honey Badgers running in the and over the road. On the walk a herd of Elephants, Steenbok and Impalas.

And then eventually my long wait for a morning sleep in, on the 3rd of January 2013. That evening on the Night Drive had an awesome sighting of +- 100 Elephants at Sable Dam, what a sight it was!!! the 1 herd after the next, came out to quench their thirst after another hot day.
We also found Hyeans, Giraffes, Buffalo Bulls, Steenbok, Spring Hare and my speciality in the evenings Chameleon.
:D

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 Post subject: Re: Phalaborwa Gate Sightings
Unread postPosted: Wed Nov 13, 2013 10:26 am 
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:D Friday the 4th of January 2013 started with a Mountain Bike trail, not my favourite activity :roll: , but found Giraffes, Zebras and Impalas. That evening spent in the bush as security for the Bush Braai.

And then some privileges staying here, I went to relax with friends and family that day far in the bush, with now and then a line in the water and enjoying the beginning of my day. THIS END OF THE MONTH there is a RESEARCH FISHING OPPORTUNITY at Reenvoel Dam and for any queries you can email: knp.fishing@gmail.com
:D

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 Post subject: Re: Phalaborwa Gate Sightings
Unread postPosted: Wed Nov 13, 2013 10:40 am 
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:D
That evening saw Elephant, herd of Buffaloes, Spotted Eagle Owl and Impalas around Masorini.
The next evening drive we found a herd of Buffaloes on the Mankavi road, Elephant Bulls, Zebras and Kudu as well. On the way back on the tar road that evening of the 6th, found 3 Lions at Ngobeni and close to the gate the Spotted Eagle Owl, which likes communicating with the vehicle.

From the 7th till the 10th it was more relaxed and got my Teaching practicals (5 weeks) in place and went for the Backpack Trails meeting on the 10th of January where we found Leopard, Buffalo, Elephant and Lion between Phalaborwa and Letaba. That afternoon I departed with the Sanparks Bushveld Region Honorary Rangers to go and finish building the Mafunyane 4x4 Overnight Eco Trail 2nd campsite- now already all 4 sites are done, so will start with the new MOET 4x4 Eco trail next year some time. It rained and rained and rained for the coming days and the start of the JANUARY 2013 FLOODS. The weekend of building the campsite we had 40 mm's of rain, and the next coming days that went passed 280 mm's of rain. till the 20th of January.

:D

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 Post subject: Re: Phalaborwa Gate Sightings
Unread postPosted: Wed Nov 13, 2013 10:58 am 
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Congrats on the wonderful achievements you have obtained Lourens, definitely reward to the hard yards you put in! :clap: :clap:

Now catching up on all your wonderful sightings! :clap:

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 Post subject: Re: Phalaborwa Gate Sightings
Unread postPosted: Wed Nov 13, 2013 11:06 am 
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Lourens......Thank you for sharing your stunning adventures and pics with us. :clap: :clap:

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 Post subject: Re: Phalaborwa Gate Sightings
Unread postPosted: Wed Nov 13, 2013 11:09 am 
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:D On the 19th of January 2013- we found the Male Lions at Masorini waterhole, and Buffaloes at Ngwenyeni waterhole, and lots of other animals in between on the Morning Drive, and of course all the rain mentioned in between the past days.

Tuesday the 22nd of January on the Night Drive with all the streams flowing all over, what a sight, we found Elephant at Shikumbu, heard Zebras calling, and a nice sighting of a young Leopard with her Impala in a Weeping Wattle, herd of Buffaloes not far from there on the way back and close to the gate our 2 Male Lions.

On the 24th on the morning walk we saw lots, Elephants, Giraffes, Zebras, Impalas, but the amazing 2 sightings I enjoyed alot was the Bullfrog protecting his tadpoles, as Hans illustrated what the male Bullfrog will do with a predator like a stork etc. the stick Hans moved around in the water got attacked and bitten by the bullfrog, what a special sighting it was, and then not long after that to see a young grass lizzard looking like a blister beetle for protection against predators, that are things that make the walks sooooo special!!!

From end of January till Mid February I took leave and spent some time with my girlfriend in Kwazulu Natal. On the 15th I started work with a Night Drive and found lots of Zebras, Impalas and Giraffes at Ngwenyeni waterhole, and Elephants at the Mankavi Road entrance. Lots of Elephants towards Nandzana and 2 male Lions just before Nandzana. that evening we found +- 8 Spotted Eagle Owls and Genet running over the road.

The next morning it rained, and on the walk had such a special sighting of 6 White Rhino's sleeping in the drizzling rain, and not long after we left them found Hyeana, a elephant walking pass, Steenbok and Impalas.

The 17th of February took the S131 to Shivhulani waterhole, to Erfplaas and back to the gate, and as we drove onto S131 gravel road at the gate, we found a Elehant Bull in musth with a herd, and gave us a nice show, trying to charge us a few times. Found Giraffes, Rhino's, Buffaloes, Spotted Eagle Owls on the rest of the drive.

:D

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 Post subject: Re: Phalaborwa Gate Sightings
Unread postPosted: Wed Nov 13, 2013 11:16 am 
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:D On the 19th of February we had 85 pax for a Night Drive, so imagine all the arrangements for guides and vehicles, but went as always well.

The next day went down to Skukuza and back, and on the 21st did a 6 hour game drive where we found 3 Lions at Nandzana waterhole, a Hippo at Nwanetsi stream on the S131 towards Letaba, remember the big fright I got when it jumped up next to the vehicle and ran over the road in front of us!!! The stream was still flowing that time after the floods. of course saw lots of nice birds and Hyeanas.

Sunday the 24th of February we walked at Ngwenyeni waterhole on the Sycomore Fig's side and found Terrapins in the pans, Impalas, Giraffes running away from us, and on the way there in the morning our 2 male Lions.

On the evening Bush Braai drive was a bit quiet, but did see Elephant, Baboons, Zebras and after the dinner a Buffalo.
:D

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 Post subject: Re: Phalaborwa Gate Sightings
Unread postPosted: Wed Nov 13, 2013 11:31 am 
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:D On the 26th we did our walk from Shivhulani Hills and saw Impalas nearby, but a Giraffe far in the distance where you could see the weekend coming closer, hahahaha, and 1 Elephant bull on the way back to the vehicle. The water was such a refreshing drink after our 10.3 km's walk.

Once again, while acting as Head Guide since July 2012 for 9 months, while Donavan was acting as Regional Activities Co-ordinator, and me not getting a cent extra for all the extra work and walking the extra 100 miles, I am now thinking about all the frustrations and demotivations I once again had to go through. So this year was a bit frustrating for me and still waiting to hear the outcomes from my last interview for Olifants Head Guide, and being for the past 6 and half years Senior Field Guide acting as Head Guide for about 2 and half years in total up to so far, and we don't do this work for the money, with studying 5 years for my Degree, achieved alooooot in the last 8 years (Awards) and always trying to do my best and exceed my guests expectations, you do loose your motivation and positive outlook on life, but at the end it is you as individual that can change the play board around to try and motivate yourself once again, but I am telling you it is not easy... :(

So that said, let me be positive and carry on telling you about the beautiful experiences I had. All the arrangements done for the 130 pax Night Drive for the 27th of February it went well again as all the other big groups before!! We have a team that knows how to make a success of the worst situations.

:D

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Last edited by Lourens on Wed Nov 13, 2013 11:59 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Phalaborwa Gate Sightings
Unread postPosted: Wed Nov 13, 2013 11:41 am 
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:D Friday the 1st of March we once again found 4 Wild Dogs 1 km's from the gate, while driving to where we decided to walk that morning. Saw lots of Vultures at the Elephant Cow carcass, that got shot by the Rangers while being out on a patrol after hearing some gunshots, and she charged them, and after death found a big snare up her trunk, that's why she was sooooo MAD, I think she was on a suicide mission after having for how long soooo much pain and irritation.

We also found Giraffes, Zebras, 2 Buffaloes and Impalas on the walk.

What a nice walk we had when we walked from Nandzana to the spring, with lots of Elephant Bulls, some big tusks, and enjoyed breakfast, while 3 Elephants were drinking water about 40 metres from us.

Another awesome experience on the Morning walk of Sunday the 3rd of March, where on the way we found our Sable Lion pride with their 5 cubs now only 3 before Shikumbu and on the walk passed Nandzana, a big piece of Elephant Tusk, and heard Lion roar, and waited and waited and could hear how it is getting closer. So we decided to sit down in the wet dew grass and eventually she came out, saw us, stood there, the tip of the tail flicking and she turned around and moved away, what an unbelievable memory it was!!!

We also found Giraffes before breakfast. :D

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 Post subject: Re: Phalaborwa Gate Sightings
Unread postPosted: Wed Nov 13, 2013 11:54 am 
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:D 4th of March I started my 1st week of Biology Teaching and unfortunately because it is not in my line of work I didn't qualify for study leave and had to do my work in between as well, so a tough 5 weeks I had to go through, but the end results will be and is up to so far fruitful.

So some Night Drives and Bush Braais in the evenings, but just the normal sightings. Friday afternoon on the walk we found Sharpe's Grysbok and Giraffe. Saturday the 9th of March we did a Sunset Walk behind Masorini and with the wind blowing heavily we walked straight into a herd of Elephants, but got out of the situation safely and luckily didn't have to use our walking sticks :sniper:

The meetings started to organise the Story telling evening for June 2013 on that Monday the 11th of March, and the organising duties came with it. On the 12th of March I was Bush Braai security, and enjoyed the Lion roar.

I went on my 5 off days, taking the girlfriend back to the airport and on the 20th of March left on Lonely Bull backpack trail. Another special opportunity we have working at Phalaborwa Gate, standing in on trails, which most of the camp guides don't get the opportunity to do much. It was a real blessing and saw some stunning and special birds like the Shafttail Whydah, and the last day found Lions jumping up in front of us, and ran away. :D

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 Post subject: Re: Phalaborwa Gate Sightings
Unread postPosted: Wed Nov 13, 2013 12:16 pm 
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:D Our evening drive on the 25th of March was very productive with the nocturnal animals- Giant Eagle Owl, African Wild Cats, Genet, Spotted Eagle Owl, Side Striped Jackal, Common Duiker, few Steenbok, and Zebras, Elephants, Impalas.

The next day we walked below Reenvoel Dam and found our grumpy Elephant- easy to recognise with 1 tusk growing out very skew to the right. So if you find this bull, you try and avoid him at all times, so when we saw him on the walk, that is exactly what we tried to do, but he picked up our scent and started following us, with this bull, SCARY!!!! Luckily we left him behind as we went down the stream and around to get the wind our favour.

The full day game drive on the 27th of March delivered all the normal animal sightings, but also saw Blackbacked Jackal, and the route we took was exciting.

The next day another Full Day drive and this time more luck with 12 Wild Dogs on the Mopanie road, a few snakes, chameleons, heard Lions roared, Saddle Billed Storks, 2 Martial Eagles, and EVENTUALLY after driving around the whole day we found 25 km's from Phalaborwa Gate our 1st Giraffes.

On my Night Drive on the 30th we found a African Civet Cat, and 2 male Lions.

The 31st of March we only had Elephants that wanted to charge us the whole time, some really nerve wrecking. Also seen Cori Bustard, Klipspringers, and lots of Elephants.

The Bush Braai drive on the 2nd of April we saw lots of Owls.

The morning walk on the 3rd had a close encounter with 2 White Rhino's that were sleeping next to a termite mount and just suddenly heard this loud noise, as the jumped up and ran away from us, but still remember my heartbeat... :)

that night it rained about 18mm's.

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