For as long as I can remember I have been enraptured by nature. The fascination of how an ant colony selects a new queen, how trees create food, why a zebra has stripes or how a bat can pinpoint a mosquito in the dark. My journey into conservation although inevitable in retrospect, was neither simple nor easy.
Owls are synonymous with darkness and for this association they have bared the brunt of human superstition in several cultures. These birds are shrouded in mystique and myth but once you start to unravel the truth of their biology and understand the essence of the owl, you will soon become enchanted by their charms.
A series of repeated low grunting notes, not unlike the sound of a distant lion, greets the sunrise and adds some bass to the dawn chorus. A flock of prehistoric-looking birds emerge from the thickets into open grassland and stalk across the ground like undertakers at a funeral, their bright-red necks a startling contrast to their solemn black bodies.
With the onset of our dry season MalaMala has become quite… well, dry. And dusty. The rains will only fall again in November and so, in the coming months, animals must endure ever increasing hardships. These include less water availability as well as significantly reduced grazing and browsing opportunities.
The giraffe, an animal so unique to Africa, is silently going extinct. Many of us have been blissfully unaware of the dire predicament in which these ungainly beasts find themselves.
Often, when we ask our guests which animals they’re most hoping to see, we hear the usual ‘Big Five’ (lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and Cape buffalo) and then, almost always, this is followed by the giraffe.
Out of all the animals in the animal kingdom, there are very few that fascinate me as much as the leopard. Their secretive nature, elusive behaviour and tremendous adaptability has resulted in many gaps in scientific literature. They have the uncanny ability to continually surprise the observer.
The Impala Aepyceros melampus
The month of April has brought with it the impala rutting season. It is the time of year, signalled by the shorter days and longer nights of Autumn, where we see the adult male impalas being completely intolerant of one another, especially in the presence of females in oestrus.
For centuries, humans have dreamed of flight and all of us have, at some time in our lives, looked up at the birds in the sky and wished to have their amazing abilities. There is one bird in particular found here at MalaMala Game Reserve, that captures the hearts and minds of all who look upon it. It awakens the deepest-seated awe and envy with every graceful flap of its wings. This bird is no ordinary bird; it is the undisputed Lord of the skies. The mighty Martial Eagle.
Over the many years since our inception, Mala Mala Game Reserve has been the focal point of several documentaries and research studies. Indeed there are currently two studies being carried out on the reserve, one of which is being done by Panthera, a charitable organization devoted to preserving big cats and their ecosystems around the globe. In this article, we'll touch on their motivation for this study which focuses on leopards.