Tag Archives: illegal dog hunting

Dargle Wildlife Sightings – July 2015

Pat and Sandra Merrick – Albury Farm

We have been spoilt this month by the visitation of a pair of wattled crane every few days. The one is ringed – Left leg: large white and Right leg: small red over small blue. Quite distinctive in the photo. The other one is not ringed but has a limp. This sighting will be reported to the Endangered Wildlife Trust’s Crane Programme.

A pair of wattled crane have been arriving at the dam every few days during the month. One has a white ring on his right leg and a red ring (upper) and blue on the other leg

A ringed Wattled Crane

The wattled cranes enjoyed wading at sunset amongst the egyptian and spurwing geese

The wattled cranes enjoyed wading at sunset amongst the egyptian and spurwing geese

The black sparrow hawks nest has been taken over by egyptian geese. I have seen them flying through the trees but not sure if they are going to build another nest in the gum trees like last year. Every night at sunset about 50 ibis (ha de das) stop at the dam to drink and then fly over the house in various numbers.

Lesser double collared male sunbird - the only time I have seen him in the garden

Lesser double collared male sunbird – the only time I have seen him in the garden

Found 2 dead Reedbuck at the dam. Not sure how they died as only bones left and little flesh.
Bees swarming a few weeks ago down the chimney which chased the owls away as have not seen or heard them since. For days lots of dead bees around the house.

This young male reed buck arrived on the farm a few weeks ago. The older resident male has been chasing him around the hills

This young male reed buck arrived on the farm a few weeks ago. The older resident male has been chasing him around the hills

9 Waterbuck still on farm and neighbouring farms. The day after the snow, they were lying up against the stone wall out of the wind, trying to keep warm.

Waterbuck

Waterbuck

One morning 9 wattled crane flew south over the house.

9 Wattled Cranes flew by

9 Wattled Cranes flew by

An african hoopoe been visiting our garden which is unusual.

African Hoopoe

African Hoopoe

One morning a frantic female duiker was running around the hills smelling the ground and following a scent – not sure if the jackal scent or perhaps the scent of her lost baby which had been taken by the jackal. This went on for 30 minutes and she kept returning to one particular spot in front of our farm gate. The next day 2 duikers were chasing each other around the farm – going at such speed could not see what sex.

Bokmakierie (Bushshrike)

Bokmakierie (Bushshrike)

A great sighting this month was a female sentinel rock thrush which is a first for us.

Female sentinel rock thrush (on barbed wire fence)

Female sentinel rock thrush (on barbed wire fence)

Cape Longclaws visit our garden every few days.

Cape Longclaw

Cape Longclaw

Saw black shouldered kite, crowned grey crane, blue crane only once.

A Black-shouldered Kite

A Black-shouldered Kite

There has been a lot of activity on our road and neighbours road with the aardvark digging huge holes. On the hill behind our house, there were distinct claw marks on the rocks where he tried to pull them out, trying to get to the termites beneath. We therefore asked Dr Amy Wilson (Shuttleworth) to bring up her trail cameras – we put 3 up on neighbour’s farm (Paul Smit) and after a week brought them back to our place and placed them up at the stone wall where there is a rickety old gate where the animals climb through. Unfortunately, we had no luck with pics for the elusive aardvark but plenty of other interesting sightings.

Male buff streaked chat getting a real soaking on a warm day

Male buff streaked chat getting a real soaking on a warm day

A very wet female buff streaked chat after a 5 minute bath

A very wet female buff streaked chat after a 5 minute bath

Rupert Powell Bukamanzi Cottage

With everyone hunkered down for the winter and not all that much on there is a lot more time for Wuthering Heights moments such as these, out on the hills:

WS01

Sometimes the gloom can be more beautiful than the more obvious golden afternoons, I think. The same goes for lesser Dargle wildlife, such as the sociable spiders who have been busy in the grassland (Oh, hello Daphne! is that you?!)

WS02

This great big hairy number got very sociable indeed, and fell out of a curtain in the cottage. I scooped her up and had a good hour photographing her on the verandah – she didn’t mind it a bit and stuck around for ages, showing off.

WS03

Aside from arachnids I have also seen plenty of bushbuck and hares and the return of the weaver birds. I’ve been hearing woodpeckers recently and best of all, at about five-thirty every morning, two Crowned Cranes and their juvenile have been flying noisily over the roof of the cottage to visit the Stipstitches dam, and hold out their damp wings in the rising sun.

Before the frost hit us I also found this single flower, the only bloom for miles:

WS04

After the freak rainstorm of the 25th of July this is how glorious and clear everything looked the morning after the night before. Every blade of grass and every leaf shone as if someone had been at them with a cloth and feather-duster.

WS05

There is a lovely sleepiness to the landscape at the moment – if Inhlosane had eyes then at this time of the year only one of them would be open.

WS06

Helen and Barend Booysen – Crab Apple Cottages

Helen was the recipient of the Dargle Conservancy Trail Camera for a month, after she won one of the photography categories at the AGM. These are some of the pics captured…

Caracal

Caracal

Porcupine

Porcupine

Genet

Genet

Bushpig

Bushpig

Bushpig family

Bushpig family

Bushbuck ram

Bushbuck ram

David and Alvera Crookes – Copperleigh Farm

Red-lipped Herald snake

Red-lipped Herald snake

Sunset 2 Sunset 1

Ashley Crookes – Copperleigh Farm

Sunset 2

Yellow Wildflowers

Yellow Wildflowers

Yellow flowers coming up through the firebreaks

Yellow flowers coming up through the firebreaks

Sunset over Mavela Dam

Sunset over Mavela Dam

Sunset over Mavela Dam

Sunset over Mavela Dam

Red hot poker

Red hot poker

Red Aloes flowering in the hills

Red Aloes flowering in the hills

Orange Aloes flowering in the hills

Orange Aloes flowering in the hills

Inhlosane on the day it snowed in the Drakensberg

Inhlosane on the day it snowed in the Drakensberg

Ice on a puddle

Ice on a puddle

Frost on hay

Frost on hay

Frost in the sheep camp

Frost in the sheep camp

Nikki Brighton – Cottage at Old Kilgobbin Farm

Our baby owls have been learning to fly! Lots of crashing about the barn and hissing. This chap was not too thrilled when I climbed up a ladder to take his picture. I, of course, was delighted.

Barn Owl

Barn Owl

Samango monkey troops spend late afternoons basking and playing in the sunshine on the forest edges. They pick and nibble at a plant in the grass – obviously just what they need at this time of year. They are also eating Vepris lanceolata berries. I enjoy watching them tumble about and listening to the sounds they make – squeaks and clicks, chattering and booming.

r samango family r samango vepris winter july 2015 099 r samango winter july 2015 072

I’m collecting a collection of winter colours and textures on my walks.

r winte walk colours 027 r winte walk bracken 054 r winte walk rhus 04 0 r winter textures dried leonotis r winter textures 034

r winter walk helichrysum

I have seen Oribi, Reedbuck and quite a few Duiker on my rambles. Lots of raptors, herons, red necked spurfowl and shimmering hadedas. Egyptian geese flying in formation and swimming on the dam.

r winte walk colours 091

An interesting stick insect on my verandah.

r stick insect winterJPG

The first of the grasshoppers to hatch (does this seem a tad early?)

r winte walk grasshoppers 044

The low light at this time of year makes everything seem extra magical,

r low light of winter july 2015

Crunchy leaves carpet the forest and fungi make good use of fallen branches.

fungi winter july 2015 132

Early one morning I spotted three men and seven dogs obviously out hunting. That was a little disconcerting. I reported to SACAN 083 799 1916 as soon as I got home.

r hunting with dogs

Making Sense of Oribi Census

Jiba Magwaza of the Endangered Wildlife Trust discusses the results of the most recent Oribi census which many farmers and landowners participate in annually. Please contact the EWT should you have any oribi on your land and consider participating in their annual survey.

Jiba Magwaza of the Endangered Wildlife Trust

Jiba Magwaza of the Endangered Wildlife Trust


The Oribi census is an exercise used to monitor animal numbers in private and protected areas. The period September to November is chosen because this is when the grasslands that have been burnt are flushing green making the Oribi easier to see as they are attracted to this green flush. Unfortunately in 2014 this was rather difficult with delayed rain leaving landowners skeptical of burning, thus making it difficult to count animals since they hide in the standing tall grass.

Female Oribi standing in tall grass.

Female Oribi standing in tall grass.

Oribi (Ourebia ourebi) surveys have been conducted in South Africa for over fifteen years and for that the Oribi Working Group would like to thank each and every landowner who has been involved since day one of this long-term survey effort. The Oribi Working Group saw a need to monitor Oribi because of the rate at which the population was perceived to be decreasing. Oribi face a lot of threats and require ongoing conservation attention in South Africa, as a working group we are committed to working with private landowners and protected land managers to ensure the conservation of this beautiful species.

Oribi - Ourebia ourebi

Oribi – Ourebia ourebi

In 2014 a total of 3006 Oribi were counted in South Africa from 266 survey returns, these numbers include protected areas and privately owned properties. When comparing between provinces KwaZulu-Natal submitted more surveys and has the highest number of animals, 1583 from 149 returns. KwaZulu-Natal is followed by the Eastern Cape with 1103 animals from 88 returns and then Mpumalanga which submitted 29 surveys and had a total of 320 animals.

Total national survey results and number of records as compared to previous year’s results. EKZNW reserve counts were included in 2003, 2005, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014. 1998-2003 only included KZN province, thereafter the survey had a national focus. All of these values have been revised based on the discovery of historical data records previously not included.

Total national survey results and number of records as compared to previous year’s results. EKZNW reserve counts were included in 2003, 2005, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014. 1998-2003 only included KZN province, thereafter the survey had a national focus. All of these values have been revised based on the discovery of historical data records previously not included.

Oribi surveys data to date have shown a high level of fluctuation of animal numbers with an increase in recent years of years back to similar numbers as recorded at the change of the century. This fluctuation in numbers is a result of varying survey efforts resulting from changes in the survey team and shifting levels of capacity. The crux of the story is that overall numbers in the country sit at just over 3000 animals and regionally populations have declined dramatically. The KZN population has about halved since 2001.Of concern is the high number of properties who are not sure of their population trends coupled with a high reporting rate of decreasing numbers. Mpumalanga submitted only 29 returns and the Oribi Working Group would like to see more returns from this Province in order to assess the overall trend.

Dr. Ian Little, Manager of the EWT's Threatened Grassland Species Programme

Dr. Ian Little, Manager of the EWT’s Threatened Grassland Species Programme

Unfortunately Oribi are faced with many threats. These animals are an easy target for predators and humans. As grassland specialists they need good quality grasslands to survive, if it is disturbed in any way Oribi will have a hard time surviving. The 2014 Oribi survey reported that poaching with dogs is by far the most prominent threat, followed by stray dogs then snaring and illegal shooting. Another major threat to Oribi is habitat destruction, with considerable development (including widespread mining and agriculture) taking place in grassland areas. From our experience these threats are not confined to any province in particular and are significant throughout the region.

Oribi

Oribi

The issue of poaching with dogs is a serious threat and has seen a significant recent increase with the shift from hunting as a hobby to poaching and gambling in large numbers (also called taxi hunting). The EWT, EKZNW, The KZN Hunters and Conservation Association and SACAN are working closely with each other to tackle all these issues by working directly with landowners and communities at large. Environmental education and awareness is very important for all of us to achieve our conservation goals. Collectively we can do more and make a difference by tackling all the problems faced not only by Oribi but all of our natural resources.

For more information or to report poaching with dogs contact SACAN on 08-616-72226.