The first rains have fallen on Lapalala and the conditions are currently ideal for controlled burning. Controlled burning is the skillful application of fire to an area to accomplish specific veld management objectives. It differs greatly from wildfires, which are accidental and uncontrolled. Controlled burns, on the other hand, are set intentionally after considering the safety of people and property. Lapalala’s fire crew uses fire control equipment as well as natural barriers (such as roads and rivers) to keep the fire under control.
This month, Lapalala was thrilled to record the very first arrival of an elephant calf to be born on the reserve. The mother is a young female from the Enigma herd, and we are excited to see that both mother and calf are doing very well.
The calf will stay close to its mother for the first couple of months and will depend on its mother’s milk for about 3–4 years. At about 4 months old it will begin to eat some plants and, by the time it is 9 months old, its diet will consists of about 40% vegetation. We look forward to watching this not-so-little package of pachyderm grow up on our reserve.
Lapalala’s eight spotted hyena were released from our predator boma on 21 November.
The release was immediately followed by a loud commotion, which signalled the appearance of our free-roaming hyena. The hyenas engaged in a cautious “meet and greet”, although time will tell whether
this lonely vagrant will link up with the clan.
The clan has split up a couple of times since the release, which is typical hyena behaviour. They initially moved between Noka Camp and South Gate, and are currently moving in the area between King’s Pool and East Gate.
MEET OUR STAFF: JACOB MOSETHANA
As our fencing team leader, Jacob Mosethana has the vital job of keeping our animals in and any unwanted guests out!
Jacob joined Lapalala’s fencing team in December 2009, and was appointed to the position of fencing team leader in 2018. He and his team are responsible for the maintenance and repair of fences across the reserve. The total fencing in Lapalala is currently in excess of 130 km and many places can only be reached on foot.
Our fence needs to be intact at all times as it is the only barrier that keeps our animals inside the reserve and unwanted guests out. Fence damage is an ongoing occurrence on the reserve, with the majority of cases caused by falling trees or an animal hitting the fence. Thanks to the daily surveillance of Jacob and his team, any fence damage and electricity shorts are quickly discovered and fixed.
This little bark scorpion (Uroplectes vittatus) was discovered by a sharp-eyed staff member, who noticed its hiding place before opening the gate latch.
Bark scorpions are fascinating creatures. They live in moist habitats, under rocks and in leaf litter, and become mobile during the warmer times
of the year. Females carry their young on their backs for 9–12 days before they disperse. Bark scorpions grow up to 6 cm in length and have a life expectancy of about 4 years. As one of the slightly more venomous species on the reserve, this quirky critter has a nasty sting. However, the venom is of low toxicity to humans and stings are not medically important. The “tell-tale” sign that revealed its hiding place.