Hyena House

You’ll Know Them By Their Stripes

If you are a regular visitor to any of the Kruger River Villas, you will likely have had a surprise visit from some Zebras during your stay. Of the Zebra species found in the world, the greater Kruger Park area is inhabited by the Plains Zebra.

The Plains Zebra species is somewhat smaller than the other species, with the average Plains Zebra weighing just under half a ton, and standing at about 1.5m. In the wild, Zebras have an expected life span of 25 years, and to maximise their chances of survival, they have some cool tricks up their stripy sleeves!

For one thing, their stripes help them to blend in with the grassy environments they live in. Contrary to their apparent laid-back approach to life, they are capable of running at up to 56 km p/h! Add to that their super-power of landing a hefty kick, and you have a mean escaping-machine that could crush the bones of its pursuers! More than one lion has learned this the hard way with a crushed jaw.

But there is so much more to these cheeky animals!

Their stripes are as unique as their playful personalities are, because no two zebras have the same stripes – similar to the unique fingerprints that humans have. Another difference you’ll notice between the Plains Zebra and other Zebras, is that they have a brown ‘shadow’ stripe. Aside from the obvious camouflage aspect of the shadow stripe, it also believed that it plays a role in helping the animal to cool down.

Zebras are family orientated

If you’ve had a visit from a group of them, you’ll likely have seen what is called a harem. Usually, a male zebra, known as a stallion, will lead a family of females and their babies in a family unit. Stallions can sometimes be solitary for a while, and you may occasionally see a female zebra who appears to be on her own with her baby.  However, her family will likely be close by, as she takes a bit of time out to allow her new born to bond with her and to memorise one another’s unique barcodes, so that they will not be separated when they return to their family unit. Zebra foals can stand within 15 minutes of birth and run within an hour!

Zebras are very social animals and you’ll often see them with other grazers, and even browsers like Giraffes, as there is safety in numbers and they benefit from one another’s strengths. Zebras have good vision and hearing, and can cover huge distances to find food in dry seasons. Surprisingly, Zebras only require 2-3 hours of sleep per day and they usually sleep standing up, by locking their knees. However, even when napping, Zebras are ready to engage in survival mode.

Zebras are amazing creatures and we hope you’ll have the opportunity to observe them in their natural, wild environment in 2019. To book your stay at any of the Kruger River Villas, visit www.krugerrivervillas.co.za. If you stay at either Villa Mtombo or Hyena House between now and 14 March 2019, you’ll save 30%. See you soon!

#krugerrivervillas

New Years Resolutions

New Year’s resolutions. For the most part, we love to have them. Let’s face it – making them is easy. Who doesn’t want to work less and spend more quality time with friends and family? Not to mention losing the bonus kilograms 2018 awarded you for being such a great sport… of course, you’d like to lose them and eat healthier food and get more exercise in 2019. Alright, maybe that’s pushing it, but if that exercise could come in the form of long walks or rides along sandy roads in the heart of the bush beside zebras and giraffes, we bet you’d be in, right?

The problem comes in keeping those wonderful resolutions. In practice, we often land up working more hours so that we can afford to spend more quality time with family! Those longer hours invariably result in more stress and missing healthy meals which are rewarded by even more of those bonus kilograms… no wonder those resolutions fall by the wayside!

The thing is, human beings are innately wired to want to improve.

Actually, Mother Nature is a champion at making new resolutions, but she doesn’t wait to do it once a year. No, her approach is take everything in her stride – a new hour every 60 minutes, a new day every 24 hours, a new week every 7 days… We all know the patterns – tides, seasons, cycles – each one a critical building block for the next, usually bigger one.

Fortunately for us, Mother Nature is really good at keeping her resolutions too! Living in the heart of the bush gives you a new appreciation for the invisible clock that nature runs according to – each blade of grass, leaf and wildflower unfurls in the perfect time! Wild animals mate and give birth to their babies at the perfect times too – often making allowances for delayed rain. It’s nothing short of magical!

The point is, nature might be on to something very important when it comes to keeping resolutions. What if we didn’t just make resolutions once a year? What if we made small, achievable choices every single day, and rewarded ourselves with more opportunities to do the same the following day? There is an old adage that claims the only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. While we don’t advocate eating elephants (EVER!), there is much wisdom in the theory.

So this new year, we applaud you for making new resolutions for 2019.

We also wish you every success in keeping those resolutions one ‘bite at a time’, and hope you get to celebrate your victories daily and reap the results of your success throughout the year.

We also hope to see you soon for some quality time in the wild with people you love😉 Happy New Year from the Kruger River Villas team!

#krugerrivervillas

Dung Beetles – Environmental Superheroes!

Dung beetles are often featured in “if you think your job is bad…” jokes, but they are in fact amazing creatures!

Habitat

Found in deserts, savannahs, grasslands and forests on all continents except Antartica, dung beetles do not enjoy the extreme cold and dry conditions. While their diet consists of the dung of both omnivores and herbivores, they prefer the former for wider nutritional benefits. Some have been known to also eat fruit, decaying leaves and mushrooms, however, a diet consisting of dung only meets all the food and drink requirements of these hard-working creatures.

While most dung beetles detect dung using smell, smaller species cling to the host and await the delivery of their fresh supply of dung. Once collected, the dung is rolled without delay, as the dung trade is highly competitive and slack dung beetles can expect to have their cargo hi-jacked by industrious competitors.Dung beetles are the ultimate overcomers because they roll their cargo in straight lines, irrespective of what obstacles they may encounter en-route. This begs the question: how do they manage to stay on track?

 

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Giraffes - Kruger River Villas

Giraffes - The True Gentle Giants of The Wild

A giraffe has the highest blood pressure of any living creature. Ironically, they always look calm and unhurried, without the slightest sign of being stressed. Their calm demeanors also belie the fact that they only require an incredible 5 – 30 minutes of sleep in a 24-hour cycle!

Usually, their arrival is so quiet that only the rustle of a nearby tree reveals their presence as they casually select and pluck their juicy greens. At Kruger River Villas, we have a soft spot for giraffes, and surprise visits from them are always a highlight (no pun intended). Giraffes are the true gentle giants of the bush and it is such a privilege to see them in their natural habitat. They might enjoy watching humans too because guests often find themselves the object of a visiting giraffe's curious stare as they casually chew their leafy meals.

If you have ever been in the company of a giraffe, you'll no doubt have noticed their unique spots and hairy horns – not to mention their gorgeous long eyelashes! Male giraffes often use their horns, known as ossicones, to fight, but to the human observer, a giraffe looks as graceful and civilized when it fights, as it does when it runs. Giraffes also use their necks when they fight and the blows they deliver to their opponents are surprisingly forceful. Considering that an adult giraffe can grow to a height of just under 3m, it is hard to believe that those long, powerful necks also only have 7 vertebrae, like other mammals.

The gestation period of a giraffe is just over 15 months, and a newborn giraffe will stand within an hour of delivery. Although a giraffe will only begin to eat leaves after the first week of its life, it will drink from its mother for 4 – 6 months. Mom will also pull leaves down for a little one until they are big enough to reach their own. Having a 45cm tongue helps reach leaves too, and because giraffes spend most of the day eating, their tongues are exposed to UV Rays for extended periods – hence the black pigmentation of their tongues, resulting from Melanin. Giraffes can be found in small groups, but it is not uncommon for them to be solitary either. These amazing animals have a life expectancy of about 28 years in the wild.

The Shocking Reality

In Marloth Park and neighboring Kruger National Park, we have the pleasure of seeing giraffes almost daily. However, the shocking reality is that giraffes are facing what conservationists call 'silent extinction'. The world giraffe population is said to have decreased by 40% over the past 3 decades, and their numbers continue to plummet. It is estimated that there are less than 100 000 giraffes remaining in the wild. Activists have been raising the alarm for some time, and the call to declare giraffes as officially endangered is becoming urgent. Sadly, at the time of writing this post, the call remains unheeded.

It will be a sad day indeed if these gentle creatures exist only in history books and old photos, for not only will their extinction be a terrible indictment on the cruelty and negligence of our own species, but these amazing animals will be sorely missed. They are worthy of our admiration and our protection.

That is what makes Marloth Park an internationally sought-after holiday destination... our wild animals are free, yet protected within the confines of a natural territory that is set apart from the chaos and dangers of civilization. It is one of the very few places in the world where you can expect a voluntary visit from a wild animal right in your garden. At Kruger River Villas we cherish the privilege and hope against all the odds that giraffes will receive the protection they so desperately need.

If you have not recently enjoyed a visit from wild animals in your garden, we highly recommend that you book your stay. We hope to see you soon!