Tag Archives: Greater Kudu

Satara Summer 2021 – Mingling with Antelope

The Kruger National Park is home to 21 different kinds of antelope – more than any other protected area in our country. Along with zebras and warthogs they form the staple prey for the majority of the large predators in the Park.

The Satara area of the park, which we visited in December 2021, hosts the largest concentrations of Blue Wildebeest in Kruger. Most Wildebeest calves are born at this time of the year, when the summer rains bring a flush of green fodder for the lactating cows.

Bushbuck aren’t seen around Satara all that often; the veld is generally too open for their liking in this part of the Park and any sightings are likely to be along the stream courses where the riverine vegetation provides the cover and browse they need.

The S36 road linking Satara and Orpen to the picnic spots at Muzandzeni and Nhlanguleni is usually reliable for finding Common Duikers, and if you are lucky these shy little antelope may stand still for a second or two so you can take a picture.

It is a real pity that the Impala is so numerous in Kruger that most visitors seem to not even spare them a second glance. They are actually really athletic and beautiful antelope.

Joubert got these photographs of two impala rams sparring.

The birth of Impala lambs are timed to occur en masse at the end of November and into early December. The lambs congregate into a “creche” within the herd when they’re at rest, but can often be seen running and chasing each other around – seems they have boundless energy.

In the evening of the 31st of December, along the Sweni Road (S126), we encountered a huge herd of Impalas. They were on the move, relinquishing the open plain where they were feeding for denser bush in which to spend the night. We spent several minutes with the herd as they walked off until the whole plain was abandoned.

Owing to the general scarcity of suitable rocky habitats around Satara, our only Klipspringer sighting of the entire 3 weeks we spent in that part of the Kruger Park was at an outcrop to the south of Tshokwane.

Three Klipspringers near Tshokwane

The open, thorny savanna around Satara supports a high density of the magnificent Greater Kudu and they can easily be seen along any of the roads that radiate from the camp.

By contrast, the Nyala is rarely encountered in this part of the Park and while they’re sometimes seen along the course of the Nwaswitsontso River south of Satara we had to go north to the banks of the Olifants River this time around to see this impressive bull.

Nyala bull

The Steenbok is the small antelope seen most often around Satara – they find the open grasslands perfectly to their liking.

The less I say about the expression on these Steenbokkies’ faces after mating, the better probably…

The Tsessebe is one of the rarest antelope in the Kruger National Park, and is not found near Satara. We undertook a day’s outing north to the Mopani area of the Park specifically to go looking for them, and luckily did not return to Satara with nothing to show for our effort.

Another large antelope you would defnitely encounter when visiting Satara is the Waterbuck. They’re quite numerous along the courses of the Nwanetsi and Gudzani streams to the east of the camp.

Front row seats for an epic battle!

One of the most exciting sightings (and we had many!) of our Satara Summer was this epic battle between two big Kudu bulls, encountered near the Kruger National Park‘s Nhlanguleni picnic site. At times the fight was so heated that we were sure one of them was going to break the other’s neck or stab a hole straight through his adversary. After several minutes the fight ended abruptly when they found themselves in thicker vegetation and one of the combatants threw in the towel.

Magnificent Kudu seen near Mavumbye

Greater Kudu

Tragelaphus strepsiceros

The striking kudu is one of the largest, and according to many nature lovers one of the most beautiful, of South Africa’s antelope.

Weighing up to 315kg and standing up to 1.6m high at the shoulder, kudu bulls are considerably bigger than the cows.

Adult bulls are solitary or move around in bachelor groups, associating with the herds of cows and their calves only during the rutting season. Though the bulls are not territorial, they do maintain a strict dominance hierarchy through fighting, sometimes leading to the death of one or both combatants through injuries or having their horns inextricably interlocked.

Kudu inhabit a variety of bush- and shrubland habitats, and, being browsers, subsists on an extremely wide variety of leafy vegetation, being particularly fond of the thorny Acacias. While they can survive for extended periods without water, they will drink daily if it is available.

In South Africa, most calves are born in the summer months between December and March. Newborn calves are kept hidden in thick vegetation for up to three months after birth, with the cows returning to them every couple of hours to nurse. They can live to the age of 18, but being a favourite prey item for all Africa’s large predators as well as being prone to drought and cold conditions, and susceptible to a range of diseases, few kudus wil reach that age in the wild.

Kudus occur widely across South Africa, both in and outside of formal conservation areas, and are still relatively numerous. The IUCN regards their conservation status to be of “least concern”, estimating the total population to stand at almost 500,000 individuals.