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Nocturnal Wildlife at Melozhori

You may have done a daytime game drive, but have you ever wondered what wildlife can be seen at night?

If the answer is yes, we’ve answered your questions in a blog! Read more to find out about what could be seen on game drives near Cape Town at Melozhori Private Game Reserve.

game drives near cape town

Honey Badger

The name of this skunk-like creature literally means ‘Honey Eater of the Cape’ referring to The Cape of Good Hope. If you’ve ever seen one, you can attest to the fact they have some impressive claws, which they use daily to dig burrows to hide out in.

Diet wise, Honey Badgers are notoriously unfussy and will eat anything and everything. As omnivores, they’re happy to range from plants and fruit to birds, insects and even eggs.

honey badgers on game drives near cape town

Bat-eared Fox

The first thing you’ll notice about this little mammal is its enormous ears – often reaching up to 13cm in height. Not only do their ears provide them with impressive hearing but, like the elephant, they are also used as a way to regulate temperature.

As an omnivore, the Bat-eared Fox has a varied diet, however, around 80% of it will be termites and dung beetles.

bat-eared fox on game drives near cape town

Caracal

Although they may look like an enlarged house cat at first glance, the largest tell-tale sign of a Caracal is its pointy ears. This sandy-coloured cat is an impressive hunter and can jump around 3 metres into the air to catch a low-flying bird.

Caracals often opt for smaller prey such as rabbits, some reptiles, and other small mammals. On the odd occasion, they have also been known to take down larger prey such as goats and small buck if they come across them.

Cape Porcupine

Now, this isn’t an animal you’d like to walk into by accident! Porcupines are covered in quills that can reach up to 50cm in length and detach when touched by a predator. When under threat, a Porcupine will puff up in size and shake – as some of their tale quills are hollow and knock together, this can make quite a racket and ward off attackers.

Their diet mainly consists of roots and bulbs they dig up as well as some fallen fruit or even bark.

cape porcupine on game drives near cape town

Aardvark

Although elusive and often tricky to track down, you’ll know one when you see one! Aardvarks are typically greyish-brown with coarse hair, large ears, a long snout and an arched back.

Much like the Bat-eared Fox, their diet largely consists of termites and have been known to travel up to 16km to find sources of food. They have an exceptionally long tongue covered in sticky saliva, which prevents the termites from escaping.

aardvark game drives near cape town

Aardwolf

Now, make sure you don’t confuse an Aardvark and Aardwolf as they’re quite different – in appearance anyway! An Aardwolf is sometimes mistaken for the similarly dog-like features of a hyena. Their furry coat has several vertical black stripes with a bushy black-tipped tail.

Diet is the only characteristic that connects the Aardvark and Aardwolf given their affinity for termites. Interestingly, an Aardwolf will switch termite species halfway through the year as one becomes dormant during the winter months. In one night, an Aardwolf can consume anything from 200- to 300,000 termites!

aardwolf game drives near cape town

African Wild Cat

True to its name, the African Wild Cat looks almost exactly like a domesticated house cat, just bigger. It’s said that the Egyptians domesticated African Wild Cats as a method of pest control and from there they became the pets we know today.

Their diet consists of mice, rats, small mammals like rabbits or sometimes even young antelope.

african wild cat game drives near cape town

Now that you’re clued up on the nocturnal residents of Melozhori Private Game Reserve, it’s time to experience some evening game drives near Cape Town and see how many you can spot!

Book your stay at our exclusive Lodge or even our self-catering Cottage via email to info@melozhori.co.za. For more information, you can also visit our website.

Image Credit: African Conservation Foundation

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Why Melozhori Should Be Your Next Getaway

Following the downgrade to Lockdown Level 2, domestic travel is finally open and we couldn’t be more excited to welcome you back to Melozhori Private Game Reserve. With that in mind, we’re here to refresh your memory and show you why this should be your next getaway. So, without further ado, here’s a reminder of all that’s on offer at this game reserve near Cape Town.

The Lodge

Located just two hours from Cape Town, Melozhori’s main offering is our exquisite, exclusive Lodge. Located amidst the fynbos with views over the dam and across to the rambling mountains, the property exudes peace and tranquillity.

The Lodge features four en-suite bedrooms each fitted with their own Nespresso Machine, television, fireplace, Wi-FI, and so much more. We are a proudly family-friendly destination so both of our indoor suites can easily accommodate two children each. Our lovely thatched Lodge also offers a large lounge, an expansive deck with infinity pool, and even an outdoor fire pit.

During your stay with us, each and every meal is catered for by our capable team. Prior to arrival, we’ll discuss your favourite foods and come up with a menu designed just for you and your guests so all you need to do is enjoy your stay. The Lodge is completely exclusive so whether it’s a romantic weekend away or a group of friends, you’ll have the place to yourself.

The Cottage

Located several kilometres away from the main Lodge, in the middle of the reserve, stands our sublime self-catering Cottage. Given its hilltop position, the Cottage also offers exquisite panoramic views of the valley and across to the blue-hued mountains.

The Cottage has recently undergone a makeover so if you haven’t visited recently, you’ll notice some changes! Featuring two en-suite bedrooms that comfortably sleep four adults and two small children, the cottage is perfect for a family getaway. Spend some time in the pool, out on the deck, or by the braai to properly enjoy the natural beauty surrounding you. The Cottage also has great Wi-Fi, a TV, and a fireplace for cosy nights in.

In some exciting news, the Cottage offering is about to experience another upgrade that we’re sure you’re going to love – who doesn’t love a hot tub?

Activities

You’ll never be short of things to do during your stay with free roam of our reserve for hikes, picnics at sunset, mountain biking and more gentle walking routes. Don’t forget about our game drives either! Melozhori is not only a top game reserve near Cape Town but also optimally located for off-site activities with Robertson, Bonnievale, and the Breede River nearby.

If you’re convinced, join us at Melozhori Private Game Reserve at our Lodge or Cottage soon. Visit our website for more information or make a booking via email to info@melozhori.co.za.

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Boomslang Relocation

We have had a resident Boomslang snake living the Lodge in Melozhori Private Game Reserve until quite recently, affectionately known as “Groenie”. To date, said snake has been the source of much fun as our guests have been thoroughly entertained by his presence. However, we made the decision to relocate Groenie for the sake of safety – both his and our guests. Our Reserve Manager, and in-house snake handler, relocated Groenie safely to his new home in the bush. 

boomslang snake in bush

A Boomslang is a venomous snake that belongs to the colubrid family. The species can typically be found in sub-Saharan Africa. Boomslang inhabit grasslands, savannas and open areas with isolated trees and bushes, where they like to hide. People avoid contact with these snakes because of their strong venom. These snakes are not on the list of endangered species and their population in the wild is large and stable. Here are some interesting facts for you to have in your safari knowledge bank:

– Boomslang can reach 3 to 5 feet in length and a weight between 0.4 to 1.1 pounds – this roughly correlates to 0.9 – 1.5 metres and 181 – 500 grams.
– Females are brown in colour while males are brighter and covered with green scales that have black or blue edges. Belly can be yellow, grey-ish or light brown in colour.
– Boomslang have large, yellow coloured eyes with round pupils. They possess excellent eyesight and the ability to detect even a     motionless chameleon.
– They are diurnal species meaning mainly active during the day.
– The name “Boomslang” is a local name (in South Africa) that translates to “tree snake”.
– Boomslangs are arboreal (adapted to the life in the trees) but occasionally descend to the ground to find food.
– Did you know that this particular snake is carnivorous (meat-eater)? Its diet is based on birds, arboreal lizards and rodents.   Boomslang also visit the nests of sociable weavers to collect eggs.
– Boomslang are a rear-fanged snake (their fangs are located at the back of the jaws). Unlike other rear-fanged snakes, they have large fangs and can stretch their mouth to 170 degrees during an attack and then inject venom in a stabbing motion.
– Unfortunately, the bite of Boomslang can be fatal for humans. First signs of envenomation appear a few hours or even a day after being bitten. Venom induces internal bleeding that leads to death if the person does not receive an anti-venom.
– Despite having potent venom, these snakes rarely attack humans and will try to escape before biting – an incident usually occurs if they have been cornered. A Boomslang also has an attack ‘tell’ and usually inflate their neck, exposing its black-coloured skin and forms an S-shape before attacking.

juvenile boomslang snake

– Mating season takes place from July to October. Males aggressively fight with each other to establish dominance and get the opportunity to mate.
– The female lays 10 to 25 eggs inside hollow trees and logs or beneath decaying vegetation and incubation lasts 65 to 100 days.
– Hatchlings are 12 inches long at birth, grey or brown in colour and covered with dark and light bluish dots on the dorsal side of the body. A yellowish or pinkish belly is covered with brown spots. Their eyes are large and iridescent green. Young Boomslangs have a prominent vertebral stripe that will vanish before they reach adulthood. Boomslang reach sexual maturity at the age of 2 to 3 years.
– Boomslangs can survive for around 8 years in the wild.

boomslang snake on pole

Hopefully, these facts will help you to identify a Boomslang snake in the wild and that admiring them from a safe distance is always best! 

We look forward to welcoming you back to our now Groenie-free Lodge again soon!

Image Credits: Melozhori and The African Snake Bite Institute

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Acacia Karroo at Melozhori Private Game Reserve

Vachellia karroo, or more famously Acacia karroo (sweet thorn), is one of Melozhori Private Game Reserve’s most common species of tree that serve as food for browsers. The species’ name comes from the sweet-tasting gum which is exuded from ‘wounds’ on damaged trees. This species plays an enormously important role for Melozhori, in terms of repairing the veldt and supplying food for various organisms. We are happy to notice that these trees are becoming more abundant and spreading well through the veldt as Vachellia karroo is one of the species that possess amazing veldt repairing qualities.

One of their veldt-conserving qualities stems from the thorny canopy which prevents animals from overutilizing the grass and forbs growing under it while also creating shade that maintains moisture in the dry Karoo heat. Most importantly, Vachellia karroo is one of the trees belonging to the legume family – these plants possess nitrogen-binding bacteria which grow on root nodes. The bacteria live in symbiosis with the tree roots and fixate atmospheric nitrogen into ammonia which can be easily metabolized by most organisms.

Nitrogen is imperative for regrowth and plant revitalization. Have you wondered why the grass is so green after a rainstorm? Lightning is one way in which nitrogen is fixated in the air and transformed into a usable source for most organisms. The fixated nitrogen helps the trees to grow faster than surrounding plants giving them a considerable advantage over other plants in the area – this is one of the main reasons acacia trees grow well in disturbed or nutrient-deficient soil.

The combination of nitrogen, shade and moisture creates ideal conditions for various forbs and grass species to grow under the sweet thorns -essentially creating an entire microenvironment for other organisms to thrive in.

These trees are pioneer species, which means that they grow for a period and then die, releasing their nitrogen, to create the ideal compost and environment for other, more tasty plants. Each tree typically lives for 30-40 years, depending on the conditions. 

Wherever these trees grow, there is a supply of underground water made accessible due to their deep taproots. For this reason, it’s easy to spot old river beds at Melozhori as there are always green sweet thorn trees in their place.

It puts in perspective the idea that the veldt is like a living organism itself. The question arises, what is protecting these valuable plants from overutilization by browsers? To put it simply, these thorny trees have evolved to such an extent that they have built-in self-preservation mechanisms. As soon as an animal starts damaging the tree or its branches, they start secreting tannin acids. These tannins cause the leaves to turn bitter and the animals to move to more edible food.

Tannin acids cause indigestion, almost like poison. These acids bind with protein causing the animal not to be able to digest their food. Browsers generally avoid this by moving on to other areas where the leaves are sweet and don’t cause them harm. However, as one tree starts excreting these acids, it communicates with the trees around it, which will then also start secreting tannin acids.

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6 Things You Didn’t Know About Ostriches

Melozhori Private Game Reserve is home to around 130 species of bird including our latest discovery, the Lanner Falcon. In addition to small birdlife and South Africa’s largest flying birds – Kori Bustard – Melozhori is also home to the world’s largest flightless bird, the ostrich. As they are not usually the most talked about bird, how much do you really know about them? Here are some of our favourite ostrich facts;

1. Size

A fully-grown ostrich can reach up a height of around 1.6 metres and weigh in at a whopping 135 kilograms – more than the average heavyweight boxer. In addition to their height, an ostriches’ wingspan can reach approximately 2 metres and are used in mating displays, for shade, and as rudders to change direction while running.

2. Power

Ostriches are the fastest runners out of all two-legged animals and can sprint at speeds of up to 70km per hour with each stride covering around 5 metres. Their powerful legs also come into play when threatened and can deliver a deadly forward kick capable of killing potential predators.

3. Collective Parenting

Each of the herd’s hens place their eggs (each 15cm long) in the larger, 3m wide nest of the dominant female. There, the eggs are incubated by the dominant female by day and male by night for camouflage purposes. Hatchlings are then co-reared by both males and females.

4. Teething Problems

As they lack teeth, ostriches swallow small pebbles to grind their food and can carry around 1kg in stones at any time. Did you know they also have 3 stomachs?

5. Myth Busting

Contrary to the popular myth, ostrich do not bury their heads in the sand but rather press their necks to ground for camouflage as their plumage typically blends to sandy surroundings.

6. No Water, No Problem

Ostriches can go several days without water thanks to their ability to use metabolic water and moisture from roots, seeds and insects. However, if presented with a body of water they will enjoy a nice bath.

Now that you know some of our amazing ostrich facts, it’s time to come and view them and our other wildlife in person. Reservations are easy, simply email info@melozhori.co.za or, if you need further information, visit our website.

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5 Reasons to Visit Melozhori Private Game Reserve

Melozhori is a picturesque private game reserve located just under 200kms from Cape Town. Travellers of old used the land as a place of rest and recuperation on their journey along South Africa’s gorgeous Garden Route. Over the years the area has seen many changes, not least of which was the construction of our beautiful lodge as well as our comprehensive restoration and conservation efforts. Whether you are making your way further east or have Melozhori as a final destination, here are the top five reasons to visit us in the Overberg;

game reserves near cape town

1. Location

Located just a two and a half hours drive – including a pit stop – from the Mother City, Melozhori Private Game Reserve is ideal for a magical weekend away. Take a leisurely drive to soak in some spectacular scenery and stop in at the Peregrine Farm Stall before arriving at one of the most beautiful game reserves near Cape Town.

game reserves near cape town

2. Wildlife

Since purchasing the land in 2008, the Bhorat family have slowly reintroduced an array of species back into the area such as springbok, eland, giraffe, Bat-eared Fox, and zebra. For a full list of species, click here. Although not introduced by Melozhori, caracal and even a leopard have been spotted on occasion. As well as an impressive list of mammals, Melozhori’s birdlife has thrived on the revived fauna and the reserve has become a birdwatcher’s paradise.

game reserves near cape town

3. Conservation

Taking into account historically occurring species, the once damaged land was fastidiously restored thanks to guidance from local experts and is now a verdant landscape of renosterveld, Karoo, and pristine fynbos.

All 2,300 hectares of the reserve form part of local conservation efforts regarding the protection and preservation of species such as the Cape Leopard.

game reserves near cape town

5. Activities

There are so many ways to enjoy nature at Melozhori: embark on a game drive with one of our expert guides at the helm, take a leisurely walk through the veld, or set off on an adventure with your mountain bike. Located far enough away from light pollution, consider staying up for some stargazing. One of our personal favourite activities is taking a picnic out into the veld to watch the sunset.

game reserves near cape town

If a stay at one of the best game reserve near Cape Town sounds like your idea of paradise, contact us at info@melozhori.co.za or +27 (0)76 430 3948 to make a reservation.