Wildlife Journal January 2011 – by Khimbini Hlongwane
Leopard (Panthera pardus)
Leopard sightings were great with and Xinzele male taking centre stage. Xinzele (shangaan word for Honey badger) earned his name from his fearless behaviour of teasing and tackling hyenas and large male leopards. He is about 3 years of age, a large male for is age and is becoming a true nightmare for Tegwan male, resident dominates male. After several fights Thekwane seem to be avoiding him staying northern of Sand River and this is giving Xinzele the opportunity to move into areas usually occupied by Thekwane. We are sad to announce that one of Hlubankunzi’s cubs was killed by the Xinzele male during the month of this report. For over a month now Xinzele have been searching everywhere for Hlabankunzi female and her cubs. Male leopard will more often than not kill any leopard cubs that they have not sired within their territory or as in this case prospective territory. This ensures that females within their territories come into season and allow them to mate and produce cubs sharing their genes and not that of other males.
Lion (Panthera leo)
The Ottawa pride has been seen mainly in the north and east of our area and is looking great and the two sub-adult males are growing to be big lions. The Ximhungwe pride has been fairly scattered this month, as we suspect that the short tailed female has dropped cubs, she have two cubs and others lionesses heavily pregnant. The two older cubs are now nearly seven months old are still alive and doing well.
Elephant (Loxodonta africana)
With some warm days in between all the rain we have been treated to a few top sightings of the young bull elephants playing and swimming in the pans! Always a joy to watch as these guys display dominance behaviour and mount each other as they swim. We have also had regular elephant viewing, with a sighting of two elephant bulls in hippo dam being one of the favourites.
Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer)
The buffalo have returned, and we are now seeing plenty of calves with the herd. Although buffalo breed all year round, there is a peak in births during the rainy season. We had some great viewing of mothers and calves interaction at waterholes.
More than the big five…..
Our herds of wildebeest and zebras are on the comeback, it’s no longer unusual to see dazzle of fifteen zebras. As usual for the time of the year there were lots of babies around, there is plenty of food for the mothers eat and feed the youngsters but the thick foliage provide cover for the predators so the mother have to be alert all the time.
In and around camp