Wildlife Journal April 2011 by Khimbini Hlongwane
At the onset of April it seemed bit cooler than March but did not last long and the temperatures rose quickly. Early morning temperatures have been chilly, down to about 17-20°C but warming up during the day to a pleasant 25-29°C. We have also been having strong blustery winds around midday, Sightings were great, and guests came back with interesting tales from the drive and walking safaris.
Leopard (Panthera pardus)
The leopard viewing have been phenomenal again this month, a new young male leopard was seen on our property on numerous occasions. This extremely relaxed male is called Balabas, apparently comes from the south east of the Sabi Sand Game Reserve. He is about three and half years old, and relatively young to compete with the males we have on our area so it’s Unlikely that he will stay in the area, he will most likely get chased by larger Xinzele and Khashane males.
We have to mention some sad news that Hlabankunzi’s one remaining sub-adult cub was also killed by the Xinzele male leopard. He had stolen a kill from Hlabankunzi and her cub. The cub was unusually old for a cub to be killed, would have been on few month before it independent. This means that she will come into oestrus and will start mating again hopefully produce a new litter with him as the father. We had already seen her flirting and trying to mate with the Xinzele male. We did follow up the next day and she had followed him down towards the river but then walked into the hippo dam female’s territory, a fight ensued and Hlabankunzi was chased back south to her territory.
Xinzele male leopard killed an impala ram, he fed on four couple of days and he was later join by hippo Dam female. She was tried in vain her to court him but he would have none of it and reacted aggressively towards her, perhaps because he had the kill or she simply was not in full oestrous.
Tlangisa female came upon another leopard’s kill which she dragged it to a tree. The next morning the Mapogo stole the carcass from her. Two of the lion brothers climbed the tree and fought over the carcass before it fell to the ground and the third brother claimed it for himself. Tlangisa moved off and climbed a nearby tree, watching the lions devours her meal and perhaps hoping they might leave some scraps for her.
Lion (Panthera leo)
Ximungwe Pride is still quite fragmented around the west and we haven’t seen all 5 lionesses together for a very long time. The older lioness with the 8 month old male cubs had killed a huge male kudu by herself providing some good viewing for us, her two male cubs are looking very strong and healthy. The short tail lioness with the 2 four month cubs is also doing well and we have been seeing her regularly. Due to the females being quite disjointed they are vocalising a lot to communicate with each other, impressive to hear from the lodge in the mornings and evenings.
Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus)
Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer)
The large herd of around 300 – 400 buffalo have been see regularly in the South, spending a lot of time in the open which has offered some amazing viewing. We watched them as they entered the waterhole, and as always, a large number of Red-billed Oxpeckers are close by to feed on the ectoparasites . There are many youngsters in the herd, with some of them only a couple of days old.
More than the big five…..
Wild Dogs (Lycaon Pictus) also called: African Wild Dog, African Hunting Dog, Cape Hunting Dog, Painted Dog, Painted Wolf, Painted Hunting Dog.
We are very-very excited! Do you wonder why? Wild dogs are the second most endangered large carnivore in the whole continent of Africa (Simien or Ethiopian wolf being the most endangered) there are less than six thousand of these animals left on planet earth. South Africa’s largest park, the Greater Kruger National Park with size of 2.5 million hectares or 5.6 million acres of natural wilderness accommodate a mere 130 individuals of these very misunderstood extraordinary wolf like creatures . The main contributory factor to the decline in population numbers is persecution by mankind, until recently even within conservation areas. They have not denned on our property for over 13 years and now they have decided to have their pups on our traversing area. We understand how these animal cover massive ranges so to have them on our property is really special.
The pack lost a young female recently to a lioness but hopefully they get to raise a few puppies from the new litter. This leaves the two females, Alpha male, older short tail male and two beta male, so only six left. There were 2 females that fell pregnant in the pack, usually it’s just the Alpha female that breeds. And both females have now given birth in two different dens. As you will understand we are extremely sensitive around these animals so the den is closed for another two weeks just to let them settle in their den and to reduce pressure on the pack, after that the sighting will be opened for us to enjoy the new born pups, which is a scene which not many people will be fortunate to see in their life time as these animals may not be on our planet for long. Almost forgot to mention that these animals are intelligent, beautiful, fascinating social behaviour and are the most successful hunters of them all. Yes! You can be fortunate if you come visit us soon. Two weeks will feel like two years for some of us but for now we wait…………
In and around camp
Owing to our location on the bank of sand River, the landscapes around Inyati Lodge are permanently in a state of flux, and this has provided no exception. Xindzele male leopard paid us few visit, entertaining our guests during pre-dinner drinks. Buffalo bulls, nyala, warthog, monkeys and crocodile basking in the sun is one of the regular sightings around the lodge.
That’s all from us this month, We thank you for spending few moments with us in the wilderness, shared our experiences and joined our adventures, we are committed to keep you updated.