Wildlife Journal September 2011 by Khimbini Hlongwane

The month of September heralds the change of seasons at Inyati Game Reserve. It is a month of many colours, tones and shades. The ground offers up a tapestried carpet of autumnally coloured fallen leaves, with swathes of tiny purple flowers of the Bolusanthus speciosus trees, bright yellows of the Acacia nigrescens flowers and the electric greens of the kigelias. Everywhere there is life budding out in anticipation of the rains. We are now anxiously scanning the skies for rain, but as yet we only had couple of showers. But while there is still some water there is life, and in abundance. Even by the great standards of Sabi Sand, this last month has been incredibly special.

Leopard (Panthera pardus)

Leopard (Panthera pardus)

Tlangisa is still trying to establish a territory she seems to be settling in the centre -western sector of our reserve. She is reaching sexual maturity and she was seen this month introduced herself to Xinzele. He, however, took no interest in as she flirted with him for two days! He totally ignored all her advances apart from for the odd growl for all her hard work.

Hlabankunzi female is been keeping low recently and we hardly ever see her but one morning she was out and very entertaining, hunting.

The two cubs from Metsi female were found one morning but the nervous one soon lost us and the other one couldn’t care less he was just resting on a termite mound.  He been making few kills, he got himself slender mongoose aMetsi cubnd once
with a very unusual kill, a porcu
pine! This has to e one of the difficult kill to make due to the large quills on these animals, even eating it may proves quite tricky to eat.

Xinzelehas been dominating the area around the river and was found lazing in a large jackalberry tree on a warm morning.The tension between him and Mashibanci male continues heating up, they were seen a territorial stand off again. At one stage Xinzele climb up into Tree Tops (our  conference centre) roaring while Mashiabanci sat and glared from the opposite bank of sand river. Some of our guests were even witnesses to a war over dominance on the banks of the Sand River. These two larger male leopards territories shares sand river as the boundary there were seen patrolling their territories in the same area one opposite side of the river.  It was not long before Xinzele approached Mashiabanci deep grow and salivating which often precedes a fight. After several minutes of posturing, they both charged forward with flailing claws in a fury of loud coughing calls.  The battle was over in seconds, leaving each with a new set of scars.  Xinzele was sighted the next day with few small puncture wounds on his chest and scratches on his face.

 The Xikhavi female seem to have expanded he territory further upstream the river pass our lodge has not been seen too often, but it seems she is expanding her territory further west. She one of cause of the fight between the two males as she has been seen mating with both Xinzele and Mashiabanci on opposite banks of the river. 

She is being found more consistently now further west along the Sand River and on one occasion unsuccessfully attempted to hunt some impala.

Yet another new male leopard was found this month, owing to open borders with Kruger national park some new or unknown animals to us cross into our reserve every so often.  This male leopard was initially very skittish but relaxed nicely after some careful approaches.

Xikhavi female stalking

Lion (Panthera leo)

Mopogos has been sticking together a lot lately. Two of the three were limping but they all doing very well, and seem to be holding their own against the threat from the east for now. On one they morning were feeling playful and
affectionate, and shared these great moments of their life with us. They have been venturing east more lately possible inan attempt to re-enforce their eastern boundary. They are obviously feeling a little pressure but are more than holding their own.They currently face the significant threats of the 4 Machingelane males, who have taken already killed two of their brother and take part of their territory. And two other coalitions, one southeast and the other one in the northeast of Sabi sand game reserve.

Ximhungwe Pride of lion has not disappointed us this month. We have had almost daily sightings of the pride, which is expanding. Finally the mother lion bring her cubs out for to see, they are four, 3 males and 1 female cub. These new addition – four tiny chocolate brown cubs – has caused much delight as they emerge from their den to play in
the early evenings
.

Ximhungwe Pride of lion


Unfortunately, before the end of the month the four new cubs had been reduced to two, possibly due to the ongoing
attrition between the other super-predators in the area, the spotted hyena.

We have also been fortunate to see a number of lion sightings with kills. The Ximhungwe pride’s grandmother, the mother of two older cubs has been extremely success despite her age. She killed two adult kudu within a week; these kills provided some great viewing and photographic opportunities. On one night she came through the lodge chased out our resident buffalo bulls and moved on to kill yet another kudu.

Elephant (Loxodonta africana)

Elephant galore

Elephant galore! Lone bulls and vast matriarch herds, often with some  incredibly young elephant with them crash into the Sand River for a drink or to enjoy a cooling swim. One momentous event saw a breeding herd of 25 elephant, spooked by Ximhungwe pride at ” skelem” crossing of sand river, come thundering and splashing through the peace flowing river water of the Sand river; the babies tripping, rolling and sliding through the water as their frantic mothers bellowed and pushed them onwards with their trunks.

Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer)

Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer)

The regular buffalo bulls are still hanging around Inyati lodge and we are enjoying great sightings if its day we see them they will rest in the loge at night. As Inyati is completely open, there is nothing stopping these huge herds coming right through camp. Guests have enjoyed sitting on their balconies watching the herds surround their tents as the buffalo and elephant enjoy the vegetation that the river provides.

 

Resident hippo's

More than the big five…..

We were fortunate enough to find few rare nocturnal species. A Serval cat, surprisingly this rodent assassin
allowed us to follow it as it hunted for mice. Note the radar dish like ears it uses to detect and lock onto prey.

 

This Honey badger entertained us for at least an hour yesterday afternoon. It dug out and ate about five Shiny Burrowing Scorpions.

 

Honey badger burrowing for scorpions

 

 

We even got see a Pangolin I have waited a year and half for one of these animals to show themselves out and he was surprisingly relaxed with vehicles around.

 PPangolin

Wild dogThe pack of Wild Dogs made an appearance again this month. The pups are still doing well and growing fast, although there are now only four left. We followed them hunting on one morning we were rewarded later as we witnessed them killing an impala. The pack celebrated a recent impala kill by chasing each other up and down the
airstrip.

 

Grey-headed bush-shrike, An adaptable hunter, it will eat almost any animal that it can catch and kill, ranging from small insects to large one metre long snakes and other bird chicks. We watched him kill and eat
a venomous snake, vine or twig snake.

 

Grey-headed bush-shrike

In and around camp

Our resident hippos continue to amuse all our guests with almost guaranteed viewings in hippo dam. If you are to miss seeing them on your way to camp then you will certainly not miss hearing them in the evenings. On a couple of
occasions, we have heard males fighting in the sand river near our upstream from the lodge in Sand River, sometimes lasting up to a couple of hours. The noises they make can be quite incredible, sometimes giving an impression that
one has been killed.

 

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