It was another stunning summer month at Inyati Game Reserve this February. Impressive rains are continuing to sustain the thousands of antelope gathered on the dams and rivers. We have had very varied weather over the month, with wind, quick showers and then sunshine, sometimes we got all in one day. We have also had a few thunderstorms and some good showers Sabi Sand is as green, pristine and beautiful as it gets. In most nights the skies were clear and defined, and this month we were able to see Orion and his canine friend Canus Major. Taurus is moving over the zenith, followed closely by Mars.
Excellent is not the word to describe the wildlife sightings this past month, they were all out to entertain us right trough the month.
Leopard (Panthera pardus)
She was seen often this during the month of this report. Sadly, she seems to have lost her cub again. We spent one evening following her she was in search a male and she did found Dayone male but unfortunately after all her attempts he total rejected mating with her.
We located her on one afternoon she was out on patrolling and marking her territory, she came past right by the vehicle.
The one and only forever playful Tlangisa leopardess was out playing delighted us with a very special unexpected sighting during the month. She have grown and have well established her territory now, she made few attempts to convince Dayone male that she is ready to mate and raise cubs and he just ignored her. While viewing her on one late morning she started stalking a small herd of buffalo and went the long grasses between them playing “hide and seek”. The fun and games ended when she decided to leap onto one of the sub adult buffalo, the old buffalo bulls weren’t impressed by that they turned for her aggressively and she was forced to climb on tree.
Shangwa female and cub
She is the oldest and experienced female in our area, we are seeing more her now than we ever did in the last few years she seemed to have change her territory slightly moving deeper into our traversing area on the northern side of sand river. She had been seen earlier with her 14-month old cub, which is growing fast and started making his own kills. Interestingly he was found on one occasion, with Xikavi female who is Shangwa’s older daughter. There was a bit of tension between them, but they finally lay down quite close to each other, with only few growling infrequently.
Lion (Panthera leo)
The elderly boys are looking great, even the one that got injured in battle with Selati males is recovering well. On one morning we found all three members of Mapogo lions trailing on a scent of a small buffalo herd. The buffalo had moved too far out of the range, the boys had to suspend their mission and rest for the day.
We followed up on them the next morning and located them feeding on a buffalo kill. Boys will always be boys! Where there is food or lioness there will be always an argument between the big boys. Mr T and makhulu Mapogo are growling at each other while eating. The injured male is keeping his distance from these squabbles.
The pride been seen often this month often in same place for few days they hasn’t been moving around a lot possible because of the new males (Selati male) moving around their territory. They were often found with full bellies, so presumably they made a decent kills in the night, and so did not need to move at all while they digested their food. Interestingly for few days the one lioness was separated from the pride to mating with one of the southern males.
One of the exciting news of the month is that one of the lionesses of Ottawa pride has new cubs. After couple of hours of tracking on one morning we managed to find two lionesses and their four brand new cubs on a wildebeest kill. We didn’t get a good picture as we kept a good distance from the mother and cubs.
Elephant (Loxodonta africana)
After the rain the grazing has become phenomenal, this elephant bull spent his time between feasting on sweet marula fruit and grass.
Are elephants really afraid of mice or is it a myth? Maybe not but this male is very scared of catfish. This male was having a good drink at Sand River when suddenly a catfish splashed the water and our brave elephant bull got startled and ran for his life out the river into the woodland.
Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer)
The large buffalo have remained in our traversing area for the whole month, there were lots of calves born and more are on their way, note the heavily pregnant female one the picture below. It’s always a treat to spend time with the buffalo herd at the waterhole and this month we did lots of that. Buffaloes are very dependant on water they drink at least twice a day. Their feathered friends, the oxpeckers also use the opportunity to get a drink from the backs from the buffalo.
Anyone who has spent time in the bush has a healthy respect for Cape buffalo, on one afternoon we witness to exactly why. The rangers and guests were spending time with a large herd of buffalo when one old bull lost his temper as a young bull got a bit to frisky to his liking. The young bull decided not to stand down; this led to two massive bodies hurling themselves at each other head first. The speed and power of these animals had us enthralled.
More than the big five…..
The floods have altered the river courses and our hippos are dispersed into small groups as they explore the new pools along the rivers. This particularly calf was very inquisitive as he approached us the mother had to follow him just in case she needs to protect him.
Common Sandpiper is often seen at our causeway, these smallish waders like birds are easily identified by their habit of “teetering”: constantly bobbing head and tail while on the ground, particularly when feeding. They migrate in small groups to the northern Eurasia and Central Japan where they breed. The Common Sandpipers (for now) faces no serious threats and are the most widespread and adaptable of shorebirds. Perhaps it is because they can eat a wide range of food.
In and around camp
The floods changed the river in a big way, lots of trees and reeds have been uprooted and taken down stream and deposited lots more sand leaving the area very open. From your breakfast table one is able to see animals cross the river. Elephants and giraffe are amongst their few that are regularly seen.
There are few crocodiles in our rivers and dams however seeing them in summer can prove to be difficult as they don’t need to come out the water to regulate their temperatures. Visiting Inyati causeway on late evening one stand a good chance of seeing these “flat dogs” fishing.
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, and we are committed to keep you updated.