Khotavuxika: June 2012 – Wildlife Journal
At the onset of June it seemed bit cooler than May but this did not last long and the temperatures rose quickly. Early morning temperatures have been a chilly 10-13°C but warming up during the day to a pleasant 25-27°C. We have also been having strong blistery winds around midday. The sightings have been great with guests retruning from drives with interesting tales.
The sunsets have been spectacular with the dust in the air adding some beautiful colours in the sky.
LEOPARD (PANTHERA PARDUS)
The felines have been performing spectacularly for our guests this month.
SHANGWA AND CUB
This elderly female have recently shifted her territory more west of her normal range, she was seen hung bushbucks along the sand river with a big open wound on her leg this is possible from a territorial fight with another female leopard or injured by warthog in the hunt.
It’s incredible how quickly these animals heal only couple of weeks late the wound is looking much better.
Her sub adult male is fully independent now and she is coming into heat again now. She was seen way out of her territory south of the Sand River following Dayone male around. It took a while for her to convince him to mate but after few days her persistence work and experience he finally gave in.
This illusive and aggressive male come out few times this month, he was more tolerant to game viewer vehicles, not run away and not charging asking us to leave like he often does. In one of the sighting we saw him with unidentified young male feeding on carcass in the tree.
He been the luckiest and busiest boy ever, with few of the female that their territory are within his come into oestrous during the month of this report. Some of the female he was seen mating with includes Xikhavi, Shangwa, Hlabankunzi and Dam 3 female. We even got to have a good view of the shy Dam 3 female, the lure of the new male and hormones clouding her usual fear of vehicles allowed us to view this generally skittish leopardess. The look in her eye is a sure sign of her temperament.
She is slowly gaining back her status as the most viewed leopard in our area. She is still covering her large territory she grew when she was trying to keep her cubs away from new territorial male, Xindzele a year ago. She seen very busy mating with Dayone male but after about 5 days has since separated from him and went back to patrolling and securing her own territory, such a large territory have required her to move over 17 kilometres a day.
We have seldom seen this female lately, she used to be the most consistently viewed leopard in our area until couple of months ago when she moved her territory to a far densely vegetated area up by the north-western the reserve. She felt the pressure from the older and large female, Metsi who is push more and more north of her territory. We were privileged to see her on one afternoon perched on a termites mound in the last light just before she set out for her hunting pursuit.
LION (PANTHERA LEO)
SELATI COALITION AND XIMHUNGWE PRIDE
These male are certainly making their presence known around the area as they constantly making, vocalising and mating with lionesses that roam within their territory. They are often seen in separate areas as they search for female in heat only get together to hunt. Yet another buffalo was killed this month as a result of the team work by the Selati boys. If all four are seen together it’s almost a given that a buffalo is coming down soon. Soon after the buffalo carcass finished the Selati male lions and Ottawa lionesses have moved little further away and the mating has resumed.
Ximhungwe pride ran into one of Selati male lion on one morning, two lionesses took the cubs out the area when the other two stayed with him, interestingly the short tail female, mother of the two older cubs tried to seduce him to mate. It took few days for the male to allow mating but eventually two lionesses were mating with the Selati boys.
These seventeen months old cubs are looking very nervous after the confrontation with Selati males, their mothers have done exception work to keep the sub adults away the Selati Coalition and keep them alive.
Latter in the month we witness the Selati male lions mating, one mating with Ximhungwe lioness and the other one was mating with two of the Othawa lionesses. Yes! he was mating with two lionesses at same time.
The three lionesses are looking their best moment and confident, they seem to have accepted Selati male entirely and much easier compared to the Ximhungwe pride. One of them was seen mating again with one of the Selati males by the river side after feeding on a buffalo kill.
ELEPHANT (LOXODONTA AFRICANA)
June saw a marked increase in elephant activity along the river in the vicinity of camp. This is probably linked to the fact that most of the greenery disappeared else accept the along river and some dams have dried up and the animals are forced to congregate around the Sand River in order to meet their water requirements.
CAPE BUFFALO (SYNCERUS CAFFER)
The large resident herd of buffalo have been out of our traversing area for most of the month but there been no shorted of buffalo sighting as there we few bachelor herds around the property including one group of about 20 bulls.
MORE THAN THE BIG FIVE…..
This month’s special sightings included, a honey badger (Mellivora capensis), also known as the ratel, which is a species of mustelid native to Africa. These creatures are mostly active by night and are seldom seen. The honey badger is a tenacious small carnivore that has a reputation for being, pound for pound, Africa’s most fearless animal despite its small size.
It is even listed as the “most fearless animal in the world” in the Guinness Book of Records.
Simply Amazing! Honey badgers do appear to have some immunity to snake venoms. A honey badger bitten on the face by the highly cytotoxic puff adder will show signs of severe pain but recovered fully within five hours. This immunity may develop over the life time of the honey badgers due to regular contact with small amounts of venom in snakes, scorpions and bees.
And our feathered friends have been around too!
In and around camp
Our guests have been enjoying sightings of zebra, giraffes, impala and many more from the comfort the comfort of their breakfast table or pool beds.
Even for hippo, water has been little bit too cold to spend the whole day in it. They can be see from the lodge basking in the sun. Did you know? Recent DNA evidence suggests that the hippopotamus is more closely related to cetaceans (whales and dolphins) than it is to any other artiodactyls (even-toed hoofed mammal)”