Hukuri – November 2012 Wildlife Journal

November is a magic time to visit the bushThe weather: November is a magic time to visit the bush, as Mother Nature goes through an elegant state of chaos. The month started off hot and dry with only little sign of rain. It was only later in the month we witnessed the afternoon build-up of rain clouds becoming more pronounced until finally some thunderstorms came rolling in from the south-east and bathed the landscape around the Reserve in a regenerative, life-giving rain.

Wildlife: There is a baby boom going on at Sabi Sand, Inyati game lodge, which is proving both entertaining and heart-wrenching experiences. For the predators, it’s a buffet in the bush, and there have been many sightings of leopard, lion and wild dog feeding on some of the less fortunate new arrivals to the game reserve.

Leopard (Panthera pardus)

Yet another month of awesome Leopard sightings with lots mother-cub interactions.
Dayone male

Dayone male

This male is well-loved for his vain tendencies – he patrols his territory and devotes time and energy to preserving his perfect, unscarred appearance and wooing the females of the area. Guests adore his majestic looks and his fondness for the camera.
This handsome male went missing for over two weeks and got us all worried, when he finally showed up he had few wounds one particularly large on his left hind leg. It does appear that he was involved in deadly territorial battle with another male. These animals are extremely hardy.

Dayone male

Hlabankunzi and Metsi female

Hlabankunzi and Metsi femaleOur mother leopards are both doing well and cubs growing fast. Hlabankunzi have stayed at the same den site the whole month, its perfect place on those rocks with plenty of hiding places for the little one.

Metsi on the other hand had difficult month with many threatening accidents at her den site. Ximhungwe pride, Selati males, hyenas and Nyeleti male leopard have come passed the den site in the last three weeks.

Nyeleti Male

Nyeleti Male

Introducing a new young male leopard who have been giving Dayone male headaches, he is known as the Nyeleti male from the south-eastern section of the reserve, believed to be about three years and six months old. He is been moving about in Dayone male‘s territory for couple of months now posing big threat to the Hlabankunzi and Metsi’s cubs. He is a beautiful relaxed male have been providing us with some great viewing.

Xikhavi female

No other time of year leaves you with such a keen awareness of the timeless cycles of life and death, as November with so much evidence of rebirth and regeneration everywhere. The predators are like Xikhavi female leopard make use of these opportunity as we seen her hunting and killing two impala lambs in a twenty minutes that we were with her.Xikhavi female

Lion (Panthera leo)

Selati coalition and Othawa pride

Selati coalition and Othawa prideThe males have continued their routine, hunt buffalo, patrol , mark and defend their territory. They have the first week of the month to Othawa lionesses, however, visible signs suggest that all three lionesses have lost their cubs.

Lion (Panthera leo)The mating has been intense at one stage there was two pairs of mating lions within 500 meters of each other. After a week of all this hard work they went to successful hunt a buffalo.

Lion (Panthera leo)

Ximhungwe pride

As life goes in the bush, every up has a down. On last report and this month we mentioned how unsuccessful the Othawa pride have been with their latest litters of cubs and now we are happy to say that we have seen all the visible signs that the two lionesses of Ximhungwe cubs have cubs and one other female is heavily pregnant.
And now what we do is wait…. As we look forward to seeing the survival of the first Ximhungwe cubs sired by the Selati male lions.Ximhungwe pride

Elephant (Loxodonta africana)

There have still been some good sightings of breeding herds of elephant considering that there is lots of water and animals are then lot more disperse. Set against the daily struggle for life is the explosion of new life which erupts at this time of year: suddenly the woodlands are full of wobbly, impossibly curious new impala youngsters, and equally unsteady young elephants dot the woodlands, mothers nursing their young.

Elephant (Loxodonta africana)

On one afternoon we met a young bull elephant who was totally convinced that he will be able to drive us away from the waterhole by performing series of mark charge, waving his ears, trumpeting and splashing the water using his trunk and feet. He seemed so surprised and disappointed when we just sat there and took pictures of him.

Elephant (Loxodonta africana)

Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer)

Fresh green sward has covered many parts of the Mpumalanga, Sabi Sand, providing fresh graze for buffalo, zebra and wildebeest. The large herds of buffaloes have been scarce of late; we however had lots of small herds of bulls including one consisting of 30 and 2 cows.

Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer)

More than the big five…..

Wild dogs

The pack of cape hunting dogs are here with us again this month, the puppies are growing fast and are now participating in hunting. This critically endangered species’ numbers have dwindled to less than 120 in the Kruger National Park and the global population is being decimated by the pressures of an ever increasing human population. The future of this animal and his species is on a knife edge and unless we conserve the last of the wild lands in Africa they will fade into extinction.

Wild dogs
On one beautiful afternoon we followed the pack on their hunt, it was within 10 minutes of hunting when they managed to kill two young impalas.

In and around camp

In & Around Camp

The camp is filled with many different melodious sounds from the birds, crickets, frogs and cicada singing their Christmas songs. Herds of impalas, waterbucks and elephants have been giving us some ‘in lodge’ viewing.

The dominant male Dayone come pass the swimming pool on one afternoon but he was bit late as everyone has gone out for game drive.
The dominant male Dayone come pass the swimming pool on one afternoon but he was bit late as everyone has gone out for game drive.

The dominant male Dayone come pass the swimming pool on one afternoon but he was bit late as everyone has gone out for game drive.

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.

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Nhlangula – October 2012 Wildlife Journal

Inyati Game Lodge - OctoberThe weather: We have had an amazing October at Inyati – we experienced a lot of really warm days with temperatures reaching highs of 39° C but we also had a few thunder showers which have caused the vegetation to explode into summer bloom, with many trees sharing their colourful and fragrant flowers with us.

The Wildlife: We have been spoilt with many sightings of the predators, general game and bird activities. Two of our resident leopards have produced cubs and at least two lionesses from our resident prides have cubs. It’s really an exciting time in the reserve. We anticipate the arrival of many new-borns in the coming weeks; the bush will be dotted with baby impala, zebra, kudu, giraffe and other plains game. We will need more clouds to open up and wet the grounds before this happens.

Leopard (Panthera pardus)

Leopard (Panthera pardus)Leopard sightings have been remarkable this month, lots of mother and cub interactions. The highlight for me was the sighting of a Dam3 female leopard feeding on a Southern African python. The python we estimated at 3.5 metres (around 10 feet) in length and this female must have done this before; to make a kill like this requires years of experience and skill.

Dayone male

Leopard (Panthera pardus)This leopard has grown to be a brave majestic mal. He has had few more territorial fights with Ndlevane male and he was able to come up stronger than the elderly male. His preferred hunting tactics often provide us with some great photographic opportunities as he often poses on top of termite mounds waiting for the warthogs to come out.

Leopard (Panthera pardus)There are few males young males venturing into the area, the territorial Dayone male is kept on his toes, he needs to mark and patrol continuesly to protect the two liters of cubs that are in his territory.

Hlabankunzi and Metsi females

Cubs - Hlabankunzi and Metsi femalesWe are delighted to report that the two mothers Hlabankunzi and Metsi have finally brought their cubs out for us to see. They both have one cub each, we are not sure of the sex yet. Their den sites are on the rocky outcrops which allow us to have great view of them without getting into their personal space. Metsi’s cub is very brave, it often approaches the vehicles and the poor mother has to constantly bring it back him.

Tlangisa female

INY Tlangisa femaleTlangisa female leopard has made an occasional appearance, she was looking her best this morning, it was so nice to see her again after a long time. We followed tracks of a pair of leopard for long distance and then located her completely out of her territory it become obvious that she was after one of the male.INY Tlangisa female

After giving up the chase of the male, Tlangisa she wondered back towards her territory and come across two hyenas and a new (unidentified) young male leopard that had a duiker carcass hoisted in the tree and the young leopard was certainly not sharing his meal. The hyenas did their best to get to the carcass and even tried to use the fallen logs as step ladder in attempt to get to the carcass (note the duiker’s leg hanging above the hyena) Tlangisa came into the area and just lay there and watched for a while before moving off.Hyena

Ravenscourt female

This female continues to come deeper into our traversing area; she is normally resident across our eastern boarders. On one evening we followed her out hunting she was really determent to make a kill for herself and cub but when we left for our dinner she still haven’t caught anything and we could locate her the next morning.INY Ravenscourt female

Lion (Panthera leo)

Let’s face it; it would be bigger news if lions were NOT seen at Inyati lodge. Well, that certainly wasn’t the news this month.

INY Selati coalition and Othawa pride

Selati coalition and Othawa pride

The Selati males spent most of the month trailing either Othawa lionesses or Ximhungwe pride, which has given the buffalo a bit of a break from these killer cats.

INY Selati coalitionAt least two lionesses of Othawa pride have given birth, and after a brief sighting of the lionesses with cubs in the sand river, we closed the area to game drives to avoid any pressure on her and her offspring.

She has been seen several times on her hunting forays and appeared to be heavy with milk, which is a good sign.

Unfortunately that seems to have all changed and it appears that one of them have lost her cubs as she was seen mating with the Selati male.

Ximhungwe pride

The Selati males were seen crossing the Sand River on one evening in search of buffaloes they seems so determent to find food; so much for the hunt we found them the next morning lying happily among the Ximhungwe lionesses.

INY Ximhungwe prideWell, what can we say -there are priorities in life.

And by the afternoon there was mating going on. One of the lionesses, the short tail female have given birth in a secluded den site on the hill top of a rocky outcrop, we await patiently our first view of the cubs.

Elephant (Loxodonta africana)

This was another month of the elephant and multitudes of these large grey mammals we seen throughout the area, some in breeding herds, bachelor herds and lone bulls.INY Elephant (Loxodonta africana)

We have had frequent sightings of this one particular bull with both his tusks half broken in the lodge and on our airstrip. This individual male was rather friendly he would happily leave the lodge when ask to but we had hard time keep him out, as he kept coming back to destroy this in the lodge.INY Elephant (Loxodonta africana)

Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer)

We have had on a few sighting of the large herd of buffalo this month. With the rains there are plenty of grasses and water for them, they traverse the whole reserve even areas that they would normally avoid because of lack of rivers or dams. There are lots of small herd of bull and lone spread around the reserve.INY Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer)

On one cloudy morning we came across a ”Dagga boy” (old buffalo bull) that gave us an evil eye. It was a good place to if you are buffalo because at mere 900 metres the renowned buffalo hunters, the Selati males were resting for the day.

INY Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer)More than the big five…..

More than the big five.....

Inyati is teeming with wildlife again; viewing of general game has been particularly good, with the numbers of zebra and wildebeest sightings increasing from the previous month.

INY Plains gameIt’s not all about big elephant and large male lion! We often remind our guests that the experience here is also about appreciating the smaller fauna such as frogs and birds, and being absorbed by the particularly stunning surroundings. On one of the afternoon drive we spent about 20 minutes watching the most fascinating family of dwarf mongoose foraging on the ground with one on the branch watching out for predators.

Dwarf mongoose

We have also been experiencing large concentrations of giraffe in the area, most probably due to the surrounding trees which are all sprouting new growth. It is amazing to watch the journeys of giraffe move elegantly through the area and how they drink, they always approach the water cautiously and then splay their long legs and drink with a watchful eye out for predators.

In and around camp

The Camp itself continues to be a magnet for various species of mammals and birds. The sightings this month have been really extraordinary. Seen from the lodge was a family of elephant walk silhouetted against the glowing orange sky. Our resident hippos herd have been entertaining as they came out to feed on our lawn at night.Elephant in Camp

And while enjoying our high tea just before one of the afternoon drives Dayone male leopard came strolling through the lodge in patrol of his territory.Leopard patrolling the lodge

The animals in the Sabi Sand Reserve are named after their territories. The predators have been given names and the guides and trackers know the animals according to the names they have given them.

Sabi Sand Pfunanani Trust

Sabi Sand WildtuinINTRODUCTION
Many Sabi Sand Wildtuin members have been involved in development initiatives working in the neighbouring communities for many years and what has already been achieved through their efforts is remarkable. To unlock the potential of a more coordinated, strategic approach, the Sabi Sand Pfunanani Trust (SSPT) was established as a joint venture of all the existing agencies (lodges and NGOs). This collaborative trust provides an opportunity to align and maximise these efforts to achieve greater impact. NGO organisations which are part of our collaboration include Africa Foundation, Buffelshoek Trust, Chitwa Trust, Good Work Foundation, Virgin’s Pride ‘n Purpose, the Singita Foundation and the former Pfunanani Trust which has now been incorporated as the central body. Participating lodges who are involved in community development work include Leopard hills, Lion Sands, Londolozi, Sabi Sabi and Savanna Game Lodge. By aligning the combined efforts towards a common vision, the promise of meaningful change through progressive development can be realized.

The needs of the communities are immense and they face a multitude of challenges. Aid
intervention alone would not be able to meet all the needs, but can be a catalyst for meaningful community development. In this regard the Sabi Sand Pfunanani Trust has identified three focus areas which are:
1. Environment – including water, conservation, biodiversity, sustainable use, ecosystem
services, sanitation etc.;
2. Education – including schooling, youth development, skills and capacity building
3. Entrepreneurship – including income generation and inclusion of communities in the
tourism value chain and other opportunities in the wildlife economy
Within these focus areas we have selected a small number of priority projects which we are actively supporting at present and are endeavouring to raise funds for.

BENEFICIARIES

The activities of the trust take place in Bushbuckridge municipal area. Activities span 17 rural villages with approximately 91000 people. The beneficiaries are from under privileged and disadvantaged communities. Community participation in projects is essential and we work closely with community members and leadership to identify and shape projects.

GOVERNANCE

A core principal of SSPT is that beneficiaries receive the maximum possible benefit and that shrinkage in the delivery process is minimised. To this end, internal governance processes strictly regulate the use of funds and project resources are carefully monitored and evaluated to ensure the most efficient use thereof. Donor reporting is comprehensive and detailed. A code of transparency and honesty are non-negotiable in all dealings. Our members have extensive experience in successful project implementation and a strong track record of outstanding delivery.

CURRENT PROJECTS UNLOCKING THE POTENTIAL OF OUR YOUTH – COLUMBA LEADERSHIP

The Columba Leadership youth leadership program which is aimed at unlocking the potential of the youth and has produced an exponentially positive affect in many of the areas it has been run. It is the Columba and SSPT team’s goal to run a program in each of the main villages neighbouring the Sabi Sand Wildtuin. This will entail running a further 15 programs in the next 3 years. The vision is to build a movement for responsible leadership amongst South African youth by developing young people who are socially and environmentally conscious and active who lead through service. Aiming to help shift the social perception of the role of young people in public life and to and help resolve the social exclusion of youth. The Columba approach uses experiential learning of values to empower young people to make the right choices in life and to elevate their ideals above pure self-interest. They learn to care for themselves, their schools and communities and the environment. The young leaders are equipped with skills for learning, skills for life and skills for work and they become role models of engaged citizens in depressed areas where there is little hope. The program works with 12 young people (selected based on their commitment to building a better society) with 3 senior educators at a quality Lodge in attractive natural surroundings for 6 days using experiential learning and lessons from nature, history and culture to show how every human being has greatness in them and can be a leader if they understand values. A highly skilled team of facilitators run the Academies.

In return for the privilege our graduates are challenged to recruit their friends and use peer/social networks and partnerships with their educators to drive positive change. Their value system and civic engagement experience significantly improves confidence and efficacy enhancing their employability and/or equipping them to become successful entrepreneurs. In many cases our graduates have started social enterprises in their schools.

To date more than 300 young leaders from 17 disadvantaged schools all over South Africa have graduated from the academy and are making a real difference. The first program in Bushbuckridge was run at Manyangana High School in the North last year. The program has continued to deliver excellent outcomes with recent matric prelim results released by the Manyangana High School in the North increasing from 50% to a hitherto unseen 82%. The school principal attributes the change entirely to the Columba program and speaks enthusiastically of the positive initiatives being planned and implemented by the students themselves.

A HIGH SCHOOL CAMPUS IN HUNTINGTON VILLAGE
The Huntington community development forum made an appeal to SSPT for assistance with building a high school in their community. At present there is no high school at Huntington and students have to attend school at Mabarule village. Mabarule High School is overcrowded and unable to cope with over 1400 students attending school there. The department of education has given the community their agreement to support the establishment of a high school facility at Huntington and to provide teachers and operational resources if the community can find a sponsor for the necessary infrastructure. Initially 415 students would attend at Huntington and this will be grown over time. The school would need 5 classrooms, an admin building, toilets and fencing.
Local builders will be used for the project to provide short term employment during the
construction. The tribal authority has said they will make land available for the school. The SSPT management committee is of the opinion that this is a project that should be supported and the SSPT is endeavouring to help the community raise the R3m of funds needed to build the school.
Subject to funding being obtained there is also the opportunity to establish a satellite of the Good Work Foundation digital learning centre at the school to enrich the education services. This will provide English and computer tuition to school and adult learners as well as offering management support to the school educators. Local people will be trained and employed to run the program.
The cost of establishing this facility would be R650k and thereafter R180k per annum.