The weather: Nyenyenyani / February in the heart of the Sabi Sand Game Reserve has been a month of sudden showers and spectacular sunsets, of stalking lions and stealthy leopards. Early mornings are concealed by heavy drapes of rolling mist, which gradually unfurl to reveal magical apparitions of silver cobwebs, crystal drenched grasses, dazzling zebra strips and angelic giraffes floating against the foreground of a captivated white horizon.
The mornings are warm and build up during the course of the day to allow for exquisitely timed afternoon thundershowers.
February has been an active month for predators in the Sabi sand in which Inyati Game lodge is situated. Sightings of wild dog were frequent at the beginning of the month, lions, leopards and hyenas.
General game, as always seems to be this case in this scenically attractive and productive area has been good with large herds of elephant, zebra and giraffe seen, often in mixed herds. Impala, wildebeest, warthog and waterbuck as well as a number of other species have of course been seen regularly.
LEOPARD (PANTHERA PARDUS)
This male has provided some great viewing of late with her been found with more regularity as he m move great distances covering every corner of his territory. He is reaching his prime and continues to prosper and stay in excellent health.
Hlabankunzi And Metsi Female
We hardly saw Metsi and her cub during the month of this report.
Hlabankunzi female and her cub providing the most rewarding experiences – they have been seen with kills twice this month. The cub has also taken up the habit of approaching vehicles for a closer look, and has been the subject of some pretty interesting photographs! They had a close call at one of the kill sight as the new male leopard, Nyeleti surprised them, luckily the mother managed to warn the cub it run and hide. Latter in that day he met up with the formidable Dayone who drove out of the territory.
The illusive Xikhavi killed a young impala ram and hoisted it into a Marula tree west of camp. Dayone leopard arrived the morning after and in true male leopard fashion bullied her off her hard earned meal. Luckily she had fed quite a bit prior to the theft.
LION (PANTHERA LEO)
The coalition is still going very strong in defending their territory. During the month of this report we have seen them pushing more towards the eastern section of their territory, possibly following Othawa pride.
This resulted in a territorial battle with the Manjingelane males, a coalition of four males that denominate the north-eastern of the Sabi sand game reserve. Two of the Selati males were injured in this fight, one had his bottom lip split and the other got his eye badly injured. Sadly the Selati male who got injured by buffalo who was recovering his condition have change direction, he now deteriorated, looking thin again.
After anxiously following the movements of this pride, we know that two of the three lionesses were pregnant and now believe that they both have given birth. We have yet to see the tiny scrap of spotted fur that a lion cub is during its first few days of life, but it appears from our most recent sightings that they are both lactating, a sure sign that there is a small mouth out there hungry for milk. We are waiting patiently for the mothers to introduce to cubs; hopefully we will photos to share with on the next report.
This resident pride has provided us with lots of great lion sightings during the course of the month. Having young cubs meant that they need to stay in a relatively smaller area making it easy to find them. We have had some regular sightings of them at their favourite spot where they relaxed on a large boulder, surreptitiously monitoring the movements of waterbucks who had come to the waterhole to drink.
ELEPHANT (LOXODONTA AFRICANA)
Elephants are still present in significant numbers much to the delight of guests on almost every drive. George and his guest were treated with some up close and personal experience by the relaxed herd of elephant. It all started when the young teenage boy become inquisitive approached the vehicle with his trunk raised trying to pick up our scent. The young calves become interested and also came close and of course the protective mothers had to follow their young to make sure everything was fine. At one stage the vehicle was surrounded by about 15 of these beasts. None of them showed any sign of aggression so it was wise for George not to start the engine and disturb them but rather let them satisfy their curiosity.
We also had awesome sighting of two young bulls play fighting as the other animals were drinking. As the one gave up the fight the other mounted him as a sign of showing dominance.
CAPE BUFFALO (SYNCERUS CAFFER)
During February our resident herd of buffalo was seen only couple of occasions. This herd numbers approximately 500 animals has spent most of this month in central Sabi Sand out of our traversing area, moving little, probably because the herd has been calving and food, water availability.
Groups of “dagga boy” old buffalo bulls have always been there to help our guest completing the big five.
More than the big five…..
The pack of cape hunting dogs was back in our traversing area again. They spent a few days in the south and to our astonishment swam across the Sand River to the north where they spent another week providing us with some fantastic viewing.
Few hyenas and over 800 vultures came out to scavenge on wildebeest carcass the Selati males killed on one morning. It was awesome to see the interaction between these animals, interesting to see the packing order within these different species of vulture.
IN AND AROUND CAMP
The resident hippo family have been forever entertaining by the causeway, their grunting, honking and snorting sounds is heard the whole day and night.
The camp is kept alive by bird’s songs with mocking squawks of Arrow-marked Babblers and raucous calls of Lilac-breasted Rollers engaged in a heated debate as they tumble through the air. And shrill alarm calls of Blacksmith lapwing shriek out from the water hole.