Meercat leopard!!

May 2013 Safari Journal

Mudyaxihi / May The weather: We can feel the early morning chill as winter is creeping in the back door. The afternoon thunderstorms that were so frequent last month seem to have rumbled and grumbled off elsewhere and we have enjoyed very welcoming blue skies and the warmth of the African sun.  

WildebeestWildlife: Wildlife sightings as usual have been terrific, most game drives have been richly rewarded with large buffalo herds, hippos in large rafts of about twenty, plus cats and birds galore. Large breeding herds of elephant have also moved back into our area along with large numbers of giraffe, both with some young additions to their families.

LEOPARD (PANTHERA PARDUS)

KHASHANE MALE AND DAYONE MALE

Khashane male These two leopards have been giving each other a grief. Dayone had managed to keep way all of the young males that have been encroaching into his territory, the likes of Nyeleti, Mashabeni, and Tai-dam male.

Just like wise man once said “After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb” (Nelson Mandela). Just when Dayone male thought he is about to have the whole territory to himself the enormous Khashane male begins to push further west into Dayone’s territory. So far the dispute ends on 24-48 hours of walking parallel and growling at each other. The road ahead is looking rather hard-hitting for both of our beloved male leopards and of course we will keep you updated of the development.

Khashane male (above) is older and larger than Dayone male (below) but he doesn’t seem intimidated by him.

Dayone male HLABANKUNZI AND CUB

Hlabankunzi And CubThese two leopards remain the most viewed in the area even though there are several other relaxed leopards in the reserve. One can understand if you spent few minutes with this mother and cub, they just full of energy and very playful. They also seem to enjoy being photographed as they often perch with a pose on termite mounds, rocks or fallen branches.

Meercat leopard!!  Meercat leopard!!  The two leopards had killed a common duiker; while the cub was feeding a pair of steenbok came pass the area. The mother leopard got up gave us this ‘meercat stance’ to have a better look she then started stalking and killed one of them.

 METSI FEMALE

The seldom seen Metsi and her cub were spotted several times during the month of this report; the cub is becoming confident in her hunting skills.

Metsi and her cub
We witnessed extraordinary sighting, the cub heard something in the grass went to investigate. We then heard some hissing, the cub jumped away and the mother leopard come to rescue. We initially thought it was a rock monitor lizard but soon discovered that it was a huge snake of about 4 metres long – an African rock python. The leopard started attacking the snake it was a big battle that lasted over 20 minutes but finally the leopard overpowered the snake, killed and ate it over a two day period.

Metsi and her LION (PANTHERA LEO)

SELATI COALITION

Selati CoalitionThese males have been very active throughout the month moving great distances covering every corner of their territory. It could because of the recent encounters they had with Manjingelane coalition of  male lions, but it could also be that they have pick up scent of the new pride(southern) frequenting the area.

LION (PANTHERA LEO)

We often seen and heard the males in different areas of the reserve.  We watched this Male roaring in cold misty morning possible looking for other members of his coalition. 

Selati male lionOne of the Selati male lion has fresh wounds, we are not sure what happened. He could have met the Manjingelane males again. The boys may have fought among themselves as there is a lioness of Othawa pride that is in oestrous and they have been taking turns in mating with her.

SOUTHERN PRIDE

Southern PrideThis beautiful pride has 11 members at moment. They are rather nomadic they have been coming more and more into the western sector and every time they come in they stay bit longer in the area. We have seen them trailing the large herd of buffalo, and made few attempts with no success, they did however kill a large kudu eventually.

OTHAWA PRIDE

It’s been long waiting! The pride has finally brought out the cubs for us all to see. We had our first proper sighting of the prides’ new litter at the beginning of the month. There are eight cubs in total, and it looks like two litters of four but we have been unable to sex them thus far.Othawa Pride

The lionesses killed a zebra and brought out the cubs to carcass and the 8 new cubs were very excited to have one of their first hard meal.

We also got to see the little cubbies crossing the sand river which is full crocodile fortunately they all made it across.Cubs crossing the sand river

And a little dispute between two sister lions, the lioness with no cubs have been acting rather strange, she been unfriendly to her two sisters and their cubs. The fight started as play fight of which she initiated and she just went mad started hitting and biting hard and then there was a war. Fortunately the fight only lasted a minute or so with only few minor bleeding wounds on the mother lion.Sisters in battle

ELEPHANT (LOXODONTA AFRICANA)

ELEPHANT (LOXODONTA AFRICANA)

The elephant viewing this month has not been as great as we are use to, however we have had some great bachelor herd sightings. One morning we were privileged enough to be charged by a baby of about 2 years. He was determined to see our vehicle drive off he put on such a show by flapping the ears, shaking of trunk and even trumpeting. He was disappointed when the Land Rover didn’t move he then ran back to the shelter of mum who thankful was totally ignoring his antics

CAPE BUFFALO (SYNCERUS CAFFER)

CAPE BUFFALO (SYNCERUS CAFFER)The large buffalo herd have graced us with their visit on number of occasions this month. It’s always a great sight to watch this massive herd of rushing down to a water hole as if they haven’t had a drink for months. We have also had new herd of buffalo consisting of about 300 animals on our traversing area for two weeks. This herd seem to have come from the far east of Kruger national park.

More than the big five…..

 GiraffeOne of the highlights during the month was to watch the a baby giraffe take its first step ever. We arrived just few minutes after the baby was dropped and we watched the mother dry it and encourage it to stand up, it took about 15 minutes then with a wobble the  baby managed to stand up. It was very interesting to watch how the mother used her front legs to support the calf.

We even got see mother giraffe eat her own afterbirth, a behaviour practise by many mammals referred as   placentophagy or placentophagia. There are a few reasons for this behaviour; the placenta is full of nutrients which re-energize the mother after the very taxing ordeal of labor. It eliminates the strong smell of blood which may draw predators from all around to their new baby and If left can become perfect hosts to a wide variety of disease.(note the picture below)GiraffeThe hyena den site have been providing some excellent sightings of late, there are also two new cubs in the clan, very inquisitive and so cute.Hyena pupIN AND AROUND CAMP

African Fish EagleSome of Most of our feathered friends have left for their summer visits Europe and Northern Africa; but our garden is not left empty. The African Fish Eagle (Haliaeetus vocifer), Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill (Tockus leucomelas) , Malachite Kingfisher (Alcedo cristata), the Purple-crested Turaco (Tauraco porphyreolophus) and the Yellow-throated Longclaw (Macronyx croceus), to name but a few that still capture our attention with their awe striking colours.

Southern Yellow-billed HornbillElephants, leopards, nyala and bushbuck are amongst the few animals that one sees as you walk around the lodge area.

IN AND AROUND CAMPThat’s all from us this month. We thank you for spending few moments with us in the wilderness, sharing our experiences and joining our adventures. We are committed to keep you updated. Please follow our Facebook page for daily updates.

This month’s sightings report compiled by Khimbini Hlongwane