January ’15 Field Guide Report by Matt
There still hasn’t been a drop of rain. Only the most stubborn of mud wallows still has water and most of the reserve is dry. The crests between the drainage lines are always the first to show the signs of drying out and the bush is not as thick as it could be. It is still really green though and the animals have been out in full force. The dryness of the bush has caused the animals to cling to the water sources and so we have had all the animals taking an early pilgrimage. The young elephants don’t mind and we have seen them frolicking in the shallows.
Huge herds of buffalo and the odd cheetah have been coming into the south of the reserve and for about two weeks the wild dogs have been around making all the bushbuck and impala rethink the lifestyle the river offers.
The Majingies and the Othawa’s have seemingly moved onto the next stage of their relationship, not that I’m anthropomorphizing the situation at all. The lions have been seen everywhere together and the four brothers have been following the Othawas everywhere they go.
The Xhimungwes have remained ever elusive from the male lions and while they have been around they have kept to the central to western part of our traverse. The sub-adults are getting big now and I hope that the young females are accepted by the males.
So Hlaba Nkunzi has not been around for a while as she has moved east to accommodate the Schotia female her last offspring. The update from the eastern reserve is that she has a new cub with its sibling having been killed by hyenas. On our side though we have been seeing Schotia, Xhikavi and Tlangisa with fair regularity and they have been giving us some good viewing by making plenty of kills and putting them in trees for us. Dewane has decided he wants more of Nyeleti’s territory and he has been camping on the eastern side of the camp waiting for Nyeleti. The two had a tense stand-off over an impala kill that ended up with Nyeleti retreating. It never got physical but rather the two leopards were calling at each other at a respectful hundred meters, they salivated and looked thoroughly menacing. Tlangisa’s cubs are almost as big as she is now and they don’t know what it feels like to be hungry. She keeps them full all the time and never stops protecting them, we have seen her often putting her body on the line and has taken on three hyenas at a time.
The new sand banks that have formed on the river look great and really lend to having a great winter if we don’t get late rains, the birds are all in full breeding and the insects and butterflies are still landing from perch to perch. All the bees are full of pollen as they go out of their way to make honey, their little legs are fat with the yellow powder making them easy to see as they float about. On drinks stops we often see the fireflies floating and flitting at night adding to the starlight show.
That’s all from Matt for 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.
Regards, THE INYATI TEAM
Keith & Francis – Managers
George (Head Guide) & Solly (Tracker)
Khimbini (Senior Guide) & Rodger (Tracker)
Matthew (Senior Guide) & Nelson (Tracker)
This month’s sightings report compiled by Matthew Brennan. Photographs by Khimbini, Keith and Matthew.