Category Archives: Wildlife Sightings

December 2013 Bush journal

Elephant crossingN’wendzamhala Weather:

It has rained a great deal and we got 100mm in a few days. This caused the river to swell nicely and the northern section of the reserve was closed off for a bit. As soon as the levels were just passable we crossed the causeway to head north which raised a few pulses on the game viewer. We were however rewarded with the Hukumuri female, one Selati male and a group of buffalo all in the same sighting. We really got some great interaction here, watching the dynamic between the different animals.

LionFirstly the lion was on his own and so his interest in the buffalo was superficial, as he quietly observed looking for any possible opportunity to exploit he preferred to keep himself hidden from the group. The group of buffalo then started reacting to something. Immediately we noticed that there attention wasn’t aimed at the lion. The buffalo had stood up and were looking in an easterly direction, ears pointed forward, and there whole bodies were focused on this new threat. We noticed the female leopard as she stood up on a rock next to a tree, which she knew was her best defence against the buffalo. She stood with her tail erect and made her easy to see, like she was teasing the buffalo. I’m quite sure the leopard was unaware of the lion through all of this. The buffalo decided it was time to move on and slowly drifted away while the leopard started walking and marking territory by spraying urine on leaves along her path. She then climbed a fallen over marula tree, the male lion was walking in the direction and as soon as the leopard saw him, she bounded out of the area and out of sight. This sighting portrayed the subtle and overt dynamics of superiority and dominance with these apex predators and buffalo.

Cats:

Xikhavi and DewaneXhikavi: It is unconfirmed yet and we are still holding out for a miracle, but we think that the other cub is dead. Xhikavi has been in the area calling for her cub for about two weeks and recently she has been seen mating with Dewane. Leopards have a high mortality rate in the infant stage, hopefully Xhikavi has another litter as we are hoping she will get it right eventually and there can be other leopards as beautiful as her. Interestingly about cats is that when they lose their cubs, they come back into cycle within a few months. So if she has lost her last cub we can expect her to start mating properly in the next few months, something I’m quite interested in is whether she repeats her behaviour with regards to birth and storing of th e cubs, like will she use the same den sites or choose new ones? When we get to spend so much time with these cats it makes us curious as to what is intelligence or instinct?

LeopardOn a more exciting note, Hlabankunzi’s cub and metsi’s cub are now old enough to warrant their own names. Coming of age is a big deal, the opportunity to go out into the world and stand on your own two feet. With us you might get a car, or have a celebration or get jewellery from your parents. With leopards the females get given a portion of their mother’s territory and a name. Sometimes the two are synonymous, Hlabankunzi’s cub is now known as the Scotia female named after where she has been around the last month or so and Metsi’s cub is called Boulder’s female for the self-same reason. Male leopards tend to be chased far away by the territorial males of an area. We wish these two all the best for the future and can’t wait to be a part of their exciting adventure. Interestingly about leopards and their territories is that both males and females have territories, with females territories being smaller than the males and one male territory overlaps and encompasses several territories. The territories are not set and often move and drift based on competition amongst the different members and are always subject to change.

StalkerXhimungwe’s: We had a scare with three of the cubs from this pride as two males from the south had chased them into the north and for quite a few days they were missing. Thankfully one pleasant morning we came around the corner and saw them with the rest of the pride and had eaten with their mother’s during the evening and so they were looking happy with themselves.

Pride rockOthawa’s: They have been absent for most of the month in the Othawa concession, but we have been getting regular updates on them, also they are currently back on the property and seem to be well.

Selati’s: These males have been here, there and everywhere the last few weeks and have been roaring up a storm. The presence of intruding males on their territory has got them going bit. At the moment they are fat and contented after a buffalo feast that they picked off from the big herd that has been on our property from time to time. These males are doing well and have lots of cubs, their main function at the moment is to keep all competing males out of the area. They are regularly patrolling and scent marking in order to maintain dominance in the area. While the cubs from the two prides are close to a year old, they are still vulnerable and if the males lose their territory then we can expect the new lions to kill these cubs in order to bring the females into cycle and so they can start breeding. Male lions have quite a short life cycle of about 10 years and so they can’t afford to wait for the old cubs to reach maturity.

Cheetahs and Wild Dogs: we have seen our pack a few times, with them taking advantage of the young impala’s which make for an easy meal; the 6 pups are really doing well and are growing at a rapid rate. The fact that they started moving with the pack the moment the lambs started appearing is no coincidence and it has given them the best advantage to make it to adulthood. Also there is a young male cheetah that has been about on the property and it has made itself a firm favourite amongst guides because of his relaxed nature around the vehicles and his tendency to always be busy at something.

CheetahIn general there have been plenty of elephants although that is what we have come to suspect of Sabi Sand, there has been a high percentage of bulls in musth which makes for exciting game viewing. Ele baby

 

There have been a really high number of giraffe and zebra which is also nice and plenty of general antelope like impala’s and waterbuck. The beautiful carmine bee-eaters are back which has put a lot of colour into the air. Also every pan and every wallow is filled with the chorus of mating frogs which sometimes can be deafening; the bush can be quite a noisy place and it can be difficult to let the guests know just what is making all the racket in the first place.

Safari ChristmasThat’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.
Regards,

THE INYATI TEAM

Keith & Francis – Managers
George (Head Ranger) & Solly (Tracker)
Khimbini (Senior Ranger) & Richard (Tracker)
Matthew (Senior Guide) & Nelson (Tracker)

This month’s sightings report compiled by Matthew Brennan

November 2013 Bush journal & update by Matthew Brennan

grey-headed kingfisher

Inyati WeatherWeather: The rains are upon us. It has been quite a wet season so far with hardly a day gone by this month without any rain. This has been a blessing on two fronts as the usual November  heat has been dissipated and the bush is green, lush and interspersed with all the colours of the flowers and birds. The river regularly flows over the wall of our causeway and makes for a breath-taking few seconds driving across it.

Wildlife: The bush has had an influx of young. The impala are perfect miniatures of their mother’s which offer great opportunities for guests taking photos and predators feeding. The migrating birds are back and the breeders are in full plumage; at this time of year it is all about the colours of the bush.Impala lamb Leopard Panthera pardus

Dayone: This beautiful cat has seen a few times in the last month, it hasn’t been too often but to be fair there has been so many leopard sightings that we haven’t had much need to track him. He has been seen patrolling his usual routes and maintaining his dominance within his territory. Panthera pardusHlabaNkunzi and her cub:HlabaNkunzi and her cubHlabaNkunzi has been seen mating over the last while with a few leopards in the area; as such it appears that she is slowly starting to cede some of her territory to her cub. Her cub is really taking her change of circumstance well and is adjusting to the new role in her life.   The cub has been seen hunting and there are rumours that she has made a few kills. She has been a bit overly ambitious and got chased up a tree by a warthog once and screeched at by a white-tailed mongoose which she promptly let go.HlabaNkunziXhikavi:

Unfortunately we can confirm that one of the two new cubs was killed, either by baboons or dayone in the area. She has moved her den most likely because of the incident. Hopefully the remaining cub will keep hidden until it is able to look after itself.

Xhikavi and cubDam 3 Female:

She has been found regularly with a cub about 4 months old. While the mother herself is pretty skittish the cub is very relaxed around vehicles and is helping us keep Dam 3 in the area and not have her bolt off.

Lions Panthera leo

Selati malesSelati:

All three brothers have been seen with the one Othawa female and have been taking it in turns to mate with her. They have looked really skinny but for them it is a matter of priority with regards to mating or feeding. Surely when she passes through this cycle the males will return to their usual well fed selves.

Selati & OthwaOthawa’s:

The two mothers have been working hard to keep all the young ones alive and recently they have kept a nyala bull alive on a hunt so that the cubs could learn to make their own kills. Two of the cubs are very adventurous and are often not with their brothers and sisters, which always raises alarm bells with the rangers but as soon as we lose all hope they appear from some adventure or other no worse for the wear.

OthawasXimungwe’s:

This pride had a windfall recently when a bull rhino killed a female rhino in a mating incident. The pride got to share the carcass with an apparent million blow flies and made their life really difficult. Other than that they are doing well and keeping to the south of our property.

Elephant Elephantidae

ElephantidaeThere are a lot of elephants on the property at the moment and following the herds is a high number of bulls with a large majority of bulls being in musth, which has made for a few interesting drives and a few raised pulses. There have been a few births as well and so we get to see the parenting skills of these great animals, with all the members of the herds taking part. Recently we saw a whole herd lie in the road and go to sleep during the day.

Of other things:

Halcyon leucocephala

The grey-headed kingfisher is an insect-eating kingfisher with a silvery-grey head, nape and breast and a distinctive chestnut belly . The wing primaries are black, while the secondaries and the tail are cobalt-blue . The straight, dagger shaped bill is bright orangey-red . Although the sexes are alike in appearance, immature birds tend to be duller and have a blackish bill and dark barring across the chest .

There have been two spectacular sightings that come to mind, first is the grey-headed kingfisher which is a rarity for the area and secondly a trumpeter hornbill. There are the more common yet no less spectacular birds like the red-headed weaver, white storks and Southern Carmine bee-eater which is so loved that it gets the deserved attention from the rangers.

In conclusion:

The bush has always something to offer just sometimes it has more to offer than others, and just like all the animals are benefiting from the rain and the rewards it creates and stimulates, so do we as the privileged few benefit. This is certainly the time of abundance and it would be remiss to not take full advantage of the situation.cheetah on our plainsThat’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.

Regards, THE INYATI TEAM

Keith & Francis – Managers
George (Head Guide) & Solly (Tracker)
Khimbini (Senior Guide) & Richard (Tracker)
Matthew (Senior Guide) & Nelson (Tracker)

This month’s sightings report compiled by Matthew Brennan

 

October 2013 Safari Journal

OctoberThe weather: We have had an amazing Nhlangula / October at Inyati. The comfortable September weather is a distant memory and is replaced by the hot, dry days that give October its reputation as the warmest month of the year. We have experienced quite a few warm days with temperatures reaching highs of 44° c. With the heat we had a few sensational afternoon thunder showers which have caused the trees to burst into bloom.

Wildlife: The month of October often brings about change in the African wilderness – Inyati, Sabi Sand game reserve has been no exception. Game viewing has been astonishing. The predators have been all out and entertaining and general game has been excellent , with congregations of giraffe, buffalo, impala, kudus, wildebeests and waterbuck around the reserve.

 Leopard (Panthera pardus)

Dayone male

Dayone leopardIt’s a privilege to be able to watch these animals grow. This male is in great condition and really looking magnificent. He still walks all day covering great distances marking and patrolling his massive territory. He was also seen mating with Hlabankunzi female for few days during the month of this report.

Dayone maleHlabankunzi and cub

Dayone maleThis great mother leopard very seldom interacts with the cub now. She still takes her to the kills she makes every now and then but doesn’t stay there with her. She killed an impala one morning, hoisted it in a tree just off our airstrip and a male lion walked past only about 200 hundred metres away without seeing or smelling the kill.

Xikhavi female

Xikhavi femaleFinally! We get the first glimpse of Xikhavi’s cubs on drive this month. The cubs are very relaxed even approached close to the vehicles; mum did keep them in line and close to the den site. She constantly had to carry these little cubbies back in the den where as they were happy to explore the world.

(Thanks to Mr Frank Maroschek, our long time regular guest for this wonderful picture)

 Tlangisa f emale

This beautiful young leopard  have been scarce of recent month, a few times this month she did however came out of the thick vegetated north-western corner of the reserve but she still refuses to show us her cub or cubs. Tlangisa female

Tlangisa female with EllieLion (Panthera leo)

We have been spoilt with many sightings of the two of our resident pride of lions; they have been found frequently. They have been successful with hunting and our guests have been very lucky to see these lions hunting and feeding on a couple of occasions.

Selati Coalition

Sadly the formidable four – Selati male coalition – known for defeating the Magogo coalition is now down to three. One of the males has passed on after battling for over eight months from the internal damage caused by a buffalo hitting him. He was found dead east of our boundaries, we are not sure how he died but there is a theory that he was finished off by another buffalo.Selati male RIP

Othawa pride

This pride continues to thrive, they have been extremely successful in their hunts and the cubs are growing by day. One of the lionesses was mating again this time she was with the large of the Selati males.

Othawa prideThe lionesses lost few of their kills to the selati male, which we followed hunting on one afternoon. They caught a young male nyala before they could tuck in and eat their kill the dominant selati male was there to claim it.

Othawa eatingOn another occasion Othawa pride had some luck again. The pride was lazing on the banks of the sand river when the wild dogs caught a nyala ewe within earshot. The lions were off in an instant and quickly chased the dogs off the Nyala that was still kicking.
A battle then broke out between the lionesses…. The tug of war lasted into the night. There was a lot of fighting but hardly any eating. These loud growls did not go unnoticed… the Selati male come running into the scene for some share of the carcass, he took no time to steal the kill from the lioness. He was able to keep his two brothers at bay as well. When we left he was still finishing off his spoils. Othawa killOthawa kill 2Othawa kill 3

Ximhungwe pride

We didn’t see much of this pride this month as they spent most of the time to the South and East, but all three females and the six cubs are doing well and are still making regular kills. Every dog has its day! We watched the pride hunting they and they had an amazing opportunity to pull down a wildebeest. As the image depicts the lionesses were on top of the herd before they could sprint off. The wildebeest that was about to have its rump slapped managed kicked the lioness under the jaw and actually stunned the cat long enough to escape.

Ximhungwe pride

Ximhungwe pride2Elephant (Loxodonta africana)

Large breeding herds, bachelor herds and some single bull elephants are a common sighting along and around the sand river. We have enjoyed numerous herds of these gentle beasts and their young ones continuously parading through camp and along the sand river. There are few new add ons to the herd at the moment.  It’s very exciting to see these cute little guys run behind their protective mothers. ElephantCape buffalo (Syncerus caffer)

The big herds are still visiting the area and bachelor groups were seen all around the property and in the lodge area enjoying the thicker green grass.  Some new big herds of buffalo,  ranging between two hundred and five hundred animals were found along various plains and the river. The lions have been taking advantage of the situation sneaking in catching unsuspecting young and old individuals.Cape buffalo More than the big five…..

Two crocodiles were found fighting close to camp. We suspect it might be a male chasing off an inquisitive intruder from a nest site. A smaller individual that we presume is the female was constantly hovering close to the battle whilst her man had the intruder clasped in his jaws. CrocodylinaeAn ostrich gave us a surprise visit, very exciting! This was one of the only two sightings we had in over 10 years in the western sector of Sabi Sand game reserve. (Thanks to Mr Frank Maroschek, our long time regular guest for this wonderful picture)Struthio camelus

In and around camp

The Camp has also been wonderfully productive, with a steady supply of elephants moving through to drink and play in the river.  Amongst few other animals that visit the lodge was the mother leopard, Xikhavi hunting impala in front of the lodge.

Xikhavi leopard

Xikhavi leopard hunting impala in front of the lodge.

 

 

 

 

September 2013 Safari Journal

The weather: Ndzhati / September saw the mercury rise steadily with midday temperatures reaching the high thirties (Celsius) and the cold winter’s mornings of June and July are  behind us. On few occasions, very light showers surprised us and grey thunderclouds threatened but brought little more than a bit of shade. The bush remains dry as a bone and very dusty indeed. The vegetation in general is much thinner now which grants us far greater visibility. The winds are blowing strong which make for some dusty, yet successful game drives.

Inyati cheetah

Wildlife: The game has been exploding out of the bush this month and the guides and guests have been notching up some incredible sightings of lion, leopard, wild dog and of some great general game.

Cape buffalo (Syncerus caf Leopard (Panthera pardus)

The leopard sightings have been prolific this month, to say the least – one group of guests recently recorded sightings of seven different leopards during their three-night stay.

Dayone male

Dayone still remains the active dominant male in our region covering every corner of the reserve. He has been hunting mostly warthog of late and getting better at killing these vicious animals. 

Dayone male leopardOne doesn’t win every day! The bemused look on his face (picture below) is due to him being bowled over by a warthog boar just prior to the photo being taken. He took some time to stake out the burrow but a large male exited and barreled straight through his attempted tackle. He had a look down the burrow hoping for an opportunity to salvage some pride but this morning belonged to the hogs.

We are not amusedTai dam male

Tai dam has settled in the north – east of our traversing area. We found him in a tree attempting to avoid his sisters persistent flirting. The Hukumuri female was waiting on the base of the marula tree, she didn’t let up but the male ignored her advances…as one should. 

Tai dam male leopard

Xikhavi female

This female leopard gave birth in the middle of this month. One evening our guests that stayed up until the next morning at Warthog Wallow (Inyati bar) got to see her carrying the cub across the lawn at the lodge. We are avoiding the area where we presume her cubs are but will post images as soon as she is happy to introduce her litter to us.

Xikhavi female leopard

 Torchwood male

A new young male leopard has strolled into the area; he was later indentified as torchwood male (New arrival Torchwood maleson of Mvula male and Inkanyeni female)  

Lion (Panthera leo)

We have had some great lion sighting! Both our resident pride and the coalition have been very active throughout the month.

Selati Coalition and Othawa pride

Three of the Selati males are often seen together constantly patrolling and marking their territory. They spent a good fair amount of time with the Othawa pride. Unfortunately the fourth male is still not doing well. He continues to lose condition due to the broken ribs and possible punched lung from when he was hit by a buffalo.   Selati Coalition male lionsRemaking the pride! The Othawa lionesses are growing the pride again. This pride was made of seventeen members few years ago and they made pulling down a buffalo look easy. We hope all the cubs make to adulthood and restore their pride.Othawa pride lionessThe Sand River has been a home for this pride lately, as this is where most of the game is concentrated while we wait for our first rains to come. Here they are proving to be very successful with their hunts and are continuously catching kudu and nyala along the banks.Khimbini on safariThe males are regularly involved in a brotherly squabble over the Othawa lioness with no cubs, whether in estrous or not the boys still fight for her.  Othawa pride On one afternoon we witnessed the lionesses hunting they made a kill just east of our airstrip, by the time selati male lion and cubs arrived there wasn’t much of impala carcass left.Selati CoalitionXimhungwe pride

The pride is moving great distances again reclaiming the large territory that they have ignored for a while as they were raising the cubs and avoiding the Selati male and Majingelane male lions.

We had an unbelievable sighting of the whole pride climbing on a large jackalberry tree. It was all well and fun as they were climbing up the tree but coming down was rather ungraceful.Ximhungwe prideOn one morning we had a once in a lifetime interaction between some of the apex predators. It all started when the pack of wild dogs killed an impala. A nearby clan of hyena responded to the alarm calls and a fight broke out between the dogs and hyenas. The dogs were able to fend off the hyenas. The dogs and hyenas then trotted to a nearby pan where they came upon the Ximhungwe pride and further chaos erupted. We now had dogs chasing hyenas, lion chasing dogs, lion chasing hyena and so it when on for about half an hour.Cape hunting dogs

Lioness vs cape hunting dogThis hyena strolled past the lioness in the background without seeing them. She did get the fright of her life once they charged her though.Hyena vs lioness

Elephant (Loxodonta africana)

Massive herds of elephant, typical for this time of year, have been spotted roaming the reserve this month, feeding on the rich abundance of foliage which starts to appear around this time of year. The Sand River has been dotted with many large breeding herds of elephant, providing us with some great viewing even from the lodge. There are also many lone bachelor bulls around the reserve.Elephant (Loxodonta africaCape Buffalo (Syncerus caffer)

We have had couple of large herds of these great animals in our area during the month of this report. The one herd seen at dam five was very large estimated to be over six hundred animals in it. We sat there for about half hour more and buffaloes just kept coming.Cape buffalo (Syncerus cafMore than the big five…..

We have had a mother cheetah and two cubs in our traversing area for couple of weeks providing some great sighting as she hunted successfully on almost every second day.cheetah

Inyati cheetah

Cape hunting dogs are back – They are still denning in our traversing area and we can now confirm that the pack have grown by six members. The little puppies are about eight weeks old and growing fast. They are eating meat now; the pack has to kill at least twice a day to keep full and healthy. It is special treat to see the excitement by the little ones as they beg food to be regurgitated to them by the adults.wild dog pups

It is time for new life in the bush some of our lucky guests got to see a new born giraffe! I believe it was only few hours old; it was still very wobbly on its legs, with the umbilical cord still attached. The mother giraffe was very alerts at all time and attentive, she was constantly licking the calf on the face as if she was reassuring it that all was okay.

 Giraffe babyIn and around camp

Xikhavi female have been seen in and around the lodge often. One evening she killed an impala just outside the boma while guests are enjoying their dinner. She then dragged the carcass and hoisted in a tree just outside rooms 10 and 11. 

Kill in camp The heavily pregnant and very well fed Xikhavi female will often take some time out and lay next to the swimming pool in the cool evenings.Visitor at poolThere is never a shortage of elephants near the lodge especially in winter months as they come for the greener foliage in and around the lodge.Lodge activity

August Safari Journal2013

Mhawuri

MhawuriThe weather:  August is the month on the cusp between our winter and spring, where the evenings are cool, chilly even and the days varying between warm, to almost hot even and other days with coolness borne on the southerly wind.                      

Wildlife: The wildlife viewing has been of an excellent standard this month. Warmer afternoons were accompanied by an increase in fantastic sightings. Barely an afternoon passed without a predator sighting and the Sabi Sand’s countless elephants provided much entertainment almost every day.

Leopard (Panthera pardus

Dayone Male

Dayone maleDayone male leopard is looking great at the moment and he is been actively marking and patrolling his territory. He seemed to be on the search for the Nyeleti male who has been sneaking into his territory. It was really a very busy month for him as he was seen mating with Metsi female and then he was mating with both Metsi and Hlabankunzi female at the same time. After four days Metsi left the two of them. Once Metsi was gone the mating resumed beyond the norm and they were copulating at about every 5 minutes , lasting longer than a good five days.

Dayone male mating

Nyeleti Male

This male is known for killing the Ravenscourt female and he is still determined to find a territory this month. He has been covering great distance and appears to be on the trail of Hlabankunzi female and cub, however with no success. One morning we saw Nyeleti male trying to get to the Ravenscourt young male who he followed deep into the western sector, luckily for the young leopard,  he was denied access by Selati male who was resting under a tree that the young leopard was in.  Nyeleti male

Later in the month the Nyeleti male was reported to have had a fight with Khashane male and was displaying a few minor wounds including cuts on his ears, which were evidence of the battle.  Nyeleti male scrapes

Hlabankunzi and Cub

Hlabankunzi has been spending time away from her cub. She was spent a week with Dayone male, mating. The cub is semi-independent now we have seen it hunting but haven’t witnessed a successful hunt to date. The picture below shows her leading an appreciative cub to yet another Impala kill. She has been doing well and killing often, this is evident in their condition. Even though the pack of wild dogs have “stolen” some of her kills , she is coping with the competition and threat they pose.  Hlabankunzi and cub

Xikhavi Female

This leopardess have been seen frequenting the lodge more and more often the last couple of months. So far she has been seen in the lodge area every third day or so. She is heavily pregnant she will drop anytime now.  Xikhavi female

Tlangisa Female

Exciting news!  She has given birth. We can see suckle marks which is clear indication that there is at least one little cub somewhere on the Northern-western section of the reserve where she is often seen. Now we wait for her to bring them out for us to see. Once spotted, we will share with you.  Tlangisa f emale

Lion (Panthera leo)

Lions have provided us with regular sightings this month. Two different prides and four members of the Selati males have been seen throughout the month.

Selati Coalition

Three members of the coalition are doing great often seen together hunting or patrolling their territory. The male that had injured paw has recovered well as he is able to keep with the group. Unfortunately we can’t say the same about the male with broken ribs. His condition is worsening and is he appears to be having difficulties in keeping up with any group of lions, his brother or any of the prides.  Selati Coalition

The three males killed a buffalo in the Sand river, luckily he happened to be nearby got to join in few hours later for a feed. When others left he remained at carcass finishing the scraps knowing it may be a while before he eats again.  Selati Dagga boy

Othawa Pride

This pride has provided us with some fantastic lion viewing throughout the month. The prey species have dispersed because of lack food and water and predators have to cover large areas in search for their food. This pride has been seeing hunting often along the Sand River. They have been having great success hunting and killing mostly kudus and nyalas and the cubs are looking healthy. 

The lioness with no cubs is thought to be pregnant as she was mating with the most dominant Selati male, possessive as we know him, he was hogging her. The other sisters were denied access to her; the other males could not even look in her direction without him growling at them.  Othawa pride lioness

Ximhungwe Pride

The pride has been scarce for most part of the month but one of the few sightings we had of them was great. They had killed a large male kudu and the pride was feeding at the same time with fights between the cubs getting intense. The cubs are growing and their confidence in hunting is rising fast, although they are only getting in a way of their mother at the moment, they will learn.  Ximhungwe pride

Elephant (Loxodonta africana)

Elephants have arrived in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve, Inyati in force – crossing back-and-forth the Sand River, providing us with superb sightings of swimming pachyderms (nonruminant mammals). Situated just on the bank of the river our lodge has become a very popular gathering spot for these huge beasts, especially at midday when thirst drives them to drink from the waters directly in front of the lodge. 

Cape Buffalo (Syncerus caffer)

We were blessed this month with couple of the large herds each consisting of around 300 buffalo in our traversing area for almost three weeks. The herd is still in good condition despite the dryness of the grass. The groups bachelors are still spread around the property. One small group of 8 bulls spend most of their days around our causeway. Cape buffalo

More than the big five…..

As we had predicted, the resident wild dog have denned in the area. The den site was located early in the month and the roads leading to the site were closed off so as not to disturb the pack. We now wait in anticipation for the arrival of the pups in the coming months. However this did not signify the end of the wild dog sightings. Around mid-month while out on afternoon drive we found the pack and followed them. We got to witness them hunting a waterbuck. Just when the dogs were a about to pounce the young antelope ran in a dam, the dogs seemed worried about the possibility of crocodile in the dam, after few minutes of running around they moved on searching for some other antelopes. Hyena den site

A trip to the hyena den site is a real treat when staying at Inyati.  This hyena cub didn’t give its exhausted mother a seconds rest. Beautiful to see how caring a patient such fearsome predators can be.

In And Around Camp

There is seldom a moment during the day where an animal of one sort or another cannot be seen from the main lounge area or deck. With a vista to die for, the addition of a herd of elephant, a journey of giraffe, a raft of hippo or as was the case this month, the pregnant female strolling through the camp grounds. Pregnant female

Giraffe 1

This month’s sightings report compiled by Khimbini Hlongwane

July 2013 Safari Journal

Wild dog

Mawuwani / JulyThe weather: July brought with it some very chilly winter mornings and evenings but it was worth every second out there in the bush. Hot water bottles and cosy fires have been the order of the day, and blankets have been a most welcome addition to the dinner table. The vegetation continues to thin out, and every day we’re able to see further into the bush.

Mawuwani / JulyWildlife: Game viewing this month has been spectacular! Winter always provides an abundance of general game and this July has been no different. The area has been thriving with game and we are always thrilled to see the delight of our guests after experiencing everything the area has to offer.

Leopard (Panthera pardus)

Of course one cannot talk about the Inyati, Sabi sand area without bringing up leopards, the other abundant predator species here. Guests have been treated to excellent sightings of these beautiful cats.Day one male

Khashane and Dayone male

We have being seeing Khashane male more often in recent months; he was involved in yet another territorial fight with the Dayone male. It’s unclear who won the battle with both carrying large wounds yet keeping their territories.

Dayone male Early one morning we caught up with Khashane hunting, the preferred form of hunting by most large male leopard is to sit on old termite mound and wait for warthog to come out of the mound they spend the night in. The warthogs often just shot out the hole marking it bit difficult for the leopard but on this morning the experienced Khashane male had more success as he was able to bring down a large warthog which kept him well fed for few days.

Dayone male Dayone male has manage to keep Khashane male’s claws away from his face, he is looking great for a male recently involved in a territorial fight. The swollen throat and wound on his shoulder is the only indicator of how serious the battle was. We were privileged to watch him hunting impala on one afternoon, unfortunately for him the monkey on trees nearby saw him and alert everyone around that he was there.

Hlabankunzi and cub

Hlabankunzi and cubThe mother leopard has rarely been seen with her young in the last month. Her hunting outings last couple of days now possibly  hinting to the little one that it’s time to start trying to catch her own food. We did see the cub trying to hunt a slender mongoose but with no success.

Hlabankunzi and cubThe cub waited for three days for her mother to return and when she finally did the excitement was amazing, she took the cub to an impala killed she made the night before for a feast.

Tlangisa female

Tlangisa female The Tlangisa female has been out and about of late. She was being her usual self, posing on a termite mound giving us perfect photographic opportunity. We suspect she maybe pregnant this might be fuelled by hope but we will keep you posted.

Taidam male

Taidam male

The young and handsome son of Shangwa female has been seen few times north of Sand River where he seemed to have established a territory.

Lion (Panthera leo)

Selati Coalition and Othawa pride

Selati Coalition and Othawa prideThese males have been spending much of their time with the Othawa pride. They did not do much of their own hunting as we know them to rather follow the pride around helping them to eat the kill they have made. On one evening the lioness killed an impala which the males stole it . While fighting over the kill the lionesses and cubs left. It was good idea, they did manage to lose the males for couple of days but the boys got smart and they found the cubs and waited with them knowing the mothers will return at some point.

Selati CoalitionWe were sitting with the pride one morning when the lion decided to leave the cubs in the drainage line to go out hunting. As they were leaving , at distance of about 800 metres, they saw a male leopard, Tai dam who was heading in the direction of the cubs. The lionesses didn’t waste any time chasing him around they ran fast ahead of him back to move their cubs to a safe area. If he was given half a chance that male leopard would have killed those cubs just like the lion or hyena would kill the leopard but to eliminate competition for food.Selati Coalition and Othawa pride

Southern pride

This pride seemed to have split up for while and we have seen only the two young males and young lioness, the rest of the pride is possiblly in the far-east of our boundaries. We witnessed these three sub-adult tried to pull down a buffalo cow. Their optimism was only overshadowed by their lack of experience and the herd of buffalo quickly gathered and chased the lions. The little pride was still following the herd the next morning, but with slightly more respect. They have a patient and perseverance of a true hunter! They never gave up and three days later we found them feeding on a buffalo close to Newington gate.Southern pride

Elephant (Loxodonta africana)

Elephant (Loxodonta africana)The breeding herds of elephant have arrived on the Sabi Sand Reserve and most days we get see at least two breeding herds, as well as there being always a few big bulls around. The two young bulls put up a good show for us as they were pushing each other around knock over bushes, testing each other strength …Boys being boys.

Elephant (Loxodonta africana)Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer)

Cape buffaloThe large herds have been in and out of our traversing area, covering long distances to find food because it’s very dry and grass and water is scarce. The numerous small herd of just bulls have continue to help us completing the big five list.

Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus)

Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus)It’s always exciting to see the return of the rare, slender, elegant, spotted cats in our traversing area. The male provided us with a few great sightings. One morning we followed him hunting, when we left he had not killed anything but later in the afternoon he was full and resting on a termite mound. He stayed there for hours scanning the surrounding plains for possible danger.Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus)2

More than the big five…..
Two heavily pregnant wild dogs, a very unusually site! It is so true what has been said – animals don’t read the same books we do. They have surprised and excited us time and time again with their habits. Normally only the alpha pair breeds in a wild dog pack and all others only help in feeding the young. We are all hoping they den on our property it will be interesting to see if both litters will be allow to live as it been witness often the alpha female kill the puppies of the beta female.Wild dog

In and around camp

GiraffeIt is very dry here and Animals are coming more and more to the river to drink, and as a result we’ve got a plethora of animal activity in and around camp, causing much delight and interesting excursions to and from rooms! The herds of zebra, impala, giraffe and waterbuck have made the waterhole in front of the lodge at home.

Zebra

That’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

May 2013 Safari Journal

Meercat leopard!!

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

April 2013 Safari Journal

Hlabankunzi and cub

DzivamusokoThe weather:  April is the month of transformation in the Sabi Sand Reserve – straddling the cusp between the wet and the dry seasons at Inyati. Winter is rolling in at a rapid rate throughout the province, a weather change that brings beautiful developments on our paradise. There is a definite chill in the air making the hot chocolate or coffee and Amarula during morning safari breaks more enjoyable. The days are however still warm and a relaxing lounge by the pool or is a great way to spend the afternoon. Amazing thunder showers are experienced some afternoons; this spectacular display of nature’s tremendous power is a definite treat. The bush is now starting to dry up a bit and the grass is all a golden colour and visibility is now starting to become slightly better. 

Wildlife: Once again, Inyati delivers stunning cats!! During April it was virtually impossible not see lions or leopards!! And the general games were all here in their hundreds.

LEOPARD (PANTHERA PARDUS)

Dayone male and Xikhavi femaleDayone male and Xikhavi female 

It’s been a busy month for the handsome male leopard, the magnificent Khashane male is pushing deeper in the territory, keeping him on his toes. And Xikhavi female came into estrous twice during April month. Just when he thought it can’t get any worst he had to mate with Dam 3 female

Hlabankunzi and cub 

The leopardess had very successful month few kills she made and has been extremely good to us, coming out in areas where we got to see her and young well; they often just pose for the pictures, literally!

Hlabankunzi and cub

One morning the brave mother Hlabankunzi and her cub had quite an exciting start of the day. They were chased up a marula tree by………a herd of Zebra! Every time they attempted to get down the zebra adamantly sent them back up a tree. They learnt their lesson – don’t mess with the strips.

Ravenscourt female  

Ravenscourt female We have had few sightings of this beautiful leopardess this month. Ravenscourt female normal resident the east across our boundary yet she seem to be pushing more and more west of her territory. She has proven to be a successful mother and she is raising another litter now.   

LION (PANTHERA LEO)

Selati maleThe four male lions are recovering well from the battle injuries, the Majingelane coalition of lions have stayed away for a while. The Selati spent good part of the month of trailing behind the three Othawa lionesses.
Selati maleOne of the male lions stole two impala kills from one of the leopards. Given only a few seconds the leopard (Nyeleti male) managed to claim one of his hard earned meal back and quickly put it up a tree.

Persistence pays off! After three days and three nights of following the large herd of buffaloes, making few failed attempts, the four Selati male lions finally pulled down a buffalo cow. The herd came to rescue her several times but the lions had injured her badly that she couldn’t keep up with the rest of the herd it was only a matter of time the big cat knocked her of the feet. It was a hard earnt meal, they were already very-very hungry and the one with injured ribs was looking very weak. Selati coalitionXimhungwe pride 

This pride still provides most of our lion sightings. The lionesses have had a successful month of frequent killings. Ximhungwe cubThe cubs are growing fast and looking very healthy.

Ximhungwe prideHere the cubs were left of top of boulder for few minutes as mothers were trying to hunt the nearby herd of impala. Impalas saw the predators early and all got away.

Southern prideSouthern PrideThis pride resident the far southern section of the reserve but they have been coming across on to our sector more and more frequent. As its great for us to have a new pride coming across it may prove to be a problem for the two prides that resident our section of the reserve, especially because they have small cubs.

ELEPHANT (LOXODONTA AFRICANA)Elephant (Loxodonta Africana)The elephants also proved to be amazing this month. They came right around the vehicle. One decided to have a dust bath that he, due to the wind direction, shared with my guests. They got covered in dust but enjoyed it even more than what the elephant seemed to enjoy his. The baby elephant, who is just over a year old mock charged my vehicle, quite to our amusement. We followed them down to top dam to watch them drink, ooh what beautiful sighting with awesome light for photographs.

CAPE BUFFALO (SYNCERUS CAFFER) Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer) The big herd are here, it’s always great to see the return of these animals in big numbers, some days we had over 700 buffalo in our traversing area scattered in three herds. It was really great watching them crossed into our property early one morning. And we then followed to the water hole where they were joined by large dazzle of zebras giving us fantastic photographic opportunities. We are definitely living up to our lodge name “Inyati” meaning buffalo in Zulu and other Nguni languages. Cape buffaloMore than the big five…..Cape hunting dogsThe cape hunting dogs were here for more than half of the month. It’s always a privilege to spend time with these highly endangered species. They are full on energy and very interesting animals which are fun to watch. The pack seem to have lost the alpha female who was old and looking bit tired, that means were might not see puppies this season. Things will get back to normal as one of the female take over the role of the alpha female.

In and around camp

Hippos basking in the sun have become a common site looking across the sand river from the lodge. Impala, waterbucks, nyala and many more visit the lodge frequently looking for greener grass around the lodge area.Hippos basking in the sun Elephants walking along the edge of the camp were an exciting experience for all the guests, getting their adrenalin going. What can be better than sitting down for breakfast or brunch and watching elephants sauntering past on the bank of Sand river – it was surreal!  

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