Category Archives: Wildlife Sightings

Insight to Secrets – Keith Jenkinson


Insight to secrets by Keith Jenkinson

Humans have always been fascinated by all of the world’s cats and the relationship dates back as far as 7 500 BC, a shallow grave of a
human and a cat was found in Cyprus both ceremoniously buried facing west with
stone tools and sea shells indicating some kind of early symbiotic relationship. The relationship between humans and cats has always been an ambiguous one though, in the Middle Ages cats were often considered in league with evil and were slaughtered en masse. As the numbers of cats diminished in Europe  their food source, rodents, flourished and the back plague spread rapidly!
In ancient Egypt cats were kept to control the number of rodents in grain stores and cats were also associated with the goddess Isis and Bast.

In Japanese folklore a landlord noticed a cat indicating to him in a waving movement, he was intrigued and approached, as he got close to  the cat lighting struck where he had just been standing. Thus cats are considered to be good luck (Maneki Neko) in Japanese folklore, and are believed to invite wealth. Figurines of this cat are often found in Japanese shops and restaurants.

In Africa the large cats have always been in conflict with humans, early humans were most probably a prey species but as we evolved we quickly started to out-compete the large predators. Today many farmers still see leopard as vermin and stock thieves, as a result animals are often shot or

In many African cultures the Chieftains wear leopard skin as
a royal head dress, this historically has not been a problem as the number of
Chieftains in South Africa is small and legal “controlled” trade in leopard
skins was able to supply the demand. The Shembe church is a 4million strong
church in Kwa-Zulu Natal that requires all of its members to wear leopard skin.
This church is about 30 years old and is now cause for grave concern for
Leopard conservation in Africa as a huge demand for skins has been created.

An illegal trader was found various body parts of over 150 leopards in 2008 but was later acquitted of 252 charges due to legal technicalities!

Projects to produce realistic fake fur for this purpose are
on the go and will hopefully eradicate this problem.

For many years conservationist were of the opinion that the
leopard is one of the few large cats that is able to survive close to human
settlement due to its intelligence and tenacity this view is now being
scrutinized by many conservation authorities. An on-going study has shown a
sharp decline in leopard numbers in various areas of Southern Africa. The study has also highlighted the need for more research projects. This is where the Sabi Sand will be able to play an integral role in leopard conservation.

The population of leopards in the Sabi Sand is world renowned
for being unique in their tolerance to humans. The Sabi Sand is one of the only places on earth where leopards can be observed by humans without altering their day to day behaviour. Leopards are naturally secretive animals and in most areas will avoid humans at all costs. Being such a stealthy and intelligent cat makes the leopard a very difficult animal to study and many projects have to rely on camera traps, collared individuals or even tracks and signs of the animals to determine populations.

In essence every game drive at Inyati is a researchers dream, as every visitor is presented with ample opportunity to photograph leopard and have a glimpse of their daily behaviour.  Guides in the Sabi Sand have been collecting data by viewing these animals for many years and this data is now being shared with the Endangered Wildlife Trust to bolster their studies.

Apart from having an accurate population dynamic study the Sabi Sand presents some insights into these majestic cats that have never before been accurately recorded.  Guides and guest at Inyati often see leopard mating, this enables us to create accurate family trees and monitor the lineage and dynamic of male leopard over the past 30 years.

Female leopards trust us enough to often allow guides and guest the opportunity to view interactions with cubs, this will enable us to determine and accurate weaning and survival rate of cubs. This in turn allows us to establish a population growth curve that would impact on future conservation management

The past two years has offered us the opportunity to witness
the effects of a change in dominance of males in specific territory.  A well known male named Wallingford (Wally)
survived to the ripe old age of 18 (a record for a wild leopard in the area)
but lost his territory in July 2009. We know this because we witnessed him kill an impala in front of Inyati camp before an afternoon drive and he was last photographed then.
 A young male we named Tekwaan then took over the territory and mated with various females. The influx of males after Wally was
astounding. Within two months 6 male leopards were spotted in the area, Tekwaan had his work cut out but seemed to hold strong until late 2010 when he disappeared. No one has solid proof of what happen

Wildlife Journal April 2011 by Khimbini Hlongwane

This month’s sightings report compiled by Khimbini Hlongwane

At the onset of April it seemed bit cooler than March but did not last long and the temperatures rose quickly. Early morning temperatures have been chilly, down to about 17-20°C but warming up during the day to a pleasant 25-29°C. We have also been having strong blustery winds around midday, Sightings were great, and guests came back with interesting tales from the drive and walking safaris.

Leopard (Panthera pardus)

The leopard viewing have been phenomenal again this month, a new young male leopard was seen on our property on numerous occasions. This extremely relaxed male is called Balabas, apparently comes from the south east of the Sabi Sand Game Reserve. He is about three and half years old, and relatively young to compete with the males we have on our area so it’s Unlikely that he will stay in the area, he will most likely get chased by larger Xinzele and Khashane males.

We have to mention some sad news that Hlabankunzi’s one remaining sub-adult cub was also killed by the Xinzele male leopard. He had stolen a kill from Hlabankunzi and her cub. The cub was unusually old for a cub to be killed, would have been on few month before it independent. This means that she will come into oestrus and will start mating again hopefully produce a new litter with him as the father. We had already seen her flirting and trying to mate with the Xinzele male. We did follow up the next day and she had followed him down towards the river but then walked into the hippo dam female’s territory, a fight ensued and Hlabankunzi was chased back south to her territory.

Xinzele male leopard killed an impala ram, he fed on four couple of days and he was later join by hippo Dam female. She was tried in vain her to court him but he would have none of it and reacted aggressively towards her, perhaps because he had the kill or she simply was not in full oestrous.

Tlangisa female came upon another leopard’s kill which she dragged it to a tree. The next morning the Mapogo stole the carcass from her. Two of the lion brothers climbed the tree and fought over the carcass before it fell to the ground and the third brother claimed it for himself. Tlangisa moved off and climbed a nearby tree, watching the lions devours her meal and perhaps hoping they might leave some scraps for her.

 Lion (Panthera leo)

Ximungwe Pride is still quite fragmented around the west and we haven’t seen all 5 lionesses together for a very long time. The older lioness with the 8 month old male cubs had killed a huge male kudu by herself providing some good viewing for us, her two male cubs are looking very strong and healthy. The short tail lioness with the 2 four month cubs is also doing well and we have been seeing her regularly. Due to the females being quite disjointed they are vocalising a lot to communicate with each other, impressive to hear from the lodge in the mornings and evenings.

 One of the Mapogo (Mr T) has been mating with one of the females from the Ximungwe pride, the mother of the newest litter, this unfortunately suggest that the cubs are all dead. Two males from the Mapogo coalition, with four females from the Ximungwe pride and both sets of cubs, on a young giraffe kill on the western firebreak. The good news is that Mr T (the male who has killed all the cubs) was at the kill, and seemed to have accepted all the cubs.











Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus)

Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) Cheetahs haven’t visited us as frequently as they normally do. This is most likely due to the increasing number of lions we have in our area. However on one morning on our way down to the southern part of the reserve we located Makhamisa, a magnificent specimen of a male cheetah with hanging lip, we spent some time viewing him, he was posing for us classically on top of a termite mound.Elephant (Loxodonta africana)We have had some astounding elephant sighting this month, there are great number of herds with lots of young calves which are always entertaining. We also saw a few of really large bulls around the reserve it’s always great to get an opportunities to view these gentle giants.Elephant (Loxodonta africana)








Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer)

Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer)

The large herd of around 300 – 400 buffalo have been see regularly in the South, spending a lot of time in the open which has offered some amazing viewing. We watched them as they entered the waterhole, and as always, a large number of Red-billed Oxpeckers are close by to feed on the ectoparasites . There are many youngsters in the herd, with some of them only a couple of days old.


More than the big five…..

Wild Dogs (Lycaon Pictus) also called: African Wild Dog, African Hunting Dog, Cape Hunting Dog, Painted Dog, Painted Wolf, Painted Hunting Dog.

African Wild Dog,

We are very-very excited! Do you wonder why? Wild dogs are the second most endangered large carnivore in the whole continent of Africa (Simien or Ethiopian wolf being the most endangered) there are less than six thousand of these animals left on planet earth. South Africa’s largest park, the Greater Kruger National Park with size of 2.5 million hectares or 5.6 million acres of natural wilderness accommodate a mere 130 individuals of these very misunderstood extraordinary wolf like creatures . The main contributory factor to the decline in population numbers is persecution by mankind, until recently even within conservation areas. They have not denned on our property for over 13 years and now they have decided to have their pups on our traversing area. We understand how these animal cover massive ranges so to have them on our property is really special.

African Wild Dog

The pack lost a young female recently to a lioness but hopefully they get to raise a few puppies from the new litter. This leaves the two females, Alpha male, older short tail male and two beta male, so only six left. There were 2 females that fell pregnant in the pack, usually it’s just the Alpha female that breeds. And both females have now given birth in two different dens. As you will understand we are extremely sensitive around these animals so the den is closed for another two weeks just to let them settle in their den and to reduce pressure on the pack, after that the sighting will be opened for us to enjoy the new born pups, which is a scene which not many people will be fortunate to see in their life time as these animals may not be on our planet for long. Almost forgot to mention that these animals are intelligent, beautiful, fascinating social behaviour and are the most successful hunters of them all. Yes! You can be fortunate if you come visit us soon. Two weeks will feel like two years for some of us but for now we wait…………

In and around camp

Owing to our location on the bank of sand River, the landscapes around Inyati Lodge are permanently in a state of flux, and this has provided no exception. Xindzele male leopard paid us few visit, entertaining our guests during pre-dinner drinks. Buffalo bulls, nyala, warthog, monkeys and crocodile basking in the sun is one of the regular sightings around the lodge.

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, we are committed to keep you updated.

Wildlife Journal March 2011 by Khimbini Hlongwane

As March draws to a close, the rainy season is clinging on by its slippery fingernails. Normally by now we would have seen the last of the life-giving rains, but still we are seeing build-ups of clouds each afternoon. This of course leads to spectacular sunsets, the sky barred and streaked with orange and pink. It can also of course lead to rain of varying amounts, one can suspect a very cold winter ahead.

Lion (Panthera leo)

Lion viewings have been constantly great throughout the month of this report. The three remaining Mapogo are still going strong and they spent most of the month in our traversing area.

We finally had a good view of the Ximungwe female with the tip of her tail missing and her eight weeks old cub. She and the female with the two older cubs had an impala kill near xikwenga dam. We only got to see the one cub, which is fantastically relaxed and gave us some great viewing. We were bit concern about the missing cub but its alive we saw them again few days later it must been resting out of site in some thick bush with a full belly.

We did get to see Ottawa pride couple of times this month, the adult lioness of the pride is missing, the pride have been calling and searching for her. Some of this calling attracted the Mapogo that came and chased them towards the eastern section of the reserve.

Leopard (Panthera pardus)

Metsi female leopard and her two cubs have been scarce too; luckily she caught an Impala which she then took her two cubs to. The guests were spoilt with the 3 Leopards around the kill, the two Cubs added to the excitement with them running in and out of trees and constantly stalking each other and being very playful as young cats are whether big or small. Hopefully we will see more of her and her two cubs soon, she is a stunning successful mother with her first litter.

Ndlevane male leopard made his appearance a few times in this area, he is about 5-6 years old, light blue eyes and very distinctive small ears, he is trespassing over Xinzele’s and Kashane’s male leopards territories and Xinzele have had to face him in battle that last a day and with no real winner.

Later this month, Hlabankunzi female leopard and her cub had a kill, which was later stolen by the Makhulu Mapogo male lion. We found them again in the morning with the cub in a marula tree, and the male lion feeding off the remains of an adult impala kill.

Tlangisa female leopard has once again caught a young duiker, and kept it alive for a long time while playing with it. The duiker was making many distress calls, which would have alerted any nearby predator to her presence, and usually leopard tries to keep it all silent, luckily for her no other predator that heard it.

Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus)


The Male Cheetah with the drooping bottom lip (Makamisa) has been seen numerous times on drive. On one morning we saw him playing “Cat and Mouse” with Khashane male leopard, he trailed our cheetah male for two hours the other day, luckily he got away unharmed.

Elephant (Loxodonta africana)

The elephant viewing has been fantastic as the bulls and herds have flocked to our area to feed on the marula fruits. We also had a great sighting of a herd at the Sand River, where after they all drank quite a few of them were lying down and playing.

Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer)

Buffalo sightings have been really great for us throughout the month due to the regular visits of the big herd, which consisted of about 400 individuals. We do still see the small male bachelor herds all over the reserve especially along the Sand River.

More than the big five…..

Some of our guests were privileged to get a great view of uncommon creatures such as Caracal and it was so relaxed in the presence of the vehicle. Those who have seen them before, usually only see them at night and as it disappear from sight! Later in the month George and his guest got lucky again he killed a bird (fork tailed drongo) right in front of their vehicle.

The pack of wild dogs has also been on the property for some part of the week. There are still 7 dogs, and they all seem to be in good health and doing well! We had a fantastic sighting of them as all playing and mock mating on the open field. Interestedly two female looked heavily pregnant and should only be one, the alpha female to breed. They are starting to investigate den sites close by, but they have moved east in the meantime. Hopefully they will return soon, as they’re always incredible viewing.

In and around camp

Our resident general game, warthog, nyala, bushbuck and kudus have remained around the lodge entertaining our guests despite the abundance of food else where. Its have been awesome to see them raise their young trough a day to day struggle of survival. Even the big lion Mr T visited us.

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, we are committed to keep you updated.

Wildlife Journal February 2011 by Khimbini Hlongwane

Weather has been very kind to us in Februaryrainfall only gracing us in the form of afternoon thunderstorms, which was every seven to eight days apart. For the rest of the time it was generally hot and sunny to partly cloudy. At Inyati this time of year it’s all about billowing green grasses, dark stormy skies and wildlife enjoys the seasonal abundance of nourishment, puddles of rain water provide moisture for a kaleidoscope of butterflies, and herds of Impalas swell to large numbers. In the middle of the month we experienced a huge shower of rain over night, which caused the Sand River to rise as much as two metres on our lodge’s lawn.

 Lion (Panthera leo)

The Mapogo brothers are still remaining mainly in our concession, all three of the original six have been together quite a lot recently they actively roaring, patrolling and scent marking their territory. The older male is looking a bit past his prime and battle scarred but is holding on in style and we found him mating with one of the Ximungwe lioness during the first week of the month of this report.

All five Ximungwe female lionesses are doing really well the older, mother of the 2 older cubs managed to bring down kudu bull. About a week after the kudu meal she was found feeding on a buffalo kill with two of her sisters. Great news, one of the Ximungwe lionesses was seen with four brand new cubs which will hopefully show themselves more regularly soon. We also know of another Ximungwe female in the north with some cubs which we haven’t seen yet.

Leopard (Panthera pardus)

Hlabankunzi female leopard has expanded her territory further east since the loss of her one cub, She hasn’t been seen as much with her cub lately. In attempt to protect her remaining cub she spent about five days with Xinzele male leopard. She was approaching the male displaying mating behaviour – but failed to convince him to mate with her. Her remaining (13 months old) cub has been seen numerous times over the past couple of weeks far in the east away from Xinzele’s territory. The mother is doing everything possible to distract the male until her cub is independent which should only be in few months. We saw her successfully kill a helmeted guinea fowl. Hippo dam female was found with the Xinzele male south of the Sand River with an impala kill. She seemed intent on mating, but Xinzele did not seem interested at all. During the night the kill was stolen by two of the Mapogo, and the next morning, Xinzele left the Hippo Dam female leopard, without having mated with her .Only couple of days after, Xinzele was seen in the far west of the reserve, going deep into Thekwane male leopard’s territory, who hasn’t been seen for quite some time.

Tlangisa female leopard is fast becoming one of our favourite leopards she really is a magnificent young female, so relaxed with vehicles and allowing us to truly learn her behaviour. She has taken over Mambirhi’s territory but it has not been all easy! She was involved in a territorial clash early in February with the Metsi female who is her older sister about 3 years older but she held her own, Tlangisa managed to get in a lucky punch, leaving Metsi with a swollen black right eye.

Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus)

The arrival of the three male cheetahs our concession has been definitely the highlight of the month. The guests and guides alike were all spoilt to a week of great cheetah viewing .They were initially a little skittish, most likely because of the new area and them being unfamiliar with the layout, by the end of the week they had relaxed. The cheetah spent a couple of days further south of our lodge and then moved further to our western boundary where they were viewed stalking Impala on the Airstrip for quite some time. That afternoon they were seen on an Impala kill which offered some good viewing. They were seen around this area for the next couple of days, where after they moved to the north of the Sand River and then made their way back east

Elephant (Loxodonta africana)

Elephants were few and far between in the beginning of the month due to the rainy season and the availability of new food and water sources. They tend to slow down their movements in times of plenty which makes it harder to find them. Toward the end of the month they seem to have come back and have had a few good sightings of them swimming in the dams that are now filling up nicely with all the rains.

Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer)

The large herd has joined us again, we seeing them mainly in the southern part of our traversing areas with the herd consisting of a couple hundred buffalo they are not hard to find.

Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer)

More than the big five…..


The hippo population is also doing very well, and most of our dams have one or two hippos present. This month we also had a few sightings of hyena, which have been pretty scarce of late. One in particular had impala carcass on his month possibly stolen from a leopard and taken to the den site.


In and around camp


Impalas, warthogs zebras and waterbucks have delighted us appearing on the northern bank exactly opposite the Camp several times, which proves that at Inyati Game Lodge you don’t need to leave your room to see the animals, they come to see you.

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, we are committed to keep you updated.

Wildlife Journal January 2011 – by Khimbini Hlongwane

January is one of the wettest months in the Mpumalanga province of South Africa and this year was no exception, the Sand River has risen up few times during this month. The thunderstorms have provided some spectacular shows, with the lightning from distant storms lighting up the night skies. Everywhere you look there is life, from large to small. January was a hot and humid month, with a maximum temperature of 36.1ºC and a minimum of 18.8ºC. Mean temperature for the month was 24.8ºC. With the bush being very green and lush game viewing should be difficult but no! We still had some great viewing regardless of thick bushes. Sightings have been great and rather consistent, considering the thick bush.

Leopard (Panthera pardus)

Leopard sightings were great with and Xinzele male taking centre stage

Leopard sightings were great with and Xinzele male taking centre stage. Xinzele (shangaan word for Honey badger) earned his name from his fearless behaviour of teasing and tackling hyenas and large male leopards. He is about 3 years of age, a large male for is age and is becoming a true nightmare for Tegwan male, resident dominates male. After several fights Thekwane seem to be avoiding him staying northern of Sand River and this is giving Xinzele the opportunity to move into areas usually occupied by Thekwane. We are sad to announce that one of Hlubankunzi’s cubs was killed by the Xinzele male during the month of this report. For over a month now Xinzele have been searching everywhere for Hlabankunzi female and her cubs. Male leopard will more often than not kill any leopard cubs that they have not sired within their territory or as in this case prospective territory. This ensures that females within their territories come into season and allow them to mate and produce cubs sharing their genes and not that of other males.

Lion (Panthera leo)

The Ottawa pride has been seen mainly in the north and east of our area and is looking great and the two sub-adult males are growing to be big lions. The Ximhungwe pride has been fairly scattered this month, as we suspect that the short tailed female has dropped cubs, she have two cubs and others lionesses heavily pregnant. The two older cubs are now nearly seven months old are still alive and doing well.

Elephant (Loxodonta africana)

With some warm days in between all the rain we have been treated to a few top sightings of the young bull elephants playing and swimming in the pans! Always a joy to watch as these guys display dominance behaviour and mount each other as they swim. We have also had regular elephant viewing, with a sighting of two elephant bulls in hippo dam being one of the favourites.

Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer)

The buffalo have returned, and we are now seeing plenty of calves with the herd. Although buffalo breed all year round, there is a peak in births during the rainy season. We had some great viewing of mothers and calves interaction at waterholes.

More than the big five…..

Our herds of wildebeest and zebras are on the comeback, it’s no longer unusual to see dazzle of fifteen zebras. As usual for the time of the year there were lots of babies around, there is plenty of food for the mothers eat and feed the youngsters but the thick foliage provide cover for the predators so the mother have to be alert all the time.

In and around camp

The buffalo have returnedAmongst the few that visited us in the lodge was the small herd of old buffalo bulls who often spent their night on our lawn hoping that human activity will keep lions away.

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, we are committed to keep you updated.

A bush wedding is a joyous and heart-warming experience.

A Spring wedding

The change in season has brought with it the first signs of new life. As the temperatures increase and the humidity slowly thickens the air many of the plants have reacted by producing fresh new leaves and bright aromatic flowers. One of the more obvious trees the Weeping boer-bean (Scotia brachypetala ) produces tufts of brilliant red flowers that create a fantastic contrast to the currently stark landscape. The flowers also emit an aroma that can be smelt for some distance.

Elephant bull joined the proceedings to witness & bless the wedding

The local name for the tree is “Mvomvomvo” as the abovementioned attracts an array of insects creating a constant buzz overhead hence mvoooo-mvoooo.

The season also brought a change for a special couple this month: Alana and Eric Lapierre tied the knot at Inyati on the 16th of September 2009.

It was a relaxed and very romantic affair that in included a private vehicle and private meals allowing the couple to savour the moment.  During the ceremony an Elephant bull joined the proceedings to witness and bless the wedding in true African style.

After the ceremony the newly weds set of into the bush, wedding dress and all, in a Land rover carefully decorated by Piet and Nelson with all the bush flowers they could get their hands on.



The couple was met by a pride of lions and a herd of buffalo to top off the day.

The Inyati family would like to wish Eric and Alana a prosperous future and hope for them to return to the bush one day, maybe with some little ones of their own!

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