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Safari greetings…… 

The mid-winter chill has reached the lowveld and we have experienced low temperatures in the early mornings. The temperature had dipped as low as four degrees Celsius this season, still not nearly as chilly as the Highveld or the escarpment but some of the hardiest of rangers sported trousers on early morning drives.

On evening drives guests often notice a drop in temperature as we drop into the drainage lines and rivers. This is simply air cooling down, and becoming more dense, heavy, and settling in lower lying areas as temperatures drop after sunset, this air flow is referred to as Katabatic flow or Katabatic winds.

The opposite happens after sunrise.  At dawn the sun brings some welcome heat after a chilly evening, and as the air heats up it creates a mini low-pressure system that draws the dense cool air up from the low-lying areas. As this happens moisture is also “dragged” up and condensation takes place to the extend that bands of mist rise from the lower lying areas making these Anabatic flows visible as waves of mist slowly sweeping up from drainage lines.

These misty waves light up as the first golden rays hit them after sunrise making for a spectacular dawn.  

Bush beat…….

The Othawa lions have done very well, and the six new cubs are thriving. The pride managed to bring down a giraffe that provided a fantastic meal for the adults and cubs alike.

The Tumbela males joined the feast, and the new kings spent some quality time with their new offspring. The Big male showed his soft side as he accepted his little daughters climbing on him and using his tail as a chew toy.

Our Leopard Queen, Tlangisa has done a phenomenal job with her two new cubs. The little cubs have grown from waddling balls of fluff to miniature leopards that are able to scale trees and even digest meat.

Tlangisa introduced them to their staple diet by supplying steenbok and impala kills this month. This extra boost of nutrients combined with moms milk has seen the two little cubs grow from strength to strength.

The little family did have a close shave though. One morning early in June we followed Tlangisa into a rocky outcrop she was using as a den for the cubs. One could see she was determined as she took no time to call the cubs form their rocky haven with soft grunting contact calls. To our delight the cubs answered with their bird-like squeals form within the outcrop and an enthusiastic greeting and grooming session followed.

Tlangisa, being the fantastic mother she is, first allowed the cubs to suckle for a while to top up their energy reserves. She the then stood up and marched out of the den site. The little cubs followed her cue, instinctively interpreting the mothers body language without any questions asked. Tlangisa blazed a trail to the west with two extremely excited cubs in tow, one could see the anticipation in their demeanour as they confidently trailed mom.

Tlangisa took them into a thick grassland, and we lost site of them as we viewed from a distance, a few minutes after they did not emerge from the thicket, we went in to investigate. Our suspicions were confirmed, Tlangisa had managed to bring down an adult Impala ram that she had stashed in the grass. There were no suitable trees to hoist the kill into, so she took the gamble of stashing the kill in a ticket on the ground.

After all her effort she unselfishly allowed the cubs to feed first, also a learning experience as they discovered how to open a carcass by targeting the areas where skin is thin enough break.

Tlangisa then emerged from the thicket. Every muscle was bristling as she anticipated approaching danger, her acute senses alerted her to another predator in the area and she used her sense of smell and the breeze to determine the direction of the approaching danger. The cubs again reacting to mother’s body language scuttled off deeper into the thicket, a few seconds later the leopards’ nemesis arrived. Three spotted hyenas stormed in and luckily focused on the free meal. They ripped into the carcass with far less finesse than the leopards and tore it in half. Tlangisa stayed for a few minutes hoping to salvage some of the carnage, but to no avail. Once the hyena settled, we left the area as extra noises and scents could be detrimental the cubs ability to avoid Hyenas.

Elation quickly turned to concern as we left the area.

For three days there was no sign of Tlangisa and our concern grew every day. On day four we found tracks of the mother heading into a favourite drainage line of hers. With many thickets, outcrops, and a maze of gully’s it provided a perfect refuge for cubs. We had decided that Tlangisa had entered an area that is inaccessible and once again accepted defeat. At this stage, an avid photographer in the vehicle decided to take a time laps and just enjoy the late afternoon sounds. A few minutes into the time laps Tlangisa emerged from the east walked straight past the vehicle and dropped into the drainage line. Once again, we heard her characteristic calls, answered by a chirp. To our utter delight two cubs emerged from the drainage line with Tlangisa, unscathed. They faced many dangerous trials but have emerged wiser and more equipped to survive this wild Eden.

Species feature……

Temmincks Ground Pangolin (Smutsia temminckii)

The extremely illusive creature is so rarely encountered in the wild that it has an almost mythical reputation. Very few people are lucky enough to lay eyes on a Pangolin  in the wild. This scaly little mammal moves about on its back legs scouring the ground for ants and at times some termites. If startled it will roll itself into an impenetrable ball of armoured keratinous scales, but if one sits very quietly to gain its trust it will unravel and happily feed whilst being followed.

The Temmincks Ground Pangolin is one of four species that occur in Africa, and the only species that occurs in Southern Africa and at Inyati. They are entirely terrestrial and nocturnal and will take shelter in burrows during daylight hours. The Pangolin is not only rare, but also difficult to spot as it moves low to the ground and in this grassy environment cuts its way through the grassy cover and hardly ever exposes itself. As a result, most Pangolin sightings are on night drives at the end of the dry season when cover is sparse.

Pangolins do not dig their own burrows but make use of abandoned aardvark and warthog burrows. These burrows serve as sleeping quarters in daylight hours and safe havens for little ones. One “pup” will be born after a gestation of approximately 140 days. The mother will keep the pup in the burrow at first and move it from time to time. A few incredibly lucky individuals have found females giving their pups “piggyback” rides between burrows. The little Pangolin is believed to stay on mother’s territory for about a year before venturing out becoming sexually mature at 4-5 years.

Pangolin numbers in Africa are decreasing at an alarmin rate, all the species are on the red list and our Temmincks ground Pangolins are listed as Vulnerable. Unfortunately, Pangolins are one of the most trafficked species of wildlife in the world with conservative estimates being 10 000 pangolins being trafficked every year. Pangolin scales are used as an ingredient in Traditional Asian Medicine fuelling the illegal trade of these slow breeding species. In Africa Pangolin scales are also sought after but the value is not enough to drive huge local trade. In central Africa an estimated 400 000 pangolin are hunted for meat and scales.

There is certainly a silver lining to the cloud though. Many areas in Africa are well protected, and dedicated Conservationists and Anti-poaching operations keep the wilderness free of greed driven poachers. Inyati is situated within one of the best protected areas in Africa and our Pangolins and much larger neighbours are in a safe haven.   

Inyati Game Lodge is excited to announce the launch of our updated website www.inyati.co.za. The new site has a fresh new look and was designed with your safari needs in mind. 

Hope to see you soon!

Keith and the Inyati team

Updates from isolation

Each day on safari brings a new experience.
Each day on safari brings a new experience.

The year 2020 is a year that will never be and should never be forgotten. There are many negative memories of the year, but one would be foolish to ignore the positive lessons that it taught us.

Firstly, we have learnt to love our guests more than ever!

Not having people to share this wonderful environment with has been challenging for all. For months we yearned for the emotions that guest share whilst on game drive at Inyati. The mixed bag of fear and awe of the first Elephant sighting, the amazement of looking up at a towering Giraffe and the surprise of sitting next to a massive male Leopard without even changing his behavior.

We also missed the “evolution” of our guests. The initial reaction in a sighting tends to be confused excitement and grappling with a camera to get the shot before the animal slinks away. Then the realization that most of our animals are happy to stick around, and at times seem to ‘pose’ for that once in a lifetime shot. Slowly but surely the guests emerge themselves into the environment and the bushveld and city clocks start syncing. A calmness that only the bushveld can provide washes over and the frantic pointing, grabbing, and shuffling make room for calm observant viewing. Many guests start noticing behavior and the questions become more challenging, the birds perched on the Rhino become a talking point, trees, flowers and even grasses are noticed and an entire new world that the majestic “Big 5” live in is revealed.

Some guests return to follow their favourite cat and become an extended part of the Inyati family, we dearly missed the connoisseurs.

We also missed the more lighthearted questions that previously may have stirred an internal sigh in the most patient guides. We are happy to stop and look at the sixth lilac breasted roller as the bright aqua blue flash catches every guest’s eye. No longer will we think “ABR”, another bloody roller.

We are happy to clarify that the half-eaten impala hoisted in a Maroela tree is in fact dead.

We enjoy explaining that all the trees you see have been here for hundreds of years and, unlike Central Park, the Kruger Park was not planted but is an actual time capsule.

We missed every single guest, and we now have a new appreciation for the lifeblood that kept the lodges and in turn  conservation efforts afloat, and we are ready with open arms to welcome you all back!

We have learnt to appreciate the little things. The impala grazing on the lawn, a sunset on the river and the crisp starlit winter skies. When you have time you stop and notice many of the small beauties that enhance this magical place even more.

We decided to use this time to be productive. Tending to the run of the mill kind of maintenance like repairing roads and painting decks and gardening. But one very unusual opportunity presented itself during the lockdown.

Herds of Impala settled in camp, the Inyala settled as well and shy Bushbuck made the pool their home. Due to the camp being quiet no man-made noises and smells overwhelmed their acute senses and these animals never left camp.

The predators that have always passed through camp now settled inside the lodge for longer, keeping an eye on potential prey, not being disturbed by vigilant tourists and clicking cameras.

A few leopards started using the buildings and veranda to stalk and catch prey and the Guides that stayed in camp for lockdown got some amazing footage and images.

This was noticed by well-known naturalist and film maker Russel Mac Laughlin and culminated in Inyati featuring in the BBC documentary The Year the Earth Changed, narrated by David Attenborough.

The cameramen and guides spent almost a month filming leopard only inside Inyati camp and the sequence of footage collected is breath taking, as is the rest of the Documentary that aired in April 2021 on Apple TV .

The last rainy season produced some fantastic rain that lasted late into the season and as a result the rivers are flowing, and the bush is still lush and even green in places.

Winter has started a bit later than usual with temperatures only dropping significantly late in May. Crisp dry winter evenings have been great for stargazing and winding down around a log fire.

As a result of the good rains our watering holes are full, and the lush vegetation and grass has attracted numerous browser and grazers to Inyati. A dazzle of Zebra has settled at the pan in front of camp and a journey of Giraffe have made treehouse pan their home.

Large herds of elephant have returned to the river, making full use of the riparian vegetation and the cool waters of the Sand river.

Three new male lions arrived from the north during lockdown. We first noticed their tracks, but they managed to avoid us for almost a month before our first sighting. We named them the Tumbela (to hide) males as a result.

These young guns took no time to take over the Othawa pride and the Old Matimba male was driven off. The young males in the pride broke away out of fear of the Tumbelas and unfortunately their sister followed. For now they are known as ‘the break-away’ but have settled in the south.

Two of the older Lionesses have had cubs. The younger Lioness has had three cubs which we have had brief glimpses of as they are only about three months old and not yet used to the vehicles. We have not yet seen the older females’ cubs as they are still hidden in the den.

The Mungen pride still visits the area, but sadly the Othawa male was killed when he decided to venture too far east and was cornered by a powerful coalition of males called the Birmingham males. The old Birminghams unfortunately killed the Othawa male leaving the Mungen pride without a patriarch for now.

The Leopard dynamics at Inyati has been fluid and fascinating. As the lodge is situated in the highest leopard population on the planet, huge competition and smaller territories are inevitable.

During lockdown we counted no less than seven different male leopards at various times in camp, as well as our resident females. Luckily, Ravenscourt and Nyeleti made short work of some of the young nomads and the dynamics, in camp at least, settled down.

 An over population of male leopards makes it difficult for females to raise their cubs as males that have not mated with females will kill cubs if they find them. Females cleverly confuse paternity by mating with all the males in their territory, and even expanding their territory when they are in estrus, and in so doing, also mating with neighboring males. It is also presumed that females can give birth to litters with multiple fathers further confusing males.

Unfortunately, this intricate process of confusing paternity did not work for Tlangisa, Basile or Khokovela of late. Tlangisa lost a litter in the north, we presume to the male, Euphorbia.  We did see Tlangisa mate with Ravenscourt and saw Ravenscourt with the cub that he had accepted. Sadly, Euphorbia took over the north at the time and we presume he killed the cub when Tlangisa moved it north.

Khokovela has her territory wedged between Ravenscourt and Nyeleti, unfortunately she has had little success with cubs as a result.

Ravenscourt again killed Basiles’ cubs, well within his territory. This is very confusing and unfortunate.

Tlangisa has once again proven herself as the leopard queen of the Western Sabi Sand. She has moved back to her northern domain and settled her territory well within Euphorbias. Euphorbia has proven himself as a formidable male that manages to keep his neighbors at bay. Tlangisa and Euphorbia have mated, and they now have a litter of two in the north west. The two little cubs are now three months old and thriving.

 Let us hope they survive in this challenging environment.

Emerging from lockdown

As we adjust to the world opening post the severe Covid lockdowns, we are delighted to tell you that the lodge is open and ready to receive guests. During the lockdown the lodge, in accordance with WHO guidelines and with the assistance of our onsite medical partner Africa Safe-T, tried and tested Covid 19 protocols to ensure our guests have a safe and carefree stay at Inyati.

Hand sanitizing stations have been placed at every entrance to public areas, a rigid sanitation regime has been implemented and all the staff have been trained and are practicing the protocols today.

Even safari vehicles are sanitized before, and after, every drive and guest are offered hand sanitizer at each stop.

We are fortunate to have roomy open air dining facilities that make social distancing and safety a breeze.

In short, we are ready and waiting and for our repeat guests to return and for new guests to come explore the splendor of the African bush. Hope to see you soon!

Make memories that last a lifetime!


Make memories that last a lifetime!

The bush revived by Matt

big-skiesAt its worst the drought left the bush barren of life. Mother Nature herself wanted us to see the value of water and the suffering that happens when it doesn’t fall. Mercifully though one afternoon a giant cumulonimbus cloud rolled up from the south, bringing with it a light show of thunder and lightning, tempestuous winds whirled and whipped the dust bowl and finally a light sprinkling of the most precious fluid on earth. This auspicious start has compounded over the rainy season, and as I write this we have had non-stop rain for five days. The revival has been astounding, the browns, greys and whites have all but faded and the greens have taken over. The soil left an open canvas by the drought has been painted by the pioneering wild flowers and grasses, the insects that follow cycles and held on through the drought then went about making enough offspring to fertilise all the wonderful plants.

othawa cubsTraditionally predators do better in the dryer seasons as the herbivores lose condition, but with three new Othawa cubs and two cubs for Tlangisa it appears that the cats do well no matter what the conditions are. tlangisas-2nd-babyXhikavi’s adult offspring is still hanging around his mom almost two years into his life, Dewane seems to like him more than his mom does. His name is Mondzo and he really is a beautiful leopard and even has blue eyes. Ravenscourt has been pushing further and further into Dewane’s territory. Schotia had cubs several months ago but she hasn’t brought them out for inspection yet. Torchwood took some heavy beatings of late and has faded a bit into obscurity as he licks his wounds.

mondzo #leopardWith the dams filling up nicely and the river flooding regularly I think we will sail through the next winter and while it will take a few years for the smaller animal populations to recover, the drought is truly behind us.

glorious-waterThat’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.

tlangisa-never-disappointsRegards, THE INYATI TEAM

Keith & Francis – Managers
George , Solly, Khimbini , Matthew , Nelson  ,Omega  & Rodger

This month’s sightings report compiled by Matthew Brennan. *Photographs by Keith and Matthew

Inyati staff receive their annual dividend from the Inyati share scheme.

AGM 2016In 2011, Inyati Private Game Lodge in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve issued over 12 000 phantom shares, equivalent to five percent of the company, to its employees in a bid to reward staff loyalty and retain employee talent.

In 2016 the staff have now received their 3rd dividend pay-out.

“Our staff play an important role in the success of the lodge and we look forward to sharing future growth with them”. says Carlos Dos Santos, Director of Inyati.

Inyati is set within the Sabi Sand Reserve, adjacent to the world-renowned Kruger National Park. The lodge is situated on the banks of the Sand River allowing for fantastic game viewing from the lodge. Home to the ‘Big Five’ (elephant, rhino, lion, leopard and buffalo), as well as cheetah, wild dog and hundreds of other species of animals, birds and plants indigenous to the area. Our highly trained and experienced guides and trackers ensure that your safari experience ranks amongst the best in Africa.

November 2015

Roger one of the Inyati Trackers sharing the shade of a Sjambok pod with Khokovela.

With barely a sprinkle of rain this last month the animals are starting to feel the pinch. Grazing especially is hard, with the pathfinding females of the giant buffalo herds having to really on all their experience to lead their charges to the grass that remains, or two the grass responding to the light intensities turns green in anticipation of rain that never seems to come.Ellies at Sand River show of their new calvesImpala herd Zebra herdMatriarchal elephants lead their families to the river and often three or four herds can be seen munching away on the Phragmites reeds, the newly established sedge grasses and other pioneer species. These plants are taking advantage the newly emerging islands in the river, and as such there are swathes of green all along the river. A mighty elephant bull at Inyati Game LodgeThe crusty old dagga boys are so plentiful along the river, might as well open up a golf course for them.Buffalo herd

Monkey businessThe impalas have started lambing and it is open season for the carnivores. The wild dogs take at least three or four lambs every drive, the strategy is always the same at sunrise and sunset, the adults get up, play with the youngsters a bit and head off all in one direction and spread out. The first animal they see the chase it down and rip it apart in a few minutes, this whole process may only last 15 minutes or so as they are such efficient hunters. All you have to do is hope you are in the right place at the right time. The adults then return to the pups and regurgitate a portion of their meal for the pups. As such the dogs are always full and the pups are growing quickly as they have too; as it is a tough life to be a Painted Wolf.Wild dog posing on the rock.

Wild Dogs playingNot to be out done the leopards are working day and night to keep up with the tally of the dogs. Tlangisa has had cubs but we haven’t found them yet, so she has a few mouths to feed.

Tlangisa taking down Impala lambXhikavi’s little boy is still doing very well, he is still quite shy and takes a while to calm down to his mother’s level. He is ticking all the growth boxes though as she is a terrific hunter.

Dewane - Copy

Magnificent Dewane leopard

Dewane is constantly putting pressure on his neighbors and as such we see him in the north a lot. Torchwood is often seen killing warthogs in the south and Schotia is steadily sailing her ship into her future. The magnificent Dewane male staring at the hyenas — at Inyati Game Lodge.Basile and Khokovela are giving cameos in the north and seem to be embracing their newfound freedom with the grace we have come to expect from Tlangisa.

Basile leopard

Basile (Tlangisa’s adult cub) Her name means the light one and is situated just North of the camp.

Majingilane male lions on a buffalo carcassThe bush is really dry and the river looks like it might run dry this year. So please pray for rain.Water thick-knee, Water dikkop (Burhinus vermiculatus)

 

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 MatthewWe have had an unusually dry start to spring and summer

Tourism Indaba Interview

Indaba Interview

We talk to Keith and Pete of Inyati Private Game Reserve in South Africa about the work they are doing to combat rhino poaching. 210 rhino have been shot and they are losing more rhinos than are being born and if it continutes rhinos are probably heading for extinction in the next 3-4 years!
Hear about the amazing work Inyati together with other lodges in the area are doing to trying to combat the situation, but resources are stretched and they say word needs to get out to the international community in order to realise how serious the situation is, so that something can be done before it’s too late.
Published on 18 Jun 2012 by

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