Tag Archives: #SABig5
It was another stunning summer month at Inyati Game Reserve this February. Impressive rains are continuing to sustain the thousands of antelope gathered on the dams and rivers. We have had very varied weather over the month, with wind, quick showers and then sunshine, sometimes we got all in one day. We have also had a few thunderstorms and some good showers Sabi Sand is as green, pristine and beautiful as it gets. In most nights the skies were clear and defined, and this month we were able to see Orion and his canine friend Canus Major. Taurus is moving over the zenith, followed closely by Mars.
Excellent is not the word to describe the wildlife sightings this past month, they were all out to entertain us right trough the month.
Leopard (Panthera pardus)
She was seen often this during the month of this report. Sadly, she seems to have lost her cub again. We spent one evening following her she was in search a male and she did found Dayone male but unfortunately after all her attempts he total rejected mating with her.
We located her on one afternoon she was out on patrolling and marking her territory, she came past right by the vehicle.
The one and only forever playful Tlangisa leopardess was out playing delighted us with a very special unexpected sighting during the month. She have grown and have well established her territory now, she made few attempts to convince Dayone male that she is ready to mate and raise cubs and he just ignored her. While viewing her on one late morning she started stalking a small herd of buffalo and went the long grasses between them playing “hide and seek”. The fun and games ended when she decided to leap onto one of the sub adult buffalo, the old buffalo bulls weren’t impressed by that they turned for her aggressively and she was forced to climb on tree.
Shangwa female and cub
She is the oldest and experienced female in our area, we are seeing more her now than we ever did in the last few years she seemed to have change her territory slightly moving deeper into our traversing area on the northern side of sand river. She had been seen earlier with her 14-month old cub, which is growing fast and started making his own kills. Interestingly he was found on one occasion, with Xikavi female who is Shangwa’s older daughter. There was a bit of tension between them, but they finally lay down quite close to each other, with only few growling infrequently.
Lion (Panthera leo)
The elderly boys are looking great, even the one that got injured in battle with Selati males is recovering well. On one morning we found all three members of Mapogo lions trailing on a scent of a small buffalo herd. The buffalo had moved too far out of the range, the boys had to suspend their mission and rest for the day.
We followed up on them the next morning and located them feeding on a buffalo kill. Boys will always be boys! Where there is food or lioness there will be always an argument between the big boys. Mr T and makhulu Mapogo are growling at each other while eating. The injured male is keeping his distance from these squabbles.
The pride been seen often this month often in same place for few days they hasn’t been moving around a lot possible because of the new males (Selati male) moving around their territory. They were often found with full bellies, so presumably they made a decent kills in the night, and so did not need to move at all while they digested their food. Interestingly for few days the one lioness was separated from the pride to mating with one of the southern males.
One of the exciting news of the month is that one of the lionesses of Ottawa pride has new cubs. After couple of hours of tracking on one morning we managed to find two lionesses and their four brand new cubs on a wildebeest kill. We didn’t get a good picture as we kept a good distance from the mother and cubs.
Elephant (Loxodonta africana)
After the rain the grazing has become phenomenal, this elephant bull spent his time between feasting on sweet marula fruit and grass.
Are elephants really afraid of mice or is it a myth? Maybe not but this male is very scared of catfish. This male was having a good drink at Sand River when suddenly a catfish splashed the water and our brave elephant bull got startled and ran for his life out the river into the woodland.
Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer)
The large buffalo have remained in our traversing area for the whole month, there were lots of calves born and more are on their way, note the heavily pregnant female one the picture below. It’s always a treat to spend time with the buffalo herd at the waterhole and this month we did lots of that. Buffaloes are very dependant on water they drink at least twice a day. Their feathered friends, the oxpeckers also use the opportunity to get a drink from the backs from the buffalo.
Anyone who has spent time in the bush has a healthy respect for Cape buffalo, on one afternoon we witness to exactly why. The rangers and guests were spending time with a large herd of buffalo when one old bull lost his temper as a young bull got a bit to frisky to his liking. The young bull decided not to stand down; this led to two massive bodies hurling themselves at each other head first. The speed and power of these animals had us enthralled.
More than the big five…..
The floods have altered the river courses and our hippos are dispersed into small groups as they explore the new pools along the rivers. This particularly calf was very inquisitive as he approached us the mother had to follow him just in case she needs to protect him.
Common Sandpiper is often seen at our causeway, these smallish waders like birds are easily identified by their habit of “teetering”: constantly bobbing head and tail while on the ground, particularly when feeding. They migrate in small groups to the northern Eurasia and Central Japan where they breed. The Common Sandpipers (for now) faces no serious threats and are the most widespread and adaptable of shorebirds. Perhaps it is because they can eat a wide range of food.
In and around camp
The floods changed the river in a big way, lots of trees and reeds have been uprooted and taken down stream and deposited lots more sand leaving the area very open. From your breakfast table one is able to see animals cross the river. Elephants and giraffe are amongst their few that are regularly seen.
There are few crocodiles in our rivers and dams however seeing them in summer can prove to be difficult as they don’t need to come out the water to regulate their temperatures. Visiting Inyati causeway on late evening one stand a good chance of seeing these “flat dogs” fishing.
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, and we are committed to keep you updated.
So we’re into the summer season now and with the summer season comes an increase in tropical activity off the east coast of South Africa. These summer cyclones that occur usually don’t have an effect on South African weather and tend to move south before approaching the S.A coast line. Rain has been quite a dominant factor this month. Dramatic is an understatement – no two days of the play unfolding in the Sabi sand theatre are the same. On the 16th January, Tropical Cyclone Dando caused a torrent of rain to come down over the Sabi Sand and the surrounding Kruger areas. In a matter of 72 hours the rain gauges showed that we had received 520mm of rain and the rivers showed just how much rain had come down. The water rose slowly but as the intense rain continued and the ground became saturated there was nowhere else for the water to go except to the rivers. The Sand and Sabi River got extensively flooded and reached its highest recorded level, even higher than 2000 floods which was the highest the area have ever experienced. The river have been reformed enormously, with trees uprooted and swept away and huge amounts of sand shifted, even diverting the main river course in some areas. The lodge remained safe, we did however lose our lower deck and the bird hide got damaged and thankfully, no major loss of wildlife was recorded. Despite the floods game viewing has, by no means, been a disappointment.
Leopard (Panthera pardus)
One of the most viewed leopard of our section of the reserve Hlabankunzi have finally brought out her cub briefly for us to see. We are still keeping away from the den site to give them some privacy and time to get comfortable to the new surroundings. We spent a good part of the last night of the year with while on the hunt at some point we had to leave her to enjoy our celebrate New Year’s Eve. The next morning in a new year we set off to find her, we did caught up on her still hunting, the hungry mother leopard stalk and killed a warthog just in front of our vehicle, the first and successful hunt of the year 2012 for her.
We haven’t been seeing much of Metsi female leopard, she did however came out couple of times this month and we were relieved to learn that she is still alive and well.
We found her on one late afternoon perched on a marula tree presenting awesome photo opportunity.
The Day One male leopard also had an exciting start to 2012. He did it again, killed a full grown kudu cow and this time he killed its calf as well. The hyena then tries to steal his kill and pinches pieces of it the entire morning, eventually it drags the kill into the open, in full view of the vultures, within ten minutes more than twenty vultures descend onto the kill and Day one snaps!
He came hurtling out of his resting place and sent vultures and hyena scattering in all directions to reclaim his meal.
Lion (Panthera leo)
The resident males, Mapogo brothers have been seen regularly during the whole month of this report, they still remain separated into 2 males, the elder male and Mohawk mane male together and the other male spent most time with the Ximhungwe pride. Just after the rains the two males killed a young giraffe, the one of the Ximhungwe lioness who is been separating from the pride was present feeding with the males.
With sand river flooding the rest of Ximhungwe pride, 3 lionesses with their four cubs (Ages ranging from 6 to 12 months) for most of the month have remain in the southern side of the river. Despite the smaller hunting ground the pride have remain highly successful in their hunting, they made a wide range of kill, wildebeest, giraffe and waterbuck. Few of our wildebeest calves have fallen victim to this pride during the month.
We also found them feeding on a buffalo kill in the south-western section of our traversing area. The carcass appeared to be a few days old and we had seen the pride far north the night before so it doesn’t look as if as if they killed it. Initially, only one of the Mapogo boys was present, but the other two soon smelled the kill, and joined up with the pride to enjoying their rotting buffalo carcass.
Elephant (Loxodonta africana)
The hot summer months in the Sabi Sands is the best time to see elephants. Herds have divided into small groups to minimise competition over marula fruits. You can almost count on a breeding herd or a lone bull on every corner. With marula fruits dropping to the bush floor in great quantity, elephants are moving from tree to another in search of these juicy and delicious snacks. They are small fruits that it might not seem worth it for the big giants to spent hours collecting these tiny fruits one by one, this just show how much they love them.
Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer)
Buffaloes are still present in significant numbers much to delight of our guests. They are seen mainly on open plains of the southern part of the reserve. There been lots of mating activities in herd and the battle beween the breeding male have been the order of the day(note the battle wounds on his face)
More than the big five…..
We found this hyena walking with intent and occasionally sniffing the air. As these animals have an uncanny ability to sniff out carcasses we followed her for quite some time. After about a kilometer of walking she came across an Impala carcass, recently killed by a leopard. We had a brief glimpse of a small female leopard that was in no mood to cross swords with this large hyena. I presume the hyena heard the impala alarming after the kill was made and then had to rely on her acute sense of smell to locate the meat, truly some well honed senses on a super predator.
Xindzele male leopard have been visiting the camp, affording us a rare opportunity to photograph leopard on foot.
Thank you all for the wishes during the floods. The lodge is fine, only the lower deck and our treehouse experienced the wra
th of the Sand river. Luckily the lodge was built above the fifty year floodline.
Our river views have dramatically improved, a beautiful sand bank has formed and the flood has cleared a remarkable amout of vegetation…a silver lining yet!
The game drives continue as normal and our guests are enjoying spectacular sightings. Our guides and trackers are conducting the drives with the utmost sensitivity to the environment, as a lot of the areas are waterlogged.
At Inyati we pride ourselves on our experienced and skilled team of guides and trackers. Currently, we have four field guides with their trackers, that love sharing their extensive knowledge of the African bush and wildlife and the joy they derive from it.
George has an uncanny ability to find game and interpret movement of animals in a sighting thus generally placing his guest in a perfect position to view the action.
FGASA Level 2 trails guide & Tracker level 3
Khimbini has more than 10 years’ experience guiding and tracking in the Sabi Sand game reserve. Khimbini was born on Inyati and has extensive local knowledge of the area.
He has a very ethical approach to guiding and prides himself in being sensitive to animals and being able to interpret their behavior. Khim is as budding Photographer and his patience and interpretive skills have made for some remarkable images. Khim is able to interpret guest as well as he can interpret the animals he works with, as a result he is very effective at handling guest special needs and creating tailor made guided experience.
Piet is a passionate guide with extensive experience from various Lodges in the Greater Kruger National Park where he has guided and managed guiding teams for the past 20 years. Piet enjoys bird watching and photography.
Piet enjoys viewing animals on foot and is highly skilled in doing this without disturbing the animals he views and keeping his guests safe at the same time.
FGASA level 3 trails guide & Tracker 2
Keith has a like for the smaller critters in the bush and the inter relationships between species. Keith is also a keen birder and has an interest in wild flowers. He has a background in conservation management where he started his career. Being on foot in the bush is Keith’s greatest passion.
Norman joined the Inyati tracking team 2 years ago. He is a soft spoken very quiet individual but a very efficient tracker. Norman is has made tracking Lions his forte.
Tracker level 3 – Nelson is one of the “old salts” of the bush, he has been at Inyati for over 20 years and has a wealth of local knowledge. Nelson has a happy demeanor and his sense of humor is always a hit with guests.
Tracker level 3 – Solly is a tracker extraordinaire. He is one of the few trackers in the industry that Scored a perfect 100% percent on his first ever trailing assessment.
Tracker Level 3 – Richard is the oldest of the Hlongwane brothers and has in excess of 20 years tracking experience at Inyati. He was also born on the property and as a result knows every nook and cranny of the reserve, he is well spoken and enjoys interaction with guest.
December is a wonderful festive month – the bush is alive with activity and life seems to explode in our part of the world . Rightfully named, Nwendzamhala, Shangaan word for the month of December it translate (the visits of impalas). Many of these antelopes are born and disappear as predators kills them. The rains arrived in force and have given life to the landscape. The wildlife react to this change with unparalleled vigour. Where the ground was once dusty and bare, rampant green growth bursts from the ground. Fireball lilies add colour to the landscape, other flowers open themselves to the sun, and of course, the antelope drop their young in multitudes, creating a bounty for predators large and small. The favourable grazing has also attracted big herds of buffalo, herds of zebra and a herd of wildebeest back in our traversing area, all of which have also started producing their young.
Leopard (Panthera pardus)
Tlangisa female has been our star leopard again this month. We was seen almost every second day and as entertaining as always. On one afternoon we spotted her perched on a fallen down tree scanning the Savanna for a potential prey unfortunately she could only see a waterbuck who is bit bigger than what she was hoping for. Dayone male is moving further north into Xindzele male’s territory, the conflict between these male is inevitable. The Xindzele male have been very scarce in the last couple of months, he spent most of his time north of the sand river where it’s very densely vegetated. Kashane Male still dominant the southern section and east of our traversing area. He was also seen mating with the Tasselberry female during the month of this report maybe new little cubs will result soon. Metsi’s sub-adult male has grown and very confidant with vehicles around him. He was found lying on the branch of marula tree one morning and he could care that we were there taking pictures of him. Hlabankunzi female have given birth we have had some brief sightings of her before she disappeared back towards her densite. Dayone Male was seen in the same area, since we didn’t see him mating her, he is unlikely to be the father of the cubs, he would kill them if he found them.
Lion (Panthera leo) Two of the Mapogo brothers, the elder of the Mapogo and the short maned male have been seen patrolling together, they been venturing to the east of our traversing area perhaps worried about growing threat from the Machingelane Males and the southern males. The third male have been staying behind with Ximhungwe pride, living an easier life taking advantage of the hunting expertise of the lionesses. On return from one of their territorial patrol they killed a sub-adult buffalo and their grown sons, the Ottawa males, who happened to be in the area could only watch from the distance, didn’t brave approaching the elderly boys with their Christmas meal. It does however seems like the two younger males had been responsible for the kill, but then they lost the kill to their fathers.
The has been covering the whole of o the western sector providing us with lots of actions. On one evening the pride set out for a hunt, one of the Ottawa male saw them and started approaching them, one thing he did know was that one Mapogo (the one that had bent spine) was stalking him. Bent spine leap on to the young male and the young male fought hard the lionesses jumped in to help, at one stage there were four adult lions on the Ottawa male. The fight didn’t last long, the lionesses ran back to the cubs and Bent spine moved back and started roaring. The other two Mapogo were only about 800 metres away they came flying into the scene but everything had calmed down by the time they arrive. The pride had left bent spine and Ottawa males lying about 100 meters apart. We hope he is not badly injured, he did look fine. The brother was seen about three kilometers away from the battle site early this evening. The other accident happened in the morning, while watching the pride doing what they do best, sleep. Abruptly one lioness, the short-tailed female began to stalk something we all could not see. She then jumped up and ran and disappeared. We followed to where we could hear commotion of fighting lions. We discovered that found that the 13-month old cub who lost her mother and had been wondering around on his own for the last few months had finally found the pride. Surprisingly and unfortunately it was not the happy family reunion that we expected and hoped for, as the lioness started attacking the youngster. What happened next was really remarkable though; Mapogos never cease to amuse. The mapogo male with short Mohawk mane known to be the unfriendly one to the cubs and all other lions came in and fought off the lionesses and then stood over the youngster to protect it against the aggressive female. Many of us who think we know him well would have never expected him to that. The rejection of the cub by her own pride did, however suggest that his future is very uncertain now, one lioness at least clearly didn’t want to accept him back in the pride.
The December heat has definitely ensured that swimming at in the sand River remains a favourite activity. Huge herds of elephant prevail along paths through the forests to the Sand river to quench their thirst and to cool themselves down. There are lots of baby elephant born at the moment.
Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer) A small bachelor herd of buffalo have made the northern section of the reserve their home and are seen most mornings. They have also taken to sleeping on the plains in front of camp. Our hippos are now also back in camp and are seen most nights. Some guests were even lucky enough to see a leopard strolling through the camp.
More than the big five….. We had a fantastic sighting of giraffe on our drive. This was one of the pictures of them next to our vehicle.
With the help of some willing guests two rangers were able to catch and measure this magnificent specimen. It measured over 4.4 meters (14.43 feet) long. After some pictures and video the snake was left unharmed as it lazily slithered into the bush. In and around camp
Death is never far away in the wild African bush. Our resident herd of buffalo bulls were resting on our lawn this morning not knowing that only few hundred metres away two big cats were watching them from across the river. (Makhulu Mapogo and Ximhungwe lioness)