So with much pomp and ceremony, there has been very little rain. A few showers here and there but nothing significant. Instead of sweltering heat followed by thunderstorms which I have been expecting. It has been chilly in the mornings although I refuse to wear a fleece this time of the year on principal. The bush has turned green but everything seems to be on standby for some real rain. Having said that, the trend of wonderful sightings has continued into the green season. The animals are plentiful and putting on a show. There are also wildflowers, and all the migratory birds are back.
Black flycatcher chicks
I can’t believe it is that time of the year again! It’s lambing season for the beautiful Impala.
There is a lot to say on the habits of the leopards here at the moment. Starting with Xhikavi, she has given birth and has put her cubs in the drainage line just east of the lodge. The problem for her is that she is in a love triangle with Nyleleti and Dewane. Dewane seems to be the jealous type as he has killed cubs before and has been seen searching the drainage line for the cubs. Kashaan and Nyeleti have been doing the rounds. We saw Kashaan recently, he followed vultures to where 3 hyenas had a new born hippo carcass. He viewed the hyenas from afar and lost interest and kept moving. Tlangisa is revelling in the new born impalas, the new borns don’t stand a chance and she eats regularly and keeps a fresh kill all the time for her cubs.
Thlangisa with cubs
Thlangisa and cubs wanting attention
The cheetah is a large feline inhabiting most of Africa and parts of Iran. It is the only extant member of the genus Acinonyx
The lion sub-adults are all growing quickly. We haven’t been seeing the Othawas of recently as they have been hanging out in the east. The Ximungwes however have been seen sleeping everywhere. We had the Majingilanes on a buffalo kill North of the lodge. It made for some fine viewing especially the activity of all the scavengers. All the trees were full of vultures.
Wild dog pack
Large pack of Cape hunting dogs playing on our lawn at Inyati Game Lodge.
The Nile crocodile is an African crocodile and the second largest extant reptile in the world, after the saltwater crocodile
There have been many herds of elephants and buffalo and zebra around attracted by all the growth in the areas that burnt. The elephants have been putting on a good show coming to bath and play in the wallows by the lodge and in the river.
Going forward we are looking forward to some decent rain and we hope some new lion cubs in the new year.
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 Ranger) & Solly (Tracker)
Khimbini (Senior Ranger) & Rodger (Tracker)
Matthew (Senior Guide) & Nelson (Tracker)
This month’s sightings report compiled by Matthew Brennan
The weather: The last rumbles of thunder have faded into the distance and the flickering lightning is finally stilled. Summer is ending and the cool breath of the tropical winter touches us. It ruffles the surface of the water and shakes leaves which are already turning gold. The afternoon showers provided a refreshing relief from the warm days and cleared the air to reveal stunning blue skies. The hint of cloud remaining on the skyline provided us with the backdrop for some beautiful sunrises and sunsets.
Wildlife: Game viewing this month has been fantastic. Along with the herds of elephant, zebras, kudus and other general game, there have been some great sightings of cape hunting dogs. Lion sightings have been a daily occurrence and the antics of the cubs have been a continual source of entertainment. Distant drives and patient tracking were rewarded with some excellent sightings.
Leopard (Panthera pardus)
Magnificent cat!! He has grown to be large male, becoming even more confident, still holding his territory and dominating most of the Western sector. We have seen him frequently and life is good for Dayone as there are no young males in his territory at the moment.
Hlabankunzi and cub
This mother and her young continue to thrill us with their presence and ever playful behaviour. Here they climb up the tree; incredibly the mother jumps down from a great height, the cub then contemplates doing the same but then decides to climb down little closer.
The mother got worried a bit seeing the cub running around the tree considering jumping down from such great height, and then she stepped in close to helped it down.
Few days later she killed an impala ram and large herd buffaloes came past the area, cub was happily viewing from a safe perch as mum was feeding on an impala carcass at the base of the tree at the time.
The illusive Metsi and her cub were out and seen about several times this month. On one afternoon we followed them for a while she was en route to an impala kill. She walked the cub a considerable distance but was kind enough to have some water and grooming breaks in between.
She normally keeps her kill on the ground unlike most leopards that will put up a tree to keep it away from other predators like hyenas, having it on the kill ground means that she needs to stay alert the whole time, every time the bush moves she jumps up, listens and scans the area for any intruders.
Lion (Panthera leo)
The last three months have been tough for the Selati coalition, the Majinilane have been keeping them on their toes. There was another dispute between these two groups of male lions this month. Three Majingilane male lions came across one Selati male, the smaller one and a Othawa lioness mating. Majingilane retreated immediately and one other Selati join in chasing the intruding males north-west across the sand river. We herd commotion across the river unfortunately we could follow across. It was on few minutes after the two Selati males chased Majingilane males, when suddenly we saw our boys running back across with the three males chasing them back. It was only the younger two of the Selati males that were in this territorial dispute. The Majingilane had the upper hand since three of the Selati we still injured, two were injured in previous battle and the third one was injured by buffalo and was not well enough to participate in this fight. There were no major added injuries on the recent territorial fight. However one of the males who was actively fighting and chasing the three intruding male is now badly limping. The boys are recovering well even managed to kill two buffalo cows in one evening.
One of the Selati males showing battle scars after the encounter with the Majingilane males.
These big cats are still thrilling guests and staff alike. The three lionesses and seven cubs are forever present; cubs are always energetic and playful. Sadly, the fourth lioness of the pride has not been seen for over two months , she have not been well for some time and it seems as if we have “lost” her . Of the seven cubs we think six are females and a male, if it all goes well 50% or more survive we could end up with a big pride in our reserve.
Elephant (Loxodonta africana)
We had astonishing elephant sightings in March. On one afternoon while driving along the bank of Sand River we found ourselves amongst a breeding herd of Africa’s largest land mammal – the Elephant. We sat back and watched as the whole family walk pass in their way to the river. We spent about 30 minutes watching these animals swimming and the young males being their usual self, play fighting. It’s always a nice treat to watch elephant take a bath they become so playful like kids.
Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer)
The large herd of buffalo consisting of about 500 animals stayed on our traversing area for most of the month. Smaller herds were also seen on the northern section of our property. Some lonely bulls and bachelor herd have been spotted several times this month.
More than the big five…..
The male cheetah was spotted and seen several times this month, he has visited this area for over a year, it was exciting to see him again.On one afternoon we set off to try to find him it wasn’t easy, Thanks to the team of rangers and tracker for their hard work and determination we found and the end. What great afternoon I had, viewing a beautiful animal shared with awesome group of guests. Unfortunately it was rather late when we finally find him, we had to share the sighting rather quickly and some of the guides didn’t get to see him before it got too dark. Since cheetahs are diurnal we don’t view them at night. And the next morning, he killed an impala only to have it stolen by three lionesses, ooh what a bad start of a day.
We even got see pair of klipspringer, these antelopes are seldom seen in our region. The name Klipspringer is the Afrikaans for ‘rock jumper’ and alludes to the animal’s ability in rocky territory where it can be seen moving freely, seemingly on tiptoe. They are the only antelope that lives on cliffs and rock outcrops. Here are some of their adoptions: The klipspringer stands on the flat tips of its truncated hooves, walking and running in a jerky, stilted manner, their coat is rough and the hairs are hollow, brittle and loose, which makes for good padding and insulation.
In and around camp
Elephants, waterbucks, warthogs, nyalas and giraffes are amongst the few animals that came to the camp during the month of this report.
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
Large Rhino cow walking off happily after being darted and infused. Good people of the Sabi Sand in the backround proudly looking on in the hope that our efforts will save these majestic animals
More Rhino being darted to have the horn poisoned. The Sabi Sand is aiming to have all the rhino infused in the next few days.
As part of our ongoing effort to combat rhino poaching on the Sabi sand, we are undertaking the horn infusion treatment as pioneered by the Rhino Rescue Project.We view poisoning rhino horn as a valuable intervention to deflect prospective poachers. For more info visit: www.rhinorescueproject.com/
As part of our ongoing effort to combat rhino poaching on the Sabi sand, we are undertaking the horn infusion treatment as pioneered by the Rhino Rescue Project.We view poisoning rhino horn as a valuable intervention to deflect prospective poachers.
What does the treatment entail?
The horn is treated by infusing it with an indelible dye that contaminates the horn and renders it useless for ornamental – or medicinal use. A full DNA sample is harvested and three matching identification microchips are inserted into the horns and the animal itself. At the owners discretion, the indelible dye can be mixed with with special compound of depot ectoparasiticides (specifically acaricides containing pyrethroids and organophosphates) and a tracking device can also be fitted.
How was the treatment developed?
Following the poaching on their reserve, Rhino Rescue Project started researching a number of possible solutions to prevent having another rhino poached and in the process, heard about a group of wildlife vets researching the treatment and management of ectoparasites in rhino through the use of depot ectoparasiticides. Much research went into all products readily available on the market for treating livestock, to ensure that firstly, they would have not have a negative effect on the rhino or its horn, and secondly that they would have no impact on other fauna and flora sharing the same ecosystem. Since the Reserve is dependent on tourists as its major source of income, dehorning of animals was not deemed to be a practical solution – especially since dehorned rhinos often still get poached for the base of their horns, and the horns grow back. Furthermore, some research studies have indicated that dehorning can have adverse impacts on the animal’s social structures and breeding patterns. Frequent darting of large mammals, as is required for dehorning to be an effective deterrent, leads to increased health risks and is often the cause of an animal’s life span being shortened substantially.
Is this treatment legal?
Yes. The Rhino Rescue Project horn treatment methodology is the only legally-recognised treatment option available at present (a full legal opinion is available upon request).
What steps have been taken to prevent treated horns being accidently ingested?
The fact that the rhino’s in the reserve are treated is widely publicised by means of 200+ signposts around the reserve’s perimeter and, should a treated rhino be killed, the indelible dye is clearly visible inside the horn – a clear indication that the horn had been tampered with. We strongly suggest involving staff in the horn treatment process to assist (with menial tasks) as their involvement ensures that word about the treatment spreads rapidly via the “bush telegraph”.
What is the purpose of the dye and how does it work?
The dye is bright pink and clearly seen inside a treated horn, regardless of whether the ectoparasiticides have been used, which means that there can be no doubt about whether a horn is treated or not. It is similar to products used in the banking industry and has the added benefit that it is visible on an x-ray scanner. Thus a treated horn, even when ground to a fine powder, cannot be passed through security checkpoints unnoticed and so airport security checkpoints are almost certain to pick up the presence of the dye. The dye cannot be removed in any way and therefore the horn is rendered useless in terms of ornamental use. This contamination should also discourage medicinal use. Furthermore, sniffer dogs have been trained at a professional training facility to track rhino horns containing the dye, even in minuscule quantities.
Is the dye animal- and eco-friendly?
It is 100% organic and biodegradable (a full fact sheet is available upon request).
Is the treatment injected?
No, it is not possible to inject into a rhino horn. Rather it is infused into the horn using a patented high-pressure device designed by the wildlife vet who developed and oversees the programme, Dr. Charles van Niekerk.
What is the reason for the DNA sample and microchips?
To further assist in the ongoing war against poaching, scientists at Onderstepoort have made available a full DNA sampling kit, called RHODIS. Information from the sample is added to the national database of rhino, with the aim of aiding the legal community in securing prosecutions in cases where poached horns are recovered by being able to trace exactly which animal the horn belonged to. The microchips also serve as a means of identification. By law, any rhino that is immobilised for whatever reason, now has to be microchipped.
What is the purpose of the tracking device?
The tracking device allows the real-time tracking and location of the rhino horn using the same technology as vehicle anti-hijacking tracking systems.
What are depot ectoparasiticides, acaracides, pyrethroids and organophosphates?
Registered depot ectoparasiticides are used to to treat ectoparasitic infestations.
• An ectoparasiticide is an antiparasitic drug used in the treatment of ectoparasitic infestations
• An ectoparasitic infestation is a parasitic disease caused by organisms that live primarily on the surface of the host.
• Acaricides are pesticides that kill members of the Acari group, which includes ticks and mites
• A pyrethroid is an organic compound similar to the natural pyrethrins produced by the flowers of pyrethrums (Chrysanthemum cinerariaefolium and C. coccineum). Pyrethroids now constitute a major commercial household insecticides
• In health, agriculture, and government, the word “organophosphates” refers to a group of insecticides or nerve agents acting on the enzyme acetylcholinesterase. Organophosphate pesticides irreversibly inactivate acetylcholinesterase, which is essential to nerve function in insects, humans, and many other animals.
Are any of the products highly specialised and/or illegal?
No. They are all freely available over-the-counter products. We do not use any compounds which could be harmful to the animals we treat.
Are the products used exactly as directed?
Yes, in terms of their registration and classification as per Act 36 of 1947 (Fertilizers, Farm Feeds, Agricultural Remedies and Stock Remedies Act). The products are registered to treat ectoparasites in cattle, horses and sheep, so the only extra-label use is that it is being used on rhino instead.
What is extra-label use?
The South African Medical Journal says “The term ‘off-label’ means that the medicine is used in another way or for an indication other than those specified in the conditions of registration of the medicine and as reflected in it’s labelling. It does, however, not necessarily imply that the medication is not effective or is unsafe to be used in this way. Off-label use has become an important part of mainstream, legitimate medical practice worldwide and is especially common in oncology, obstetrics, paediatrics, infectious diseases (notably HIV) and rare diseases. Depending on the circumstances, off-label use of medication can vary from being experimental or controversial to standard practice and even state-of-the-art treatment.”
Wikipedia makes mention of the fact that “The veterinarian has a much smaller pharmacopeia available than does the human practitioner. Therefore, drugs are more likely to be used off-label”.
Are the products poisonous?
The selections of depot ectoparasiticides for inclusion in the treatment compound are registered for use in animals and only Ox-Pecker friendly and Vulture safe products have been used. Ectoparasiticides are not intended for consumption by humans, and are registered as such. Although not lethal in small quantities, they are toxic, and symptoms of accidental ingestion may include, but are not limited to, severe nausea, vomiting and convulsions.
What if an animal is injured by a treated horn (ie. in a fight between two rhino)?
There are no side-effects. It is the same as a cow with a lesion on its leg being dipped.
Are you trying to kill people?
No. The compounds are toxic, but non-lethal in small quantities. Research into quantities of rhino horn used for medicinal purposes has indicated that no more than a pinch of ground horn is generally used at one time.
What is the reason for treating the horn?
Aside from the health benefits to the rhinos, it is the hope of the Rhino Rescue Project that the treatment of the horn will deter the poacher and prevent the rhino being killed in the first place. We are hoping that no treated horn enters the market, as that will mean that programme is successful and the rhino horns are being left intact on the rhino.
When can a rhino be treated?
Rhinos can be treated at any age as long as they have a horn. Compound quantities are adjusted for all cases.
What are the costs involved?
The treatment is fairly inexpensive compared to other alternatives and has a minimal impact on the environment, and no impact on tourism, legitimate trophy hunting activities or the country’s economy in general. The cost includes the professional time (ie. application of the treatment by a vet, taking of DNA sampling and insertion of microchips and tracking devices) as well as the compounds and consumables involved (anaesthetic, treatment compound, dye, DNA kit, microchips, tracking device). As flying time is highly variable, this will be invoiced directly by a helicopter pilot, in cases where one’s services are required.
Is the treatment effective?
All animals in the initial treatment sample are in excellent health. Since treatment was administered approximately 18 months ago, two cows have given birth to healthy calfs, both of whom are lactating normally. Another cow has fallen pregnant during this time. Moreover, not a single treated animal has been poached since administration of the treatment. The treatment could thus be said to have brought about a 100% decrease in poaching. A year after administration of the treatment, a number of the animlas horns were re-tested to establish distribution of the treatment inside the horn over time and to ensure that the treatment did not find its way into the animal’s system and affect its overall health. Ideally, from a research perspective, a four year growth cycle should elapse before we can say with certainty that the treatment is 100% effective. However, with the current poaching numbers skyrocketing by the day, our fear is that in four years time, this information will be useless, and there won’t be rhinos left to treat.
How does the treatment affect legal hunting?
We believe that treatment of horns could slot neatly into the trophy hunting trade. If Government would endorse an initiative whereby only rhinos with treated horns may be hunted, it can be ensured that these animals are no longer valued solely for their horns. Reputable hunting farms whose business is true trophy hunting should, in principal, easily reconcile themselves with having horns treated since the horns are not to be removed from the rhino anyway.
Why should professional hunters support treatment?
Unscrupulous game farmers have managed to trade in horns unchecked, under the guise of legal hunting, and have thus been feeding the demand from the virtually insatiable market. Only those individuals who are interested more in the horn and less in a trophy could possibly have objections to having horns treated.
How long does the treatment remain effective?
The Rhino Rescue Project horn treatment should remain effective for approximately three to four years (a full horn growth cycle), after which re-administration would be required.
What are the long-term effects of the treatment?
Since all the products used are biodegradable and eco-friendly, there are no long-term effects on the environment. The treatment “grows” out with the horn and so poses no long-term effect and, if a treated animal dies of natural causes, retrieval and registration of the horn is a legal requirement.
Is the treatment programmed intended to be used as a long-term solution?
It is our hope that by the time the treatment needs to be reapplied, a more sustainable solution would have been found rendering re-administration unnecessary. We see the treatment purely as a means to “buy time” while a long-term solution is being researched. No long-term solution, whether it be legalisation of trade or otherwise, is likely to be implemented within the next four years. Therefore, a rhino horn treated today for the purposes of keeping the animal alive, can easily be sold, should the animal’s owner desire to do so after the four year growth cycle has elapsed and the horn is once again free of any compounds.
What are the overall benefits of including the ectoparasiticides in to the treatment?
The inclusion of ectoparasiticides in to the treatment assists towards improved health of the animals. Wild animals are not normally be treated against parasites – we believe strongly in nature being allowed to run its course and human intervention being kept to a minimum – however, the inclusion in to the treatment potentially neutralises a dual threat (both poaching and parasites). This treatment benefits the rhino owner, does not harm the environment, does not harm other living organisms, has no adverse effects on tourism or the economy, is cost-effective, legal and can be completed in under an hour. In other words, it is a minimally-invasive procedure intended to uphold the status quo with regard to the trade in animal parts.
Moreover, insurance brokers and underwriters have come onboard with the treatment and offer insurance for the procedure itself. They are also in the process of exploring the option of expanding to include insurance cover against poaching for animals with treated horns.
The weather: We have had an amazing October at Inyati – we experienced a lot of really warm days with temperatures reaching highs of 39° C but we also had a few thunder showers which have caused the vegetation to explode into summer bloom, with many trees sharing their colourful and fragrant flowers with us.
The Wildlife: We have been spoilt with many sightings of the predators, general game and bird activities. Two of our resident leopards have produced cubs and at least two lionesses from our resident prides have cubs. It’s really an exciting time in the reserve. We anticipate the arrival of many new-borns in the coming weeks; the bush will be dotted with baby impala, zebra, kudu, giraffe and other plains game. We will need more clouds to open up and wet the grounds before this happens.
Leopard sightings have been remarkable this month, lots of mother and cub interactions. The highlight for me was the sighting of a Dam3 female leopard feeding on a Southern African python. The python we estimated at 3.5 metres (around 10 feet) in length and this female must have done this before; to make a kill like this requires years of experience and skill.
This leopard has grown to be a brave majestic mal. He has had few more territorial fights with Ndlevane male and he was able to come up stronger than the elderly male. His preferred hunting tactics often provide us with some great photographic opportunities as he often poses on top of termite mounds waiting for the warthogs to come out.
There are few males young males venturing into the area, the territorial Dayone male is kept on his toes, he needs to mark and patrol continuesly to protect the two liters of cubs that are in his territory.
Hlabankunzi and Metsi females
We are delighted to report that the two mothers Hlabankunzi and Metsi have finally brought their cubs out for us to see. They both have one cub each, we are not sure of the sex yet. Their den sites are on the rocky outcrops which allow us to have great view of them without getting into their personal space. Metsi’s cub is very brave, it often approaches the vehicles and the poor mother has to constantly bring it back him.
Tlangisa female leopard has made an occasional appearance, she was looking her best this morning, it was so nice to see her again after a long time. We followed tracks of a pair of leopard for long distance and then located her completely out of her territory it become obvious that she was after one of the male.
After giving up the chase of the male, Tlangisa she wondered back towards her territory and come across two hyenas and a new (unidentified) young male leopard that had a duiker carcass hoisted in the tree and the young leopard was certainly not sharing his meal. The hyenas did their best to get to the carcass and even tried to use the fallen logs as step ladder in attempt to get to the carcass (note the duiker’s leg hanging above the hyena) Tlangisa came into the area and just lay there and watched for a while before moving off.
This female continues to come deeper into our traversing area; she is normally resident across our eastern boarders. On one evening we followed her out hunting she was really determent to make a kill for herself and cub but when we left for our dinner she still haven’t caught anything and we could locate her the next morning.
Lion (Panthera leo)
Let’s face it; it would be bigger news if lions were NOT seen at Inyati lodge. Well, that certainly wasn’t the news this month.
Selati coalition and Othawa pride
The Selati males spent most of the month trailing either Othawa lionesses or Ximhungwe pride, which has given the buffalo a bit of a break from these killer cats.
At least two lionesses of Othawa pride have given birth, and after a brief sighting of the lionesses with cubs in the sand river, we closed the area to game drives to avoid any pressure on her and her offspring.
She has been seen several times on her hunting forays and appeared to be heavy with milk, which is a good sign.
Unfortunately that seems to have all changed and it appears that one of them have lost her cubs as she was seen mating with the Selati male.
The Selati males were seen crossing the Sand River on one evening in search of buffaloes they seems so determent to find food; so much for the hunt we found them the next morning lying happily among the Ximhungwe lionesses.
Well, what can we say -there are priorities in life.
And by the afternoon there was mating going on. One of the lionesses, the short tail female have given birth in a secluded den site on the hill top of a rocky outcrop, we await patiently our first view of the cubs.
Elephant (Loxodonta africana)
This was another month of the elephant and multitudes of these large grey mammals we seen throughout the area, some in breeding herds, bachelor herds and lone bulls.
We have had frequent sightings of this one particular bull with both his tusks half broken in the lodge and on our airstrip. This individual male was rather friendly he would happily leave the lodge when ask to but we had hard time keep him out, as he kept coming back to destroy this in the lodge.
Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer)
We have had on a few sighting of the large herd of buffalo this month. With the rains there are plenty of grasses and water for them, they traverse the whole reserve even areas that they would normally avoid because of lack of rivers or dams. There are lots of small herd of bull and lone spread around the reserve.
On one cloudy morning we came across a ”Dagga boy” (old buffalo bull) that gave us an evil eye. It was a good place to if you are buffalo because at mere 900 metres the renowned buffalo hunters, the Selati males were resting for the day.
More than the big five…..
Inyati is teeming with wildlife again; viewing of general game has been particularly good, with the numbers of zebra and wildebeest sightings increasing from the previous month.
It’s not all about big elephant and large male lion! We often remind our guests that the experience here is also about appreciating the smaller fauna such as frogs and birds, and being absorbed by the particularly stunning surroundings. On one of the afternoon drive we spent about 20 minutes watching the most fascinating family of dwarf mongoose foraging on the ground with one on the branch watching out for predators.
We have also been experiencing large concentrations of giraffe in the area, most probably due to the surrounding trees which are all sprouting new growth. It is amazing to watch the journeys of giraffe move elegantly through the area and how they drink, they always approach the water cautiously and then splay their long legs and drink with a watchful eye out for predators.
In and around camp
The Camp itself continues to be a magnet for various species of mammals and birds. The sightings this month have been really extraordinary. Seen from the lodge was a family of elephant walk silhouetted against the glowing orange sky. Our resident hippos herd have been entertaining as they came out to feed on our lawn at night.
And while enjoying our high tea just before one of the afternoon drives Dayone male leopard came strolling through the lodge in patrol of his territory.
The animals in the Sabi Sand Reserve are named after their territories. The predators have been given names and the guides and trackers know the animals according to the names they have given them.
The month of September brought with it rising temperatures and serious dry season conditions for the wildlife to contend with. With most of the surface water drying up, the wildlife has been forced to congregate in huge numbers along the sand river and dams. However the first rainstorm of the season also came along towards the end of the month, and brought some relief to the dry vegetation in the area. The temperatures have been fluctuating between 38 and 45°C, making the swimming pool very popular. Spring is a time of change and strong contrasts between the dry barren months and summer’s new beginnings.
The landscape has begun blossoming into life, with a number of trees bursting with colour.
The game has been exploding out of the bush this month and the guides have been notching up some incredible sightings of lion, leopard, elephants and wild dog. Our general game viewing with large herds sighted regularly, was fantastic.
This male leopard provided most of our leopard viewing of the month. Dayone was very active patrolling his territory covering the entire length of the area. One afternoon we watched him licking, rubbing his face and body on a old buffalo skull. Leopards and lion often do this possible to disguise their smell for hunting purposes. He was seen a day latter lying on an old termites mound, where he waited for few hours for warthogs to come out, this time his trick didn’t work, the hogs stayed in termites mound until he left.
The enormous Khashane male leopard had a hard time this month; he is carrying few battle wounds clearly indicating that he was faced with formidable challenger who was determined to take over the territory. If he is looking this badly injured yet still won the fight since is still in his territory I would loved to see the state the other male is in. He also had close call with lionesses where he had to retreat into safety of a tree on two occasions during the month of this report.
Exciting news: Hlabankunzi female dropped; we only just heard not seen them yet so we not sure how many in a litter. She is keeping them in exclusive den site and were keeping clear of the area were think she have them hidden just to give them time until she ready to let them out for us to see. We will certainly keep you posted.
We were fortunate to follow her in one of her hunting outings, she killed and impala fed on it for a day and half before losing it to a passing hyena, she should have put it up a tree.
She have recovered well from her battle wounds really looking her best now. Xikhavi tried to mate with Dayone male a few times this month but he was being himself again playing hard to get, he just kept walking away, ignoring her. She had to follow him completely out of her territory putting herself in danger with the other females for nothing as her never mated with her; hopefully he will give in soon.
This female continues to surprise us with her changing behaviour, becoming more and more relaxed and tolerant of vehicles. We had some great viewing of her this month even manage to follow her while hunting, a clear indication she is more habituated to vehicles now, really good to see after many years of us trying to get her to accept our presence.
There were two new male leopards seen this month in our section of the reserve, we located a very-very elderly male who is believed to have come from the North-Eastern Sabi Sand. Another male was seen briefly at Sand River, he got himself pinned between two Buffalo bulls and the Sand River. The Buffalo held their line and pushed the leopard toward the river, the leopard then bisected the buffalo bolting past both their noses in a yellow flash.
The Selati males and Ximhungwe lionesses have been very active giving great sightings throughout the month. The males are now starting to look like pride males as their girth and confidence improve. The four males killed three buffalos this month of which one was only couple of kilometres from the lodge.
One of the interesting things worth mentioning is that Majingelane male coalition had a few visits into area, keeping the Selati males on their toes. The larger male of Selati coalition of lions were seen running past the front of the lodge while roaring , one morning, upon close observation we noticed fresh, bleeding battle wounds, we latter received reports of two Majingelane males and one Othawa lioness were in the area he came running from. On the following drive we located one of the other males (one with bad limp) of the Selati male coalition with battle wounds.
There was also a 6 days of mating, copulating every 15 minutes between Selati male lion and Ximhungwe lioness, at the end of day 5 both lions appeared to be totally exhausted.
We followed Ximhungwe pride out on their hunt on one evening, they made few attempt hunting waterbucks but when we left they still hadn’t killed anything but the night was still young there was hope they could get something to eat. It was only two days later that we found them on a buffalo carcass and they were later joined by the four Selati males who helped to finish off the carcass.
The four Ximhungwe lionesses also managed to kill a zebra towards the end of the month which they fed on for couple of days; they successfully kept it safe from the Selati males.
There is an abundance of elephant around at the moment and it is not uncommon to see 4 to 5 different breeding herds on a game drive, predominantly along the Sand River. On one afternoon were came across an elephant cow with unusual tusk formation, the tusks have grown across each other making it hard for her to use in feeding.
“A battle of the giants” we witnessed two bull elephant fighting, it started as play fight as they testing each other strength but then one hit hard the other bull responded by stabbing harder with his tusk then it was a war that left us very dusty. The battle ended when one bull turn and run for his life with the other one chasing him.
The large herds of buffalo spent most of the month on our traversing area not without the lion harassing them. The lion and buffalo interactions have left guests in absolute awe of the cycle of life in nature.
The eternal battle between buffalo and lion is a spectacle in itself – but to witness an active hunt and to see the final take down and kill is a rare and special sight.
More than the big five…..
With the great hunting success of the lion prides, our hyenas have also been having a good time, many free meals left lying around. We have been fortunate to locate a hyena den site with two little cubs and few adults.
After feeding on a smelly, rotting buffalo carcass, this hyena needed to take a dip in a dam.
The general game sightings have also been fantastic; due to the waning water supplies, much activity takes place along the Sand river, which has been the focus of our activities this month.
A lone male wild dog came running into our property, he was very relaxed , hunting successfully on his own and hardly called or searched for the rest of the pack which will suggest that maybe his been separated for long time and has gotten used to being on his own.
There is a sub-adult malehippo who was kicked from herd by the dominant male, he now lives alone at our causeway . He has become very active and entertaining lately with a display of all sorts stunts , giving us a good show as we cross the causeway.
In and around camp
Elephants, leopard, buffaloes, impalas warthogs visited us in the lodge during the month. Most of the predators’ visits, happen at night but one of our early morning tea was interrupted by the three of the Selati male lions who came walk across our lawn searching for buffaloes that had spent the night in 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, and we are committed to keep you updated.
The month of September heralds the change of seasons at Inyati Game Reserve. It is a month of many colours, tones and shades. The ground offers up a tapestried carpet of autumnally coloured fallen leaves, with swathes of tiny purple flowers of the Bolusanthus speciosus trees, bright yellows of the Acacia nigrescens flowers and the electric greens of the kigelias. Everywhere there is life budding out in anticipation of the rains. We are now anxiously scanning the skies for rain, but as yet we only had couple of showers. But while there is still some water there is life, and in abundance. Even by the great standards of Sabi Sand, this last month has been incredibly special.
Tlangisa is still trying to establish a territory she seems to be settling in the centre -western sector of our reserve. She is reaching sexual maturity and she was seen this month introduced herself to Xinzele. He, however, took no interest in as she flirted with him for two days! He totally ignored all her advances apart from for the odd growl for all her hard work.
Hlabankunzi female is been keeping low recently and we hardly ever see her but one morning she was out and very entertaining, hunting.
The two cubs from Metsi female were found one morning but the nervous one soon lost us and the other one couldn’t care less he was just resting on a termite mound. He been making few kills, he got himself slender mongoose and once
with a very unusual kill, a porcupine! This has to e one of the difficult kill to make due to the large quills on these animals, even eating it may proves quite tricky to eat.
Xinzelehas been dominating the area around the river and was found lazing in a large jackalberry tree on a warm morning.The tension between him and Mashibanci male continues heating up, they were seen a territorial stand off again. At one stage Xinzele climb up into Tree Tops (our conference centre) roaring while Mashiabanci sat and glared from the opposite bank of sand river. Some of our guests were even witnesses to a war over dominance on the banks of the Sand River. These two larger male leopards territories shares sand river as the boundary there were seen patrolling their territories in the same area one opposite side of the river. It was not long before Xinzele approached Mashiabanci deep grow and salivating which often precedes a fight. After several minutes of posturing, they both charged forward with flailing claws in a fury of loud coughing calls. The battle was over in seconds, leaving each with a new set of scars. Xinzele was sighted the next day with few small puncture wounds on his chest and scratches on his face.
The Xikhavi female seem to have expanded he territory further upstream the river pass our lodge has not been seen too often, but it seemsshe is expanding her territory further west. She one of cause of the fight between the two males as she has been seen mating with both Xinzele and Mashiabanci on opposite banks of the river.
She is being found more consistently now further west along the Sand River and on one occasion unsuccessfully attempted to hunt some impala.
Yet another new male leopard was found this month, owing to open borders with Kruger national park some new or unknown animals to us cross into our reserve every so often. This male leopard was initially very skittish but relaxed nicely after some careful approaches.
Mopogos has been sticking together a lot lately. Two of the three were limping but they all doing very well, and seem to be holding their own against the threat from the east for now. On one they morning were feeling playful and affectionate, and shared these great moments of their life with us.They have been venturing east more lately possible inan attempt to re-enforce their eastern boundary. They are obviously feeling a little pressure but are more than holding their own.They currently face the significant threats of the 4 Machingelane males, who have taken already killed two of their brother and take part of their territory. And two other coalitions, one southeast and the other one in the northeast of Sabi sand game reserve.
Ximhungwe Pride of lion has not disappointed us this month. We have had almost daily sightings of the pride, which is expanding. Finally the mother lion bring her cubs out for to see, they are four, 3 males and 1 female cub. These new addition – four tiny chocolate brown cubs – has caused much delight as they emerge from their den to play in
the early evenings.
Ximhungwe Pride of lion
Unfortunately, before the end of the month the four new cubs had been reduced to two, possibly due to the ongoing
attrition between the other super-predators in the area, the spotted hyena.
We have also been fortunate to see a number of lion sightings with kills. The Ximhungwe pride’s grandmother, the mother of two older cubs has been extremely success despite her age. She killed two adult kudu within a week; these kills provided some great viewing and photographic opportunities. On one night she came through the lodge chased out our resident buffalo bulls and moved on to kill yet another kudu.
Elephant (Loxodonta africana)
Elephant galore! Lone bulls and vast matriarch herds, often with some incredibly young elephant with them crash into the Sand River for a drink or to enjoy a cooling swim. One momentous event saw a breeding herd of 25 elephant, spooked by Ximhungwe pride at ” skelem” crossing of sand river, come thundering and splashing through the peace flowing river water of the Sand river; the babies tripping, rolling and sliding through the water as their frantic mothers bellowed and pushed them onwards with their trunks.
Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer)
Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer)
The regular buffalo bulls are still hanging around Inyati lodge and we are enjoying great sightings if its day we see them they will rest in the loge at night.As Inyati is completely open, there is nothing stopping these huge herds coming right through camp. Guests have enjoyed sitting on their balconies watching the herds surround their tents as the buffalo and elephant enjoy the vegetation that the river provides.
More than the big five…..
We were fortunate enough to find few rare nocturnal species. A Serval cat, surprisingly this rodent assassin
allowed us to follow it as it hunted for mice. Note the radar dish like ears it uses to detect and lock onto prey.
This Honey badger entertained us for at least an hour yesterday afternoon. It dug out and ate about five Shiny Burrowing Scorpions.
Honey badger burrowing for scorpions
We even got see a Pangolin I have waited a year and half for one of these animals to show themselves out and he was surprisingly relaxed with vehicles around.
The pack of Wild Dogs made an appearance again this month. The pups are still doing well and growing fast, although there are now only four left. We followed them hunting on one morning we were rewarded later as we witnessed them killing an impala. The pack celebrated a recent impala kill by chasing each other up and down the
Grey-headed bush-shrike, An adaptable hunter, it will eat almost any animal that it can catch and kill, ranging from small insects to large one metre long snakes and other bird chicks. We watched him kill and eat
a venomous snake, vine or twig snake.
In and around camp
Our resident hippos continue to amuse all our guests with almost guaranteed viewings in hippo dam. If you are to miss seeing them on your way to camp then you will certainly not miss hearing them in the evenings. On a couple of
occasions, we have heard males fighting in the sand river near our upstream from the lodge in Sand River, sometimes lasting up to a couple of hours. The noises they make can be quite incredible, sometimes giving an impression that
one has been killed.
Inyati Game Lodge continues to surprise and tantalise us. Situated in arguably one of the best game viewing areas in the Africa, it’s a delight of being part of a park of about 22 OOO km² or approx. 2.2 million ha. There is no doubt that we have an incredible variety of animals and birds in the area, both nocturnal and diurnal. The leopards, hyenas and lion calls that ring so clearly and so close on some nights, and the numerous tracks that await us in the mornings are all testimony to this variety and to a nocturnal world that goes largely unseen. Yes it was very cold this month but every cold morning we had was definitely worth it, animals were all out there.
Metsi and cubs, She has been mostly far in the south and west of our traversing area! We have notice that she stays away from her cubs for long time lately some times over two weeks. We think the cubs are already being pushed out by Metsi and will become independent soon. Only one of her cubs has been seen for the last two weeks so we suspect that the other young male, the nervous one has been killed by one of the territorial males, Xhinzele, Babalas or Kashane.
The remaining cub is very relaxed with vehicles we have been seeing on the western boundary possibly to avoid the dominant male leopards are that roam our reserve. Xikhavi female has been seen few time times this month she seems to have moved her territory slightly more west. She was seen mating with Xindzele male. She later killed impala on the afternoon Xindzele male leopard join her filled his belly and then took the carcass up a tree. And the next morning a lioness join them! She chased them off, climbed up the tree and stole the carcass. Hlabankunzi female and Khashane male were chased up two separate trees by the three lionesses from the Ximungwe pride, accompanied by one male of the Mapogo brothers. They spent hours in the trees, staring at lions below. The lions soon lost interest and moved off into the shade, leaving the leopards bare trees.
Lion sightings have been great, on one morning we followed up on the noises of lions and buffalo interactions we heard the night before. It was only after a few minutes of followings tracks that we found two male lions (Mapogo) and a lioness from Ximhungwe pride on a buffalo kill. Mapogos are, as always, having some domestic disputes. A quiet afternoon nap at the buffalo carcass erupted into a full on brawl war. The Mapogo are showing signs of a recent battle with a neighbouring coalition. They have deep scratches and bite marks. Three of the Ximungwe lionesses have cubs at present. They range in ages from 2 to 10 months old re
spectively. One of the Ximhungwe lionesses killed an impala and went to collect her two cubs to join her on the feast. The Ottawa pride was seen also this month we watched trying to stalk a very young rhino calf. The calf stuck close to its mother and she protected it and mother rhino charged the pride, they soon lost interest and moved off.
There were numerous herds of these gentle beasts during the month of this report especially along the Sand River. The river is a great attraction in the winter as most of the water holes are drying up so when animals need to drink we know where to find them. We have been privileged to have number of great sightings from the veranda of the lodge.
The large herd entered our traversing area, entertaining us for 3 days. Action packed viewing included mating, play fight and wallowing in Cheetah flat pan. The young adult took advantage of the situation, there were plenty interaction between the young adults and playful calves.
More than the big five…..
Spotted HyenaDen, not so long ago we had wild dogs denning of our property now its hyenas, we have been spoilt here this year with young wildlife.
There seems to be only one female with two 4 month old cubs. Unlike wild dogs all female in a clan will breed but the lower ranking females typically use a den away from the communal den site. Both male and female hyena have very similar sexual organs making it very difficult to tell sex but because there are two cubs and one larger than the other suggest that one is female (larger)and other one male( smaller). If they both male they should be the same size and if two females one would have kill the other before emerging from the den. All members of this little family including the cubs are very relaxed even when the mother is away from the den and we have enjoyed some fantastic viewing of their interaction and curiosity behaviour. We hope she stays around for us to enjoy this interesting animal.
In and around camp
The game viewing from the lodge has been great with sightings of waterbuck, kudu, warthog, impala and giraffes. A journey of 13 Giraffe in front of the lodge at one there were visibly nervous after a male leopard sauntered by a few minutes earlier.