Tag Archives: Biology

N’wendzamhala – December 2012 Wildlife Journal

The weather: Nwendzamhala is Shangaan word for December it translates to “the visits of impalas”.  During this month life seems to explode in this part of the world. We have had a good amount of rainfall, interspersed with sunny days, creating that characteristically crisp, clear air that adds an edge of brightness to our world. The bush is infused with the wonderful aroma of the earth stirred to life by rain – a scent that is impossible to describe, yet so evocative of Africa in the rainy season.

Wildlife: The rains have given life to the landscape and the earth and 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 firecrackers of 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.Lion (Panthera leo)

Leopard (Panthera pardus)

Dayone male

Dayone maleThe interesting duel between the Dayone and Nyeleti male leopards has continued with the younger Nyeleti male still fancying his chances against the recovering Deyone male. At the beginning of the month the young Nyeleti even managed to take over Dayone’s impala kill. But then the tables have turned, Dayone have bounced back to life his injuries are healing quickly and he has been able to keep the young interloper at bay.

Hlabankunzi and Metsi female

Leopard - Metsi female & cubWe saw had only a couple of sighting of Metsi female and cub as she kept him/her well hidden. Hlabankunzi on the other hand have been seen regularly, the cub had become very relax with vehicles around.   She has been extremely successful on hunting.

Leopard - Hlabankunzi and Metsi female

One evening, while we were following her as she walked down the sandy track, she stopped and listened. We switched off the vehicle so that we could maybe hear what she had picked up. It was silent except for some frog and crickets chirping nearby. What had she heard? We ask ourselves. She continued walking into the bush and we lost sight of her. We waited patiently for her to reappear. Suddenly a single bleat, then another muffled sound. We drove around and found the leopard with an impala fawn firmly clamped in her powerful jaws. With her excellent hearing and eyesight, she had homed in on some hapless impala. And the next morning she caught a young warthog, unfortunately she lost both kills to Khashane male leopard who walked in, took over the carcasses and threatened the little cub up on the highest and smallest branch of tree.

Tlangisa female

We have had more yet still infrequent sightings of Tlangisa female leopard this month, on one afternoon she was found with very skittish male and we never got to identify him. She was certainly interested on mating but we are unsure if they ever did because the pair quickly lost us into the thick woodland.

Tlangisa female

Tai dam male

This is Shangwa’s young male that have been independent for almost a year now. Still residing up in the north, she surfaces very rarely in the dense environment up there but we have not seen Shangwa female for about a month and half now, we fear the elderly female might have passed on.

Lion (Panthera leo)

Selati coalition and Othawa pride

Selati coalition and Othawa prideThe coalition is still going very strong in defending their territory. During the month of this report we have seen them pushing more towards the eastern section of their territory, possibly following Othawa pride. This pride normally spent only half of their time on our property as about half of its territory is outside our traversing area. During the whole month of this report they were here and provided good viewing for us and our guests. One of the Selati male had a difficult month his condition deteriorated so much that he got too weak to keep up with the rest of the males.  He is believed to be suffering from some kind of trauma, maybe broken rib; possible got hit by buffalo in a hunt. He did how pull it through and he is recovering well.

Selati male Ximhungwe pride

Ximhungwe prideThe Pride sighting continue to dominate our lion viewing. At the begining of the month the four lionesses killed a large male kudu, one lioness got injured in this hunt but the wound isn’t bad and should heal quickly. We are excited to report that the short-tail lioness has 3 cubs, she have finally brought them out few times and some of us have been lucky to see these fluffy little cats. We have no photos of the cubs yet to share, we will most certainly keep you all updated…….

Elephant (Loxodonta africana)

African elephants are the elephants of the genus Loxodonta (Greek for 'oblique-sided tooth'[2]), consisting of two extant species: the African bush elephant and the smaller African forest elephant.

African elephants are the elephants of the genus Loxodonta (Greek for ‘oblique-sided tooth'[2]), consisting of two extant species: the African bush elephant and the smaller African forest elephant.

Breeding herds of elephant were abundant at the beginning of December. On one day guests enjoyed watching the ‘elephant parade’ as over 50 elephants walked in front of lodge, one after the other.

On the afternoon drive, they found them to the west of camp, upstream the sand river enjoying an afternoon swim and playing in the mud, two young bull put a good show for us they were sparing testing each other strength and skill.

Elephant (Loxodonta africana)

Elephant (Loxodonta africana)Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer)

Excellent buffalo viewing, with great number of bachelor groups, lonely bulls and the large herd of 500 animals frequenting our traversing area, life was made easy for us to complete the big five.

Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer)

More than the big five…..

The sighting of general game has been fantastic with a lots of kudus, nyalas, wildebeest, giraffe and zebras being sighted regularly throughout the month. Hippo action has also been great; on one occasion an adult bull attempted to take over the resident pod, but was disposed of rapidly and sent running back to the safety of the water. It was a very vocal encounter with lots of grunting and honking.Giraffe

The bird activity has been astounding…… building nest, calling and performing beautiful display to attract mates. A Black-bellied Bustard using a small termite mount as a perch from where his distinct “popping” call and distinguished pose should attract a mate.

Black-bellied Bustard

In and around camp

We have had a lot of activity around the lodge, despite the abundant availability of water all round the reserve. Buffalos, waterbuck, warthogs, bushbucks still frequent the lodge area; even zebras came to drinking in the waterhole in front of the lodge.

Zebras are several species of African equids united by their distinctive black and white stripes

Zebras are several species of African equids united by their distinctive black and white stripes

Other wildlife in and around camp are the newborn impalas. They make a perfect picture with their long unstable legs, small body and big ears. They seem to have a curious yet mischievous look on their little faces as they take in the big world around them. Due to the good rainfall we’ve received, there has been ample forage for them too.

An impala (Aepyceros melampus) is a medium-sized African antelope

An impala (Aepyceros melampus) is a medium-sized African antelope

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.

This month’s sightings report compiled by Khimbini Hlongwane

Nhlangula – October 2012 Wildlife Journal

Leopard patrolling the lodge

Inyati Game Lodge - OctoberThe 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 (Panthera pardus)

Leopard (Panthera pardus)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.

Dayone male

Leopard (Panthera pardus)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.

Leopard (Panthera pardus)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

Cubs - Hlabankunzi and Metsi femalesWe 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

INY Tlangisa femaleTlangisa 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.INY Tlangisa female

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.Hyena

Ravenscourt female

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.INY Ravenscourt female

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.

INY Selati coalition and Othawa pride

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.

INY Selati coalitionAt 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.

Ximhungwe pride

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.

INY Ximhungwe prideWell, 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.INY Elephant (Loxodonta africana)

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.INY Elephant (Loxodonta africana)

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.INY Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer)

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.

INY Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer)More than the big five…..

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.

INY Plains gameIt’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.

Dwarf mongoose

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.Elephant in Camp

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.Leopard patrolling the lodge

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.