Tag Archives: Game reserve

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Rest, reward and relaxation by Justice Malala

Justice MalalaFOOD FOR THOUGHT: Rest, reward and relaxation

12 Jun 2014 | Justice Malala

After the stresses and strains of the election, a rest cure is just what the doctor ordered, whether in hospital or in a game reserve, writes Justice Malala

NO SOONER do you think the elections are over and the madness will finally subside, than along comes SACP chairman Senzeni Zokwana. Yes, this worker champion, who has now been elevated to agriculture & fisheries minister by President Jacob Zuma, is also the immediate past president of the NUM.

He pays his cattle herder the princely sum of R26 a day. Yes, dear, that’s R26 a day. And the herder is on duty on Saturdays and Sundays, too. Zokwana is the same guy, mind you, who every second day rails against business and its poor wage increases. Watch this space. Before you can say “promotion” this minister will be on the ANC committee that is investigating the introduction of a basic minimum wage across the country. Before you can say “red tape” there will be a law introducing a basic minimum wage in SA. And before you can say “hypocrisy” you will find that our dear Zokwana is still paying his herder R26 a day.

After all, the SACP did come out guns blazing when the story was published, saying that newspapers were being “petty”. No-one said a word about the fact that Zokwana has been enjoying an annual salary of R1m since he became NUM president 14 years ago. I really am not surprised that Zuma arrived at an ANC national executive committee meeting on Friday looking ragged and had to be sent away by party secretary-general Gwede Mantashe. Then, on Saturday, it was announced that Zuma was admitted to a Pretoria hospital.

I don’t blame the guy for being so stressed. With the Zokwanas of this world in your cabinet you would also need a rest. And the election was exhausting too, according to Mantashe. “I must say these elections were quite punishing. I was told to go and sleep for nine days. I slept for nine days,” says Mantashe. We all need a holiday after that election campaign and the appointment of the Zokwanas of this world. Which is why it was such a pleasure to hop onto a Federal Air flight to Inyati Game Reserve out in the Sabi Sands, Mpumalanga, the other day. Like Mantashe and Zuma, I needed a break from the madding crowd.

Here is the thing about the bush. The minute you enter those small planes, or drive out of the city, the tension just flows out of you. There are no fences between Inyati and the other lodges in the Sabi Sands. The animals roam free. And there are plenty of them: on my first game drive we saw a leopard with two cubs, two herds of elephant and a testosterone of three male lions who were having their afternoon nap.Ask your game ranger not to park downwind from them: they let rip so often we had to either move on or die of asphyxiation.

There are three things you need to remember if you ever go to Inyati. First, the barman, Levi, is phenomenal. Second, the view from the reception area could make an Ernest Hemingway out of a pedestrian writer such as me. There is nothing like sipping a gin and tonic, writing your piece, and seeing animals come down to the river and have a drink. Or a leopard passing through the premises. Third, try to make sure you have a meal out in the bush on one of the days you are there. The staff build a huge fire, a bar is set up and a braai is laid on. The pap is phenomenal, the drinks flow, the stars are fiercely out in the night sky, the meat is delicious and all is good with the world. And I managed to put in a solid nine hours’ sleep, resting just like my hero, Mantashe. Divine.

**** Inyati Private Game Reserve

Sabi Sand Reserve Mpumalanga Tel: (013) 735-5125

*****Thuli Madonsela
****Excellent
***Good
**Poor
*Senzani Zokwana

Justice Malala is a weekly columnist for the Financial Mail.

August Safari Journal2013

Mhawuri

MhawuriThe weather:  August is the month on the cusp between our winter and spring, where the evenings are cool, chilly even and the days varying between warm, to almost hot even and other days with coolness borne on the southerly wind.                      

Wildlife: The wildlife viewing has been of an excellent standard this month. Warmer afternoons were accompanied by an increase in fantastic sightings. Barely an afternoon passed without a predator sighting and the Sabi Sand’s countless elephants provided much entertainment almost every day.

Leopard (Panthera pardus

Dayone Male

Dayone maleDayone male leopard is looking great at the moment and he is been actively marking and patrolling his territory. He seemed to be on the search for the Nyeleti male who has been sneaking into his territory. It was really a very busy month for him as he was seen mating with Metsi female and then he was mating with both Metsi and Hlabankunzi female at the same time. After four days Metsi left the two of them. Once Metsi was gone the mating resumed beyond the norm and they were copulating at about every 5 minutes , lasting longer than a good five days.

Dayone male mating

Nyeleti Male

This male is known for killing the Ravenscourt female and he is still determined to find a territory this month. He has been covering great distance and appears to be on the trail of Hlabankunzi female and cub, however with no success. One morning we saw Nyeleti male trying to get to the Ravenscourt young male who he followed deep into the western sector, luckily for the young leopard,  he was denied access by Selati male who was resting under a tree that the young leopard was in.  Nyeleti male

Later in the month the Nyeleti male was reported to have had a fight with Khashane male and was displaying a few minor wounds including cuts on his ears, which were evidence of the battle.  Nyeleti male scrapes

Hlabankunzi and Cub

Hlabankunzi has been spending time away from her cub. She was spent a week with Dayone male, mating. The cub is semi-independent now we have seen it hunting but haven’t witnessed a successful hunt to date. The picture below shows her leading an appreciative cub to yet another Impala kill. She has been doing well and killing often, this is evident in their condition. Even though the pack of wild dogs have “stolen” some of her kills , she is coping with the competition and threat they pose.  Hlabankunzi and cub

Xikhavi Female

This leopardess have been seen frequenting the lodge more and more often the last couple of months. So far she has been seen in the lodge area every third day or so. She is heavily pregnant she will drop anytime now.  Xikhavi female

Tlangisa Female

Exciting news!  She has given birth. We can see suckle marks which is clear indication that there is at least one little cub somewhere on the Northern-western section of the reserve where she is often seen. Now we wait for her to bring them out for us to see. Once spotted, we will share with you.  Tlangisa f emale

Lion (Panthera leo)

Lions have provided us with regular sightings this month. Two different prides and four members of the Selati males have been seen throughout the month.

Selati Coalition

Three members of the coalition are doing great often seen together hunting or patrolling their territory. The male that had injured paw has recovered well as he is able to keep with the group. Unfortunately we can’t say the same about the male with broken ribs. His condition is worsening and is he appears to be having difficulties in keeping up with any group of lions, his brother or any of the prides.  Selati Coalition

The three males killed a buffalo in the Sand river, luckily he happened to be nearby got to join in few hours later for a feed. When others left he remained at carcass finishing the scraps knowing it may be a while before he eats again.  Selati Dagga boy

Othawa Pride

This pride has provided us with some fantastic lion viewing throughout the month. The prey species have dispersed because of lack food and water and predators have to cover large areas in search for their food. This pride has been seeing hunting often along the Sand River. They have been having great success hunting and killing mostly kudus and nyalas and the cubs are looking healthy. 

The lioness with no cubs is thought to be pregnant as she was mating with the most dominant Selati male, possessive as we know him, he was hogging her. The other sisters were denied access to her; the other males could not even look in her direction without him growling at them.  Othawa pride lioness

Ximhungwe Pride

The pride has been scarce for most part of the month but one of the few sightings we had of them was great. They had killed a large male kudu and the pride was feeding at the same time with fights between the cubs getting intense. The cubs are growing and their confidence in hunting is rising fast, although they are only getting in a way of their mother at the moment, they will learn.  Ximhungwe pride

Elephant (Loxodonta africana)

Elephants have arrived in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve, Inyati in force – crossing back-and-forth the Sand River, providing us with superb sightings of swimming pachyderms (nonruminant mammals). Situated just on the bank of the river our lodge has become a very popular gathering spot for these huge beasts, especially at midday when thirst drives them to drink from the waters directly in front of the lodge. 

Cape Buffalo (Syncerus caffer)

We were blessed this month with couple of the large herds each consisting of around 300 buffalo in our traversing area for almost three weeks. The herd is still in good condition despite the dryness of the grass. The groups bachelors are still spread around the property. One small group of 8 bulls spend most of their days around our causeway. Cape buffalo

More than the big five…..

As we had predicted, the resident wild dog have denned in the area. The den site was located early in the month and the roads leading to the site were closed off so as not to disturb the pack. We now wait in anticipation for the arrival of the pups in the coming months. However this did not signify the end of the wild dog sightings. Around mid-month while out on afternoon drive we found the pack and followed them. We got to witness them hunting a waterbuck. Just when the dogs were a about to pounce the young antelope ran in a dam, the dogs seemed worried about the possibility of crocodile in the dam, after few minutes of running around they moved on searching for some other antelopes. Hyena den site

A trip to the hyena den site is a real treat when staying at Inyati.  This hyena cub didn’t give its exhausted mother a seconds rest. Beautiful to see how caring a patient such fearsome predators can be.

In And Around Camp

There is seldom a moment during the day where an animal of one sort or another cannot be seen from the main lounge area or deck. With a vista to die for, the addition of a herd of elephant, a journey of giraffe, a raft of hippo or as was the case this month, the pregnant female strolling through the camp grounds. Pregnant female

Giraffe 1

This month’s sightings report compiled by Khimbini Hlongwane

Dzivamusoko : April 2012 Wildlife Journal

The month of April has come and gone, what is left is an unforgettable memories and life experiences.  Autumn is in full swing here in Sabi Sand Reserve and winter is closing in very quickly indeed. Morning and evening temperatures are getting cooler and cooler by the day we can feel the early morning chill is creeping in the back door and the days are getting shorter. The last of the rains has fallen and the leaves are starting to change to beautiful shades of orange and red and covering the ground below them. With a good rainy season behind us, there is lots of food out there to keep the animals well fed during this coming winter. Wildlife did not disappoint, predators activities were at its peak and there were also lots of general game around.

Leopard (Panthera pardus)

Leopard (Panthera pardus)

The leopard is regarded as the most elusive of all of Africa‘s large cat species and quite often hard to see on safari, an element of luck is involved in encountering this fascinating feline. In the Sabi Sand Game reserve however we are blessed with frequent and fairly regular sightings of these solitary cats. One of the commonly asked questions is: how can one identify individual leopard? Leopards can be uniquely identified by looking at their distinctive facial markings, such as their whisker spot pattern, forehead patterns and eye markings. The most accepted means of leopard identification is by using spot patterns. A spot pattern refers to the upper most row of spots on the leopard’s cheeks. These are the spots above the upper line of whiskers. Other useful methods used are noting notches or tears in their ears and other distinctive marks like scars. 

Shangwa and cub

Shangwa  The leopard mother, Shangwa is doing just great her 2years cub is growing fast and have gain some confident in his hunting capabilities. She does however still feed him, tipical of elderly mother leopards they find it hard to let go of their grown young male. She did killed a common duiker on one night; with the help of her son they devoured the whole antelope in just few hours. And late in the month she was seen with him feeding on an Impala carcass in the marula tree. There were five spotted hyenas hanging around the base of the tree waiting for their share.

watch Shangwa young male on one morning tormenting a group of buffalo. Shangwa - tormenting a group of buffalo. Some of our guests and guides we privileged to watch Shangwa young male on one morning tormenting a group of buffalo. The confidence in his agility bordered arrogance as he darted between the buffalo with total ease. The buffalo did manage to tree the pestering cat on a few occasions. But the leopard was adamant and continued returning. It was extraordinary that on each approach he managed to get closer before the buffalo noticed him, in an hour we noticed his ability to use cover and the wind improving. It’s truly a privilege to witness a future master honing his skills. We can only hope that his choice of training partners will not be the end of him in future. We left the area with six spitting mad buffalo and one leopard relaxing in a tree, looking very proud of himself.

Dayone maleThis male is looking great, everything is going his way at the moment no male is threatening his territory and there are lots of female in it. During the month of this report he rejected at least two females that came for him showing sign of mating. Tlangisa and Dam 3 female followed him for days displaying sign of being in oestrous but the male got just got aggressive and kept walking away.

Hlabankunzi female

Perseverance is a mother of success. After long time trying Hlabankunzi finally get Dayone to mate with her. Even better is that few days later she was seen mating with Khashane male. This means could mean that her new coming cubs will be protected from both male as they will both think they fathered the cubs. 

Hlabankunzi female Hlabankunzi & Dayone

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tlangisa female

Tlangisa female

This female has provided some great viewing of late with her been found with more regularity around centre of our traversing area. The young female leopard continues to prosper and stay in excellent health. She has been her usual self, playful and entertaining as she poses for pictures.

Lion (Panthera leo)

Selati coalition

The new coalition is settling in well in their new territory, they paroling and marking every corner of the territory, their roar can be heard from miles away almost every night. On one morning we had a magnificent start to the day as we woke up to the Selati males calling in camp. We set out at dawn and to track them down, with combing fine work of ranger and trackers they were found just east of camp. They seemed to be moving with intent. A short while after we found them they flushed a group of buffalo bulls and the chaos started. They separated one bull, working as a team one teased on the front as the others attacked from behind. The buffalo fought hard but the four strong lions wear determent to pull him down, at one stage one of the male was riding on his back to add some weight in attempt to weaken him.

 Selati coalitionIt was hard work but they manage to pull him down eventually. One of the males hit the much larger beast with enough force to stop it in its tracks.

Ximhungwe pride

 The new dominate males made few attempts to kill the cubs and the lioness fought hard to protect the cubs and they are the run. We didn’t see much of them this month because they have run east across our boundaries. Only one lioness stay behind, it’s easier for her since she has no cubs and she has interacted with these males before they took over the territory. The pride is doing exceptionally well, the youngsters are growing well and have sufficient energy to play and tackle each other and the rest of the pride, especially on cool afternoons and early evenings. They have begun to help their mothers with the hunting even though they are mostly just getting in the way other than anything, but they will soon learn the tricks of the trade.

Elephant (Loxodonta africana)

They were few large parade of elephants spread around the reserve with lots of new young babies. Keith and his guests got up-close and personal with large elephant bull in musth, elephant in this condition is normally aggressive as level of testosterone increases by about 50 percent but this bull was surprisingly relax.

Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer)

There were few small herds of buffalo bulls scattered around our traversing area. While the large obstinancy has been seen constantly going in and out of our section, it’s always  great to see the return of these big herds and some days we have seen over 600 buffalos  in our in one herds.

More than the big five…..

Impala rut

April is the month of the impala rut. The full-grown males have become ferociously territorial and form temporary territories. Those that win the battle get to spend most of their time herding females into their territories and chasing the loser and the subordinate males out of their territory. The excitement is palpable as they rush to attract mates, letting out loud roaring sounds and splaying their white-tipped tails in display. These distracted bachelors are vulnerable to attack by predators, and those that survive this season will be weak, sporting gashes on their necks that are the scars of fierce battles with their competitors. The dominant rams put all their energy into the rut and spend little time eating. Thus resulting in loosing physical condition and get defeated by the next strong male. Quite a few of these battles do result in one been stabbed to death.

African hawk eagle is one of furious hunter of the African sky. They one of the only bird species that hunt cooperatively; one bird flushes prey which the other strikes, then they both feed on the carcass. They mainly eat birds, using its large feet to tackle and kill animals weighing up to about 4 kg. The nest (see image below) is built by both sexes, consisting of a large platform of sticks and twigs, lined with green leaves and are about 3 meters in diameter. It is typically placed just below the canopy of a tall tree, especially a knob thorn (Acacia nigrescens) about 6-19 metres above ground. The average clutch consists of one or two but normally only one chick is raised to adult as the stronger chick will always kill the weaker to eliminate competition for food.

African hawk eagle

African hawk eagle

In and around camp

Resident elephant bull in campThe resident elephant bulls are constantly ambling though camp, feeding on the vegetation, giving us superb close up views – see picture on below as he take a pick into room seven.

Our lodge sits on the bank of the mighty Sand river  and riverine is the most favourable habitat for leopards and we get see them frequent as they their wonder past through the lodge. This month even Kashane male who normally occupied the southern area of the reserve decided to drop in for an unexpected visit.

Kashane male

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.