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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.

Best wishes for a safe and prosperous Christmas and New Year.

Best wishes for a safe and prosperous Christmas and New Year.

Best wishes for a safe and prosperous Christmas and New Year.

Best wishes for a safe and prosperous Christmas and New Year.

Best wishes for a safe and prosperous Christmas and New Year..

Meet the Inyati team

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.

All our field guides have different passions and interests in the bush, which include birding, tracking, as well as the flora and fauna of the Sabi Sand Game Reserve

George HlongwaneGeorge Hlongwane

Georgie is a living legend in the reserve. He was also born on the Inyati property and has been working at Inyati for more than 20 years, this kind of experience means he know the behavior of the individual animals in the reserve as well as they do.

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.

Khimbini Hlongwane

FGASA Level 2 trails guide & Tracker level 3

Khimbini HlongwaneKhimbini 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 Marimane – FGASA Level 2 trails guide & Tracker 3Piet Marimane

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.

Keith Jenkinson

FGASA level 3 trails guide & Tracker 2

Keith JenkinsonKeith 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 Hlongwane – Tracker level 1 Norman Hlongwane

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.

Nelson Valoi

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.

Solly SibiyaSolly Sibiya

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.

Richard Hlongwane

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.

Richard Hlongwane

Wildlife Journal November 2011 by Khimbini Hlongwane

Shangwa In a bountiful explosion, the region has burst back to life! One of the greatest pleasures of living in South Africa’s remarkable Sabi Sand Game Reserve is being able to follow the changing seasons and smell the rain in the air in summer. Scattered clouds dot the sky and light up the sunrise and sunsets with the most unbelievable shades of soft pinks and gold. If you haven’t been to the Sabi sand in October/November then this is definitely something to put on your to do list. The abundance of wildlife is incredible; Game drives are intense and full of action as lots of antelope grazing in the plains with their new babies unperturbed by thousands of birds making their daily breeding activities and songs. With all these new helpless creatures around the predators are taking advantage and herds of elephants meander in, around and along the sand river.

Leopard (Panthera pardus)

Leopard (Panthera pardus)Tlangisa female has been covering a large area again. She is been intruding into Metsi and Hlabankunzi’s territory. On few occasions we have seen her in the lodge area which is Xikhavi female’s territory.

(Note the picture of her on the roof of one of our rooms)Tlangisa

Hlabankunzi doesn’t seem to mind Tlangisa presence in her territory but this may change when one of them gives birth as they will become more protective and will be looking for more hunting grounds to feed their young.

The generally illusive Xikhavi also abandoned her usual riverine and reeded haunts and climbed a tree to enjoy the breeze. She was spotted resting in a sausage tree just across the sand river opposite the lodge

Our leopard queen, Hlabankunzi is heavily pregnant she was seen mating with our resident dominant male in the past months, the gestation period is 100 days so hopefully in the next couple weeks she will give birth, exciting times await and we are sure to keep you updated.Xikhavi

Shangwa and her one year old male have graced us with her presence again this month. This 13 years old leopardess is one of the oldest and most experienced mother leopards I’ve lived with, a great hunter and successful mother. They young male is growing fast and becoming more confident hunting on his own. We witnessed him stalking a hyena just for the fun of it. He managed to get within 10 meters and the hyena still didn’t see him but he wasn’t brave enough to touch the hyena.

Dam 3 female also added to the boom of offspring at Inyati, she has two cubs, we got to see them feeding on a shrub hare, unfortunately this female is not relaxed with vehicles so she asked us to leave in rather harsh manner before we could get a decent picture to share with you.Dam 3 female (Note: the anger on her face)

Lion (Panthera leo)

Lion (Panthera leo)

The Ximhungwe Pride continues to patrol and hunt in all the reserve’s corners. As life goes in the bush, every up has a down. On last couple of reports I mentioned how successful the pride have been with their hunts , with all the waterholes being full the animals have disperse, the pride have been battling to find good size meal to feed the whole pride. There are lots of young born and they get food it’s just not enough to keep young ones looking healthy. They have had to cover long distance in their hunts and this have been little hard on the youngsters but we are certain they will pull through, every litter do go through these dry run.

The lioness that had two youngest cubs that were recently lost is mating again; she was seen for four days mating with one of Mapogo boys, Bent spine. If all goes well we should see some little lion cubbieLion (Panthera leo)s in about three months.

We waited for long time for the two nomadic Ottawa males; they came in for a visit in our traversing area this month. The two were seen for the three days on a row following the large herd of buffalo in the south, the boys are looking good. Both males are healthy and have a lot of attitude; one can easily tell they have the Mapogo’s gene in them. In one of the sighting we saw them make three attempts on the buffalo, but unfortunately, failed.

Lion (Panthera leo)Elephant (Loxodonta africana)

Elephant (Loxodonta africana)We have an abundance of elephant around at the moment and it is not infrequent to see four different breeding herds on one game drive. It’s always fascinating to watch elephant as they always doing something, from mothers helping calf to cross the river to watching a group of youngsters playing. We spent time with the elephant bull feeding in the sun set (left picture) and on another sighting we watched a mother and calf having a dust bath(right picture)

Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer)

BuffaloFresh green sward has covered many parts of the Mpumalanga, Sabi sand, providing fresh graze for buffalo, zebra and wildebeest. The large herd have been here in our traversing area and been entertaining for the most part of the month and small groups of old male are dotted around the reserve especially along the rivers.

More than the big five…..

PangolinWith the bursting skies comes new life, its “baby boom” now in our reserve, on every corner there is a new born elephants, giraffes, warthogs and many more.

The rare scaly anteater, Pangolin made an appearance on our reserve again this month. These are nocturnal and very secretive creatures and they are still somewhat mysterious, with scientists knowing relatively little about their behaviour in the wild. In China, pangolin meat is considered to be a delicacy. Most tribes in Africa believe that if a pangolin is killed there will be no rain until the area is cleansed by the Chief traditional healer.

Africa’s second most endangered carnivore – wild dog – made its appearance again. The pack ran into our traversing area few times this month, one of our morning teas was interrupted by a pack of wild dogs that came to drink at pan in front of the lodge. After a short while of following them they killed an impala ewe and devoured it couple of minutes.Wild dog

In and around camp

TlangisaFor few days this month we didn’t have to go out the lodge to see a leopard, Tlangisa female killed an impala on our airstrip, drag it into the lodge and climb up on the roof to rest and watch us all as we enjoying our early morning tea. She stayed in camp for few days enjoying her meal.

A group of Buffalo bulls have been resting in the cool waters of the Sand River during breakfast. And a herd of Elephant has also been around Inyati camp for about five days on a row this month, and have been entertaining our guests between drives.  A group of Buffalo bulls

A young Leopard of about 3 years old – stalks, catches and plays with a scrub hare.

Warning: Not for sensitive viewers. A young Leopard of about 3 years – stalks , catches and plays with a scrub hare.

A Young Leopard of about 3 years stalk , catch and play with a scrub hare.

First steps into life: New born elephant and giraffe.


First steps into life: New born elephant and giraffe. Pride feeding, dung beetle at work, lions in the mateing, leopard cub and lion roaring.

First steps into life: New born giraffe

First steps into life: New born giraffe

Days of our lions: Mapogo roars the entire bush-veld shivers with fear, long live Mapogos

Inyati cub