Field Guides, conservationists and managers of the Sabi Sand, spend their every day protecting, conserving and imparting knowledge about the majestic Rhino species.
Now they are running for them as well!
In partnership with the Sabi Sand Wildtuin Nature Conservation Trust and its saving Rhino Project, our warriors are taking part in the upcoming Toyota Warrior Race. #warrior4
The objective is to raise awareness about the plight our rhinos, to raise funds to aid in protecting them and to have one hell of a fun time!
By supporting this initiative you can assist the Sabi Sand to sustain and improve their successful anti poaching model.
4 days to go until the big race… watch our warriors hard at work! Thanks so much to everyone who has supported us so far Anyone else wanting to donate, you can do so here: https://www.givengain.com/cc/rhinowarriors/
27 – 28 May #Warrior4 – Kwanyoni Nelspruit Mpumalanga
With our teams racking up their training hours and working hard to get fit for the big race, one of our Rhino Warriors took some of his team mates out into the bush to track rhino on foot, to remind them what it is all about…Watch them track and find a rhino and please help us save these magnificent creatures!
1. The word rhinoceros is a combination of two Greek words – rhino (nose) and ceros (horn).
There are five living species of rhinoceros – white, black, greater one-horned, Javan and Sumatran. In addition, a number of other animals have rhinoceros as part of their names, including the rhinoceros auklet, rhinoceros beetle, rhinoceros chameleon, rhinoceros cockroach, rhinoceros fish, rhinoceros hornbill, rhinoceros iguana, rhinoceros rat snake, rhino shrimp, and rhinoceros viper. All of them have horn-like appendages on their noses.
2. Rhinos have also been referred to as pachyderms.
The name pachyderm also comes from two Greek words – pachys (thick) and derma (skin). Many years ago, zoologists grouped a number of thick-skinned species together as pachyderms, including rhinos, tapirs, horses, elephants, hippos, pigs, peccaries, and hyraxes. This classification is no longer considered useful, but the name is still used every now and then.
3. Rhino is sometimes used as a nickname.
A number of people have been given the nickname Rhino. They include American professional wrestler and actor Terry Gerin (Rhyno), Mark Smith from the British show Gladiators, guitarist Larry Reinhardt (El Rhino) from the band Iron Butterfly, and David Unsworth, a former British soccer star. The national rugby teams of South Africa and Indonesia are also known as the Rhinos.
4. Rhino horns are not made of bone, but of keratin, the same material found in your hair and fingernails.
A rhino’s horn is not attached to its skull. It is actually a compacted mass of hairs that continues to grow throughout the animal’s lifetime, just like our own hair and nails. The longest horn on record belonged to a white rhino and measured just under 60 inches (five feet). By comparison, a woman from Las Vegas, Nevada is believed to have the world’s longest fingernails – about 10 feet worth on each hand – while a woman from China apparently holds the record for the world’s longest hair – over 18 feet in length! Regrettably, neither human hair nor fingernails are believed to possess the healing properties that some people believe are found in rhino horn. If people believed they did, they could chew their own nails and cut their own hair in order to feel well, and halt the needless slaughter of rhinos.
5. A fossil skull first thought to be that of a dragon, turned out to be from an extinct woolly rhinoceros.
In the city of Klagenfurt, located in southern Austria, stands the statue of a legendary dragon or Lindwurm, sporting a crocodile-like body and bat-like wings. The statue was erected around the year 1500, about thirty years after a large skull had been unearthed somewhere nearby. Sculptures used the skull as a model for the dragon’s head, but it was only centuries later that scientists identified it as belonging to the extinct woolly rhinoceros of the last Ice Age.
6. The closest living rhino relatives are tapirs, horses and zebras.
These animals are known as perissodactyls or odd-toed ungulates. Even toed-ungulates are called artiodactyls and include cattle, deer, antelopes, goats, sheep, pigs, camels and llamas. Rhinos have three toes on each foot so, in a way, their tracks resemble the Ace of Clubs.
7. A group of rhinos is called a crash.
A group of deer is called a herd, a group of fish a school, a group of bats a colony, a group of turkeys a flock, a group of bees a swarm, a group of alligators a congregation, a group of clams a bed, a group of frogs an army, a group of penguins a rookery, a group of hyenas a clan, a group of lions a pride, a group of wolves a pack, a group of coyotes a band, and a group of crows a murder. Who thinks of these names?
8. Some rhinos use their teeth – not their horns – for defense.
When an Indian rhino defends itself against a predator or another rhino, it doesn’t use its horn to gore its opponent. Instead, it slashes and gouges viciously with the long, sharp incisors and canine teeth on its lower jaw. Neither the black nor the white rhino has incisors. Only the Indian and Sumatran rhinos have canines, but all five species have three premolars and three molars on each side of their upper and lower jaws. Commit this to memory … there will be a quiz tomorrow!
9. An adult white rhino can produce as much as 50 pounds of dung per day!
That’s a lotta poo! And it’s the result of rhinos having to consume large amounts of plant material to obtain proper nutrition. Nuances in the smell of dung can tell a rhino a lot about others in the area. Each rhino’s smell is unique and identifies its owner. The dung of a young rhino smells different than that of an adult. A male’s dung smells different than a female’s, and the dung of a female in oestrus gives off a different odour than that of a non-reproductive female. Multiple or communal deposits of dung are known as middens, essentially serving as local “websites” or ”Facebook pages”, allowing rhinos to keep up with their neighbours.
10. White rhinos aren’t white and black rhinos aren’t black.
The white rhino’s name is taken from the Afrikaans word “wyd,” which means “wide” and describes its mouth. Early English settlers in South Africa misinterpreted the “wyd” for “white“. Black rhinos probably got their name from the dark wet mud in their wallows that made them appear black in color. Both species are essentially grey in colour. By comparison, the famous Blue Rhino, corporate logo for the well-known propane tank company, is entirely a figment of its founder’s imagination.
11. Rhino pregnancies last 15 – 16 months!
The only animals with longer gestation periods are elephants, which carry a foetus for close to 2 years! Camels and giraffes have pregnancies lasting 13 to 14 months, while female horses, sea lions and dolphins can require up to a year to give birth. A bear’s gestation period is about seven or eight months, a lion’s less than four, and domestic dogs and cats about two. The record for the shortest mammalian pregnancy is 12 to 13 days, held jointly by the Virginia opossum, the water opossum or yapok of Central and South America, and the native cat of Australia.
12. Rhinos and elephants are not mortal enemies.
The myth of hatred between these two species dates back to ancient times. In fact, in 1515, King Manuel I of Portugal decided to see if it were true. He had been given a female Indian rhino by the name of Ganda, who was given a home in his royal menagerie, away from the elephants. One day, however, the King arranged for a battle between the beasts, held in a courtyard and attended by the royal family and their guests. The youngest elephant in the King’s menagerie was led into the arena from its stable. The tapestries hiding the rhinoceros were drawn open. An official observer wrote that the rhinoceros appeared furious and immediately charged her foe, so violently that the young elephant broke free of her chain, uttered a tremendous cry and bolted to safety through a thick set of iron bars. This incident most certainly helped sustain the myth.
13. The white rhino is the largest rhino species and the largest land mammal after the elephant.
White rhinos can grow to weigh more than 5,000 pounds, which is almost as much as a Land Rover rolling along on the Serengeti. Next in size is the Indian or greater one-horned rhino, which may actually stand taller than a white rhino, but is just a bit less massive. Then come the Javan rhino and the black rhino. The Sumatran rhino is the smallest of its kind, with the largest individuals barely reaching a ton in weight. A large male hippopotamus can actually exceed the largest rhino in size – perhaps by as much as half a ton – but because it spends most of its time in rivers and lakes, biologists consider it an aquatic, not a land mammal.
14. Perhaps the most famous rhino in the world was one named Clara.
Clara was a female Indian rhinoceros who toured Europe for 17 years during the 1700s. Clara’s mother was killed by hunters in Assam, India in 1738, after which she was adopted by Jay Albert Sichterman and became a household pet. Clara was then sold to a Dutch sea captain, Douwemunt Van der Meer, who somehow got her safely to Rotterdam, rubbing down her skin with fish oil and providing dietary supplements of beer and tobacco. Clara’s European travels are documented in a book called Clara’s Grand Tour by Glynis Ridley, and included stops in The Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Poland, France, Italy, Denmark, and England.
15. African rhinos have a symbiotic relationship with oxpeckers, also called “tick birds”.
In Swahili, the oxpecker is called askari wa kifaru, which means “the rhino’s guard”. The oxpecker eats ticks and other insects that it finds on the rhino, and creates a commotion when it senses danger. This helps alert the rhino. Indian or greater one-horned rhinos have similar symbiotic relationships with other bird species, including the well-known myna.
16. Throughout their history, rhinos have been a very diverse group.
Paleontologists believe that at least 30 genera and 60 different species of rhino ancestors once inhabited North America, Europe, Asia and Africa. The extinct species Paraceratherium, commonly referred to as the “giraffe-rhinoceros”, was the largest land mammal that ever lived. Its head reached a height of nearly 28 feet – as tall as a three-story building – and paleontologists estimate that it may have weighed as much as 20 tons! The smallest rhino ancestors were the Hyracodontidae, which were only the size of dogs. There was also a group of aquatic, hippopotamus-like rhinos, the Amynodontidae, that lived in North America and Asia.
17. Humans are the major threat to rhinos, but several other species are also rhino predators.
The two species most often reported to prey upon rhinos – usually young ones – are lions in Africa and tigers in Asia. However, leopards, hyenas, wild dogs and Nile crocodiles are also known to kill African rhino calves on occasion. By far, though, people are rhinos’ #1 enemy.
18. Most wild rhino calves never meet their fathers.
After mating, adult male and female rhinos typically go their separate ways. After the calf is born, it will probably spend a couple of years or more in the company of its mother, and perhaps associate with other females and their calves, but the father rhino is not part of the standard social group.
19. Three of the five surviving rhino species – the black, Javan and Sumatran – are Critically Endangered.
This means there is at least a 50% chance that these species could become extinct sometime this century. Just over 5,000 black rhinos now survive in nine African countries, essentially double the number that existed only 20 years ago, so that species is actually increasing slowly. Sumatran rhinos used to be found from the foothills of the Himalayas to the island of Sumatra. Today, however, only about 100 individuals are believed to survive as scattered populations in Indonesia and Sabah, Malaysia. The historic range of the Javan rhino was similar to that of the Sumatran, but the species currently numbers no more than 50 individuals, all restricted to Ujung Kulon National Park on the western tip of Java.
20. The black rhino has a prehensile upper lip that allows it to feed on trees and shrubs.
The black rhino also has no front incisor teeth, so it relies heavily on its lips to bring food to its mouth. By contrast, the white rhino, the other African species, has a long, flat upper lip that is designed more for grazing on grasses. The black rhino can be compared to a tree pruner and the white rhino to a lawn mower. The upper lips of the three Asian rhino species are also prehensile to some degree, and other mammals with prehensile lips include bears, giraffes, horses, llamas, moose and manatees.
21. Black, white and Sumatran rhinos have two horns; Javan and greater one-horned rhinos have one horn.
The Sumatran rhino, although it has two horns, is not at all closely related to Africa’s black or white rhinos. It is the oldest of the living rhinos, having appeared nearly 15 million years ago, and its closest relative is actually the extinct woolly rhinoceros. Black and white rhinos appear to have evolved from a common 6 million-year-old ancestor and remain very closely related. The evolutionary paths of the greater one-horned rhino and the Javan rhino separated a bit more recently, their common ancestor dating back perhaps two to four million years. Curiously enough, most female Javan rhinos don’t appear to have any horn at all! Is a hornless rhino an oxymoron?
22. Rhino horn has been used for centuries in traditional Asian medicine, but has not been proven to cure any illness.
Powdered rhino horn has been prescribed by Asian doctors for centuries as a cure for a wide range of diseases or conditions including aging, arthritis, asthma, black magic, boils and carbuncles, chest cold, chicken pox, convulsions, coughs, demonic possession, diphtheria, dog bites, dysentery, epilepsy, fainting, fever, fits, food poisoning, hallucinations, headache, hemorrhoids, impotence, insanity, laryngitis, lumbago, malaria, measles, melancholy, memory loss, myopia, night blindness, nightmares, nose bleed, plague, polio, prescription overdoses, rectal bleeding, scorpion stings, smallpox, snake bite, toothache, typhoid, vomiting and worms. There is no evidence from western scientific studies that it has any curative powers but at least one Chinese study disputes those data. And, of course, its use is illegal.
23. Andatu was the first rhino ever born in captivity in Indonesia.
On June 23, 2012, the female Sumatran rhino known as Ratu gave birth to a 60-pound male at the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary, located in Indonesia’s Way Kambas National Park. Approximately 16 months earlier, Ratu had mated with the male rhino, Andalas, who was born at the Cincinnati Zoo in 2001 – the first Sumatan rhino born in captivity in over a century. Andalas’ and Ratu’s baby was named Andatu, a combination of his parents’ names, but also an expression that means “A Gift from God”, in the Indonesian language.
24. The most famous piece of rhino artwork is Albrecht Durer’s woodcut, The Rhinoceros, printed in 1515.
The fact that Durer’s rhinoceros is not entirely accurate is not surprising. Durer never laid eyes on a living rhino, but made his famous drawing based on the sketch of an unknown artist who had. The animal was originally sent as a gift from Sultan Muzafar II of India to Alfonso d’Albuquerque, the governor of Portuguese India at the time, who subsequently “re-gifted” it to Dom Manuel I I, the King of Portugal. Dom Manuelwho then “re-gifted” it again to Pope Leo X in Rome. Unfortunately, the boat carrying the unfortunate rhino sank before it reaching its final destination, but the animal’s image has been reprinted countless times over the centuries.
The 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.
Dayone 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This month’s sightings report compiled by Khimbini Hlongwane
The weather:April is the month of transformation in the Sabi Sand Reserve – straddling the cusp between the wet and the dry seasons at Inyati. Winter is rolling in at a rapid rate throughout the province, a weather change that brings beautiful developments on our paradise. There is a definite chill in the air making the hot chocolate or coffee and Amarula during morning safari breaks more enjoyable. The days are however still warm and a relaxing lounge by the pool or is a great way to spend the afternoon. Amazing thunder showers are experienced some afternoons; this spectacular display of nature’s tremendous power is a definite treat. The bush is now starting to dry up a bit and the grass is all a golden colour and visibility is now starting to become slightly better.
Wildlife: Once again, Inyati delivers stunning cats!! During April it was virtually impossible not see lions or leopards!! And the general games were all here in their hundreds.
It’s been a busy month for the handsome male leopard, the magnificent Khashane male is pushing deeper in the territory, keeping him on his toes. And Xikhavi female came into estrous twice during April month. Just when he thought it can’t get any worst he had to mate with
Hlabankunzi and cub
The leopardess had very successful month few kills she made and has been extremely good to us, coming out in areas where we got to see her and young well; they often just pose for the pictures, literally!
One morning the brave mother Hlabankunzi and her cub had quite an exciting start of the day. They were chased up a marula tree by………a herd of Zebra! Every time they attempted to get down the zebra adamantly sent them back up a tree. They learnt their lesson – don’t mess with the strips.
We have had few sightings of this beautiful leopardess this month. normal resident the east across our boundary yet she seem to be pushing more and more west of her territory. She has proven to be a successful mother and she is raising another litter now.
LION (PANTHERA LEO)
The four male lions are recovering well from the battle injuries, the Majingelane coalition of lions have stayed away for a while. The Selati spent good part of the month of trailing behind the three Othawa lionesses. One of the male lions stole two impala kills from one of the leopards. Given only a few seconds the leopard (Nyeleti male) managed to claim one of his hard earned meal back and quickly put it up a tree.
Persistence pays off! After three days and three nights of following the large herd of buffaloes, making few failed attempts, the four Selati male lions finally pulled down a buffalo cow. The herd came to rescue her several times but the lions had injured her badly that she couldn’t keep up with the rest of the herd it was only a matter of time the big cat knocked her of the feet. It was a hard earnt meal, they were already very-very hungry and the one with injured ribs was looking very weak.Ximhungwe pride
This pride still provides most of our lion sightings. The lionesses have had a successful month of frequent killings. The cubs are growing fast and looking very healthy.
Here the cubs were left of top of boulder for few minutes as mothers were trying to hunt the nearby herd of impala. Impalas saw the predators early and all got away.
Southern prideThis pride resident the far southern section of the reserve but they have been coming across on to our sector more and more frequent. As its great for us to have a new pride coming across it may prove to be a problem for the two prides that resident our section of the reserve, especially because they have small cubs.
ELEPHANT (LOXODONTA AFRICANA)The elephants also proved to be amazing this month. They came right around the vehicle. One decided to have a dust bath that he, due to the wind direction, shared with my guests. They got covered in dust but enjoyed it even more than what the elephant seemed to enjoy his. The baby elephant, who is just over a year old mock charged my vehicle, quite to our amusement. We followed them down to top dam to watch them drink, ooh what beautiful sighting with awesome light for photographs.
CAPE BUFFALO (SYNCERUS CAFFER) The big herd are here, it’s always great to see the return of these animals in big numbers, some days we had over 700buffalo in our traversing area scattered in three herds. It was really great watching them crossed into our property early one morning. And we then followed to the water hole where they were joined by large dazzle of zebras giving us fantastic photographic opportunities. We are definitely living up to our lodge name “Inyati” meaning buffalo in Zulu and other Nguni languages. More than the big five…..The cape hunting dogs were here for more than half of the month. It’s always a privilege to spend time with these highly endangered species. They are full on energy and very interesting animals which are fun to watch. The pack seem to have lost the alpha female who was old and looking bit tired, that means were might not see puppies this season. Things will get back to normal as one of the female take over the role of the alpha female.
In and around camp
Hippos basking in the sun have become a common site looking across the sand river from the lodge. Impala, waterbucks, nyala and many more visit the lodge frequently looking for greener grass around the lodge area.Elephants walking along the edge of the camp were an exciting experience for all the guests, getting their adrenalin going. What can be better than sitting down for breakfast or brunch and watching elephants sauntering past on the bank of Sand river – it was surreal!
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
The weather:Nyenyenyani / February in the heart of the Sabi Sand Game Reserve has been a month of sudden showers and spectacular sunsets, of stalking lions and stealthy leopards. Early mornings are concealed by heavy drapes of rolling mist, which gradually unfurl to reveal magical apparitions of silver cobwebs, crystal drenched grasses, dazzling zebra strips and angelic giraffes floating against the foreground of a captivated white horizon.
The mornings are warm and build up during the course of the day to allow for exquisitely timed afternoon thundershowers.
February has been an active month for predators in the Sabi sand in which Inyati Game lodge is situated. Sightings of wild dog were frequent at the beginning of the month, lions, leopards and hyenas.
General game, as always seems to be this case in this scenically attractive and productive area has been good with large herds of elephant, zebra and giraffe seen, often in mixed herds. Impala, wildebeest, warthog and waterbuck as well as a number of other species have of course been seen regularly.
LEOPARD (PANTHERA PARDUS)
This male has provided some great viewing of late with her been found with more regularity as he m move great distances covering every corner of his territory. He is reaching his prime and continues to prosper and stay in excellent health.
Hlabankunzi And Metsi Female
We hardly saw Metsi and her cub during the month of this report.
Hlabankunzi female and her cub providing the most rewarding experiences – they have been seen with kills twice this month. The cub has also taken up the habit of approaching vehicles for a closer look, and has been the subject of some pretty interesting photographs! They had a close call at one of the kill sight as the new male leopard, Nyeleti surprised them, luckily the mother managed to warn the cub it run and hide. Latter in that day he met up with the formidable Dayone who drove out of the territory.
The illusive Xikhavi killed a young impala ram and hoisted it into a Marula tree west of camp. Dayone leopard arrived the morning after and in true male leopard fashion bullied her off her hard earned meal. Luckily she had fed quite a bit prior to the theft.
LION (PANTHERA LEO)
The 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 resulted in a territorial battle with the Manjingelane males, a coalition of four males that denominate the north-eastern of the Sabi sand game reserve. Two of the Selati males were injured in this fight, one had his bottom lip split and the other got his eye badly injured. Sadly the Selati male who got injured by buffalo who was recovering his condition have change direction, he now deteriorated, looking thin again.
After anxiously following the movements of this pride, we know that two of the three lionesses were pregnant and now believe that they both have given birth. We have yet to see the tiny scrap of spotted fur that a lion cub is during its first few days of life, but it appears from our most recent sightings that they are both lactating, a sure sign that there is a small mouth out there hungry for milk. We are waiting patiently for the mothers to introduce to cubs; hopefully we will photos to share with on the next report.
This resident pride has provided us with lots of great lion sightings during the course of the month. Having young cubs meant that they need to stay in a relatively smaller area making it easy to find them. We have had some regular sightings of them at their favourite spot where they relaxed on a large boulder, surreptitiously monitoring the movements of waterbucks who had come to the waterhole to drink.
ELEPHANT (LOXODONTA AFRICANA)
Elephants are still present in significant numbers much to the delight of guests on almost every drive. George and his guest were treated with some up close and personal experience by the relaxed herd of elephant. It all started when the young teenage boy become inquisitive approached the vehicle with his trunk raised trying to pick up our scent. The young calves become interested and also came close and of course the protective mothers had to follow their young to make sure everything was fine. At one stage the vehicle was surrounded by about 15 of these beasts. None of them showed any sign of aggression so it was wise for George not to start the engine and disturb them but rather let them satisfy their curiosity.
We also had awesome sighting of two young bulls play fighting as the other animals were drinking. As the one gave up the fight the other mounted him as a sign of showing dominance.
CAPE BUFFALO (SYNCERUS CAFFER)
During February our resident herd of buffalo was seen only couple of occasions. This herd numbers approximately 500 animals has spent most of this month in central Sabi Sand out of our traversing area, moving little, probably because the herd has been calving and food, water availability.
Groups of “dagga boy” old buffalo bulls have always been there to help our guest completing the big five.
More than the big five…..
The pack of cape hunting dogs was back in our traversing area again. They spent a few days in the south and to our astonishment swam across the Sand River to the north where they spent another week providing us with some fantastic viewing.
Few hyenas and over 800 vultures came out to scavenge on wildebeest carcass the Selati males killed on one morning. It was awesome to see the interaction between these animals, interesting to see the packing order within these different species of vulture.
IN AND AROUND CAMP
The resident hippo family have been forever entertaining by the causeway, their grunting, honking and snorting sounds is heard the whole day and night.
The camp is kept alive by bird’s songs with mocking squawks of Arrow-marked Babblers and raucous calls of Lilac-breasted Rollers engaged in a heated debate as they tumble through the air. And shrill alarm calls of Blacksmith lapwing shriek out from the water hole.
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: http://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.
It appeared as if summer had arrived early, the cold weather has left us. As is often the case, August was a windy month with steady breezes cooling things down. The local tribe, Shangaans named the month of August “Mhawuri” – the month of strong winds. They also believe that if the wind doesn’t blow in August we will experience drought and if it blows strong and continuous it foretells of a good rainy season.
The flowering acacia trees are the most prominent indicator of the coming spring. Midday temperatures have reached a comfortable 32 degrees Celsius with evening temperatures cooling to around 15 degrees. The August winds have faded to dusty red sunrises.
The wildlife has been spectacular this month at Inyati, incredible variety of species sighted continues as the last of the trees lose their leaves and the dry grasses are now trampled into the dust allowing us to see from big to small animals.
She continues to roam large and large areas, she is heavily pregnant possible expand a territory to have more room to raise her litter arriving soon. She has got into a serious territorial battle with another female leopard, Xikhavi that resulted in big gash on shoulder of Xikhavi female.
She killed an impala ewe on one morning after a good feed she left the carcass in the bushes to rest in the nearby shades. One of the Selati male lion was lying within 400 metres from her; maybe it would have been a good idea to hoist the carcass in a tree. We went back to find her on the afternoon drive only to find that the Selati male had stolen the carcass and she left the area.
She has settled in her new territory and because of the distance and thick vegetation in that area she is very seldom seen. She was found with an impala carcass hoisted on jackalberry tree. Tlangisa being her usual self, she played with her food until she dropped it accidently and the hyena that was waiting underneath the tree claimed it before she could come down to get it up. All she could do is watch her hard earn meal being devoured by a hungry mother hyena.
Ravenscourt and cubs
This female is very seldom seen as her territory is outside our traversing area, this move however she came across to outside killed an impala, went back to fetch the cubs to a kill. We were treated with some mother leopard and cubs interactions this morning for couple of days.
A female leopard, Dam 3 is getting more and more comfortable with us, the game viewers. She has been seen from a distance, resting on a rocky outcrop, upon viewing her for a while we decided to get closer and closer to our surprise she just lay there on the rock allowing for fantastic photography opportunities. Typically this resident female is very elusive, so it is a pleasure to see that this may not always be the case.
Lion sightings have been outstanding over the past month. It is a regular experience to see the lions hunting, with varying degrees of success.
Selati coalition and Ximhungwe pride
The Selatimales continue to frequent our area and the Ximhungwe pride seems to have finally accepted this new male coalition. There was more mating for good part of the month. There one female was seen mating with one mate for week and straight after that she was mating with another male this is possible for the protection of the cubs yet to be born but certainly helped to reduce fight between the coalition.
The three lionesses have been very active this month covering the entire length of our traversing area in search of food and possible den site. We followed them hunting impalas on one morning it was fascinating to watch team work and co-ordinations at play and it yielded good result, they managed to kill sub-adult impala. The lionesses are still carrying; the cubbies are on their way, watch this space….
Elephant (Loxodonta africana)
August has always been the month of the elephant. This year, the number of elephants in our area was astonishing. Day and night the lodge was surrounded by large bulls clearing the dwindling greenery. Hardly an activity passed without an elephant sighting. Lone males, breeding herds and the odd bachelor group were spotted regularly.
It was rather interesting to watch this bull spraying water on the annoying little bird, the fork-tailed drongo. Many of us on the vehicle thought it was funny but not the drongo who was soaking wet and could barely fly.
Only in Africa! From the safety of Sand River‘s high banks, Father and son enjoying an afternoon with a family of elephant.
Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer)
We have had big herds of buffalo back in the area for the good part of the month and there were also lots of bachelor herds of buffalo bulls all around the reserve at the moment as well as the ever-present herd of old males that live around the camp.
More than the big five…..
On one morning we watched two lioness hunt ,kill and eat an impala and then just when we thought it can’t get better we heard on radio that a new pack of five cape hunting dogs got sighted ,we rushed there see these beautiful painted animals.
And no description of colours in the bush can be complete without the painted wolves – the wild dogs loping through the brittle stems of winter grass, loping out of every impala’s waking nightmare. Their teeth perfectly adapted for slashing and tearing at impala bellies, carried along on tireless legs. The horror, the horror – the wonder of a wild dog hunt, rocking and rolling effortlessly along…
And later into the month august the moment we have been patiently waiting for arrives. Our resident pack return after four months, they been denning outside our traversing area, they brought back with the 6 little puppies of about three months old just old enough to run with the pack. It’s a privilege to watch these interesting animals go on about their lives.
Hyena population continues to increase in the area; we are getting great viewing of these adaptable predators. We followed this lactating mother carrying a large piece of meat for long distance hoping she will take us to her den site but we could only follow for so long before we had to get back to the lodge for a delicious breakfast.
This elderly and heavily pregnant hyena waited patiently for some pieces of meat to fall out of tree as Tlangisa female leopard was feeding and it was worth it because the entire carcass dropped.
In and around camp
Dayone male leopard walked past room seven just as the afternoon game drive started. Many animals frequent the river and the lodge from one time to another but watching a leopard walking through the lodge is always a treat for staff that don’t often get to go out on game drives.
And the elephant bulls are forever present in the lodge looking some green plant as it is dry everywhere else in the reserve except our lodge garden.