Tag Archives: Leopard

October bushtales

Safari greetings……
 
As temperatures slowly rise and the humidity increases, we have had the first few sprinkles for the season. These very light downpours driven mostly by the temperature drops brought about by the last cold fronts washing over the lowveld.
The Natal Mahogany trees in camp are flowering in anticipation of the new season and the camp is filled with the sweet scent of spring in the early morning and late afternoons. All the flowering trees have attracted bees and birds, and birds feeding on the bees. The result is a beautiful cacophony of Bird calls as the birds shake off their winter slumber and prepare for mating and a time of plenty.

The impala ewes are all starting to show clear signs of pregnancy, with little pot bellies nurturing developing lambs. The impalas have certainly benefitted from the previous rainy season, and it seems that the rate of conception is up to the impressive norm. Research has indicated that up to 98% of ewes over two years old can conceive, this certainly seems to be the case and we look forward to a massive recruitment in November.

The change in season and a bit of precipitation has caused a slight flush of grass and the hardier fast growing tree species are budding, many of the animals that were utilizing Inyati’s garden for grazing and browsing have reluctantly dispersed, leaving the resident Inyala to rule the roost again.

The elephants that did their best to consume the garden in the winter months, tend not to visit the lodge as frequently, to the delight of the ground keeping staff.
We have had amazing lion viewing from camp as the Othawa pride hardly ever move away from the abundant food source that the Sand River provides. They killed a massive Kudu bull in front of camp and numerous impalas and even a buffalo just west of Inyati.

The resident leopard have reacted to the lions presence around Inyati and we have seen less of them in camp. They do still pass through, but they no longer have the luxury of lazing on the lawn as their larger more dominant competitors scent linger in the air.
An old buffalo bull has been spending evenings between the river and the camp as the soft grasses on the banks of the river are more manageable for his weary molars. He seems to be blind in one eye and as a result has given many a ranger the scare of his life on the way back to the staff village. The old boy simply stops and listens to whatever is approaching and by the time a flashlight reveals his presence he is often at very close quarters. Luckily only egos have thus far been bruised.

Bush beat…….
The Othawa pride as mentioned is doing very well. The six little cubs are growing at a rapid pace as their mothers and aunt keep providing meals and keeping their little bellies bulging.

The one Tumbela male lion are also benefiting from the Othawa lioness’ hunting prowess, and the one male is now developing an impressive strawberry blonde mane. He has also proven to be a very patient father, by lion standards, often letting cubs clamber and play on him. But cubs are often reminded of his status with a snarl and a metered swat.

His brother is still battling with his leg injury, but he is managing to keep up with the pride and shares the meals provided. Let’s hope his condition keeps improving as we head into the rainy season.
The leopard Tlangisa and both her cubs are doing well. She still needs to manage killing and avoiding the Tsalala lioness and at times the one Tumbela male lion.
On one occasion she made a kill and the lions arrived shortly after as they respond to the alarm call emitted by impala. Tlangisa spotted the lions closing in and quickly dragged her kill through a thicket to reach a tree to hoist it, in the process she sustained a bad cut to her right back leg. She was able to larder the kill out of reach of the lions and the scavenging lions moved off during the night.

The following morning Tlangisa was found with her cubs by the Sand River, she led the two cubs to the kill, quite precariously hoisted but safe. The cubs managed to feed on the kill, even though it was hoisted as high as Tlangisa could go, on a thin limb of a knob thorn tree. The cubs acrobatic and balancing skills were on display as they fed and managed not to fall. 
After this encounter, Tlangisa moved into her normal haven, a lush drainage line with a myriad of tributaries. The drainage line supplies her with ample structure and cover to hide her kills form the lions and keep her cubs safe. She was found on an impala kill in this drainage and we are happy to report that her injury healed well and hardly broke her stride.

Staying with leopards both Basile and Khokovela are pregnant, and we are monitoring their movements very closely. Khokovela seems to have shifted her territory west, further away from Nyeleti and embracing Ravenscourts domain, and her natal territory, once again.

The end of the dry season sees a die off grassy thickets that usually conceal the smaller cats and creatures. We have had some great sightings of Honey Badgers, Mellers Mongooses, and Servals of late.

A very special find was an African wild Cat den site.  The mother and her little kitten found refuge in an old termite mound in a clearing .This allowed Rangers to get to see the pair without disturbing them. Roger managed to get this amazing shot of the kitten.

Special feature……

Humans have used fire to manipulate our environment for centuries. The ability to manipulate and harness fire may well have paved the way to our domination of the planet, whether this is a positive thing is a debate for a campfire and many bottles of wine.

Conservationists in Africa have also used fire as a management tool for many years and research is ongoing into fire regimes best suited for the many different habitats in Southern Africa. This overview only skims the surface of these intricacies in order not to put you to sleep.
The theory behind burning as a land management tool is to simulate natural occurrences as far as possible. Historically vast tracts of land used to burn in the late winter, ignited by humans or even lighting strikes, fueled by hot dry winds and tinder box like vegetation. These fires were allowed to burn unhindered by modern fire breaks, roads, crops, or villages. If there was enough fuel and conditions suited, it would burn.

Fire is known to promote the growth of certain species of grass, especially grasses that tend to be more palatable to animals. It would seem grasses have thus adapted to fire under the correct circumstances. Animals tend to have preference for certain species of grass due to digestibility and palatability, or they just taste good. So, these grasses are grazed heavily and tend to diminish in number if many animals are in the area. The unpalatable, less yummy species start dominating as they are grazed less So in broad terms, over or under grazing could lead to a dominance of certain species of grass that in the long run leads to monotonous areas of “undesirable” veld(bush).


In the Greater Kruger National Park annual surveys are done to determine the composition of grass species across different types of veld. Also, the amount of tonnage of grass per hectare is measured and woody species are recorded. This data is used to monitor veld condition and plan burning regimes and to test burning regimes.
You can imagine the mammoth task and the amount of data collected and processed over the past 30 to 40 years. This data allows the ecologists and conservationists in the Greater Kruger National Park and the Sabi Sand Wildtuin to make decisions on when and where to burn.

In summation, fire can be a very good thing for the bush by: 
· Leveling the playing field for grasses, 
· opening areas by killing saplings of encroaching woody species,
· removing old (moribund) grass and allowing light to ignite the growth of new palatable grass shoots and promoting palatable grass species.

This year the ecologists found indicators that some areas were ready to be burnt and Inyati has burnt a large block north of the Sand River.

One fire was a wildfire that burnt in from the north and was stopped to protect infrastructure, but the other fire was a controlled burn that was managed and done by reserve staff and all our neighboring lodges.
These large areas are burnt from the perimeter of the designated area and left to burn as naturally as possible. This creates a patch mosaic type burn where many areas are left unburnt and drainage lines and natural barriers to fire create a natural patchy burn. These patchy burns allow small animals to reestablish quickly as there is still cover available after the burn.

The larger mammals and reptiles can avoid the fire as the fires move slowly and are done on cool days with little wind. As the grasses have evolved with fire mammals have also adapted to fire and are generally unscathed.
 We have had some rain after the burn and the beautiful green flush of grass is already evident and the grazers are happily munching on yummy grass now. 

We look forward to hosting you at Inyati Game Lodge and sharing an experience which typifies the African safari, without compromising on accommodation and incredible game viewing.  

Keith and the Inyati team

Inyati Game Lodge: You Can Never Go Wrong with a Classic Big 5 Safari

By Katharina Riebesel on September 20, 2021

Lion, rhino, leopard, buffalo and elephant – Africa’s Big 5 never seem to disappoint. Seasoned safari-goers know that the Sabi Sand Game Reserve in South Africa is one of the best places to observe these animals in their natural habitat. Together with three of my colleagues, I had the opportunity to travel to Sabi Sand and spent two nights at Inyati Game Lodge.

Not only did we spot all five of the Big 5, but we also witnessed a leopard hunt of a different kind and managed to snap images of rather shy bush inhabitants.

A small pride of lions in the South African bush
Keen to see Africa’s big cats up-close? Photo credit: Katharina Riebesel

Upon arrival, with a homemade lemonade in hand (cheers!), I soak in the captivating views from the lodge’s main area. Manicured lawns lead down to the almost entirely parched Sand River, with giant, ancient trees fringing this beautiful scene.

Other guests can’t hide their excitement as they show us a video of a large elephant bull that was nibbling on a tree right next to the terrace only a few minutes ago. That’s the fascinating thing about an unfenced safari lodge like Inyati; you never know what animals wait behind the next corner – or rather bush or tree.

After our refreshing welcome drink, I can’t wait to see my home for the next two nights. My suite is one of the family units and comes with inquisitive neighbours – a group of vervet monkeys on the thatched roof! Not only does my room overlook the lawn and riverbed, but it’s also conveniently located, right next to the swimming pool. The large king-size bed and two single beds offer enough space for a family of four – and plenty of room for me!

Face-to-Face with Inyati’s Big Cats

After a quick inspection of my room, it’s time for our first game drive. I head to the safari vehicle with a warm jacket in hand and a camera around my neck. Here, we meet our guide George and our tracker Solly.

Inyati Game Lodge: George and Solly tracking in the bush
George and Solly tracking in a dry riverbed, Photo credit: Katharina Riebesel

Have you ever wondered what the difference is between a good and a great safari? Without a doubt, it comes down to your tracker and guide duo! And we were indeed lucky with our bush experts! 

George has been tracking wild animals for more than 30 years, mostly alongside Solly. “I know Solly better than my wife,” George jokes. We believe him. It’s undeniable that the two are a well-rehearsed team. While driving past watering holes and trees, they share stories about a lioness and her cubs.

The bush smells pleasantly sweet and is much drier than on my Kruger safari in December. Impala, wildebeest and giraffe have taken over the area around the lodge’s airstrip, a stunning sight. Such open areas are always good for observing plain game.

Not long into our drive, we spot our first big cat. A male leopard with obvious Lion King ambitions poses on a round boulder in the middle of the dry riverbed. We watch him for a moment while George gives us a quick lecture about the area’s leopard dynasty. We saw no other leopards other than this dominant male.

A Delightful Surprise in the Bush

My favourite part of our afternoon adventure is a short drive across a flooded bridge in a wet area of the Sand River. About half a dozen hippos have made themselves comfortable in this natural rock pool. And, if you listen very carefully, you can even hear their deep rumbling from the lodge.

A pod of hippos near the Inyati Game Lodge
Say hello to Inyati’s pod of hippos. Photo credit: Katharina Riebesel

To our surprise, we don’t immediately return to the lodge. Instead, George drives us to a small clearing in the middle of the bush. A flickering bonfire flanked by safari vehicles, set tables and a braai station awaits us. The kitchen team is preparing salads, sauces, and hearty side dishes. A romantic dinner in the bush – the Inyati Game Lodge team has truly pulled off this surprise! Wrapped in blankets, we enjoy our starters under the sparkling night sky.

Of course, all Covid-19 guidelines are adhered to – not just during dinner but throughout our stay. Starters and desserts are served directly at the tables, and then each group goes to the buffet separately for their main course. My favourite dish of the evening is the braised oxtail with vegetables, a South African classic.

A Different Kind of Leopard Hunt

The next day, we follow a young female leopard through the dense bush – an excellent opportunity to train our gymnastic skills while avoiding branches and leaves. Then, suddenly, the leopard starts to stalk. Well, that’s what it looks like to us! So, we try to keep up with her.

We find her excitedly sitting in front of a dense bush that makes unfamiliar, outraging sounds. “That sounds a lot like a honey badger uninterested in playing catch,” George says. After a few minutes, the female leopard loses interest in her playmate, and we drive on.

Dwarf mongooses near Inyati Game Lodge in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve
Hi there, dwarf mongooses. Photo credit: Katharina Riebesel

From Small to Mighty Creatures

To our left and right, tiny dark grey figures keep appearing in the long, dry grass. George stops the car so we can have a closer look at the grey mongooses. It’s usually rather tricky to get these elusive animals in front of the lens, but I’m lucky this time.

The fascinating thing about the African bush is that it’s home to small and mighty creatures alike. Only moments later, a large herd of buffalo surround us. George estimates the size of the herd to comprise at least 200 animals. This could not be a better end to our safari, as “Inyati” is Zulu for buffalo.

Inyati Game Lodge Highlights

  • Classic safari design and ideal for spotting the Big 5
  • “Safari cinema”: Game viewing from the lodge possible
  • Delicious, hearty meals with African influences
  • Surprises like dinner in the middle of the bush
  • Experienced guides and trackers like George and Solly

Inyati Game Lodge is ideal for…

  • Families: There are three spacious family rooms not far from the common area and the open lawns. The lodge also offers a fun-filled ranger programme for children.
  • Photographers: Whether you are a professional or amateur wildlife photographer, you can look forward to first-class photo opportunities. As the Inyati guides are allowed to drive off-road, you will get very close to lions, leopards, elephants, but also smaller animals like mongooses and birds.

Would you like to experience a classic Big 5 safari on your next African holiday? Let our experienced travel experts plan your unforgettable stay at Inyati Game Lodge.

Inyati Game Lodge: You Can Never Go Wrong with a Classic Big 5 Safari

Safari greetings…… 

The mid-winter chill has reached the lowveld and we have experienced low temperatures in the early mornings. The temperature had dipped as low as four degrees Celsius this season, still not nearly as chilly as the Highveld or the escarpment but some of the hardiest of rangers sported trousers on early morning drives.

On evening drives guests often notice a drop in temperature as we drop into the drainage lines and rivers. This is simply air cooling down, and becoming more dense, heavy, and settling in lower lying areas as temperatures drop after sunset, this air flow is referred to as Katabatic flow or Katabatic winds.

The opposite happens after sunrise.  At dawn the sun brings some welcome heat after a chilly evening, and as the air heats up it creates a mini low-pressure system that draws the dense cool air up from the low-lying areas. As this happens moisture is also “dragged” up and condensation takes place to the extend that bands of mist rise from the lower lying areas making these Anabatic flows visible as waves of mist slowly sweeping up from drainage lines.

These misty waves light up as the first golden rays hit them after sunrise making for a spectacular dawn.  

Bush beat…….

The Othawa lions have done very well, and the six new cubs are thriving. The pride managed to bring down a giraffe that provided a fantastic meal for the adults and cubs alike.

The Tumbela males joined the feast, and the new kings spent some quality time with their new offspring. The Big male showed his soft side as he accepted his little daughters climbing on him and using his tail as a chew toy.

Our Leopard Queen, Tlangisa has done a phenomenal job with her two new cubs. The little cubs have grown from waddling balls of fluff to miniature leopards that are able to scale trees and even digest meat.

Tlangisa introduced them to their staple diet by supplying steenbok and impala kills this month. This extra boost of nutrients combined with moms milk has seen the two little cubs grow from strength to strength.

The little family did have a close shave though. One morning early in June we followed Tlangisa into a rocky outcrop she was using as a den for the cubs. One could see she was determined as she took no time to call the cubs form their rocky haven with soft grunting contact calls. To our delight the cubs answered with their bird-like squeals form within the outcrop and an enthusiastic greeting and grooming session followed.

Tlangisa, being the fantastic mother she is, first allowed the cubs to suckle for a while to top up their energy reserves. She the then stood up and marched out of the den site. The little cubs followed her cue, instinctively interpreting the mothers body language without any questions asked. Tlangisa blazed a trail to the west with two extremely excited cubs in tow, one could see the anticipation in their demeanour as they confidently trailed mom.

Tlangisa took them into a thick grassland, and we lost site of them as we viewed from a distance, a few minutes after they did not emerge from the thicket, we went in to investigate. Our suspicions were confirmed, Tlangisa had managed to bring down an adult Impala ram that she had stashed in the grass. There were no suitable trees to hoist the kill into, so she took the gamble of stashing the kill in a ticket on the ground.

After all her effort she unselfishly allowed the cubs to feed first, also a learning experience as they discovered how to open a carcass by targeting the areas where skin is thin enough break.

Tlangisa then emerged from the thicket. Every muscle was bristling as she anticipated approaching danger, her acute senses alerted her to another predator in the area and she used her sense of smell and the breeze to determine the direction of the approaching danger. The cubs again reacting to mother’s body language scuttled off deeper into the thicket, a few seconds later the leopards’ nemesis arrived. Three spotted hyenas stormed in and luckily focused on the free meal. They ripped into the carcass with far less finesse than the leopards and tore it in half. Tlangisa stayed for a few minutes hoping to salvage some of the carnage, but to no avail. Once the hyena settled, we left the area as extra noises and scents could be detrimental the cubs ability to avoid Hyenas.

Elation quickly turned to concern as we left the area.

For three days there was no sign of Tlangisa and our concern grew every day. On day four we found tracks of the mother heading into a favourite drainage line of hers. With many thickets, outcrops, and a maze of gully’s it provided a perfect refuge for cubs. We had decided that Tlangisa had entered an area that is inaccessible and once again accepted defeat. At this stage, an avid photographer in the vehicle decided to take a time laps and just enjoy the late afternoon sounds. A few minutes into the time laps Tlangisa emerged from the east walked straight past the vehicle and dropped into the drainage line. Once again, we heard her characteristic calls, answered by a chirp. To our utter delight two cubs emerged from the drainage line with Tlangisa, unscathed. They faced many dangerous trials but have emerged wiser and more equipped to survive this wild Eden.

Species feature……

Temmincks Ground Pangolin (Smutsia temminckii)

The extremely illusive creature is so rarely encountered in the wild that it has an almost mythical reputation. Very few people are lucky enough to lay eyes on a Pangolin  in the wild. This scaly little mammal moves about on its back legs scouring the ground for ants and at times some termites. If startled it will roll itself into an impenetrable ball of armoured keratinous scales, but if one sits very quietly to gain its trust it will unravel and happily feed whilst being followed.

The Temmincks Ground Pangolin is one of four species that occur in Africa, and the only species that occurs in Southern Africa and at Inyati. They are entirely terrestrial and nocturnal and will take shelter in burrows during daylight hours. The Pangolin is not only rare, but also difficult to spot as it moves low to the ground and in this grassy environment cuts its way through the grassy cover and hardly ever exposes itself. As a result, most Pangolin sightings are on night drives at the end of the dry season when cover is sparse.

Pangolins do not dig their own burrows but make use of abandoned aardvark and warthog burrows. These burrows serve as sleeping quarters in daylight hours and safe havens for little ones. One “pup” will be born after a gestation of approximately 140 days. The mother will keep the pup in the burrow at first and move it from time to time. A few incredibly lucky individuals have found females giving their pups “piggyback” rides between burrows. The little Pangolin is believed to stay on mother’s territory for about a year before venturing out becoming sexually mature at 4-5 years.

Pangolin numbers in Africa are decreasing at an alarmin rate, all the species are on the red list and our Temmincks ground Pangolins are listed as Vulnerable. Unfortunately, Pangolins are one of the most trafficked species of wildlife in the world with conservative estimates being 10 000 pangolins being trafficked every year. Pangolin scales are used as an ingredient in Traditional Asian Medicine fuelling the illegal trade of these slow breeding species. In Africa Pangolin scales are also sought after but the value is not enough to drive huge local trade. In central Africa an estimated 400 000 pangolin are hunted for meat and scales.

There is certainly a silver lining to the cloud though. Many areas in Africa are well protected, and dedicated Conservationists and Anti-poaching operations keep the wilderness free of greed driven poachers. Inyati is situated within one of the best protected areas in Africa and our Pangolins and much larger neighbours are in a safe haven.   

Inyati Game Lodge is excited to announce the launch of our updated website www.inyati.co.za. The new site has a fresh new look and was designed with your safari needs in mind. 

Hope to see you soon!

Keith and the Inyati team

November ’14 Field Guide Report by Matt

Majingilanes

Resting Giraffe

Resting Giraffe

So with much pomp and ceremony, there has been very little rain. A few showers here and there but nothing significant. Instead of sweltering heat followed by thunderstorms which I have been expecting. It has been chilly in the mornings although I refuse to wear a fleece this time of the year on principal. The bush has turned green but everything seems to be on standby for some real rain. Having said that, the trend of wonderful sightings has continued into the green season. The animals are plentiful and putting on a show. There are also wildflowers, and all the migratory birds are back.

Black flycatcher chicks

Black flycatcher chicks

Red-crested Korhaan

Red-crested Korhaan

Impala herd

I can’t believe it is that time of the year again! It’s lambing season for the beautiful Impala.

There is a lot to say on the habits of the leopards here at the moment. Starting with Xhikavi, she has given birth and has put her cubs in the drainage line just east of the lodge. The problem for her is that she is in a love triangle with Nyleleti and Dewane. Dewane seems to be the jealous type as he has killed cubs before and has been seen searching the drainage line for the cubs. Kashaan and Nyeleti have been doing the rounds. We saw Kashaan recently, he followed vultures to where 3 hyenas had a new born hippo carcass. He viewed the hyenas from afar and lost interest and kept moving. Tlangisa is revelling in the new born impalas, the new borns don’t stand a chance and she eats regularly and keeps a fresh kill all the time for her cubs.

Thlangisa with cubs

Thlangisa with cubs

Thlangisa and cubs wanting attention

Thlangisa and cubs wanting attention

Majestic cheetah

The cheetah is a large feline inhabiting most of Africa and parts of Iran. It is the only extant member of the genus Acinonyx

The lion sub-adults are all growing quickly. We haven’t been seeing the Othawas of recently as they have been hanging out in the east. The Ximungwes however have been seen sleeping everywhere. We had the Majingilanes on a buffalo kill North of the lodge. It made for some fine viewing especially the activity of all the scavengers. All the trees were full of vultures.

Wild dog pack

Wild dog pack

 

Wild dog on lawn

Large pack of Cape hunting dogs playing on our lawn at Inyati Game Lodge.

Resting crocodile

The Nile crocodile is an African crocodile and the second largest extant reptile in the world, after the saltwater crocodile

There have been many herds of elephants and buffalo and zebra around attracted by all the growth in the areas that burnt. The elephants have been putting on a good show coming to bath and play in the wallows by the lodge and in the river.

Going forward we are looking forward to some decent rain and we hope some new lion cubs in the new year.

That’s all from Matt for this month. We thank you for spending few moments with us in the wilderness, sharing our experiences and joining our adventures. We are committed to keep you updated. Please follow our Facebook page for daily updates.

Regards, THE INYATI TEAM

Keith & Francis – Managers
George (Head Ranger) & Solly (Tracker)
Khimbini (Senior Ranger) & Rodger (Tracker)
Matthew (Senior Guide) & Nelson (Tracker)

This month’s sightings report compiled by Matthew Brennan

November 2013 Bush journal & update by Matthew Brennan

grey-headed kingfisher

Inyati WeatherWeather: The rains are upon us. It has been quite a wet season so far with hardly a day gone by this month without any rain. This has been a blessing on two fronts as the usual November  heat has been dissipated and the bush is green, lush and interspersed with all the colours of the flowers and birds. The river regularly flows over the wall of our causeway and makes for a breath-taking few seconds driving across it.

Wildlife: The bush has had an influx of young. The impala are perfect miniatures of their mother’s which offer great opportunities for guests taking photos and predators feeding. The migrating birds are back and the breeders are in full plumage; at this time of year it is all about the colours of the bush.Impala lamb Leopard Panthera pardus

Dayone: This beautiful cat has seen a few times in the last month, it hasn’t been too often but to be fair there has been so many leopard sightings that we haven’t had much need to track him. He has been seen patrolling his usual routes and maintaining his dominance within his territory. Panthera pardusHlabaNkunzi and her cub:HlabaNkunzi and her cubHlabaNkunzi has been seen mating over the last while with a few leopards in the area; as such it appears that she is slowly starting to cede some of her territory to her cub. Her cub is really taking her change of circumstance well and is adjusting to the new role in her life.   The cub has been seen hunting and there are rumours that she has made a few kills. She has been a bit overly ambitious and got chased up a tree by a warthog once and screeched at by a white-tailed mongoose which she promptly let go.HlabaNkunziXhikavi:

Unfortunately we can confirm that one of the two new cubs was killed, either by baboons or dayone in the area. She has moved her den most likely because of the incident. Hopefully the remaining cub will keep hidden until it is able to look after itself.

Xhikavi and cubDam 3 Female:

She has been found regularly with a cub about 4 months old. While the mother herself is pretty skittish the cub is very relaxed around vehicles and is helping us keep Dam 3 in the area and not have her bolt off.

Lions Panthera leo

Selati malesSelati:

All three brothers have been seen with the one Othawa female and have been taking it in turns to mate with her. They have looked really skinny but for them it is a matter of priority with regards to mating or feeding. Surely when she passes through this cycle the males will return to their usual well fed selves.

Selati & OthwaOthawa’s:

The two mothers have been working hard to keep all the young ones alive and recently they have kept a nyala bull alive on a hunt so that the cubs could learn to make their own kills. Two of the cubs are very adventurous and are often not with their brothers and sisters, which always raises alarm bells with the rangers but as soon as we lose all hope they appear from some adventure or other no worse for the wear.

OthawasXimungwe’s:

This pride had a windfall recently when a bull rhino killed a female rhino in a mating incident. The pride got to share the carcass with an apparent million blow flies and made their life really difficult. Other than that they are doing well and keeping to the south of our property.

Elephant Elephantidae

ElephantidaeThere are a lot of elephants on the property at the moment and following the herds is a high number of bulls with a large majority of bulls being in musth, which has made for a few interesting drives and a few raised pulses. There have been a few births as well and so we get to see the parenting skills of these great animals, with all the members of the herds taking part. Recently we saw a whole herd lie in the road and go to sleep during the day.

Of other things:

Halcyon leucocephala

The grey-headed kingfisher is an insect-eating kingfisher with a silvery-grey head, nape and breast and a distinctive chestnut belly . The wing primaries are black, while the secondaries and the tail are cobalt-blue . The straight, dagger shaped bill is bright orangey-red . Although the sexes are alike in appearance, immature birds tend to be duller and have a blackish bill and dark barring across the chest .

There have been two spectacular sightings that come to mind, first is the grey-headed kingfisher which is a rarity for the area and secondly a trumpeter hornbill. There are the more common yet no less spectacular birds like the red-headed weaver, white storks and Southern Carmine bee-eater which is so loved that it gets the deserved attention from the rangers.

In conclusion:

The bush has always something to offer just sometimes it has more to offer than others, and just like all the animals are benefiting from the rain and the rewards it creates and stimulates, so do we as the privileged few benefit. This is certainly the time of abundance and it would be remiss to not take full advantage of the situation.cheetah on our plainsThat’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.

Regards, THE INYATI TEAM

Keith & Francis – Managers
George (Head Guide) & Solly (Tracker)
Khimbini (Senior Guide) & Richard (Tracker)
Matthew (Senior Guide) & Nelson (Tracker)

This month’s sightings report compiled by Matthew Brennan

 

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

Khotavuxika / June 2013 Safari Journal

Giraffe

Khotavuxika / June 2013The weather: 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. We have had the most glorious weather during June and we are still waiting for a really cold snap to arrive. Although there is a definite nip in the air in the early mornings and evenings, the daytime temperatures have still risen to between 25c & 34c.   June 1

Wildlife: As for the wildlife goes, they are all here in large numbers on their top form, fighting, mating, hunting and rearing young, we were  entertained for the whole month of this report. Khotavuxika June

LEOPARD (PANTHERA PARDUS)

This month’s Leopard viewing has been exceptional….

KHASHANE MALE AND DAYONE MALE

Khashane male and Dayone male

The dispute between these two males continues with neither of the males is backing down. They have met few times this month again growling, walking parallel displaying strength to one another.

The furious Khashane male…. About 70 percent of his territory is outside our traversing area but we have been seeing frequent now as he tries to keep our resident male, Dayone away from his territory.

Khashane maleAfter 2 days of matching around with Khashane male, Dayone went on to Dam 3 female and stole her hard earned meal, an impala carcass and didn’t even share.

Dayone male

HLABANKUNZI AND CUB

Hlabankunzi and cub

Hlabankunzi and cub

This mother leopard is covering great distances in search of food, patrolling and marking her territory. The cub is sometimes left alone for two days, she have become more comfortable being alone and started working on her hunting skill stalking anything and everything that moves.

Hlabankunzis cub

These long distance hunting sessions often result on her losing carcasses to hyenas. She will hunt and kill an impala, then put it under some bushes as she doesn’t like putting her prey up a tree like most leopards, she will then walk far to fetch the cub only to return and find that the hyenas have stolen the carcasses.

RAVENSCOURT FEMALE

Sadly the great mother has moved on…..

Ravenscourt female

Sadly the great mother has moved on…..

Ravenscourt got into a confrontation with the male leopard, Nyeleti who was set to kill her cub, she gave her all and successfully saved her cub but unfortunately she lost her life to this male. She will be missed dearly, we will forever cherish great moments were shared and the young she raised will save as reminder of how great mother she was.

Tlangisa female

Tlangisa femaleOur beloved young leopard, Tlangisa was seen few times during the month of this report , she seem to be shifting her territory more east to an area that is little more open and is frequently traversed by the game viewers allowing to find her easier. She is not so young any more in fact we think she is pregnant. We found her one morning after impalas uttered their alarm calls suggesting that there was a predator in the area, upon investigation she was found resting on a termite mound. The Othawa lionesses having heard the alarm calls of impalas also arrived in the area forcing the leopard to find safety on high branches of marula tree.

LION (PANTHERA LEO)

SELATI COALITION

Selati Coalition

The coalition has given us wonderful viewing throughout the month. The male with injured ribs was battling again at the beginning of the month but he seems to be recovering now.

Selati Coalition Buffalo

Some of our guests were lucky to witness an amazing sighting of the Selati males killing a buffalo cow. The males quickly brought the buffalo down, we presume they broke her neck, but the herd of about 400 buffalo turned and chased the lions off their fallen sister. Despite their best efforts the cow was unable to stand up. The Bulls fiercely held the lions at bay for about an hour but it was only a matter of time before the herd had to move on and lions claimed their hard earn price.   One of the cow taking the last glance at the lions and their kill, relactantly moving away as she had to stay with the herd otherwise she would fall victim as well.

Selati coalition buffalo kill

The one Othawa lioness with no cubs, the one that we believed was pregnant was seen with one of the Selati boys mating, this male made clear that he wasn’t sharing her with anyone not even his brothers.

Othawa lioness

OTHAWA PRIDE

After some few months monitoring Ottawa pride’s movement one can securely say that this animals have settle in our area or maybe for while. They are becoming more comfortable and started moving south-east into Ximhungwe pride territory. Their eight cubs are well feed and growing fast.

Othawa prideOn one afternoon we tracked them for couple of hours before finding them resting after having gorged themselves of nyala bull they killed. The cubs were playing with their full belies on the nearby fallen down marula tree.   The pride also came across a dead hippo which they fed on it for couple of days before the salati males join them to feast on large meal. The hippo had some huge puncher wounds that seem to be from a battle with another hippo.Othawa pride cubs

Othawa pride 2

XIMHUNGWE PRIDE

Ximhungwe prideThe pride have been successful in their hunting they have started to move further in the northern part of their territory, kudu and zebra is some of the thing they killed during the month of this report. Unfortunately the Selati males have killed one of the cubs, leaving 5 cubs. It is unusual that the male will kill their own cubs, here is what is we think is reason of this behaviour. The pride have suffered losing cubs to pride males on few times in the days of Mapogo coalition of male, they now don’t trust any male lion, they hardly ever interact with the Selati males, as of recent they ran when confront these males. On many occasion the males don’t even follow them but on one situation they chased them got hold of the cub and killed it, instinctively. We hope the situation change, which is the lionesses stop running and accept the Selati male as pride males otherwise the result will be dreadful to the pride.

Ximhungwe pride cubs

ELEPHANT (LOXODONTA AFRICANA)

lephant (Loxodonta africana)

We have had some exceptional and regular sightings of elephants. As the bush dries the animals covers long distances in a day in search of better food. Elephants at the waterhole are awesome to watch; there are lots of calves at the moment always full of energy as they play fight pushes each other around the area.

lephant (Loxodonta africana)

CAPE BUFFALO (SYNCERUS CAFFER)

Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer)Buffalo viewing have been constant in recent months, with a number of small herds of bulls scatted around our traversing area. The large herd was here with us on few occasions .One of the most thrilling sighting is to see a herd of about 500 buffalo heading towards a waterhole. We also had great viewing opportunities of the solitary bulls that always look very angry, stares at you like you owe them money.

CHEETAH (ACINONYX JUBATUS)

 

Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus)We have had some great cheetah viewing in the last couple of months, we been seeing males coming through our traversing area. This month we even got more excited when the mother and two cubs crossed to our reserve. The mother appeared very nervous, we later heard a leopard calling in the area which she would have sense earliar. She moved way completely out of the area with her two beatiful cubs,a smart move on her side becouse given the oppoturnity the leopard will kill the cubs or even the mother.

 

More than the big five…..

Have you ever wondered why the enormous hippopotamus or a giraffe, such a magnificent animal that always represent Africa in many way isn’t a member of Africa’s big five? The Big 5, a household term, which animals and why or how were they selected? Read on…Repeat Guest

The term Big 5 originated from the long-gone days of hunting safari days of Africa. They were the most dangerous animals to hunt and were therefore regarded as the ultimate trophy. They include the Elephant, Rhino, Lion, Leopard and Buffalo. The buffalo is regarded to be the most dangerous for the simple reason that it does not have a mock or warning charge. The other animals will first give you a sign of aggression, to indicate that they are not happy with your presence, before initiating a full charge. When you see a buffalo coming, the chances are it won’t stop. The problem lies more with the solitary bulls or “Dugga Boys”. “Dugga” meaning mud for they spend most of their time in mud wallows or concealed amongst the reeds on the water’s edge. For this reason, they are often disturbed at close quarters and this can result in catastrophic consequences. They seem to release a huge amount of adrenalin when charging, rendering them difficult to stop, thus have killed more hunters than any animals in southern Africa. Today we choose to shoot with our cameras and they animals have become accustomed to vehicles and people in it providing us with some great photographs to hang on our walls. Giraffe is vulnerable when lying down there are normally weary and will stand up when sense any danger but this male below couldn’t be bothered about us.

INY Dagga boy HULKIn and around camp

The water hole in front of the lodge has become a popular drink spot for lots of animals. From the comfort of your room you may see a dazzle of zebra coming, journey of giraffes and waterbuck and of course impalas always come for a drink. The Selati male lions also wondered through the camp on one morning always exciting to see, reminding us that they see this whole area as their territory, we are the intruders not them.

We have been having lots of repeat guests at Inyati and it is wonderful to see you all coming back.

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.

May 2013 Safari Journal

Meercat leopard!!

Mudyaxihi / May The weather: We can feel the early morning chill as winter is creeping in the back door. The afternoon thunderstorms that were so frequent last month seem to have rumbled and grumbled off elsewhere and we have enjoyed very welcoming blue skies and the warmth of the African sun.  

WildebeestWildlife: Wildlife sightings as usual have been terrific, most game drives have been richly rewarded with large buffalo herds, hippos in large rafts of about twenty, plus cats and birds galore. Large breeding herds of elephant have also moved back into our area along with large numbers of giraffe, both with some young additions to their families.

LEOPARD (PANTHERA PARDUS)

KHASHANE MALE AND DAYONE MALE

Khashane male These two leopards have been giving each other a grief. Dayone had managed to keep way all of the young males that have been encroaching into his territory, the likes of Nyeleti, Mashabeni, and Tai-dam male.

Just like wise man once said “After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb” (Nelson Mandela). Just when Dayone male thought he is about to have the whole territory to himself the enormous Khashane male begins to push further west into Dayone’s territory. So far the dispute ends on 24-48 hours of walking parallel and growling at each other. The road ahead is looking rather hard-hitting for both of our beloved male leopards and of course we will keep you updated of the development.

Khashane male (above) is older and larger than Dayone male (below) but he doesn’t seem intimidated by him.

Dayone male HLABANKUNZI AND CUB

Hlabankunzi And CubThese two leopards remain the most viewed in the area even though there are several other relaxed leopards in the reserve. One can understand if you spent few minutes with this mother and cub, they just full of energy and very playful. They also seem to enjoy being photographed as they often perch with a pose on termite mounds, rocks or fallen branches.

Meercat leopard!!  Meercat leopard!!  The two leopards had killed a common duiker; while the cub was feeding a pair of steenbok came pass the area. The mother leopard got up gave us this ‘meercat stance’ to have a better look she then started stalking and killed one of them.

 METSI FEMALE

The seldom seen Metsi and her cub were spotted several times during the month of this report; the cub is becoming confident in her hunting skills.

Metsi and her cub

We witnessed extraordinary sighting, the cub heard something in the grass went to investigate. We then heard some hissing, the cub jumped away and the mother leopard come to rescue. We initially thought it was a rock monitor lizard but soon discovered that it was a huge snake of about 4 metres long – an African rock python. The leopard started attacking the snake it was a big battle that lasted over 20 minutes but finally the leopard overpowered the snake, killed and ate it over a two day period.

Metsi and her LION (PANTHERA LEO)

SELATI COALITION

Selati CoalitionThese males have been very active throughout the month moving great distances covering every corner of their territory. It could because of the recent encounters they had with Manjingelane coalition of  male lions, but it could also be that they have pick up scent of the new pride(southern) frequenting the area.

LION (PANTHERA LEO)

We often seen and heard the males in different areas of the reserve.  We watched this Male roaring in cold misty morning possible looking for other members of his coalition. 

Selati male lionOne of the Selati male lion has fresh wounds, we are not sure what happened. He could have met the Manjingelane males again. The boys may have fought among themselves as there is a lioness of Othawa pride that is in oestrous and they have been taking turns in mating with her.

SOUTHERN PRIDE

Southern PrideThis beautiful pride has 11 members at moment. They are rather nomadic they have been coming more and more into the western sector and every time they come in they stay bit longer in the area. We have seen them trailing the large herd of buffalo, and made few attempts with no success, they did however kill a large kudu eventually.

OTHAWA PRIDE

It’s been long waiting! The pride has finally brought out the cubs for us all to see. We had our first proper sighting of the prides’ new litter at the beginning of the month. There are eight cubs in total, and it looks like two litters of four but we have been unable to sex them thus far.Othawa Pride

The lionesses killed a zebra and brought out the cubs to carcass and the 8 new cubs were very excited to have one of their first hard meal.

We also got to see the little cubbies crossing the sand river which is full crocodile fortunately they all made it across.Cubs crossing the sand river

And a little dispute between two sister lions, the lioness with no cubs have been acting rather strange, she been unfriendly to her two sisters and their cubs. The fight started as play fight of which she initiated and she just went mad started hitting and biting hard and then there was a war. Fortunately the fight only lasted a minute or so with only few minor bleeding wounds on the mother lion.Sisters in battle

ELEPHANT (LOXODONTA AFRICANA)

ELEPHANT (LOXODONTA AFRICANA)

The elephant viewing this month has not been as great as we are use to, however we have had some great bachelor herd sightings. One morning we were privileged enough to be charged by a baby of about 2 years. He was determined to see our vehicle drive off he put on such a show by flapping the ears, shaking of trunk and even trumpeting. He was disappointed when the Land Rover didn’t move he then ran back to the shelter of mum who thankful was totally ignoring his antics

CAPE BUFFALO (SYNCERUS CAFFER)

CAPE BUFFALO (SYNCERUS CAFFER)The large buffalo herd have graced us with their visit on number of occasions this month. It’s always a great sight to watch this massive herd of rushing down to a water hole as if they haven’t had a drink for months. We have also had new herd of buffalo consisting of about 300 animals on our traversing area for two weeks. This herd seem to have come from the far east of Kruger national park.

More than the big five…..

 GiraffeOne of the highlights during the month was to watch the a baby giraffe take its first step ever. We arrived just few minutes after the baby was dropped and we watched the mother dry it and encourage it to stand up, it took about 15 minutes then with a wobble the  baby managed to stand up. It was very interesting to watch how the mother used her front legs to support the calf.

We even got see mother giraffe eat her own afterbirth, a behaviour practise by many mammals referred as   placentophagy or placentophagia. There are a few reasons for this behaviour; the placenta is full of nutrients which re-energize the mother after the very taxing ordeal of labor. It eliminates the strong smell of blood which may draw predators from all around to their new baby and If left can become perfect hosts to a wide variety of disease.(note the picture below)GiraffeThe hyena den site have been providing some excellent sightings of late, there are also two new cubs in the clan, very inquisitive and so cute.Hyena pupIN AND AROUND CAMP

African Fish EagleSome of Most of our feathered friends have left for their summer visits Europe and Northern Africa; but our garden is not left empty. The African Fish Eagle (Haliaeetus vocifer), Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill (Tockus leucomelas) , Malachite Kingfisher (Alcedo cristata), the Purple-crested Turaco (Tauraco porphyreolophus) and the Yellow-throated Longclaw (Macronyx croceus), to name but a few that still capture our attention with their awe striking colours.

Southern Yellow-billed HornbillElephants, leopards, nyala and bushbuck are amongst the few animals that one sees as you walk around the lodge area.

IN AND AROUND CAMPThat’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

April 2013 Safari Journal

Hlabankunzi and cub

DzivamusokoThe 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.

LEOPARD (PANTHERA PARDUS)

Dayone male and Xikhavi femaleDayone male and Xikhavi female 

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 Dam 3 female

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!

Hlabankunzi and cub

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.

Ravenscourt female  

Ravenscourt female We have had few sightings of this beautiful leopardess this month. Ravenscourt female 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)

Selati maleThe 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.
Selati maleOne 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. Selati coalitionXimhungwe pride 

This pride still provides most of our lion sightings. The lionesses have had a successful month of frequent killings. Ximhungwe cubThe cubs are growing fast and looking very healthy.

Ximhungwe prideHere 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 prideSouthern 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)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) 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 700 buffalo 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. Cape buffaloMore than the big five…..Cape hunting dogsThe 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.Hippos basking in the sun 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!  

March 2013 Safari Journal

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.  March 2013

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)

Dayone male

Dayone male

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

Hlabankunzi 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. 

Hlabankunzi and cub

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.

Hlabankunzi and cub

  Metsi female

Metsi female & cubThe 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.

Metsi female

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.

Metsi female

 Lion (Panthera leo)

Selati male

Selati coalition

Selati coalition
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.

 Ximhungwe pride

Ximhungwe pride

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.

Ximhungwe pride cubsElephant (Loxodonta africana)

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. 

Elephant

 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.

Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer)

 More than the big five…..

Male cheetah

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.
Male cheetah

Male cheetah

 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.

 Klipspringer

In and around camp

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

 

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