Tag Archives: Leopard

N’wendzamhala – December 2012 Wildlife Journal

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

Wildlife: The rains have given life to the landscape and the earth and wildlife react to this change with unparalleled vigour. Where the ground was once dusty and bare, rampant green growth bursts from the ground. Fireball lilies add firecrackers of colour to the landscape, other flowers open themselves to the sun, and of course, the antelope drop their young in multitudes, creating a bounty for predators large and small.Lion (Panthera leo)

Leopard (Panthera pardus)

Dayone male

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

Hlabankunzi and Metsi female

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

Leopard - Hlabankunzi and Metsi female

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

Tlangisa female

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

Tlangisa female

Tai dam male

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

Lion (Panthera leo)

Selati coalition and Othawa pride

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

Selati male Ximhungwe pride

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

Elephant (Loxodonta africana)

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

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

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

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

Elephant (Loxodonta africana)

Elephant (Loxodonta africana)Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer)

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

Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer)

More than the big five…..

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

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

Black-bellied Bustard

In and around camp

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s all from us this month, we thank you for spending few moments with us in the wilderness, shared our experiences and joined our adventures, and we are committed to keep you updated.

This month’s sightings report compiled by Khimbini Hlongwane

Nhlangula – October 2012 Wildlife Journal

Leopard patrolling the lodge

Inyati Game Lodge - OctoberThe weather: We have had an amazing October at Inyati – we experienced a lot of really warm days with temperatures reaching highs of 39° C but we also had a few thunder showers which have caused the vegetation to explode into summer bloom, with many trees sharing their colourful and fragrant flowers with us.

The Wildlife: We have been spoilt with many sightings of the predators, general game and bird activities. Two of our resident leopards have produced cubs and at least two lionesses from our resident prides have cubs. It’s really an exciting time in the reserve. We anticipate the arrival of many new-borns in the coming weeks; the bush will be dotted with baby impala, zebra, kudu, giraffe and other plains game. We will need more clouds to open up and wet the grounds before this happens.

Leopard (Panthera pardus)

Leopard (Panthera pardus)Leopard sightings have been remarkable this month, lots of mother and cub interactions. The highlight for me was the sighting of a Dam3 female leopard feeding on a Southern African python. The python we estimated at 3.5 metres (around 10 feet) in length and this female must have done this before; to make a kill like this requires years of experience and skill.

Dayone male

Leopard (Panthera pardus)This leopard has grown to be a brave majestic mal. He has had few more territorial fights with Ndlevane male and he was able to come up stronger than the elderly male. His preferred hunting tactics often provide us with some great photographic opportunities as he often poses on top of termite mounds waiting for the warthogs to come out.

Leopard (Panthera pardus)There are few males young males venturing into the area, the territorial Dayone male is kept on his toes, he needs to mark and patrol continuesly to protect the two liters of cubs that are in his territory.

Hlabankunzi and Metsi females

Cubs - Hlabankunzi and Metsi femalesWe are delighted to report that the two mothers Hlabankunzi and Metsi have finally brought their cubs out for us to see. They both have one cub each, we are not sure of the sex yet. Their den sites are on the rocky outcrops which allow us to have great view of them without getting into their personal space. Metsi’s cub is very brave, it often approaches the vehicles and the poor mother has to constantly bring it back him.

Tlangisa female

INY Tlangisa femaleTlangisa female leopard has made an occasional appearance, she was looking her best this morning, it was so nice to see her again after a long time. We followed tracks of a pair of leopard for long distance and then located her completely out of her territory it become obvious that she was after one of the male.INY Tlangisa female

After giving up the chase of the male, Tlangisa she wondered back towards her territory and come across two hyenas and a new (unidentified) young male leopard that had a duiker carcass hoisted in the tree and the young leopard was certainly not sharing his meal. The hyenas did their best to get to the carcass and even tried to use the fallen logs as step ladder in attempt to get to the carcass (note the duiker’s leg hanging above the hyena) Tlangisa came into the area and just lay there and watched for a while before moving off.Hyena

Ravenscourt female

This female continues to come deeper into our traversing area; she is normally resident across our eastern boarders. On one evening we followed her out hunting she was really determent to make a kill for herself and cub but when we left for our dinner she still haven’t caught anything and we could locate her the next morning.INY Ravenscourt female

Lion (Panthera leo)

Let’s face it; it would be bigger news if lions were NOT seen at Inyati lodge. Well, that certainly wasn’t the news this month.

INY Selati coalition and Othawa pride

Selati coalition and Othawa pride

The Selati males spent most of the month trailing either Othawa lionesses or Ximhungwe pride, which has given the buffalo a bit of a break from these killer cats.

INY Selati coalitionAt least two lionesses of Othawa pride have given birth, and after a brief sighting of the lionesses with cubs in the sand river, we closed the area to game drives to avoid any pressure on her and her offspring.

She has been seen several times on her hunting forays and appeared to be heavy with milk, which is a good sign.

Unfortunately that seems to have all changed and it appears that one of them have lost her cubs as she was seen mating with the Selati male.

Ximhungwe pride

The Selati males were seen crossing the Sand River on one evening in search of buffaloes they seems so determent to find food; so much for the hunt we found them the next morning lying happily among the Ximhungwe lionesses.

INY Ximhungwe prideWell, what can we say -there are priorities in life.

And by the afternoon there was mating going on. One of the lionesses, the short tail female have given birth in a secluded den site on the hill top of a rocky outcrop, we await patiently our first view of the cubs.

Elephant (Loxodonta africana)

This was another month of the elephant and multitudes of these large grey mammals we seen throughout the area, some in breeding herds, bachelor herds and lone bulls.INY Elephant (Loxodonta africana)

We have had frequent sightings of this one particular bull with both his tusks half broken in the lodge and on our airstrip. This individual male was rather friendly he would happily leave the lodge when ask to but we had hard time keep him out, as he kept coming back to destroy this in the lodge.INY Elephant (Loxodonta africana)

Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer)

We have had on a few sighting of the large herd of buffalo this month. With the rains there are plenty of grasses and water for them, they traverse the whole reserve even areas that they would normally avoid because of lack of rivers or dams. There are lots of small herd of bull and lone spread around the reserve.INY Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer)

On one cloudy morning we came across a ”Dagga boy” (old buffalo bull) that gave us an evil eye. It was a good place to if you are buffalo because at mere 900 metres the renowned buffalo hunters, the Selati males were resting for the day.

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

More than the big five.....

Inyati is teeming with wildlife again; viewing of general game has been particularly good, with the numbers of zebra and wildebeest sightings increasing from the previous month.

INY Plains gameIt’s not all about big elephant and large male lion! We often remind our guests that the experience here is also about appreciating the smaller fauna such as frogs and birds, and being absorbed by the particularly stunning surroundings. On one of the afternoon drive we spent about 20 minutes watching the most fascinating family of dwarf mongoose foraging on the ground with one on the branch watching out for predators.

Dwarf mongoose

We have also been experiencing large concentrations of giraffe in the area, most probably due to the surrounding trees which are all sprouting new growth. It is amazing to watch the journeys of giraffe move elegantly through the area and how they drink, they always approach the water cautiously and then splay their long legs and drink with a watchful eye out for predators.

In and around camp

The Camp itself continues to be a magnet for various species of mammals and birds. The sightings this month have been really extraordinary. Seen from the lodge was a family of elephant walk silhouetted against the glowing orange sky. Our resident hippos herd have been entertaining as they came out to feed on our lawn at night.Elephant in Camp

And while enjoying our high tea just before one of the afternoon drives Dayone male leopard came strolling through the lodge in patrol of his territory.Leopard patrolling the lodge

The animals in the Sabi Sand Reserve are named after their territories. The predators have been given names and the guides and trackers know the animals according to the names they have given them.

Mhawuri : August 2012 Wildlife Journal

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.

Inyati Game LodgeThe 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.

LEOPARD (PANTHERA PARDUS) Hlabankunzi female

Hlabankunzi Female

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.

Tlangisa Female

Tlangisa femaleShe 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 Ravenscourt with 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.

Ravenscourt female and cubsDam3 female

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 (Panthera leo)

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 Selati males 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.Selati coalition

Ottawa pride

Ottawa prideThe 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….Ottawa lions

Elephant (Loxodonta africana)

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.

Father and sonCape 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.

Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer)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.

Cape hunting dogAnd 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…

Cape hunting dogsAnd 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.

Cape hunting pupsHyena 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.

Hyena femaleThis 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 Dayone male leopard in campand 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.Elephant bull Main lodge

Mawuwani : July 2012 Wildlife Journal

Dayone male

Dayone maleIn July, we experienced typical lowveld (Mpumalanga) winter conditions. The mornings and evenings were chilly, averaging around 5° Celsius and then warming up to 30° Celsius by midday. The ‘bush babies’ or hot water bottles have remained popular with guests clutching onto them during the cold mornings. One of the highlights for the winter months is the amazing night skies experienced on most evenings. The crisp, clear and dark nights were dotted with stars, planets, galaxies, meteors, satellites and the moon – it truly was beautiful! The month has brought excellent game viewing with the colder temperatures and the bush thinning out. The predators have been active longer into the day and we have had some fantastic sightings.

Leopard (Panthera pardus)

Whilst elephants may have been the most frequently encountered animals over the last few weeks, they have not had a monopoly on magic moments at Inyati. Every area has its special animal, the creature that seems to symbolise a place, to embody its spirit and distinguish it from every other corner of Africa and ours is the beautiful leopard. It’s truly a privilege to have these animals allowing us into their lives.

Dayone male

He is now well established in this prime territory enriched by few female leopards, for most of the month he was kept busy by Dam3 and Shangwa female. We witness mating with Dam3 for about 4 days and about a week after he was mating with Shangwa female again. Just like last month it took a lots persistence and experience for the elderly female to convince him to commit into mating activities.

We found on one afternoon on the bank of Sand River, he was very angry there were clear signs of another male in the area. We even heard some growling by the other cat by never got to see him. Tsutsuma

We think it was the huge yet skittish male becoming known as Tsutsuma (Shangaan word meaning: run) Note on the picture of Dayone salivating, one of the signs of a furious cat.

Hlabankunzi female

Hlabankunzi dominated our Facebook posts during the months of this report but with her spending time in around the lodge were being spoilt with the viewing in the early morning light. On one afternoon we left her hunting impalas in the lodge and the next morning we leant that she killed an impala ewe between the lodge and staff village, making going to work rather interesting for our staff. She hoisted the carcass on the nearby tree which she kept and guarded for five days guarantee us a leopard sighting every drive.

Hlabankunzi in tree

Few days after she finished the kill, she was seen in a different area chased up a tree by one of the Selati males, she won the patience game and he left her unscathed.

Hlabankunzi as seen resting in the jackal berry tree on with an impala kill; a hopeful hyena lurking nearby.

Shangwa and cub

Shangwa and cub

The Shangwa females wound is healing well and she is back to her old habits. Making a bit of a cougar of herself by mating with the young Dayone male.

The Tie dam male (Shangwa young male) was on form, terrorising mice, and even stalking a small crocodile at Tie dam.

The leopard lost his nerve when the croc melted into the water.

Ndevane male and Dam3 female

Ndevane male and Dam3 female

These two shy and skittish individual were seen few times this month. Ndevane is slowly becoming more habituated to vehicles, tolerating our presence a little more each time we see him. After mating with Dayone the Dam3 female was seen mating again this time with Ndlevane male, she had impala carcass hoisted in a tree and had to eat during the 15 minutes breaks between every copulation, while eating she showed concern about the elderly male sneaking away.

A new young male leopard was seen trapped between a larger and older leopard, Ndlevane male in the same tree as him and the Ximhungwe pride of lions at the base of the tree. Talk about a rock and a hard place. We presume the older male stole the kill from the young male and the scuffle attracted the attention of the lions.

Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus)

Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus)

A surprising and extremely exciting sighting for us this month was the first cheetah seen in the traversing area for almost six months. George and Solly noticed a giraffe staring intensely at one spot. Wondering what it was that had so captivated the animal, they decided to investigate and found it looking directly at a cheetah. The high concentration of lion here over the last few years has excluded the far less competitive cheetah. He had killed a bushbuck lamb, but there were three Ottawa females and one Selati male close to the area, he is in for a long night. Unfortunately, we have not seen him since.

Lion (Panthera leo)

Selati coalition

Selati coalitionFor almost the whole month these male we preoccupied by the mating with tree lionesses of Ximhungwe pride and feeding on a hippo carcass that died at Xikwenga dam. The buffaloes and the Ximhungwe sub-adult even got a little break from these males chasing them around. The cubs are growing fast hopeful they will grow to the age and size where the Selati male will accept them as sub-adult and not kill them.

SelatiThese males have become so comfortable in their territories they are roaring almost every night and are very seldom seen together.

Ottawa pride

The three lionesses of this pride was seen on few occasions hunting up and down along the river possible looking for bushbucks, nyalas and kudus that prefer these kind of habitat. Ottawa prideAll tree Ottawa lionesses look pregnant, we are impatiently waiting for the next generation, the first cubs of Selati males.

Ottawa femaleXimhungwe pride

The lionesses are trying very hard to keep the cubs away from the Selati male, keep them alive. We seen them their strategy from running and hunting to engage entertaining and mate. The one lioness, Queen is left to baby sit and feed the three remaining cubs, hunting without the help of the three sisters (who are busy entertaining the Selati males) have proven little difficult especially because she been limping for a while now but she is managing so far.Ximhungwe

It was much to our relief that the lioness and the 3 sub adults made a kill on one morning. We found them with bulging bellies and still bloodied. The Lioness had fed a bit but had clearly left the lions share to the youngsters. Hope beyond hope, as the Selati males still search for the last of the Mapogo’s cubs. The sad news this month is the lioness that had new litter lost all her cubs, we only got to see one cubs, we saw her carrying this cub to a wildebeest kill and the next day it was dead we are not sure what happened to it.Ximhungwe pride

Elephant (Loxodonta africana)

Elephant (Loxodonta africana)We are seeing many elephants around Inyati Lodge at the moment, mainly to the southern and western part of the reserve.

Elephant (Loxodonta africana)Breeding herds are commonly seen and at times, lone bulls are found around the camp. They tend to move through camp towards the western section of the reserve and then return (again through camp) towards the eastern section again following the Sand river, leaving evidence of their visit around camp, with broken branches and large piles of dung in the pathways and large, deep footprints in the mud.

One of the youngsters become very inquisitive he came closer and closer with his truck up in sniffing the air he was determent to find what we were all about.

Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer)

Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer)The large buffalo herds were scarce for the first half of the month, but were seen daily during the second half of the month. It’s always exciting such large group of animal run to be first at waterhole before the water is stirred into mud by the fellow bovines.

More than the big five…..

We have been really spoilt with lots of hyena sightings this month. We are noticing a growing numbers of hyenas in our section of the reserve, often wrongly referred as just scavengers these adaptable predators do hunt efficiently in areas where they need to. On none morning we witness a clan of 6 hyenas hunt impalas successfully from the start to finish.

hyenaAnother exciting animal seen around Inyati game lodge this month is serval an elusive and beautiful cat which is active mainly from dusk until dawn.serval

lilac-breasted rollerWe have had great birding this month. The lilac-breasted roller has decided to show off its brilliantly coloured feathers as he flew down to catch a grasshopper. Guides have also reported good raptor sightings: a pair of nesting bateleurs, good sightings of the majestic martial eagle, a pair of african hawk-eagles and few sightings of tawny eagles.

In and around camp

Game viewing along the river and around camp has been amazing. Herds of elephant and giraffes are seen as a daily occurrence.

The area is full of elephant, and most water courses are bursting with hippo and crocodile.

Herds of elephant

A few snakes have started to reappear after a cold winter and we witnessed a grey-headed bush shrike attacking a large vine snake. It was interesting to notice how the bird try to destroy the snake’s eye first before kill it.a large vine snake

The resident troop of vevet monkeys constantly visits us at the camp; they are always entertaining, giving us superb close up views.

vevet monkeys

It’s been yet another amazing month here at Inyati, and we hope you’ll come here soon to share in it all…

www.inyati.co.za | http://www.facebook.com/InyatiGL | BLOG http://inyatigamelodge.com

Khotavuxika: June 2012 – Wildlife Journal

At the onset of June it seemed bit cooler than May but this did not last long and the temperatures rose quickly. Early morning temperatures have been a chilly 10-13°C but warming up during the day to a pleasant 25-27°C. We have also been having strong blistery winds around midday. The sightings have been great with guests retruning from drives with interesting tales.

The sunsets have been spectacular with the dust in the air adding some beautiful colours in the sky.

The sunsets have been spectacular with the dust in the air adding some beautiful colours in the sky.LEOPARD (PANTHERA PARDUS)

The felines have been performing spectacularly for our guests this month.

The felines have been performing spectacularly for our guests this month.

SHANGWA AND CUB

This elderly female have recently shifted her territory more west of her normal range, she was seen hung bushbucks along the sand river with a big open wound on her leg this is possible from a territorial fight with another female leopard or injured by warthog in the hunt.

It’s incredible how quickly these animals heal only couple of weeks late the wound is looking much better.

Her sub adult male is fully independent now and she is coming into heat again now. She was seen way out of her territory south of the Sand River following Dayone male around. It took a while for her to convince him to mate but after few days her persistence work and experience he finally gave in.

ShangwaShangwa NDLEVANA MALE

Leopard (Panthera Pardus) - Ndlevana male This illusive and aggressive male come out few times this month, he was more tolerant to game viewer vehicles, not run away and not charging asking us to leave like he often does. In one of the sighting we saw him with unidentified young male feeding on carcass in the tree.

Dayone maleDAYONE MALE

He been the luckiest and busiest boy ever, with few of the female that their territory are within his come into oestrous during the month of this report. Some of the female he was seen mating with includes Xikhavi, Shangwa, Hlabankunzi and Dam 3 female. We even got to have a good view of the shy Dam 3 female, the lure of the new male and hormones clouding her usual fear of vehicles allowed us to view this generally skittish leopardess. The look in her eye is a sure sign of her temperament.

HLABANKUNZI FEMALE

Hlabankunzi femaleShe is slowly gaining back her status as the most viewed leopard in our area. She is still covering her large territory she grew when she was trying to keep her cubs away from new territorial male, Xindzele a year ago. She seen very busy mating with Dayone male but after about 5 days has since separated from him and went back to patrolling and securing her own territory, such a large territory have required her to move over 17 kilometres a day.

TLANGISA FEMALE

Tlangisa femaleWe have seldom seen this female lately, she used to be the most consistently viewed leopard in our area until couple of months ago when she moved her territory to a far densely vegetated area up by the north-western the reserve. She felt the pressure from the older and large female, Metsi who is push more and more north of her territory. We were privileged to see her on one afternoon perched on a termites mound in the last light just before she set out for her hunting pursuit.

LION (PANTHERA LEO)

SELATI COALITION AND XIMHUNGWE PRIDE

Selati coalition and Ximhungwe prideThese male are certainly making their presence known around the area as they constantly making, vocalising and mating with lionesses that roam within their territory. They are often seen in separate areas as they search for female in heat only get together to hunt. Yet another buffalo was killed this month as a result of the team work by the Selati boys. If all four are seen together it’s almost a given that a buffalo is coming down soon. Soon after the buffalo carcass finished the Selati male lions and Ottawa lionesses have moved little further away and the mating has resumed.

SelatiXimhungwe pride ran into one of Selati male lion on one morning, two lionesses took the cubs out the area when the other two stayed with him, interestingly the short tail female, mother of the two older cubs tried to seduce him to mate. It took few days for the male to allow mating but eventually two lionesses were mating with the Selati boys.

These seventeen months old cubs are looking very nervous after the confrontation with Selati males, their mothers have done exception work to keep the sub adults away the Selati Coalition and keep them alive.

Latter in the month we witness the Selati male lions mating, one mating with Ximhungwe lioness and the other one was mating with two of the Othawa lionesses. Yes! he was mating with two lionesses at same time.

OTTAWA PRIDE

The three lionesses are looking their best moment and confident, they seem to have accepted Selati male entirely and much easier compared to the Ximhungwe pride. One of them was seen mating again with one of the Selati males by the river side after feeding on a buffalo kill.The Ottawa pride moved back north and they too bumped into the males with the kill and got pretty amorous as well!

The African Elephant is the largest living land mammal, and one of the 'Big 5' group of animals

ELEPHANT (LOXODONTA AFRICANA)

June saw a marked increase in elephant activity along the river in the vicinity of camp. This is probably linked to the fact that most of the greenery disappeared else accept the along river and some dams have dried up and the animals are forced to congregate around the Sand River in order to meet their water requirements.

CAPE BUFFALO (SYNCERUS CAFFER)

The large resident herd of buffalo have been out of our traversing area for most of the month but there been no shorted of buffalo sighting as there we few bachelor herds around the property including one group of about 20 bulls.

MORE THAN THE BIG FIVE…..

This month’s special sightings included, a honey badger (Mellivora capensis), also known as the ratel, which is a species of mustelid native to Africa. These creatures are mostly active by night and are seldom seen. The honey badger is a tenacious small carnivore that has a reputation for being, pound for pound, Africa’s most fearless animal despite its small size.

It is even listed as the “most fearless animal in the world” in the Guinness Book of Records.

Simply Amazing! Honey badgers do appear to have some immunity to snake venoms. A honey badger bitten on the face by the highly cytotoxic puff adder will show signs of severe pain but recovered fully within five hours. This immunity may develop over the life time of the honey badgers due to regular contact with small amounts of venom in snakes, scorpions and bees.

And our feathered friends have been around too!

Red-billed hornbill (Tockus erythrorhynchus) feasting on termites. An early breakfast on a beautiful and cold African winter morning!Red-billed Hornbill is a relatively small species of hornbill found in savanna and woodland of sub-Saharan Africa

A lilac breasted roller using a game viewer driving by to find a meal, as the vehicle disturbs insects the colourful fly in to catch them.The average size is 14.5 inches. The washed green head is large, the neck is short, the greenish yellow legs are rather short and the feet are small

In and around camp

Our guests have been enjoying sightings of zebra, giraffes, impala and many more from the comfort the comfort of their breakfast table or pool beds.

The hippopotamus, or hippo, from the ancient Greek for "river horse", is a large, mostly herbivorous mammal in sub-Saharan AfricaEven for hippo, water has been little bit too cold to spend the whole day in it. They can be see from the lodge basking in the sun. Did you know? Recent DNA evidence suggests that the hippopotamus is more closely related to cetaceans (whales and dolphins) than it is to any other artiodactyls (even-toed hoofed mammal)”

Mudyaxihi: May 2012 – Wildlife Journal

The month of May was a successful one with great sightings and estatic guests, mornings and evenings were little chilly but the days were pleasant. Morning breaks with tea, coffee and hot chocolate are becoming more popular as we get into the winter season. Our dams and many of river systems are fill up we should have enough water to last us through dry winter this year. Surprisingly, Sand River’s water level is low considering the huge floods we had early this year.

We are often ask what differentiates safari destinations, well location must be one of them, pristine wilderness, diversity in habitat, enough resources to support huge numbers of big game….(On picture below) follow the river to the top of the picture and note the green patch on the bank, sits Inyati Game lodge.

Sand river

Leopard (Panthera pardus)

Khashane male

Khashane male

Leopard galore! Sightings of these beauties have been outstanding over the past month. Even Khashane male who spent most of his time out of our traversing was here with us for most of the month. We were following him on one morning while on his territory patrol when two impala ram chased each other right passed him. Even though his focused was on a territory marking he couldn’t resist this opportunity of a meal. He followed them for about two hundred metres waited for the two fighting antelopes to lock horn, he then literally run in and took one of them.Khashane male

Shangwa and cub

Dayone maleThe elderly female leopard, Shangwa and her grown cub continue to provide us with the most rewarding experiences – they have been seen with kills couple of times this month. Later in the month she picked up few injuries, one wound on her forehead she is also looking undernourished but she should get better soon. The cub has been seen on his own a lot, have begun to wonder way out of his mother’s territory to explore new areas.

Dayone male

He has grown in size and in confident as seen often patrolling every corner of his prime territory with no fear. They say no one has perfect life, but some come really close, all is seemingly good for this leopard right now.Dayone male

Tlangisa female

The most viewed of our leopard, Tlangisa was little bit scarce this month she had ventured completely out of her territory, we were all very surprised to see her on far north-western corner of the reserve where she spent couple of weeks exploring the area. On her return she got into a little territorial dispute with Dam 3 female who on of their territory boundaries. The dispute was resolved without a physical contact they eventually separated moving back deeper into their own territory. Tlangisa was noticeably very careful of the older and large Dam 3 female.

Tlangisa female Lion (Panthera leo)

Selati coalition and Ottawa pride

Selati coalition and Ottawa prideThe new dominant males, Selati have spent a good part of the month with the three Ottawa lionesses of which two of them were in oestrous. The boys did manage to pull down at least couple of buffaloes this month. While they were feeding on the buffalo, one of the younger male sneak away he was found the next morning in the different area mating with two lionesses at same time. It didn’t take long before the three brothers caught up with him. This was the first time that the bond amongst these males was put to real test, the younger two males have been given so many chances in the past but this time it wasn’t the same there was few serious battle between among themselves and the younger two who initially claimed the lionesses where beaten up and driven off.

One of the male younger male was seriously injured but the next day were found him with the female he lost the night before, this particular male have very strong character of them all. He often separate, he was one driving the group to search for the Mapogos, he was more aggressive when they killed Mr T. He is far less affectionate; often lie separate from the rest of the males. He was the one who continue the chase of Ximhungwe pride ended up in the tough jaws and claws of four Ximhungwe lionesses. This male can be easily identified by the prominent bulge on the right side of his heap and his frown or mean face he wears. (Note second picture blow)

Selati coalition and Ottawa pride
Selati coalition and Ottawa pride

Ximhungwe pride

Ximhungwe prideOur resident pride, Ximhungwe has been out of our traversing area into the eastern section of the reserve this was to obviously avoid the Selati males who will more likely kill the cubs if found. On return they find a corner where the Selati males hardly ever go, they stayed there safely for weeks until the end of the month when were found by the males. We found them in the morning followed as they ran through almost the entire length of our traversing area, we noticed that two lionesses were injured and tree cubs were missing. We feared that the pride might have lost three cubs but few days later two of the missing three were found alive, so only one is killed.

Elephant (Loxodonta africana)

Elephant (Loxodonta africana)Elephant sightings were really fantastic. Breeding herds of these grey goliaths were seen all around the traverse area this month. We watched these gentle giants for hours and they seem to enjoy our presence as well. One of the cows was performing all the tricks including “bum scratching” as can be seen on the picture below.

We also had close encounter with one of the youngster, when her decided he was going to drive us away by shaking his head and hold his ears out as he charge at us. His mother seemed not to pay any notice to us or him.Elephant (Loxodonta africana)
Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer)

Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer)The big herd only pay couple of visit this month but we were never short of buffalo there plenty of solitary and bachelor herd along the sand river. In one of the dams the herd visits for a drink is resident by a lone hippo, he doesn’t seem to mind their presence rather fascinated as he often try to get close to the buffalos for a closer look. I guess as lonely bull driven out of the herd he does need little company sometimes, after all friends come in different sizes.Inyati

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More than the big five…..

HippoHippos spend most of their daily hours in water and nights on land grazing along, but with the cool weather they can be seen lying on the banks of rivers and dams. We had are great viewing of couple, cow and bull chasing each other around at Inyati causeway.

Steenbok is the smallest of the antelope species we get to see, these little antelope wSteenbokill generally scuttle off but we saw one that was very relaxed and curious she decided to investigate the game drive vehicle instead.

In and around camp

The resident sounder of warthogs constantly visits us at the camp, feeding on the green grass, giving us superb close up views. The piglets are growing fast they have become accustomed to people walking around the lodge, very entertaining as they roll in the mud wallows to cool off at mid day temperatures.

WarthogAs winter’s cold dries the vegetation elephants follow the rivers in search of greenery and our lodge is just in perfect place, guests are able view these animals as they flock up and down the river.

Elephant (Loxodonta africana)

That’s all from us this month, we thank you for spending few moments with us in the wilderness, shared our experiences and joined our adventures, and we are committed to keep you updated.

Dzivamusoko : April 2012 Wildlife Journal

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

Leopard (Panthera pardus)

Leopard (Panthera pardus)

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

Shangwa and cub

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

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

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

Hlabankunzi female

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

Hlabankunzi female Hlabankunzi & Dayone

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tlangisa female

Tlangisa female

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

Lion (Panthera leo)

Selati coalition

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

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

Ximhungwe pride

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

Elephant (Loxodonta africana)

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

Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer)

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

More than the big five…..

Impala rut

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

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

African hawk eagle

African hawk eagle

In and around camp

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

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

Kashane male

That’s all from us this month, we thank you for spending few moments with us in the wilderness, shared our experiences and joined our adventures, and we are committed to keep you updated.

Nyenyankulu: March 2012 – (End of an era) Wildlife Journal

Young Mr T

The weather this month was perfect. 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. The clear skies allowed the stars to be enjoyed as we dined in boma and shonalanga (bush dinner site) watching the constellations of the Southern Cross and Orion.

And what a month it has been for game viewing. Possibly the best thing about being on safari at Inyati game lodge is the sheer variety on offer. The advent of winter has coincided with a return of the buffalo and elephant herds and an activity of predators is at its peak.

Buffalo herdLeopard (Panthera pardus)

The leopard sightings have been as good as it gets this on this month. Almost all our resident leopards were seen at some point, either close to camp or further afield.

Dayone maleDayone male

MetsiHe is well settled in his new territory he seem to be expanding north into territory Xindzele male who we have not seen in few months. On one morning we located Dayone male relaxing on marula tree Khashane male mating with Tassalberry female.deep in Xindzele male’s territory. He was extremely relaxed and we watched her for 20 minutes. She eventually stretched and gracefully climbed down the tree. He had been watching impalas in the distance and we followed her towards them he did make a fail attempt to catch one of them. There is another male occupying the northern section of xindzele’s territory along the sand river. This male is rather large he could well be responsible for xindzele’s disappearance. Our young dayone needs to be careful may take him out. Unfortunately for us the new male is very nervous and aggressive we have never had a great viewing of him.

Metsi female

Since her two male cubs have grown and are independent she was seen mating with the young and handsome Dayone male on the same day on the opposite side of our traversing area the magnificent Khashane male was also mating with Tassalberry female.

Tlangisa female continues to give us the best viewing with her playful nature, she is always presenting herself for photographs as she run up trees and pose for the pictures as if she is getting paid for doing that.

Tlangisa female The Ravenscourt Female is lactating, which means there is possibly another litter of very small leopard cubs hidden away in her territory.

Lion (Panthera leo)

Mapogo coalition –The end of an era: The world famous coalition of 6 males has fallen.

The end of an era: The world famous coalition of 6 males has fallen.

These six males are also known as the Eyrefield Males originated from the Eyrefield Pride (also known as the Sparta Pride). After leaving their pride in 2005 they moved deep into the Sabi sand challenging few males taking over their territories. These males began to ruled with an iron fist. In their quest to dominate this area, the Sabi sand Reserve lost approximately 150 lions which included lots of cubs, females and adult males of which many they killed and eaten. They were named Mapogo after a security company that utilizes rather harsh methods in dealing with offenders. Once they had established themselves, the coalition split and two took over the north-eastern sector, whilst the other four settle over the central and Western sector of Sabi Sand game reserve.

They lived many happy years like that, things begun to change dramatically when five new young males moved into eastern corner of the territory where the two( Kinky tail and Mr. T) of Mapogos were occupy. On afternoon June 8th 2010 the two mapogos killed one of the new lion group late known as Majingilane males. And later that night one of the Mapogo, kinky tailed was killed and eaten by the remaining four males of majingelane, in deadly attempt Mr. T failed to rescue his brother and had to run for his life. Upon joining his four brothers in the western sector they set off to face the Majingilane males and that resulted in one male killed and one badly injured. Now they were down to four and few month later one other male disappeared. They trio lived happily in the western sector avoiding majngelane in the eastern sector of the reserve that was until couple of month ago when a group of four males entered mapogo’s territory. The first battle on the morning morning of 23rd February 2012 resulted on a draw; both coalitions eventually moved in different direction, one Mapogo came out severely beaten after an encounter with the 4 Selati males.

The second and last battle that mark the end of mighty Mapogo coalition happen on the morning 16th march 2012, two groups met near our western boundary, Upon confrontation the two Mapogos ran , Mr. T got surrounded brutally and mauled to death. This male was brave warrior; He died as he lived, a true fighter till the end. I fell privileged to have spent over 8 years of my life with these awesome animals. These are magnificent lions that will forever hold a special place in not only my heart, but the hearts of all that set eyes upon them and those that have followed their lives through the eyes of others.

Young Mr TLooking back at the beginning when I first got to know him, Mr. T was never just an ordinary lion, he was full of character, complex and often got completely misunderstood by human race, forgetting that he was a lion being a lion. I will always cherish the time I spent with him and the little I learnt from him about lion world.

Mr T in his last battleThe brave elderly lion put up a good fight but eventually the Four Selati males over powers him.

The end of one of Africa's most famous lion's - Mr T.The remaining two Mapogos have run far-east of the reserve and the Selati Males have finally taken over the Mopogo’s territory. We spent one of our morning with the and while following these proud males as they went to explore Inyati Tree tops (our conference centre), try to cross the river and we were also privileged to witness them hunting buffalo from the start to finish.

Selati malesElephant (Loxodonta africana)

Elephant (Loxodonta africana)Elephants were out in abundance this month as they search for the last few remaining marula fruits of the season.

Did you know? An elephant’s trunk is actually a long nose used for smelling, breathing, trumpeting, drinking, and also for grabbing things, especially a potential meal. The trunk alone contains about 100,000 different muscles. Their enormous ears radiate heat to help keep these large animals cool in the hot African climate.

Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer)

Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer)The herd of buffalo consisting of about 400 animals stayed in our traversing area for the whole month. A small herd was also seen on the northern section of the property. Some lonely bulls and a bachelor herd with one female have been spotted several times this month.

More than the big five…..

Rhanidophora cinctuttata

“Dice moth” – Rhanidophora cinctuttata

With all the obviously magnificent creatures around us it is all to easy to overlook natures intricate and minute beauty. This “Dice moth” (Rhanidophora cinctuttata) larvae had us fascinated as it waved it clublike protective hairs about.Spotted hyenas are famed scavengers and often dine on the leftovers of other predators. But these hardy beasts are also skilled hunters that will take down wildebeest or antelope. They also kill and eat birds, lizards, snakes, and insects. We witness this individual still a carcass from a female leopard (Ravenscourt female). After eating to full capacity the hyena dragged the carcass into small pool water.Giraffe

In and around camp

Around camp the elephant are making almost daily appearances; sneaking out from the tree line onto the plains and into the sand river. Sometimes we see just a few bulls and sometimes large breeding herds of over 20 individuals show up, including at least five or six tiny babies. And giraffes have been visiting past the plains in front the lodge.

Spotted hyenas

That’s all from us this month, we thank you for spending few moments with us in the wilderness, shared our experiences and joined our adventures, and we are committed to keep you updated.

Nsunguti : January 2012 Wildlife Journal

Ximhungwe lioness

So we’re into the summer season now and with the summer season comes an increase in tropical activity off the east coast of South Africa. These summer cyclones that occur usually don’t have an effect on South African weather and tend to move south before approaching the S.A coast line. Rain has been quite a dominant factor this month. Dramatic is an understatement – no two days of the play unfolding in the Sabi sand theatre are the same. On the 16th January, Tropical Cyclone Dando caused a torrent of rain to come down over the Sabi Sand and the surrounding Kruger areas. In a matter of 72 hours the rain gauges showed that we had received 520mm of rain and the rivers showed just how much rain had come down. The water rose slowly but as the intense rain continued and the ground became saturated there was nowhere else for the water to go except to the rivers. The Sand and Sabi River got extensively flooded and reached its highest recorded level, even higher than 2000 floods which was the highest the area have ever experienced. The river have been reformed enormously, with trees uprooted and swept away and huge amounts of sand shifted, even diverting the main river course in some areas. The lodge remained safe, we did however lose our lower deck and the bird hide got damaged and thankfully, no major loss of wildlife was recorded. Despite the floods game viewing has, by no means, been a disappointment.

Sand River risingAn amazing African sunset has to be the most glorious way to bid farewell to one year and welcome in the next.An amazing African sunset

Leopard (Panthera pardus)

One of the most viewed leopard of our section of the reserve Hlabankunzi have finally brought out her cub briefly for us to see. We are still keeping away from the den site to give them some privacy and time to get comfortable to the new surroundings. We spent a good part of the last night of the year with while on the hunt at some point we had to leave her to enjoy our celebrate New Year’s Eve. The next morning in a new year we set off to find her, we did caught up on her still hunting, the hungry mother leopard stalk and killed a warthog just in front of our vehicle, the first and successful hunt of the year 2012 for her.

Hlabankunzi

We haven’t been seeing much of Metsi female leopard, she did however came out couple of times this month and we were relieved to learn that she is still alive and well.

We found her on one late afternoon perched on a marula tree presenting awesome photo opportunity.

Hlabankunzi hunt

The Day One male leopard also had an exciting start to 2012. He did it again, killed a full grown kudu cow and this time he killed its calf as well. The hyena then tries to steal his kill and pinches pieces of it the entire morning, eventually it drags the kill into the open, in full view of the vultures, within ten minutes more than twenty vultures descend onto the kill and Day one snaps!

He came hurtling out of his resting place and sent vultures and hyena scattering in all directions to reclaim his meal.

Hyena

 

Metsi female leopard

Lion (Panthera leo)

Ximhungwe prideMapogo brothers The resident males, Mapogo brothers have been seen regularly during the whole month of this report, they still remain separated into 2 males, the elder male and Mohawk mane male together and the other male spent most time with the Ximhungwe pride. Just after the rains the two males killed a young giraffe, the one of the Ximhungwe lioness who is been separating from the pride was present feeding with the males.

With sand river flooding the rest of Ximhungwe pride, 3 lionesses with their four cubs (Ages ranging from 6 to 12 months) for most of the month have remain in the southern side of the river. Despite the smaller hunting ground the pride have remain highly successful in their hunting, they made a wide range of kill, wildebeest, giraffe and waterbuck. Few of our wildebeest calves have fallen victim to this pride during the month.

We also found them feeding on a buffalo kill in the south-western section of our traversing area. The carcass appeared to be a few days old and we had seen the pride far north the night before so it doesn’t look as if as if they killed it. Initially, only one of the Mapogo boys was present, but the other two soon smelled the kill, and joined up with the pride to enjoying their rotting buffalo carcass.

 

Ximhungwe lioness

Elephant (Loxodonta africana)

Elephant (Loxodonta africana)The hot summer months in the Sabi Sands is the best time to see elephants. Herds have divided into small groups to minimise competition over marula fruits. You can almost count on a breeding herd or a lone bull on every corner. With marula fruits dropping to the bush floor in great quantity, elephants are moving from tree to another in search of these juicy and delicious snacks. They are small fruits that it might not seem worth it for the big giants to spent hours collecting these tiny fruits one by one, this just show how much they love them.

Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer)

Buffaloes are still present in significant numbers much to delight of our guests. They are seen mainly on open plains of the southern part of the reserve. There been lots of mating activities in herd and the battle beween the breeding male have been the order of the day(note the battle wounds on his face)

The local bachelor The local bachelor herd have been gracing us with their presence mostly around the camp and along the sand river.

More than the big five…..

We found this hyena walking with intent and occasionally sniffing the air. As these animals have an uncanny ability to sniff out carcasses we followed her for quite some time. After about a kilometer of walking she came across an Impala carcass, recently killed by a leopard. We had a brief glimpse of a small female leopard that was in no mood to cross swords with this large hyena. I presume the hyena heard the impala alarming after the kill was made and then had to rely on her acute sense of smell to locate the meat, truly some well honed senses on a super predator.

hyena walking with intent In and around camp

HippoAfter the floods the river have change a lot, there deep pools right in front of the lodge and few hippos have taken resident there, they have been very entertaining day and night.

Xindzele male leopard have been visiting the camp, affording us a rare opportunity to photograph leopard on foot.

Xindzele male leopard That’s all from us this month, we thank you for spending few moments with us in the wilderness, shared our experiences and joined our adventures, and we are committed to keep you updated.

The heavy floods cut-off access to Inyati

Inyati Game Lodge

Thank you all for the wishes during the floods. The lodge is fine, only the lower deck and our treehouse experienced the wra

th of the Sand river. Luckily the lodge was built above the fifty year floodline.

Our river views have dramatically improved, a beautiful sand bank has formed and the flood has cleared a remarkable amout of vegetation…a silver lining yet!

The game drives continue as normal and our guests are enjoying spectacular sightings. Our guides and trackers are conducting the drives with the utmost sensitivity to the environment, as a lot of the areas are waterlogged.

 

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