The weather: The last rumbles of thunder have faded into the distance and the flickering lightning is finally stilled. Summer is ending and the cool breath of the tropical winter touches us. It ruffles the surface of the water and shakes leaves which are already turning gold. The afternoon showers provided a refreshing relief from the warm days and cleared the air to reveal stunning blue skies. The hint of cloud remaining on the skyline provided us with the backdrop for some beautiful sunrises and sunsets.
Wildlife: Game viewing this month has been fantastic. Along with the herds of elephant, zebras, kudus and other general game, there have been some great sightings of cape hunting dogs. Lion sightings have been a daily occurrence and the antics of the cubs have been a continual source of entertainment. Distant drives and patient tracking were rewarded with some excellent sightings.
Leopard (Panthera pardus)
Magnificent cat!! He has grown to be large male, becoming even more confident, still holding his territory and dominating most of the Western sector. We have seen him frequently and life is good for Dayone as there are no young males in his territory at the moment.
Hlabankunzi and cub
This mother and her young continue to thrill us with their presence and ever playful behaviour. Here they climb up the tree; incredibly the mother jumps down from a great height, the cub then contemplates doing the same but then decides to climb down little closer.
The mother got worried a bit seeing the cub running around the tree considering jumping down from such great height, and then she stepped in close to helped it down.
Few days later she killed an impala ram and large herd buffaloes came past the area, cub was happily viewing from a safe perch as mum was feeding on an impala carcass at the base of the tree at the time.
The illusive Metsi and her cub were out and seen about several times this month. On one afternoon we followed them for a while she was en route to an impala kill. She walked the cub a considerable distance but was kind enough to have some water and grooming breaks in between.
She normally keeps her kill on the ground unlike most leopards that will put up a tree to keep it away from other predators like hyenas, having it on the kill ground means that she needs to stay alert the whole time, every time the bush moves she jumps up, listens and scans the area for any intruders.
Lion (Panthera leo)
The last three months have been tough for the Selati coalition, the Majinilane have been keeping them on their toes. There was another dispute between these two groups of male lions this month. Three Majingilane male lions came across one Selati male, the smaller one and a Othawa lioness mating. Majingilane retreated immediately and one other Selati join in chasing the intruding males north-west across the sand river. We herd commotion across the river unfortunately we could follow across. It was on few minutes after the two Selati males chased Majingilane males, when suddenly we saw our boys running back across with the three males chasing them back. It was only the younger two of the Selati males that were in this territorial dispute. The Majingilane had the upper hand since three of the Selati we still injured, two were injured in previous battle and the third one was injured by buffalo and was not well enough to participate in this fight. There were no major added injuries on the recent territorial fight. However one of the males who was actively fighting and chasing the three intruding male is now badly limping. The boys are recovering well even managed to kill two buffalo cows in one evening.
One of the Selati males showing battle scars after the encounter with the Majingilane males.
These big cats are still thrilling guests and staff alike. The three lionesses and seven cubs are forever present; cubs are always energetic and playful. Sadly, the fourth lioness of the pride has not been seen for over two months , she have not been well for some time and it seems as if we have “lost” her . Of the seven cubs we think six are females and a male, if it all goes well 50% or more survive we could end up with a big pride in our reserve.
Elephant (Loxodonta africana)
We had astonishing elephant sightings in March. On one afternoon while driving along the bank of Sand River we found ourselves amongst a breeding herd of Africa’s largest land mammal – the Elephant. We sat back and watched as the whole family walk pass in their way to the river. We spent about 30 minutes watching these animals swimming and the young males being their usual self, play fighting. It’s always a nice treat to watch elephant take a bath they become so playful like kids.
Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer)
The large herd of buffalo consisting of about 500 animals stayed on our traversing area for most of the month. Smaller herds were also seen on the northern section of our property. Some lonely bulls and bachelor herd have been spotted several times this month.
More than the big five…..
The male cheetah was spotted and seen several times this month, he has visited this area for over a year, it was exciting to see him again.On one afternoon we set off to try to find him it wasn’t easy, Thanks to the team of rangers and tracker for their hard work and determination we found and the end. What great afternoon I had, viewing a beautiful animal shared with awesome group of guests. Unfortunately it was rather late when we finally find him, we had to share the sighting rather quickly and some of the guides didn’t get to see him before it got too dark. Since cheetahs are diurnal we don’t view them at night. And the next morning, he killed an impala only to have it stolen by three lionesses, ooh what a bad start of a day.
We even got see pair of klipspringer, these antelopes are seldom seen in our region. The name Klipspringer is the Afrikaans for ‘rock jumper’ and alludes to the animal’s ability in rocky territory where it can be seen moving freely, seemingly on tiptoe. They are the only antelope that lives on cliffs and rock outcrops. Here are some of their adoptions: The klipspringer stands on the flat tips of its truncated hooves, walking and running in a jerky, stilted manner, their coat is rough and the hairs are hollow, brittle and loose, which makes for good padding and insulation.
In and around camp
Elephants, waterbucks, warthogs, nyalas and giraffes are amongst the few animals that came to the camp during the month of this report.
That’s all from us this month. We thank you for spending few moments with us in the wilderness, sharing our experiences and joining our adventures. We are committed to keep you updated. Please follow our Facebook page for daily updates.
This month’s sightings report compiled by Khimbini Hlongwane
Large Rhino cow walking off happily after being darted and infused. Good people of the Sabi Sand in the backround proudly looking on in the hope that our efforts will save these majestic animals
More Rhino being darted to have the horn poisoned. The Sabi Sand is aiming to have all the rhino infused in the next few days.
As part of our ongoing effort to combat rhino poaching on the Sabi sand, we are undertaking the horn infusion treatment as pioneered by the Rhino Rescue Project.We view poisoning rhino horn as a valuable intervention to deflect prospective poachers. For more info visit: www.rhinorescueproject.com/
As part of our ongoing effort to combat rhino poaching on the Sabi sand, we are undertaking the horn infusion treatment as pioneered by the Rhino Rescue Project.We view poisoning rhino horn as a valuable intervention to deflect prospective poachers.
What does the treatment entail?
The horn is treated by infusing it with an indelible dye that contaminates the horn and renders it useless for ornamental – or medicinal use. A full DNA sample is harvested and three matching identification microchips are inserted into the horns and the animal itself. At the owners discretion, the indelible dye can be mixed with with special compound of depot ectoparasiticides (specifically acaricides containing pyrethroids and organophosphates) and a tracking device can also be fitted.
How was the treatment developed?
Following the poaching on their reserve, Rhino Rescue Project started researching a number of possible solutions to prevent having another rhino poached and in the process, heard about a group of wildlife vets researching the treatment and management of ectoparasites in rhino through the use of depot ectoparasiticides. Much research went into all products readily available on the market for treating livestock, to ensure that firstly, they would have not have a negative effect on the rhino or its horn, and secondly that they would have no impact on other fauna and flora sharing the same ecosystem. Since the Reserve is dependent on tourists as its major source of income, dehorning of animals was not deemed to be a practical solution – especially since dehorned rhinos often still get poached for the base of their horns, and the horns grow back. Furthermore, some research studies have indicated that dehorning can have adverse impacts on the animal’s social structures and breeding patterns. Frequent darting of large mammals, as is required for dehorning to be an effective deterrent, leads to increased health risks and is often the cause of an animal’s life span being shortened substantially.
Is this treatment legal?
Yes. The Rhino Rescue Project horn treatment methodology is the only legally-recognised treatment option available at present (a full legal opinion is available upon request).
What steps have been taken to prevent treated horns being accidently ingested?
The fact that the rhino’s in the reserve are treated is widely publicised by means of 200+ signposts around the reserve’s perimeter and, should a treated rhino be killed, the indelible dye is clearly visible inside the horn – a clear indication that the horn had been tampered with. We strongly suggest involving staff in the horn treatment process to assist (with menial tasks) as their involvement ensures that word about the treatment spreads rapidly via the “bush telegraph”.
What is the purpose of the dye and how does it work?
The dye is bright pink and clearly seen inside a treated horn, regardless of whether the ectoparasiticides have been used, which means that there can be no doubt about whether a horn is treated or not. It is similar to products used in the banking industry and has the added benefit that it is visible on an x-ray scanner. Thus a treated horn, even when ground to a fine powder, cannot be passed through security checkpoints unnoticed and so airport security checkpoints are almost certain to pick up the presence of the dye. The dye cannot be removed in any way and therefore the horn is rendered useless in terms of ornamental use. This contamination should also discourage medicinal use. Furthermore, sniffer dogs have been trained at a professional training facility to track rhino horns containing the dye, even in minuscule quantities.
Is the dye animal- and eco-friendly?
It is 100% organic and biodegradable (a full fact sheet is available upon request).
Is the treatment injected?
No, it is not possible to inject into a rhino horn. Rather it is infused into the horn using a patented high-pressure device designed by the wildlife vet who developed and oversees the programme, Dr. Charles van Niekerk.
What is the reason for the DNA sample and microchips?
To further assist in the ongoing war against poaching, scientists at Onderstepoort have made available a full DNA sampling kit, called RHODIS. Information from the sample is added to the national database of rhino, with the aim of aiding the legal community in securing prosecutions in cases where poached horns are recovered by being able to trace exactly which animal the horn belonged to. The microchips also serve as a means of identification. By law, any rhino that is immobilised for whatever reason, now has to be microchipped.
What is the purpose of the tracking device?
The tracking device allows the real-time tracking and location of the rhino horn using the same technology as vehicle anti-hijacking tracking systems.
What are depot ectoparasiticides, acaracides, pyrethroids and organophosphates?
Registered depot ectoparasiticides are used to to treat ectoparasitic infestations.
• An ectoparasiticide is an antiparasitic drug used in the treatment of ectoparasitic infestations
• An ectoparasitic infestation is a parasitic disease caused by organisms that live primarily on the surface of the host.
• Acaricides are pesticides that kill members of the Acari group, which includes ticks and mites
• A pyrethroid is an organic compound similar to the natural pyrethrins produced by the flowers of pyrethrums (Chrysanthemum cinerariaefolium and C. coccineum). Pyrethroids now constitute a major commercial household insecticides
• In health, agriculture, and government, the word “organophosphates” refers to a group of insecticides or nerve agents acting on the enzyme acetylcholinesterase. Organophosphate pesticides irreversibly inactivate acetylcholinesterase, which is essential to nerve function in insects, humans, and many other animals.
Are any of the products highly specialised and/or illegal?
No. They are all freely available over-the-counter products. We do not use any compounds which could be harmful to the animals we treat.
Are the products used exactly as directed?
Yes, in terms of their registration and classification as per Act 36 of 1947 (Fertilizers, Farm Feeds, Agricultural Remedies and Stock Remedies Act). The products are registered to treat ectoparasites in cattle, horses and sheep, so the only extra-label use is that it is being used on rhino instead.
What is extra-label use?
The South African Medical Journal says “The term ‘off-label’ means that the medicine is used in another way or for an indication other than those specified in the conditions of registration of the medicine and as reflected in it’s labelling. It does, however, not necessarily imply that the medication is not effective or is unsafe to be used in this way. Off-label use has become an important part of mainstream, legitimate medical practice worldwide and is especially common in oncology, obstetrics, paediatrics, infectious diseases (notably HIV) and rare diseases. Depending on the circumstances, off-label use of medication can vary from being experimental or controversial to standard practice and even state-of-the-art treatment.”
Wikipedia makes mention of the fact that “The veterinarian has a much smaller pharmacopeia available than does the human practitioner. Therefore, drugs are more likely to be used off-label”.
Are the products poisonous?
The selections of depot ectoparasiticides for inclusion in the treatment compound are registered for use in animals and only Ox-Pecker friendly and Vulture safe products have been used. Ectoparasiticides are not intended for consumption by humans, and are registered as such. Although not lethal in small quantities, they are toxic, and symptoms of accidental ingestion may include, but are not limited to, severe nausea, vomiting and convulsions.
What if an animal is injured by a treated horn (ie. in a fight between two rhino)?
There are no side-effects. It is the same as a cow with a lesion on its leg being dipped.
Are you trying to kill people?
No. The compounds are toxic, but non-lethal in small quantities. Research into quantities of rhino horn used for medicinal purposes has indicated that no more than a pinch of ground horn is generally used at one time.
What is the reason for treating the horn?
Aside from the health benefits to the rhinos, it is the hope of the Rhino Rescue Project that the treatment of the horn will deter the poacher and prevent the rhino being killed in the first place. We are hoping that no treated horn enters the market, as that will mean that programme is successful and the rhino horns are being left intact on the rhino.
When can a rhino be treated?
Rhinos can be treated at any age as long as they have a horn. Compound quantities are adjusted for all cases.
What are the costs involved?
The treatment is fairly inexpensive compared to other alternatives and has a minimal impact on the environment, and no impact on tourism, legitimate trophy hunting activities or the country’s economy in general. The cost includes the professional time (ie. application of the treatment by a vet, taking of DNA sampling and insertion of microchips and tracking devices) as well as the compounds and consumables involved (anaesthetic, treatment compound, dye, DNA kit, microchips, tracking device). As flying time is highly variable, this will be invoiced directly by a helicopter pilot, in cases where one’s services are required.
Is the treatment effective?
All animals in the initial treatment sample are in excellent health. Since treatment was administered approximately 18 months ago, two cows have given birth to healthy calfs, both of whom are lactating normally. Another cow has fallen pregnant during this time. Moreover, not a single treated animal has been poached since administration of the treatment. The treatment could thus be said to have brought about a 100% decrease in poaching. A year after administration of the treatment, a number of the animlas horns were re-tested to establish distribution of the treatment inside the horn over time and to ensure that the treatment did not find its way into the animal’s system and affect its overall health. Ideally, from a research perspective, a four year growth cycle should elapse before we can say with certainty that the treatment is 100% effective. However, with the current poaching numbers skyrocketing by the day, our fear is that in four years time, this information will be useless, and there won’t be rhinos left to treat.
How does the treatment affect legal hunting?
We believe that treatment of horns could slot neatly into the trophy hunting trade. If Government would endorse an initiative whereby only rhinos with treated horns may be hunted, it can be ensured that these animals are no longer valued solely for their horns. Reputable hunting farms whose business is true trophy hunting should, in principal, easily reconcile themselves with having horns treated since the horns are not to be removed from the rhino anyway.
Why should professional hunters support treatment?
Unscrupulous game farmers have managed to trade in horns unchecked, under the guise of legal hunting, and have thus been feeding the demand from the virtually insatiable market. Only those individuals who are interested more in the horn and less in a trophy could possibly have objections to having horns treated.
How long does the treatment remain effective?
The Rhino Rescue Project horn treatment should remain effective for approximately three to four years (a full horn growth cycle), after which re-administration would be required.
What are the long-term effects of the treatment?
Since all the products used are biodegradable and eco-friendly, there are no long-term effects on the environment. The treatment “grows” out with the horn and so poses no long-term effect and, if a treated animal dies of natural causes, retrieval and registration of the horn is a legal requirement.
Is the treatment programmed intended to be used as a long-term solution?
It is our hope that by the time the treatment needs to be reapplied, a more sustainable solution would have been found rendering re-administration unnecessary. We see the treatment purely as a means to “buy time” while a long-term solution is being researched. No long-term solution, whether it be legalisation of trade or otherwise, is likely to be implemented within the next four years. Therefore, a rhino horn treated today for the purposes of keeping the animal alive, can easily be sold, should the animal’s owner desire to do so after the four year growth cycle has elapsed and the horn is once again free of any compounds.
What are the overall benefits of including the ectoparasiticides in to the treatment?
The inclusion of ectoparasiticides in to the treatment assists towards improved health of the animals. Wild animals are not normally be treated against parasites – we believe strongly in nature being allowed to run its course and human intervention being kept to a minimum – however, the inclusion in to the treatment potentially neutralises a dual threat (both poaching and parasites). This treatment benefits the rhino owner, does not harm the environment, does not harm other living organisms, has no adverse effects on tourism or the economy, is cost-effective, legal and can be completed in under an hour. In other words, it is a minimally-invasive procedure intended to uphold the status quo with regard to the trade in animal parts.
Moreover, insurance brokers and underwriters have come onboard with the treatment and offer insurance for the procedure itself. They are also in the process of exploring the option of expanding to include insurance cover against poaching for animals with treated horns.
The weather: We have had an amazing October at Inyati – we experienced a lot of really warm days with temperatures reaching highs of 39° C but we also had a few thunder showers which have caused the vegetation to explode into summer bloom, with many trees sharing their colourful and fragrant flowers with us.
The Wildlife: We have been spoilt with many sightings of the predators, general game and bird activities. Two of our resident leopards have produced cubs and at least two lionesses from our resident prides have cubs. It’s really an exciting time in the reserve. We anticipate the arrival of many new-borns in the coming weeks; the bush will be dotted with baby impala, zebra, kudu, giraffe and other plains game. We will need more clouds to open up and wet the grounds before this happens.
Leopard sightings have been remarkable this month, lots of mother and cub interactions. The highlight for me was the sighting of a Dam3 female leopard feeding on a Southern African python. The python we estimated at 3.5 metres (around 10 feet) in length and this female must have done this before; to make a kill like this requires years of experience and skill.
This leopard has grown to be a brave majestic mal. He has had few more territorial fights with Ndlevane male and he was able to come up stronger than the elderly male. His preferred hunting tactics often provide us with some great photographic opportunities as he often poses on top of termite mounds waiting for the warthogs to come out.
There are few males young males venturing into the area, the territorial Dayone male is kept on his toes, he needs to mark and patrol continuesly to protect the two liters of cubs that are in his territory.
Hlabankunzi and Metsi females
We are delighted to report that the two mothers Hlabankunzi and Metsi have finally brought their cubs out for us to see. They both have one cub each, we are not sure of the sex yet. Their den sites are on the rocky outcrops which allow us to have great view of them without getting into their personal space. Metsi’s cub is very brave, it often approaches the vehicles and the poor mother has to constantly bring it back him.
Tlangisa female leopard has made an occasional appearance, she was looking her best this morning, it was so nice to see her again after a long time. We followed tracks of a pair of leopard for long distance and then located her completely out of her territory it become obvious that she was after one of the male.
After giving up the chase of the male, Tlangisa she wondered back towards her territory and come across two hyenas and a new (unidentified) young male leopard that had a duiker carcass hoisted in the tree and the young leopard was certainly not sharing his meal. The hyenas did their best to get to the carcass and even tried to use the fallen logs as step ladder in attempt to get to the carcass (note the duiker’s leg hanging above the hyena) Tlangisa came into the area and just lay there and watched for a while before moving off.
This female continues to come deeper into our traversing area; she is normally resident across our eastern boarders. On one evening we followed her out hunting she was really determent to make a kill for herself and cub but when we left for our dinner she still haven’t caught anything and we could locate her the next morning.
Lion (Panthera leo)
Let’s face it; it would be bigger news if lions were NOT seen at Inyati lodge. Well, that certainly wasn’t the news this month.
Selati coalition and Othawa pride
The Selati males spent most of the month trailing either Othawa lionesses or Ximhungwe pride, which has given the buffalo a bit of a break from these killer cats.
At least two lionesses of Othawa pride have given birth, and after a brief sighting of the lionesses with cubs in the sand river, we closed the area to game drives to avoid any pressure on her and her offspring.
She has been seen several times on her hunting forays and appeared to be heavy with milk, which is a good sign.
Unfortunately that seems to have all changed and it appears that one of them have lost her cubs as she was seen mating with the Selati male.
The Selati males were seen crossing the Sand River on one evening in search of buffaloes they seems so determent to find food; so much for the hunt we found them the next morning lying happily among the Ximhungwe lionesses.
Well, what can we say -there are priorities in life.
And by the afternoon there was mating going on. One of the lionesses, the short tail female have given birth in a secluded den site on the hill top of a rocky outcrop, we await patiently our first view of the cubs.
Elephant (Loxodonta africana)
This was another month of the elephant and multitudes of these large grey mammals we seen throughout the area, some in breeding herds, bachelor herds and lone bulls.
We have had frequent sightings of this one particular bull with both his tusks half broken in the lodge and on our airstrip. This individual male was rather friendly he would happily leave the lodge when ask to but we had hard time keep him out, as he kept coming back to destroy this in the lodge.
Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer)
We have had on a few sighting of the large herd of buffalo this month. With the rains there are plenty of grasses and water for them, they traverse the whole reserve even areas that they would normally avoid because of lack of rivers or dams. There are lots of small herd of bull and lone spread around the reserve.
On one cloudy morning we came across a ”Dagga boy” (old buffalo bull) that gave us an evil eye. It was a good place to if you are buffalo because at mere 900 metres the renowned buffalo hunters, the Selati males were resting for the day.
More than the big five…..
Inyati is teeming with wildlife again; viewing of general game has been particularly good, with the numbers of zebra and wildebeest sightings increasing from the previous month.
It’s not all about big elephant and large male lion! We often remind our guests that the experience here is also about appreciating the smaller fauna such as frogs and birds, and being absorbed by the particularly stunning surroundings. On one of the afternoon drive we spent about 20 minutes watching the most fascinating family of dwarf mongoose foraging on the ground with one on the branch watching out for predators.
We have also been experiencing large concentrations of giraffe in the area, most probably due to the surrounding trees which are all sprouting new growth. It is amazing to watch the journeys of giraffe move elegantly through the area and how they drink, they always approach the water cautiously and then splay their long legs and drink with a watchful eye out for predators.
In and around camp
The Camp itself continues to be a magnet for various species of mammals and birds. The sightings this month have been really extraordinary. Seen from the lodge was a family of elephant walk silhouetted against the glowing orange sky. Our resident hippos herd have been entertaining as they came out to feed on our lawn at night.
And while enjoying our high tea just before one of the afternoon drives Dayone male leopard came strolling through the lodge in patrol of his territory.
The animals in the Sabi Sand Reserve are named after their territories. The predators have been given names and the guides and trackers know the animals according to the names they have given them.
At Inyati we pride ourselves on our experienced and skilled team of guides and trackers. Currently, we have four field guides with their trackers, that love sharing their extensive knowledge of the African bush and wildlife and the joy they derive from it.
All our field guides have different passions and interests in the bush, which include birding, tracking, as well as the flora and fauna of the Sabi Sand Game Reserve
Georgie is a living legend in the reserve. He was also born on the Inyati property and has been working at Inyati for more than 20 years, this kind of experience means he know the behavior of the individual animals in the reserve as well as they do.
George has an uncanny ability to find game and interpret movement of animals in a sighting thus generally placing his guest in a perfect position to view the action.
FGASA Level 2 trails guide & Tracker level 3
Khimbini has more than 10 years’ experience guiding and tracking in the Sabi Sand game reserve. Khimbini was born on Inyati and has extensive local knowledge of the area.
He has a very ethical approach to guiding and prides himself in being sensitive to animals and being able to interpret their behavior. Khim is as budding Photographer and his patience and interpretive skills have made for some remarkable images. Khim is able to interpret guest as well as he can interpret the animals he works with, as a result he is very effective at handling guest special needs and creating tailor made guided experience.
Piet is a passionate guide with extensive experience from various Lodges in the Greater Kruger National Park where he has guided and managed guiding teams for the past 20 years. Piet enjoys bird watching and photography.
Piet enjoys viewing animals on foot and is highly skilled in doing this without disturbing the animals he views and keeping his guests safe at the same time.
FGASA level 3 trails guide & Tracker 2
Keith has a like for the smaller critters in the bush and the inter relationships between species. Keith is also a keen birder and has an interest in wild flowers. He has a background in conservation management where he started his career. Being on foot in the bush is Keith’s greatest passion.
Norman Hlongwane – Tracker level 1
Norman joined the Inyati tracking team 2 years ago. He is a soft spoken very quiet individual but a very efficient tracker. Norman is has made tracking Lions his forte.
Tracker level 3 – Nelson is one of the “old salts” of the bush, he has been at Inyati for over 20 years and has a wealth of local knowledge. Nelson has a happy demeanor and his sense of humor is always a hit with guests.
Tracker level 3 – Solly is a tracker extraordinaire. He is one of the few trackers in the industry that Scored a perfect 100% percent on his first ever trailing assessment.
Tracker Level 3 – Richard is the oldest of the Hlongwane brothers and has in excess of 20 years tracking experience at Inyati. He was also born on the property and as a result knows every nook and cranny of the reserve, he is well spoken and enjoys interaction with guest.
In a bountiful explosion, the region has burst back to life! One of the greatest pleasures of living in South Africa’s remarkable Sabi Sand Game Reserve is being able to follow the changing seasons and smell the rain in the air in summer. Scattered clouds dot the sky and light up the sunrise and sunsets with the most unbelievable shades of soft pinks and gold. If you haven’t been to the Sabi sand in October/November then this is definitely something to put on your to do list. The abundance of wildlife is incredible; Game drives are intense and full of action as lots of antelope grazing in the plains with their new babies unperturbed by thousands of birds making their daily breeding activities and songs. With all these new helpless creatures around the predators are taking advantage and herds of elephants meander in, around and along the sand river.
Leopard (Panthera pardus)
Tlangisa female has been covering a large area again. She is been intruding into Metsi and Hlabankunzi’s territory. On few occasions we have seen her in the lodge area which is Xikhavi female’s territory.
(Note the picture of her on the roof of one of our rooms)
Hlabankunzi doesn’t seem to mind Tlangisa presence in her territory but this may change when one of them gives birth as they will become more protective and will be looking for more hunting grounds to feed their young.
The generally illusive Xikhavi also abandoned her usual riverine and reeded haunts and climbed a tree to enjoy the breeze. She was spotted resting in a sausage tree just across the sand river opposite the lodge
Our leopard queen, Hlabankunzi is heavily pregnant she was seen mating with our resident dominant male in the past months, the gestation period is 100 days so hopefully in the next couple weeks she will give birth, exciting times await and we are sure to keep you updated.
Shangwa and her one year old male have graced us with her presence again this month. This 13 years old leopardess is one of the oldest and most experienced mother leopards I’ve lived with, a great hunter and successful mother. They young male is growing fast and becoming more confident hunting on his own. We witnessed him stalking a hyena just for the fun of it. He managed to get within 10 meters and the hyena still didn’t see him but he wasn’t brave enough to touch the hyena.
Dam 3 female also added to the boom of offspring at Inyati, she has two cubs, we got to see them feeding on a shrub hare, unfortunately this female is not relaxed with vehicles so she asked us to leave in rather harsh manner before we could get a decent picture to share with you. (Note: the anger on her face)
Lion (Panthera leo)
The Ximhungwe Pride continues to patrol and hunt in all the reserve’s corners. As life goes in the bush, every up has a down. On last couple of reports I mentioned how successful the pride have been with their hunts , with all the waterholes being full the animals have disperse, the pride have been battling to find good size meal to feed the whole pride. There are lots of young born and they get food it’s just not enough to keep young ones looking healthy. They have had to cover long distance in their hunts and this have been little hard on the youngsters but we are certain they will pull through, every litter do go through these dry run.
The lioness that had two youngest cubs that were recently lost is mating again; she was seen for four days mating with one of Mapogo boys, Bent spine. If all goes well we should see some little lion cubbies in about three months.
We waited for long time for the two nomadic Ottawa males; they came in for a visit in our traversing area this month. The two were seen for the three days on a row following the large herd of buffalo in the south, the boys are looking good. Both males are healthy and have a lot of attitude; one can easily tell they have the Mapogo’s gene in them. In one of the sighting we saw them make three attempts on the buffalo, but unfortunately, failed.
Elephant (Loxodonta africana)
We have an abundance of elephant around at the moment and it is not infrequent to see four different breeding herds on one game drive. It’s always fascinating to watch elephant as they always doing something, from mothers helping calf to cross the river to watching a group of youngsters playing. We spent time with the elephant bull feeding in the sun set (left picture) and on another sighting we watched a mother and calf having a dust bath(right picture)
Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer)
Fresh green sward has covered many parts of the Mpumalanga, Sabi sand, providing fresh graze for buffalo, zebra and wildebeest. The large herd have been here in our traversing area and been entertaining for the most part of the month and small groups of old male are dotted around the reserve especially along the rivers.
More than the big five…..
With the bursting skies comes new life, its “baby boom” now in our reserve, on every corner there is a new born elephants, giraffes, warthogs and many more.
The rare scaly anteater, Pangolin made an appearance on our reserve again this month. These are nocturnal and very secretive creatures and they are still somewhat mysterious, with scientists knowing relatively little about their behaviour in the wild. In China, pangolin meat is considered to be a delicacy. Most tribes in Africa believe that if a pangolin is killed there will be no rain until the area is cleansed by the Chief traditional healer.
Africa’s second most endangered carnivore – wild dog – made its appearance again. The pack ran into our traversing area few times this month, one of our morning teas was interrupted by a pack of wild dogs that came to drink at pan in front of the lodge. After a short while of following them they killed an impala ewe and devoured it couple of minutes.
In and around camp
For few days this month we didn’t have to go out the lodge to see a leopard, Tlangisa female killed an impala on our airstrip, drag it into the lodge and climb up on the roof to rest and watch us all as we enjoying our early morning tea. She stayed in camp for few days enjoying her meal.
A group of Buffalo bulls have been resting in the cool waters of the Sand River during breakfast. And a herd of Elephant has also been around Inyati camp for about five days on a row this month, and have been entertaining our guests between drives.