The weather: We have had an amazing Nhlangula / October at Inyati. The comfortable September weather is a distant memory and is replaced by the hot, dry days that give October its reputation as the warmest month of the year. We have experienced quite a few warm days with temperatures reaching highs of 44° c. With the heat we had a few sensational afternoon thunder showers which have caused the trees to burst into bloom.
Wildlife: The month of October often brings about change in the African wilderness – Inyati, Sabi Sand game reserve has been no exception. Game viewing has been astonishing. The predators have been all out and entertaining and general game has been excellent , with congregations of giraffe, buffalo, impala, kudus, wildebeests and waterbuck around the reserve.
Leopard (Panthera pardus)
It’s a privilege to be able to watch these animals grow. This male is in great condition and really looking magnificent. He still walks all day covering great distances marking and patrolling his massive territory. He was also seen mating with Hlabankunzi female for few days during the month of this report.
This great mother leopard very seldom interacts with the cub now. She still takes her to the kills she makes every now and then but doesn’t stay there with her. She killed an impala one morning, hoisted it in a tree just off our airstrip and a male lion walked past only about 200 hundred metres away without seeing or smelling the kill.
Finally! We get the first glimpse of Xikhavi’s cubs on drive this month. The cubs are very relaxed even approached close to the vehicles; mum did keep them in line and close to the den site. She constantly had to carry these little cubbies back in the den where as they were happy to explore the world.
(Thanks to Mr Frank Maroschek, our long time regular guest for this wonderful picture)
Tlangisa f emale
This beautiful young leopard have been scarce of recent month, a few times this month she did however came out of the thick vegetated north-western corner of the reserve but she still refuses to show us her cub or cubs.
We have been spoilt with many sightings of the two of our resident pride of lions; they have been found frequently. They have been successful with hunting and our guests have been very lucky to see these lions hunting and feeding on a couple of occasions.
Sadly the formidable four – Selati male coalition – known for defeating the Magogo coalition is now down to three. One of the males has passed on after battling for over eight months from the internal damage caused by a buffalo hitting him. He was found dead east of our boundaries, we are not sure how he died but there is a theory that he was finished off by another buffalo.
This pride continues to thrive, they have been extremely successful in their hunts and the cubs are growing by day. One of the lionesses was mating again this time she was with the large of the Selati males.
The lionesses lost few of their kills to the selati male, which we followed hunting on one afternoon. They caught a young male nyala before they could tuck in and eat their kill the dominant selati male was there to claim it.
On another occasion Othawa pride had some luck again. The pride was lazing on the banks of the sand river when the wild dogs caught a nyala ewe within earshot. The lions were off in an instant and quickly chased the dogs off the Nyala that was still kicking.
A battle then broke out between the lionesses…. The tug of war lasted into the night. There was a lot of fighting but hardly any eating. These loud growls did not go unnoticed… the Selati male come running into the scene for some share of the carcass, he took no time to steal the kill from the lioness. He was able to keep his two brothers at bay as well. When we left he was still finishing off his spoils.
We didn’t see much of this pride this month as they spent most of the time to the South and East, but all three females and the six cubs are doing well and are still making regular kills. Every dog has its day! We watched the pride hunting they and they had an amazing opportunity to pull down a wildebeest. As the image depicts the lionesses were on top of the herd before they could sprint off. The wildebeest that was about to have its rump slapped managed kicked the lioness under the jaw and actually stunned the cat long enough to escape.
Large breeding herds, bachelor herds and some single bull elephants are a common sighting along and around the sand river. We have enjoyed numerous herds of these gentle beasts and their young ones continuously parading through camp and along the sand river. There are few new add ons to the herd at the moment. It’s very exciting to see these cute little guys run behind their protective mothers. Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer)
The big herds are still visiting the area and bachelor groups were seen all around the property and in the lodge area enjoying the thicker green grass. Some new big herds of buffalo, ranging between two hundred and five hundred animals were found along various plains and the river. The lions have been taking advantage of the situation sneaking in catching unsuspecting young and old individuals.More than the big five…..
Two crocodiles were found fighting close to camp. We suspect it might be a male chasing off an inquisitive intruder from a nest site. A smaller individual that we presume is the female was constantly hovering close to the battle whilst her man had the intruder clasped in his jaws. An ostrich gave us a surprise visit, very exciting! This was one of the only two sightings we had in over 10 years in the western sector of Sabi Sand game reserve. (Thanks to Mr Frank Maroschek, our long time regular guest for this wonderful picture)
In and around camp
The Camp has also been wonderfully productive, with a steady supply of elephants moving through to drink and play in the river. Amongst few other animals that visit the lodge was the mother leopard, Xikhavi hunting impala in front of the lodge.
The weather: Ndzhati / September saw the mercury rise steadily with midday temperatures reaching the high thirties (Celsius) and the cold winter’s mornings of June and July are behind us. On few occasions, very light showers surprised us and grey thunderclouds threatened but brought little more than a bit of shade. The bush remains dry as a bone and very dusty indeed. The vegetation in general is much thinner now which grants us far greater visibility. The winds are blowing strong which make for some dusty, yet successful game drives.
Wildlife: The game has been exploding out of the bush this month and the guides and guests have been notching up some incredible sightings of lion, leopard, wild dog and of some great general game.
The leopard sightings have been prolific this month, to say the least – one group of guests recently recorded sightings of seven different leopards during their three-night stay.
Dayone still remains the active dominant male in our region covering every corner of the reserve. He has been hunting mostly warthog of late and getting better at killing these vicious animals.
One doesn’t win every day! The bemused look on his face (picture below) is due to him being bowled over by a warthog boar just prior to the photo being taken. He took some time to stake out the burrow but a large male exited and barreled straight through his attempted tackle. He had a look down the burrow hoping for an opportunity to salvage some pride but this morning belonged to the hogs.
Tai dam has settled in the north – east of our traversing area. We found him in a tree attempting to avoid his sisters persistent flirting. The Hukumuri female was waiting on the base of the marula tree, she didn’t let up but the male ignored her advances…as one should.
This female leopard gave birth in the middle of this month. One evening our guests that stayed up until the next morning at Warthog Wallow (Inyati bar) got to see her carrying the cub across the lawn at the lodge. We are avoiding the area where we presume her cubs are but will post images as soon as she is happy to introduce her litter to us.
Lion (Panthera leo)
We have had some great lion sighting! Both our resident pride and the coalition have been very active throughout the month.
Selati Coalition and Othawa pride
Three of the Selati males are often seen together constantly patrolling and marking their territory. They spent a good fair amount of time with the Othawa pride. Unfortunately the fourth male is still not doing well. He continues to lose condition due to the broken ribs and possible punched lung from when he was hit by a buffalo. Remaking the pride! The Othawa lionesses are growing the pride again. This pride was made of seventeen members few years ago and they made pulling down a buffalo look easy. We hope all the cubs make to adulthood and restore their pride.The Sand River has been a home for this pride lately, as this is where most of the game is concentrated while we wait for our first rains to come. Here they are proving to be very successful with their hunts and are continuously catching kudu and nyala along the banks.The males are regularly involved in a brotherly squabble over the Othawa lioness with no cubs, whether in estrous or not the boys still fight for her. On one afternoon we witnessed the lionesses hunting they made a kill just east of our airstrip, by the time selati male lion and cubs arrived there wasn’t much of impala carcass left.Ximhungwe pride
The pride is moving great distances again reclaiming the large territory that they have ignored for a while as they were raising the cubs and avoiding the Selati male and Majingelane male lions.
We had an unbelievable sighting of the whole pride climbing on a large jackalberry tree. It was all well and fun as they were climbing up the tree but coming down was rather ungraceful.On one morning we had a once in a lifetime interaction between some of the apex predators. It all started when the pack of wild dogs killed an impala. A nearby clan of hyena responded to the alarm calls and a fight broke out between the dogs and hyenas. The dogs were able to fend off the hyenas. The dogs and hyenas then trotted to a nearby pan where they came upon the Ximhungwe pride and further chaos erupted. We now had dogs chasing hyenas, lion chasing dogs, lion chasing hyena and so it when on for about half an hour.
Elephant (Loxodonta africana)
Massive herds of elephant, typical for this time of year, have been spotted roaming the reserve this month, feeding on the rich abundance of foliage which starts to appear around this time of year. The Sand River has been dotted with many large breeding herds of elephant, providing us with some great viewing even from the lodge. There are also many lone bachelor bulls around the reserve.Cape Buffalo (Syncerus caffer)
We have had couple of large herds of these great animals in our area during the month of this report. The one herd seen at dam five was very large estimated to be over six hundred animals in it. We sat there for about half hour more and buffaloes just kept coming.More than the big five…..
Cape hunting dogs are back – They are still denning in our traversing area and we can now confirm that the pack have grown by six members. The little puppies are about eight weeks old and growing fast. They are eating meat now; the pack has to kill at least twice a day to keep full and healthy. It is special treat to see the excitement by the little ones as they beg food to be regurgitated to them by the adults.
It is time for new life in the bush some of our lucky guests got to see a new born giraffe! I believe it was only few hours old; it was still very wobbly on its legs, with the umbilical cord still attached. The mother giraffe was very alerts at all time and attentive, she was constantly licking the calf on the face as if she was reassuring it that all was okay.
Xikhavi female have been seen in and around the lodge often. One evening she killed an impala just outside the boma while guests are enjoying their dinner. She then dragged the carcass and hoisted in a tree just outside rooms 10 and 11.
The heavily pregnant and very well fed Xikhavi female will often take some time out and lay next to the swimming pool in the cool evenings.There is never a shortage of elephants near the lodge especially in winter months as they come for the greener foliage in and around the lodge.
South Africa has 11 different national languages – English is the most commonly spoken language in official and commercial public life but only the sixth most spoken language in terms of numbers.
Zulu is normally spoken in the Durban area whilst Xhosa is spoken by the locals in Cape Town. Also bear in mind that Afrikaans was regarded as the language of the old oppressive Nationalist Government pre-1994 and therefore even trying to say a few words to the locals in this language may be regarded as offensive. Best advice is to keep to English if the person is a complete stranger.
Here are a few useful words you may encounter in South Africa. You will be a bit of a big deal if you say ‘hello’ in Zulu:
Aikona – Not on your life
Aita (pronounced ‘ai-tah’) – A greeting
Akubekuhle (pronounced ‘aako-beck-hoole’) – Meaning cheers, to cheers a drink or thanks in Zulu
Arvie (pronounced ‘rve’) – Afternoon
Babbelas (pronounced ‘bub-elaas’) – Hangover
Biltong – Dried, seasoned meat, similar to jerky
Bioskoop – Cinema – “We want to go to the bioskoop tonight”
Biscuit – Used as a term of affection – “Claudia, you biscuit!!”
Boer – Afrikaans word for farmer
Bokkie – A small buck, or affectionate name for a female (my bokkie)
Bra – Afrikaans word for male friend – “dude” in English
Bru – Male friend
Braai – A BBQ
Choc – Township slang for a 20 Rand note
Chow – Means eat
Cozzy (pronounced cozzie) – Swimming/bathing costume
Dik bek – Sulking/pouting
Doss – Nap
Dorpie – A town small in size
Eina! (pronounced ‘a-na’) – Ouch!
Eish! (pronounced ‘aysh’) – A phrase of exclamation – “Eish! I am so tired”
Fundi – Expert – ‘umfundisi’, meaning teacher or preacher
Gatvol – Fed up, had enough
Gooi (pronounce ‘g’ as a rolling ‘gggg’ almost like a cat purring) – Chuck or throw something
Howzit – How’s it going? How are you?
Hundreds – Excellent – “I am hundreds”
Laaitie (pronounced as ‘lighty’) – A young person, usually a young male such as a younger brother or son
Laduma! (pronounced ‘la-do-ma’) – It thunders in Zulu – used when a goal is scrored in South African soccer matches
Larney – Fancy/designer
Lekker – Great/tasty
Makarapa – A modified, decorated miners’ helmet used by South African soccer fans
Padkos – Food for the road/journey
Robot – Traffic light
Rondavel – Free-standing round building which usually has a thatched roof
Sangoma – South African traditional healer
Siff – Used in South African English to discribe disgusting, horrible or ugly – “This milkshake is siff!”
Skinner – Gossip
Slap chips – French fries
Slip slops – Flip slop sandals
Spaza shop – Convenience store
Sosatie – A kebab on a stick
Tekkies – Evil spirit
Toyi-Toyi – South African Zulu for protesting and dancing in the street
Tsotsi (pronounced ‘tzotzi’) – A person who does no good, gangster, layabout
Tune – To give a person lip – “Don’t you tune me bra”
Veld – Bush/grassland
Voetsek (pronounced ‘fot-sek’) – Go away/buzz off
Vuvuzela (pronounced ‘voo-voo-ze-la’ ) – Setswana for a stadium horn, used by soccer fans during matches in South Africa
Yebo (pronounced ‘Yeahbaw’) – Yes in Zulu