Tag Archives: Sabi

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.