Bush Bulletin: December 2023

Posted on December 20, 2023

The year is drawing to a close and here is a small recap for the year. It has been filled with incredible sightings and special moments. This blog will touch on anything from lion dynamics to our conservation efforts with rhino and the surrounding community.

A New Era Begins by Stu

On the 2nd of January, the takeover was complete. The Birmingham Coalition were out and the Plains Camp Males were in. While on drive following up on what sounded like lions fighting, Johan came across the ‘crime scene.’ On the road was clear evidence of a serious fight. The Plains Camp were just up the road with a few scratches but it was clear that the Birmingham’s had taken a bad blow.

The takeover was complete and a new era has begun. Now we have numerous prides with offspring of the Plains Camp Males. The males have been extremely busy checking up on the prides and protecting their territory.

The Mhangene pride is thriving in the South with 10 little cubs ranging in ages. We have been extremely lucky to see them more and watching the cubs grow up.

The Ximungwe pride have two added additions now approaching 5 months old. Two females which is great news for the future of the pride. The Plains Camp Males have been spending a lot of time with the pride.

The Nkuhuma female and her two subadults are back in the West keeping a low profile but hoping she can find an area and stay.

The incredible Othawa females keep impressing everyone. After watching the Othawa pride slowly getting killed out, these two females’ odds were not in their favour but they have fought and hung on and are now full lionesses trying to find a territory, some guides have already seen them scent marking which is exciting news for us. Hopefully, soon they will meet the Plains Camp Males and start mating.

Newly Named Leopards by Stu

Over the past year, we have had a few leopards that have been pushed out by their mothers and are now finding their feet in the West.

Makumu and Mahetelelo were the last litter of the great Thlangisa female. The youngsters started roaming at a young age and took a while before they found their feet.

Mahetelelo has been hanging around the river and has had a couple of territorial fights with Basile. It seems like she has taken the far western side of the river as a territory but with both Basile and Khokovela on either side, it will be interesting to see where she settles down.

Makumu has been wandering around the Sabi Sands and has been seen around Sabi Game Reserve.

Rixaka Female, daughter of Boulders, has found a territory to the South West of the Western Sector. She and her mom have been seen together on the odd occasion sharing a kill. Having Rixaka around Leopard Hills is amazing for our guests to experience how a young female leopard operates around her mom’s territory.

Paws for Thought by Nadine

End of November, I was blessed by being able to go the The Khumba Ncila (Touching Tales in Shangaan.) It is a vet clinic that opened in 2019 and the focus is to provide veterinary care throughout the communities. Our day out was to help out while the vets did sterilizations and vaccinations.

What a special place, we started the day off by meeting the dogs and the owners. We then gave them tick and flea injections before they went under anaesthetic, after the surgery we helped in the recovery unit where we cleaned their wounds and were the first happy faces they saw when they woke up.

It is amazing to be able to spend time with these amazing people and vets who give their spare time to help with animals in the village.

For more information on the project, visit @khumba_ncila on Instagram or on Facebook @KhumbaNcila.

Hyena Den by Johan

Even though hyenas are often overlooked, guests at Leopard Hills often come with the request to see baby hyenas or a hyena den. Well, luckily for them we are privileged enough to have two densities in our area which makes it a bit easier for us to show baby hyenas to our guests.

Both den sites have cubs of various ages which allows a great educational experience for our guests.

Hyena pups are very well known for their curiosity and they are very quick to investigate us and the vehicle which allows our guests an up close and personal experience.

Dehorning by Justin

So much growth can happen over the space of a year in the bush. This statement is also true regarding the dehorning of our rhino here in The Western Sector of The Sabi-Sands. Rhino horn is made of keratin (same as a human’s fingernails and hair) which means that it grows back after being shaved off. In order to continue the positive effects of last years’ dehorning, the Sabi-Sands team mobilized another huge effort to shave down the new growth of horn on every rhino here in The West.

This was a huge success with all individuals being treated without complications. A great success in the effort of conservation and the protection of these incredible animals.

“Moving with Rhandzekile” by Cal

While the Sabi Sands in unfenced, it allows animals to travel at their own freedom. Rhandzekile was first seen in the Western sector of the Sabi Sands in December 2020 and her and the herd are now regular visitors to the area.

Watching the movements of Rhandzekile ( over the past few weeks has been really fun. Her unique condition always serves as a talking point when guests view her for the first time.

Elephants Alive monitor and track her movements as she moves around through the various reserves. If you do spot her around, you can contact their team and log her movements.

Going “Green” with Envy by Duncan

2023 has been a tremendous year for so many reasons and accomplishments. One of our most proud accomplishments is the installation of our new “Solar System”, moving us closer to achieving our ultimate green initiative of being power independent, relieving the necessity to run generators in times of power outages, and the unnecessary burning of fossil fuels.

What a Year It Has Been

What an eventful year this has been. Leopard Hills turned 25 years old and with that comes our new Logo. What an unbelievable journey it has been so far.

What will 2024 have in store for us and the animals?

We hope to see all the familiar faces returning and are excited for all the new ones to enter the lodge. To stay up to date with all the news and drama from the bush, follow us on Instagram and Facebook.

If you’re interested in experiencing an awe-inspiring South African safari, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our reservations desk at

Alternatively, click here and make use of the quick and seamless online booking process and start planning your ideal vacation today. We look forward to welcoming you to Leopard Hills Private Game Reserve.

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