With the rolling thunder building on the horizon there is excitement in the bush.
It is hot and humid during the day with dust covering nearly everything. But there is a certain restlessness brewing in the bush as the clouds start to build and you can hear the distant thunder rolling closer, suddenly a flash of lightning and then that distinct smell of freshness as the first drops start washing the dust away….
We had a good start to the rain season that got the bush to burst out of its seams with all the different shades of green. With the abundance of food it is also the time for all the baby’s to be born which in turn is also the time of easy food for all the predators, this is why in only a few days all the baby impala are born so that by pure numbers it will ensure that enough of the new generation will survive to take the place of the old and the weak.
With the Lions we had an interesting time over the last couple of months, the Majingelane males are for sure here to stay and started to assert their dominance over both the Othawa and Ximhungwe prides. We had some amazing sighting of the four brothers ranging from buffalo kills to mating and also the full burst of all four roaring at top volume.
With the Ximhungwe pride this year we have had some highs and lows with one of the adult females being found dead. The remaining two adult females are still cautious of the Majingelane males trying to avoid them to ensure the survival of the four remaining cubs, but we have seen the adult females mating with the males, so let’s hope the new generation of Ximhungwe cubs will be born shortly.
The Othawa pride had real bad luck and out of the eight original cubs there is now only two left one sub adult male and one sub adult female. The three adult female spent a lot of time with the Majingelane male both mating and just relaxing.
With the Leopards all is going extremely well especially with Thlangisa’s two female cubs now almost eight months old and rapidly turning into beautiful little princesses of the spotted kingdom.
Dayone seems to be back in full strength, although he still has a bit of a limp but that does not seem to bother him at all as he has been hunting normally and also marking territory and being very vocal.
We did not see Kashane a lot this time but for a male in his prime he does not have a lot to worry about so when we see him, this proud cat always gives us a sighting to remember.
The Nyeleti male was pushed back a bit to his old territory further to the East with Dayone being back in full force.
The Ravenscourt male was seen a lot in the south with the one sighting of him and the Torchwood male together. Let’s hope this beautiful young male can make a claim on the vacant area in the south so we can keep on seeing him.
The Boulders female seems to be a lot more relaxed lately and she gave us chance to get close to her and enjoy a good sighting.
Xikavi was seen with three cubs once, but this elusive mom has not shown us them since but at least we can still see suckle marks.
The elusive Tassleberry female, that we rarely see, gave us a pleasant surprise by showing us a very young but shy cub. We don’t see her a lot but let’s hope she can raise this one to adulthood.
The young Torchwood male is doing well for himself by being nomadic at the moment he is staying alive till he is strong enough to make a claim on a territory so we can keep on seeing the beautiful male.
Scotia seems to have claimed a bit of the central area for herself and she is doing well.
Hlaba Nkunzi is doing very well and is still visiting Leopard Hills on regular basis, and we can now say that it looks like she does have cubs again but as rumor has it they are in the East again.
We also had one sighting of the Hukumuri or Blue Eyed female in the North.
We did not see the pack of Wild dogs that often but they are now sixteen in total and when we see them they always provide us with some really good sightings.
There has also been a couple of Side Striped Jackals around, providing us with some special sightings of their puppies playing around.
The biggest surprise for us was having the amount of Cheetah sightings that we had over the last few months almost becoming a weekly sighting at least.
We are really blessed with the amount of Hyena sightings we are getting. Sitting at any Leopard kill you know there will be at least one Hyena in the area to keep them on their toes.
The general game sightings have been phenomenal as usual with lots of baby’s around ranging from baby impala to baby Elephant and all in between.
With Summer being in full swing most of the migratory birds are here, making for beautiful aerial displays and chirping in the mornings to wake you up.
This year has been one amazing year with lots of surprises and once in a lifetime sightings. We cannot wait to see what 2015 has in store for us. Lastly we from the Leopard Hills Family would like to wish you happy New Year.
Written and compiled by Johan de la Rey, Reece Verdoorn and Hugo Breed.