The month of March was truly a spectacular month of game viewing. Temperatures have dropped and we even had some great rain at the end of the month.
Lions, lions and more lions!! March has been one of the best lion viewing months in years. Both the Ottawa and Ximungwe pride spend most of the month in our traversing area ; seeing all the new cubs already completely at ease with our presence was without a doubt the jewel in the crown. The Ottawa Pride unfortunately lost one of their cubs when it was killed by a hyena one evening East of our area.We had a great sighting towards the end of the month of the pride lying in a big open area, all completely full from the previous nights hunting.
The Ximungwe pride was seen almost daily and their 3 cubs (1 cub approximately four months old and 2 cubs approximately 8 weeks old) are extremely used to our presence. Seeing such small lion cubs is definitely one of the highlights of the month and for many of our return guests this was by far the smallest lion cubs that they have ever seen in all their combined visits.
The Mapogo male lions also spend most of the month in our traversing area and these formidable males really make great dads playing with their cubs. We viewed 2 of the males accompanied by the Ximungwe females feeding of a buffalo in the North of our area. The same morning another 2 males of the coalition was also seen feeding of 2 buffaloes that they killed during the night.
At least 2 of our resident female leopards have cubs. The Manuela female which is resident in the far east of our traversing area has 2 cubs and a couple of weeks ago we confirmed that the Hlaba Nkunzi female leopard also has2 cubs. Unfortunately we haven‘t had the opportunity of showing her cubs to our guests but Gary and I had the privilege of seeing the little ones at their den site one morning after drive.
The Mambiri female’s cub which is now 1 year old must rank right up there as one of the greatest leopards to view. All of us had spent numerous hours in the last month watching the “little” feline as she stalked anything that moved from wasps to 2 and a half ton rhino bulls.
My favourite leopard sighting of the month was of the Makubela female leopard. After an afternoon thunderstorm the sky was lit golden by the late afternoon sun and the female leopard was lying high up a Marula tree and in the background a rainbow added some extra colour. She was sleeping when something suddenly caught her attention, she starred intensely into the South when suddenly she raced down the tree and disappeared after seconds. Our first thought was that she was stalking some prey but after a couple of minutes the appearance of two of the Mapogo male lions answered all our questions, a predator feast to say the least.
Further great news this month is that the pack of six African Wild Dogs spent most of the month in our area. The alpha female is very heavily pregnant and the pack has been seen digging very actively in numerous abundant termite mounds in search of the perfect den site for her pups.
Cheetahs were very quite this month with only 2 sightings of the single male cheetah.
Hundreds of buffalo and elephant moved into our area in the month of March. The massive herd of numbering more than 500 buffalo’s was seen regularly and in the last week of the March elephants were seen in huge numbers on every drive. As usual we have had constant rhino sightings with numerous individuals being very relaxed with our presence.
Without a doubt the most special sighting in March was of 2 female lions from the Ximungwe Pride catching a female Nyala (antelope) in our car park. Two of our guests saw it happening right in front of them as they drove in, what a way to start your African safari!
Until Next month
Marius Coetzee and the Leopard Hills Guides