The windy month has brought in warmer weather and even more spectacular evening colours, the last rays are particularly striking as they paint the crystal clear waters of the Sand river. Many of the migrant birds are relishing the warmth and are back a little earlier than usual this year.
Saddle billed stork silhouetted against the Sand river as it turns various shades of pink for us.
Plenty of fine dust for this stallion to roll around in while one of his heavily pregnant mares is too rounded to partake in such a fun afternoon activity,we are hoping to see a foal in the next few days.
Displaying a gutsy show of strength she seems to have pushed Xikavi north and seized some of the prime territory all the way up to the southern bank of the Sand river. They had a serious territorial encounter that left Xikavi with a big gash on her front left leg (See images). Hlaba Nkunzi is not the largest female but she makes up for this with her guts and determination that surely stems from the strong gene pool of her legendary mother, Makwela!
She is most likely close to giving birth, watch this space in the next few months! Whether she will bring her litter back to the cave in front of Leopard Hills remains to be seen, we are holding thumbs. See video of her on a huge impala ram kill!
She has claimed the territory further north where it is very dense and has only been seen on a few occasions.
This wily female is also possibly pushing Hlaba Nkunzi a little from the south as she prepares for a litter soon. Only seen a few times this month we are not sure exactly what has happened since she seemed to lose a litter a few months back and she hasn’t been seen mating again!
Apart from the above mentioned clash with Hlaba Nkunzi that left her with this nasty looking injury, she has been vocalising and marking a lot along both banks of the Sand river.
She had a brief sojourn down through Leopard Hills while she was following Dayone as he was patrolling, she was hoping to mate with him but he was not interested! See video!
Also found a few times along the river there are lots of females vying for prime space in the winter. She hasn’t been seen as much as last month when mating with Dayone.
Not seen too often this month in the west of his territory.
Roaming all over the west he has even been seen crossing the Sand river doing a little exploration in the north! He just seems to be getting bigger and bigger, well and truly living up to his impressive genes (Father is the dominant 12 year old Sand river male who is about 40km away to the east).
Being the most relaxed male leopard for many years we are really being spoilt with some educational behavioural sightings of him! Showing very few battle scars, he truly is a handsome photogenic specimen of a male!
Unknown Male in the north
This unknown male that occupies the Sand river and northern territory was seen again a few times, still shy but a quick glimpse is possible and even a photograph if you are very quick on the draw!
Maxabeni young male
This young warthog specialist treated us to a few days of fantastic viewing when he killed a warthog in the south where he has been hanging out! See video for some interesting interaction with a mother hyaena and her cub that sniffed out the kill!
Leopards August video
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This was taken at Leopard hills camp waterhole!
The boys are learning all about life as the dominant force in the Western Sabi Sand! Their emergence and coming of age has thoroughly entertained our guests this month. Most of this has happened in close proximity to Leopard Hills.
So what goes through the mind of a Coalition member as winter draws to a close?
August video of the Selati Coalition
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Quite fragmented again for most of this month due to much interaction and mating with the Selati coalition! Things seem to have settled a bit the last few days and all four lionesses have been seen with the males and looking very relaxed with each other. Perhaps some stability has settled over the lions after the takeover!
Most likely all 3 are pregnant and we will probably see a first litter emerging quite soon…watch this space.
Lionesses August Video
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Pack of Painted Dogs that denned here in 2011
Our patience has finally paid off and now that the 6 little pups are around 3 months old they are just big enough to run with the pack! They returned here in the last few days on a hunting foray with the little ones trotting behind!
New Painted Dog Pack of 5
A sure way to turn a relaxing game drive into one of frantic excitement is for one of the top 3 most endangered mammals in Africa to arrive on the scene! In the beginning of the month a pack of African Wild Dogs appeared out of nowhere and came charging through our traversing area, turning the bush in to chaos.
It was surely the good luck brought by our regular guests Arnold and Joan Kalan who are here for 10 days with their granddaughter Rachel on her first safari. We haven’t seen the painted pack for a few months so we weren’t too optimistic of a visit!
Well not only did we get a visit but were treated to a new pack of 5 dogs exploring the area while calling and investigating every scent to see if there is another pack around. Listen on the video to the characteristic hoooo hoooo call which is one of the classic sounds of Africa but rarely heard!(Turn up the volume)
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The Alpha female has a very characteristic notch out of her ear (See image below) and we think it was the Alpha male doing most of the calling as he was one of the younger males. This is most likely a new pack formed quite recently as they are not breeding yet, very exciting! They have disappeared in the last few days but we hope they liked what they found and return here soon.
The large herd has again been frequently seen as well as many old bulls up in the north along the river.
They are still spending a lot of time out of the water while sunning themselves later on in the cool mornings, often a coffee break is spent with them as they lie on a sandbank.