February flew by in a flash, and before we knew it, it was already the end of March. These two months have been filled with adventure and excitement. This year the big rains came late, and we had half our annual rainfall, about 300mm, in a matter of four days during March. All this rain added to the rain we had during February kept us from heading north of the Sand River as the levels were too high to cross.
Over the last two months Dayone seems to have found a liking in the Lodge as he made 3 different kills in and around the camp. He was seen in an altercation with another unidentified younger male Leopard. When the Othawa pride and Selati males arrived on the scene due to all the noise, Dayone quickly made his way out of the area. It seems that he has a injury on his left front leg as it is swollen and he is limping a bit, but this is definitely not keeping him back. Dayone was also found mating with the Dam 3 female.
Once again Kashane has been very scarce, as he still spends most of his time further to the East.
Nyeleti is starting to become a force to be reckoned with as he continually extends his territory further to the West and even a little bit to the South, pushing into Dayone’s territory. We have been having very good sightings of this male over the last two months. He has also been mating with Xikavi as well as Hlaba Nkunzi.
The Torchwood male still seems to be living a nomadic lifestyle as he is seen in different areas of the reserve. Hopefully he will establish himself somewhere in the Western Sector, so that we can view him more often. On one morning we were very privileged to see him fishing for some Catfish. This was quite a sight to behold.
Sightings of Hlaba Nkunzi have been few and far between. The reports were that she has had cubs to the East of our traversing area, as she was lactating and kept on going back to the same area. No confirmed sightings of the cubs were reported. With her now being seen mating with Nyeleti, speculations have been coming through that she has lost the cubs. Hopefully this is not the case and that she is having a false oestrous just to keep Nyeleti happy and away from her cubs.
Her daughter, Scotia, also doesn’t really seem to have established a territory as of yet. She is definitely a very good hunter, as she is often found with a kill. It looks like she also loves being the centre of attention as she constantly poses for the guests, making sightings of her always entertaining.
Metsi and her daughter, Boulders, have not been seen for the last two months. We believe they have been spending time in an area which was mostly inaccessible to vehicles due to all the rainfall.
Xikavi was seen mating with Nyeleti and also walked in on Nyeleti and Hlaba Nkunzi, after which they treed her and both females went their separate ways. It probably wasn’t her best period of time as she was also found losing an Impala kill to a Hyena.
The Dam 3 female has been her elusive self, only been seen once in a while. She was found mating with Dayone.
Due to the river levels we were unable to get to the Northern section of the Reserve. This is where the Ximunghwe pride has been spending their time for the last two months. We look forward to the levels dropping and being able to give you an update on the pride.
The Othawa’s once again have been moving all over. Some days they were all together and other days some cubs were on their own away from the rest. A couple of times the Selati males did some babysitting. The last that we saw of them all 3 females and 8 cubs were in very good condition. They also however did cross the river to the North late in the month.
All 3 the Selati brothers have been patrolling their territory to the West and East. They spent a couple of days on a Buffalo cow and calf that they killed. This put them all back into good condition. They would split up to patrol and then join up for a day or two before splitting up again. They have been facing pressure from the East in the form of the Majingilane coalition.
These 4 Majingilane males have been coming into Selati male territory more often. Luckily they have not come across one of the prides to be able to kill the cubs. The Selati’s seem to be standing their ground. At the time of writing of this report the Majingilane have had an altercation with one of the Selati males. The extent of the injuries are unknown. Follow our Facebook page for up to date updates on the situation.
The Wild Dogs were only seen on a few occasions. Most of those were from the southern bank of the river watching as they run on the inaccessible northern bank.
The past couple of weeks have been amazing in terms of Cheetah sightings. We have had the adult male, the adult female as well as her two sub-adult cubs that have now separated from her and making kills on their own. Hopefully at least one of the two sub-adults will become a resident Cheetah in the Western Sector.
The name Hyena is always preceded by a bad reputation. These interesting animals play such an important role in the ecosystem by keeping the bush clean. The youngsters are also always entertaining to observe.
Although we focus on the predators in these reports, we do not forget the other animals that make this place what it is. Elephant sightings have been amazing as well as with some of the smaller game, reptiles and Birds.
As we enter into April and Autumn, we can see the bush changing again as well as the temperature starting to drop. We look forward to what is yet to come! Follow our Leopard Hills Facebook page for your daily updates!
Written and compiled by Hugo Breed and Johan de la Rey.