The month of May has been filled with cold mornings, warm days, spectacular sunsets and sensational sightings.
May started off with the Ximhungwe pride taking down 2 big Kudu Bulls and feeding on them for a couple of days. They moved all over the property and spent a few days close to the lodge, making kills and taking care of the cubs along the way. The cubs are now between five and a half and nine months old and getting very big. They love playing around with each other and exploring every new sight and smell they find along the way.
The Othawa females introduced 8 new cubs to us this month. It looks like there are two litters of four cubs at about 2 months old, with one of the females looking like she is also pregnant. Hopefully more cubs in the very near future. The females walked into the Ximhungwe’s territory one night, luckily without any cubs present, and the Ximhungwes chased the Othawas all the way back to their own territory, both prides leaving each other with minimal injuries.
One of the Selati males was found mating with one of the Othawa females. The four boys were split up for most of the month, but when they came together again they made a Buffalo kill which kept them in one spot for almost four days. The Majingilane came into the Selati territory, but luckily they didn’t run into each other.
The Southern Pride has been spending more time in the Western Sector. The part of the Pride that crossed over consisted of 11. There was an altercation between them and two Males, Solo and Cleo, from the east and it seems that one of the cubs got fatally injured. Hopefully the Southern Pride and these two males don’t come looking for the Ximhungwe or Othawas.
Kahsane was found mating with Ravenscourt and a third unidentified female leopard joined them. The two of them had a stare down but Kashane chose to stay with Ravenscourt and left the other female behind. The two of them mated for a couple of days. Kashane is still spending most of his time on our eastern boundary.
Dayone is turning into a real strong and beautiful leopard. Still patrolling his territory and mating with the females, Xikavi and Ravenscourt, competing for his attention. On patrol one morning he almost walked into the Selati coalition on their Buffalo kill, but luckily he picked up their scent just in time and quickly changed direction. Dayone is extending his territory and pushing into Kashane’s territory in the South East.
We had a very special sighting at night with Nyeleti and Ravenscourt while they were mating up a dead fallen tree. The balancing act between the two of them was quite amazing. They were together and mating for about 3 days.
Hlaba Nkunzi and her cub are doing extremely well. The are both in good condition and her cub is getting bigger everyday. With the Hyena population growing, she has gone back to her instincts and is hoisting most of her kills again.
Metsi and her cub weren’t seen that often this month. They were found after she made an Impala kill, but once again she did not hoist it and it got stolen by Hyenas. Late in the month she and the cub was found again while she was taking the cub back to a vervet monkey she had killed.
A new Hyena den was discovered on the property. It seems there are 5 young ones at the den site.
The young male Cheetah from the east, that was in the Western Sector last month, came back for a quick visit this month as well. Maybe he will start to come into the area more often. We also had a brief visit from a female Cheetah and her two cubs.
During the start of the month we didn’t see too much of the pack of wild dogs. Everytime they came into our area they didn’t spend more than a couple of hours before heading back east. Luckily the last couple of days of this month the pack, now consisting of 9 individuals, were spending their days close to the lodge, even making an Impala kill right in front of our staff accomodation. Two of the males were seen mating with two of the females, so there is a chance of maybe seeing some new additions to the pack.
At the end of the month our guests were very priviledged to witness the birth of a Giraffe. We arrived just as the feet were coming out and stayed till long after she gave her first steps. A further blog post will follow with the complete story and more photos and video.
We had some good bird sightings throughout the month as well.
As usual we had great sightings with animals like Elephant, Buffalo, Zebra and a lot more.
As the season changes and summer leaves the Lowveld, it’s time to say Goodbye to Kelly. After many happy years at Leopard Hills, she has decided to take on a new adventure. We will truly miss Kelly and the great work she has done with us, we wish her all the best on her new journey!
This gives us the opportunity to welcome Alyssa, who has taken over from Kelly, and will be handling all the reservations for Leopard Hills, we are looking forward to the time ahead.
Overall this month has been like most other months at Leopard Hills, always something special and exciting happening around us. We are privliged to be able to experience and share everything mentioned above. For daily updates like our Leopard Hills page on Facebook.
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Written and compiled by Johan de la Rey and Hugo Breed.