Rangers Report October 2012

Posted on October 28, 2012

The verdant hills are alive with the choruses of all the breeding birds and frogs, the cuckoos are especially vocal after arriving back from their long journey south!

This month was all about the unveiling of the next generation of hunters with no less than 2 litters of leopard, 1 litter of lion and 1 set of hyaena cubs being revealed…read on for images and video!

Sunrises are still very striking…if you can brave the earlier wakeup call that is?

Hlaba Nkunzi & Metsi
Hlaba Nkunzi high up a marula taking a break from patrolling early in October

Nestled right between the territories of both females and their respective den sites, Leopard Hills has truly lived up to our name this month! First it was 6 and a half year old Hlaba Nkunzi, who brought out her little fur ball one rainy afternoon after much anticipation!

Here is the blurry first view we got through the rain drops of Hlaba Nkunzi’s cub.

Now for the latest images taken 2 days ago, the growing youngster ventured out onto the rocks and delighted us with a brief glimpse!

The ever watchful eye of Hlaba Nkunzi

Not to be outdone it was then 6 year old Metsi’s opportunity to turn it on and actually out perform our favourite leopardess!

Metsi gave us a once in a lifetime display one morning with her cub out on a rock! We are still not sure if Metsi has one or two cubs, this little one below was very brave though.

Enjoy the pictures and video of the little ones, all estimated to be around the same tender age of 6 weeks!
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Metsi’s cub about to emerge…look closely!

Groomed by a caring mom.

Bravely looking out into the world, with a paw firmly attached to mom of course.

Getting too brave…mom has to bring him back!

Metsi’s cub peering out from the safe haven

Still residing up in the north, she surfaces very rarely in the dense environment up there but when she is found she is as playful as always!

A little more scarce this month as she appears to have completed her mating cycle with Dayone male and is back where she is her happiest…amongst the river bushwillows of the Sand river after which she is named!

Also a little scarce this month as the vegetation along the river has become more dense after all the early rain!


This female is being seen more and more in the south and is fairly comfortable with vehicles, she is a rather large leopardess (look at the size of her head) and has claimed most of the territory in the south!


Here he is atop a termite mound at sunset!

Approaching 7 and a half years, this male always leaves our guests gasping in awe of his size and presence, in his prime and totally in charge! He was seen a few times looking for his favoured prey species as he scoured every termite mound for an active warthog burrow!


A great month of viewing him, see blog article from earlier in October of interesting behavioural interaction between him and old Ndlevane male! Also see video below of him feeding on his scrub hare kill as well as snacking on and rubbing his head in buffalo dung of all things! Possibly to gain minerals lacking in his diet and hide his scent when hunting?

Maxabeni young male

Almost 4 years old and becoming a threat to the territorial males, they must be wary of his presence in the south, especially Dayone male with his first 2 litters of cubs being reared by Hlaba Nkunzi and Metsi! These cubs are currently vulnerable should Dayone be any less than his best!

Leopards October video
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Selati Coalition

The Ximhungwe lionesses kept them a little busy during the beginning of the month (see video of the mating) and after that they have been focused on lots of patrolling! Very rarely apart during the month, all 4 have been very busy securing their territory after a brief scare from the Majingilane last month! See video of all 4 crossing the Sand river together, looking very formidable and confident!

Ximhungwe pride
Rather elusive this month and mostly split up, all four were finally found together in the last few days and are looking stronger than ever!

Othawa Pride

Licking her lips after feeding on the dead hippo!

One of the lionesses has given birth in a secluded den site on the Sand river, we await our first view of the cubs. The other 2 lionesses are probably close to dropping their litters. See video below of them feeding on a female hippo they found that died in a fight with another female hippo! (First time we have heard of this happening between 2 female hippos)

Lions October Video
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Spotted Hyaena Den

Very lucky to have discovered a den site this month, there are 2 adventurous young cubs probably around 3 months old and still totally black in colour (They start gaining their spots at around 5 months)

Enjoy the video footage of them below which captures some very interesting anal pasting behaviour between a cub and one of the young adults (looks like an adult female just asserting her dominance over the cub by pasting on top of the little cub’s pasting!)
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Pack of Painted Dogs that denned here in 2011
Not venturing this side during the month we eagerly await a visit during November so we can see how the pups are faring, the pack consisted of 8 adults and 6 pups when we last saw them in September!

Elephant parades have spread out into all the tantalising green undergrowth so it is more of a challenge to locate them but very rewarding when we do as there are lots of young calves around!

The large herd of 500 has given us lots of enjoyment as they have camped in the south feeding on all the lush grasslands! Lucky for them the Selati Coalition have been up in the north along the river the whole month!

Interesting sightings captured in October
Top of the list has to be the young male cheetah that arrived for a few days of exploring here in the west! A really handsome young chap he is!

Dayone proudly displaying his scrub hare snack that he caught right in front of us, showing off his incredible speed and agility!

A juvenile black crowned night heron seen during the day, a rare sight for the birders!

5 thoughts on “Rangers Report October 2012

  1. Dankie Dave vir ‘n onvergeetlike 2 dae. Die hiena met haar 2 kleintjies was ongelooflik. Jammer dat die luiperd ons bly ontwyk het, maar volgende keer gaan ons haar definitief sien. Oppad hek toe, het ons sowaar ‘n koedoe, olifante en vlakvarke gekry. Spesiaal om die tydjie by Leopard Hills op ‘n hoe noot af te sluit. Groetnis tot volgende keer.

  2. Great update and report thanks Dave. So wonderful to see my lady Hlaba Nkunzi bringing another great bloodline of a cub into this world! We pray for the cub’s survival and challenges that the bush brings! Keep us posted and wish we were there! See you in 2013 for sure!

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