With lightning and the soft rolling thunder threatening on the horizon we awaited the first storm of the season to give us relieve from the dust and heat. The beautiful summer sunsets are back with the odd cloud in the sky enhancing the array of colours.
The Othawa pride is still going strong, with the three females and all eight cubs still going about normal life, including the one female without cubs that was seen mating with the Selati males. Hopefully in the next three months we might see a new litter of cubs. The pride was also found on a Buffalo kill this month which created some very full and uncomfortable bellies.
The Ximhungwe pride spent most of the time in the South and East only giving us glimpses for a couple of hours at a time. Lucky for us, at the end of the month, they did cross back and went all the way West and North, ensuring for some more frequent viewing. They are still all accounted for, the three females and all six cubs are looking good and strong.
The Selati males were still split up with the three still sticking together and the one ill one on his own, whom eventually succumbed to this lone lifestyle. There was a report from the East that he got caught up in a group of Buffalo and got killed. The three boys are still spending a lot of time with the Othawa pride.
Hlaba Nkunzi and her cub gave us a good chance to practice our tracking skills with the areas she chose to spend time in this month. Once they were found she provided us with awesome sightings. The cub was found alone on quite a few occasions exploring the area that mom left her in. With the cub at just over twelve months of age mom will start to leave her alone for longer and more often to get her use to the lone lifestyle, luckily for us the cub is just as relaxed as mom and we are still getting grate views of her. Round the end of the month Hlaba Nkunzi and Dayone was found mating close to the Lodge.
We only saw Metsi on one occasion this month, it was however a great sighting with her up a tree with an Impala kill and a Hyena on the ground waiting for scraps with Metsi’s cub also on the ground hiding from the Hyena. We did have more frequent sightings of her female cub who was amazingly relaxed with the vehicles around her. She was seen quite close to the lodge and then we got tracks the next day of mom and her leaving the area, we can only assume that Metsi came and fetched her to a kill as we did not manage to stay on the tracks…..
With Kashane’s territory being so huge we don’t see him a lot but when we see him, he usually gives us a good show and time for awesome photos……
Thlangisa is becoming more of a regular sighting North of the river for us, it seems that we managed to work out her behavior in the North, we did at some stage see suckle marks on her and excitement was high, but later in the month the suckle marks dried up and we suspect that she might have lost the litter.
The Torchwood male is also becoming a regular in the Western Sector with this young male even making kills with vehicles following him, so needless to say this is a welcomed addition to the Western Sector’s Leopards.
Xikavi broke the new cub drought with her addition of two new cubs to the West. She has shown them to us but at only a month old you can imagine that the view was limited. Let’s hope that in the future we will get many more great sightings of the two little ones!!!!
The shy Dam 3 female was seen a few times, she seems to be more relaxed at night time with us than what she is in day time. We are also proud to announce that there is reports that this shy lady has also shown us a glimpse of two tiny little cubs, crossing our fingers that we will get a view of the two soon.
Close to the end of the month we saw the Blue eyed female called Hukamuri up in the North.
The Dayone male is still doing his usual marathon walks covering huge distances in a day to patrol his massive territory; he is in good nick and still keeping the young males at bay. He was also found mating with Hlaba Nkunzi for a couple of days!
At the risk of running into Dayone or Kashane, the Nyeleti male is keeping a low profile but still giving us good sightings, at some stage been seen very close to Hlaba Nkunzi’s cub in the center of our area but luckily he did nothing to her and the peace was kept. At the end of the month he was found mating with Xikavi.
We had a brief visit from a full-grown male Cheetah down in the South for a couple of hours and then he silently sneaked back to the east. It is always a privilege to see these gracious animals as they in general avoid the areas with a high population of large predators like the Western sector.
With the Hyena population on the up we are definitely getting more sighting of them, apart from the Den site we also see their presence around kills more often. With the ongoing age old battle of eternal enemies we witnessed the demise of a young Hyena to the fangs of a Othawa female.
For the last couple of months the Wild Dogs were denning in the Western Sector. They started taking the youngsters on day trips further and further away from the safety of the Den. This gave us amazing viewing of the whole pack and also a sneak peek into the dynamics of everyday pack life. Unfortunately they have now moved more East, and we await their return. We also had a brief glimpse of a different pack from the North East.
The General game viewing was good as always with large herds of Buffalo coming into the area and with the heat all the Elephants in the river. The odd Wildebeest hanging around with the Impala and the flash of black and white stripes from the Zebras are still breaking up the clearings. We are anxiously awaiting all the new born Impalas!
With most of the migratory birds back in the area we still await the first Woodlands kingfisher to break the morning silence with its sharp distinct call. We had some amazing bird sightings this month with some of the old issues returning, like “Which big brown raptor is flying up there? Tawney,Wahlberg, Yellow billed Kite or Brown snake eagle?”
The Sand River has started to fill up, the bush is getting greener and thicker and the Dung Beetles are hard at work. We look forward to what November has in store for us at Leopard Hills and the Western Sector.
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Written and compiled by Hugo Breed and Johan de la Rey