Happy New Year to everyone, the month of December was as usual absolutely phenomenal for safari in Africa. Some great news is that both the Ottawa and Ximungwe Pride of lions have cubs.
Even though we have had some really good rains and the vegetation is thick and lush, the leopard viewing has been outstanding. With a total amount of 41 different sightings and some great behaviour, our guests were treated by the iconic animal of the Sabi Sand Reserve. We saw no less than 13 individual leopards and even had 2 surprise visits from the Lisbon Male. This massive male leopard moved in from the South East and we hope that he will establish himself as the ruler of the South.
As mentioned in my introduction the lion sightings have been fantastic. Both the Ottawa Pride and Ximungwe Pride of lions have new cubs. A lioness from the Ottawa pride gave birth to 4 little ones and a female from the Ximungwe Pride gave birth to a single female cub. Female lions will synchronised their oestrus so that they mate at the same period, thus we are sure that more cubs will follow soon. Four of the Mapogo male lion coalition has spent most of the month in our area and gave us great viewing pleasure. We also had a visit from an unidentified male lion from the East. Gary found him one morning stalking a herd of buffalo in the South but unfortunately the male had no success.
Cheetah and Wild Dog
We have had some great and regular sightings of both African wild dog and cheetah in the last month. A pack of 6 dogs spent most of the month in the Northern part of our traversing area. For me the North is definitely the most beautiful area of the reserve with the Kloof River meandering through steep river banks and massive granite boulders, perfect habitat for Southern Africa’s most endangered predator.
Hundreds of elephants were seen in the last month spread all over the reserve. We also saw numerous new born calves. Due to the relaxed nature of most breeding herds in our reserve we got remarkably close to the tiny calves. The lush green bush and numerous mud puddles provided the perfect habitat for these massive pachyderms.
Buffalo & Rhino
The huge herd numbering more than 400 buffalo’s was seen most of the month spending their time on the open plains in the South. As with the elephants we got to see loads of new born calves. As usual the rhino sightings was phenomenal.
My guests and I had an amazing sighting of a Serval cat sitting on a termite mound. We watched this pretty feline for ages hunting rats close to our vehicle. Sighting of the month! Without a doubt one of the greatest predator interactions I have seen. One of the Mapogo male lions was resting on an open clearing when a spotted hyena appeared out of nowhere and proceeded to walk straight to the male lion. The lion spotted the hyena early on and started to stalk the scavenger. Suddenly like a bullet out of a gun the massive lion chased after the hyena. After about 200 meters the lion gave up, stopped and sniffed the air. He walked for about 300 meters when he suddenly stopped. To our amazement he came across a female leopard and her cub guarding their impala kill. The male watched them for a while when he finally rushed in, chased the leopards up a tree and stole their kill. Predator action at its best!!!
Till Next Month
Marius Coetzee and the Leopard Hills guides