Winter is upon us and the early morning temperatures have been fairly cold. Armed with blankets, hot water bottles and fleeces nothing could stop us getting our guests phenomenal sightings. The highlights are numerous this month but regular sightings of 2 sets of leopard cubs and the visit by an old friend stood out above the rest.
Both cubs of the Hlaba Nkunzi female leopard and the 2 cubs of the Makubela female leopard were seen frequently in the month of May. Hlaba Nkunzi used the rocky outcrop just outside camp to stash her cubs for several days. Unfortunately we couldn‘t view them without their mother’s presence but the days that mom was present the sightings really were out of this world. The cubs, which are approximately 4 months old now, are extremely relaxed with our presence.
At the end of the month Raymond and his guests had the most phenomenal sighting in the far North of our traversing area. After hearing a herd of impala alarm calling nearby Raymond responded as quickly as possible and found a young male leopard with a female impala in his jaws. Unfortunately the young leopard is not used to the presence of man and as soon as he sighted the vehicle he let go of his prey and ran away. A couple of minutes later the “dead” antelope woke up looked around and ran off.
The single new cub of the Ximungwe Pride of lions we reported on last month has unfortunately been killed by a spotted hyena. Other than the little set back the pride had a very good month and was seen frequently in the Southern part of our traversing area.
The coalition of Mapogo male lions once again spent the last month in our traversing area. At the end of the month we had a sighting of all 5 of the males together, this hasn‘t happened too often lately. The males were also seen feeding of a buffalo on the banks of the Sand River in the middle of the month. They managed to steal the carcass from the Ottawa pride of lions during the night and unfortunately in doing so injured one of the little cubs severely. A couple of days later the pride were seen once again and this time the cub wasn‘t present, we presume he must have died from his wounds.
The Ottawa pride now consisting of 2 adult females, 6 sub-adults of about 3 years and 2 cubs of approximately 5 months old spend alot of time in the North of our traversing area, seeing 2 prides of female lions regularly is really an added bonus for us and most guests have a great chance of seeing the King and Queen of Africa, the lion and lioness.
For the first time in ages can I write about seeing 2 different male cheetah’s in our traversing area. The older male was seen a couple of times down south and the younger male was seen patrolling his territory along the western fire break in the end of the month.
Buffalo, Elephant and Rhino
The elephant viewing this month was up and down with large herds moving in and out of our traversing area. My guests and I had a great sighting of a herd numbering almost 20 individuals on a morning safari. We were parked on the wall of one of the numerous dams and the herd passed us less than 3 meters from the vehicle.
The large herd of no less than 300 buffalos was also seen on a regular basis and many lone bulls known as “dagga boys” were seen frequently.
As per usual our rhino sightings were very consistent in the past month with frequent sightings of small groups of non-dominant bulls in the north and south of our traversing area.
it was a great month for “specials” with 2 sightings of a serval cat, the first sighting was on a morning safari and we encountered this shy and elusive feline right in front of the lodge. We also had a great sighting of a honey badger and numerous sightings of genet cat.
I also had a great sighting of a mature Civet cat close to lodge.
Until next month
Marius Coetzee and the Leopard Hills guides