October is usually a good month for game viewing, with the weather and sightings all working together. This month was no exception. We had nineteen wild dogs in our area, causing chaos amongst the impala and also with some hyenas who tried to steal their kill! Regarding the weather, the mornings and evenings are still cool, but lovely. The afternoons are warm, but not too hot yet. We’ve had 50mm of rain up to date. Although this is not much, every drop is a blessing and the bush is transforming into a beautiful green landscape. Although the average maximum temperature for October was 30?C, the temperatures went scouring high during some days, with the real feel temperature being well above 40?C. I can safely say that summer is here!
With the rainy season on the way, the breeding herds are splitting up into smaller groups as rain brings more water and more vegetation. Within each group there’s a leader called the matriarch. She will decide on the direction of the next move and will have the best instincts on where the next, closest water source, food and minerals are. The survival of the herd depends on the decisions she makes. When there is an abundance of food and water, she will split the group, giving her sisters and sometimes even her oldest daughters, their own group to lead. We are very blessed to have elephants moving past the lodge during the day and some of our guest had amazing sightings of breeding herds in front of the lodge, while they were having lunch or relaxing on their viewing decks.
The big breeding herds were nowhere to be seen the past month, possibly because they are spending more time close to the firebreaks that have been burned. This is normally where the first sign of green grass would be after the winter. Now, as we’ve had some rain and the grass in the bush is growing and becoming green again, they will slowly return. The older and dominant males stayed around and we saw them on a regular basis. Either eating, drinking or just cooling down in the water. The buffalo sightings were actually bitter sweet as we saw a lot of buffalo kills made by lions this month.
The lion sightings were unbelievable. We’ve had lions interacting, hunting, feeding and mating! The Majingi males moved north this month and spent a lot of time in our traversing area. This move might be related to the six Matimba males who are currently moving southwards. While in the area, the Majingi’s provided us with a lot of interesting sightings and photo opportunities. Within the first week, they chased around BB the lioness and her 4 youngsters, splitting them up. They also brought down a buffalo cow and her calf. They chased the two Nkuhuma males off their buffalo bull kill as well. As if this was not enough for a week, two of them then mated with BB. The mating took place right after the males chased BB and the youngsters apart. BB’s motherly instincts kicked in and she went straight in the direction of the Majingi’s, following them. She knew that by mating with them, she would lead them away from the youngsters and that they would then be safe. The two Ottawa males are also doing well and still moving around our area. The young male of the Styx pride is also doing well. The two Nkuhuma males are now slowly getting more used to our vehicles and we are certain that they are productive hunters because every time we see them, their bellies are full.
Tyson is somewhat skittish at the moment. We do not see him very often, but do get a glimpse of him every now and again. Salayexe is moving all over her territory, making sure that no other leopards are hanging around in her area. We have our fingers crossed that she is actually looking for a safe place to give birth, as this is normally what pregnant females will do beforehand! Kurula and her cubs are in a very good condition and the cubs are growing up very fast. They will be with mum for another few months and then they will be kicked out to start their solitary life. I have some interesting news as well this month. We have a new young male that has moved into our area! He came from the south and took over part of Nsagwen’s territory, in his absence. To the north of him, lies the territory of the older and more experienced male, Mafufunyana. It was just a matter of time before the young male would meet his match. What a sighting this was! The standoff took place over a period of two days until, eventually, the more experienced leopard prevailed. It is good to see that Mafufunyana is not yet pulling back and still has some fight left in him.
We were very fortunate to spend time with a pack of nineteen wild dogs. It is something out of this world to see this majestic animals hunt and take care of their pups. We got to see them kill two impala’s right in front of the lodge when they came to our open are to drink from the waterhole. I am sure that our active Africam viewers also enjoyed this sighting! The best sighting with them, however, must have been when they killed an impala right next to one of our game drive vehicles.
Did you know?
An elephant’s tusks are in fact modified, elongated upper incisor teeth, which consists of a unique combination of dentine cartilaginous material and calcium salts.
Hope you enjoyed this month’s report. See you out on game drive soon!