This month was once again a month filled with surprises and action at Elephant Plains! We saw four brothers reunite, four leopards sharing a meal and we also had two different wild dog packs in our traversing area. We saw them on a regular basis during the month, making game drives even more special than usual. Some of our guests were even lucky enough to also see them hunt. The days were very hot and humid, with an average maximum temperature of 33 °C. After the floods of last month, we were fortunate to only receive 33mm of rain, which gave the roads a chance to dry out. Some areas like the seeplines and floodplains are still a bit wet, though. Therefore we need to make sure that the area is dry enough before off roading into the bush!
The big breeding herds are not back in our traversing area yet, but this is understandable because of all the water everywhere. The small puddles and pans hold sufficient water so that the herds do not have to travel as far as they usually would, to get to a water source. Big breeding herds do not normally stay in the same area all the time and because we are open to the Kruger National Park and surrounding reserves, they move around a large area and take some time to get back to us. We do, however, see the older males on a regular basis. These lazy bulls tend to spend a lot of time inside and next to the waterholes around the lodge, getting some relief from the hot summer days whilst enjoying a mud bath.
Last month we saw elephants shaking trees around almost every corner, but now as the Marula fruiting season comes to an end, the herds are moving in a wider circle, to try and get the last fruits off the trees. While out on drive, we often come across a Marula tree lying on its side, or with some broken branches on the ground. The elephants have by now eaten most of the fruit on the lower branches and therefore have to either break the higher branches off, or push over the whole tree to get to the rest. We’ve had wonderful elephant sightings this month; lovely breeding herds and a lot of really big bulls. They are usually following the breeding herds around. When a big bull follows or enters a breeding herd, it will only be because one or more of the females in the group are in oestrus.
What a treat it was to once again see the four Majingi males together again! In the bush, one of the most beautiful sightings is to see four male lions, walking side by side down the road towards you. We had beautiful sightings of them during the month. The four young Tsalala lionesses are getting stronger and more confident every day. They have killed a zebra on their own, without the help of their BB. She has joined back up with her two older daughters down in the south. Two of the Nkuhuma females and their two cubs have also been seen this month and it was good to see that the two young ones are getting bigger and doing amazingly well. The two Nkuhuma males are also looking good. They killed a fully grown giraffe on our driveway, right next to the road. In the beginning, when they just arrived in our traversing area and we first started viewing them, they were not very comfortable with the vehicles. Now they are a lot more relaxed with us viewing them and they are providing us with some memorable sightings!
Up to now we were not 100% sure about the fate of Salayexe’s cubs. I can sadly confirm now that she did in fact loose them. She was seen attempting to mate with Tingana during January, but as leopards sometimes do this to take a male’s attention away from a den site, we were unsure if they had actually died. This month, however, we saw her mating with him on a number of occasions. Hopefully this will lead to a litter that she would successfully raise into adulthood. Tingana is building more confidence every day and is now also expanding his territory bit by bit. Lamula is spotted more often during game drive, especially in the vicinity of females. He was seen mating with two different females this month, one if which was Kwatile. Lamula and Mvula also had a standoff, but there was no fighting between the two young males. Both of them are eager to expand their territories, but neither of them wants to give up a piece for the other.
Kurula and her youngsters have provided us with a lot of excitement during February. She and her two cubs were feeding on an impala when Nduna, her older son from her previous litter, joined in on the meal. This just shows what a good mother she is! Although Nduna is old and experienced enough to make his own kills, mom still allows him to join her for dinner every once in a while. Needless to say, having four leopards in one sighting is priceless!
Did you know?
Although hippopotamus have enormous canines, they are vegetarian and do eat any meat. The huge canines are only used for fighting.
Hope you enjoyed this month’s report. See you out on game drive soon!