There is not a pale piece of grass in sight as the bush is very lush; green and dense as far as the eye can see! November is one of the best months for us, as this is the time of year when we welcome the majority of all the new babies. The very first juvenile impalas, warthogs and wildebeest were born a little later than last year, but with the arrival of all these babies the bush feels more alive than ever! These little ones keep us entertained by running and jumping all over the show. With the wonderful rain and the warmer temperatures, we also welcomed the return of the Woodland Kingfishers. Game viewing was just brilliant this month and we also had awesome night time animal sightings like porcupine, bush baby, genet, civet and white tailed mongoose, just to name a few. Another surprise this month was the cheetah sightings we had. It was really amazing to spend time with them! For November, we had 53mm rain and the average maximum temperature was 30°C.
We are so fortunate and spoiled with the leopard sightings in our area. The leopard that stole the limelight this month was Shadow, the female. She was also making life very difficult because she went into hiding a lot, but for good reason on her part. The one afternoon drive she was seen drinking water at one of the waterholes in her territory and after quenching her thirst she rested in the shade of a nearby tree. The rangers noticed that she was very skinny and that her milk glands were swollen a lot. On closer inspection with binoculars they could see that she had suckle marks, so somewhere safe in a den is a few bundles of fluff. We don’t know where the den is, or how many cubs she’s got as she will keep them hidden for the next two months. We are keeping our fingers crossed that everything goes well with the little ones and that Shadow will raise them to adulthood. Salayexe is moving around a lot while scent marking all over her territory. She is also expanding her area a little bit. She is still looking very good and we all hope that she is pregnant. We also had some awesome sightings of Thandi and her male cub, Bahuti, who is so relaxed with the vehicles around him. He is such a lovely leopard to watch and he can keep you entertained for hours as he stalks everything that moves on land and in the water. Lamula was very active this month as we saw him quite a few times patrolling his borders and marking his territory. There is also a young, but smaller male leopard in his territory, but it doesn’t look as if this bothers him too much. Anderson, the male leopard, is also expanding his territory and by doing that he is expanding into both Tingana and Lamula’s territories. Tingana has got his hands full with Anderson on the one side and Lamula on the other side. The last thing that we need now is another male taking over from Tingana, as there are new cubs and more on the way that will be killed by any new male. Mvula is also expanding his territory from the east more west into Lamula and Tingana’s areas and he is still a big force to be reckoned with.
We had some very nice lion sightings this month! We saw a lot of the Styx pride, joined by the Nkuhuma male from time to time. During the last fight between the Nkuhuma male and the sub adult males of the Styx pride, one of the young males sustained an injury on his right front leg. You can see the puncture wounds that were made by the canines of the Nkuhuma male. Luckily the leg is not broken as he still puts pressure on it when he walks. Although it is swollen quite badly, I am sure it would heal. This just shows you that the Nkuhuma male means business and that he wants to take over the Styx pride. When two male lions fight, they will try to immobilize their opponent and the only way of doing this is to bite the legs and joints, or to get hold of the spine. One of the older lionesses in the pride also gave birth around the 15th of this month as she was seen with suckle marks. Now there is a twist in this fairytale as to who the father is… She mated with one of the Matimba males and also with the Nkuhuma male. Luckily we all know that the cubs are safe with the Matimba and Nkuhuma males, as both think it is their cubs. We haven’t seen any of the Tsalala or Breakaway prides this month, but we heard that the tailless female of the Tsalala pride has new cubs. We can’t wait for them to come to our area and show them off. The Majingi male lions were nowhere to be seen this month and all we had was a few distant calls echoing through the night. What a beautiful sound that is!
This month we had a breeding herd with many small calves that moved through our area and for the majority of the females, the 11 month pregnancy is now over. Now that the bush is so green and there is enough food and water for a few big herds, the buffaloes will stay in a certain area longer than when there is not an abundance of food. We still keep our fingers crossed that they will also bless us with their presence next month. All the bachelors that we had wandering around the last few months have now moved on, surely back to the big breeding herds. Our trusted old Dagga boys are still around, always close to a waterhole or mud wallow to keep them cool in the harsh African sun.
This month we had some scattered elephant sightings all over the reserve, as the majority of the breeding herds have moved more east, out of our traversing area. The sightings that we had were still really good with medium and small breeding herds. We were once again spoiled with the presence of a big male or two that moved around in our area. We also had a female group that suddenly became very vocal while their temporal glands on the side of their heads became wet. At that time it was unclear why they were so unhappy, until the branches started breaking! A young male elephant came bursting out of the thickets, with a big female hot in pursuit. Females will do that to let the young males know when they’ve overstayed their welcome. It was time for this young bull to leave the herd. One thing that is very noticeable during game drive is that the destruction on the trees is a lot less than in previous months.
The special sighting was to see a big male leopard and a hyena chasing the same baby impala, but from different angles. These two heavyweights did not know that they were stalking the same juvenile impala. With a burst of speed the leopard was off and so was the hyena. As both came around the corner the leopard saw the hyena and turned to the opposite direction. In the end the hyena walked away with the prize, as he had the stamina to outrun his prey. The leopard lived to hunt another day.
Did you know?
A bush baby is able to cover a distance of 10m in less than 5 seconds.
I hope you enjoyed this month’s report. See you out on game drive soon!