This month was once again full of surprises, action and so much more! We really had a lot of rain, 365mm in total, which resulted in some massive flooding that was quite uncommon for this time of the year. All this water made driving both on and off the roads somewhat of a challenge, but that did not stop us from going out and enjoying some very good sightings. The average maximum temperature was 30 °C. The game viewing was very good overall, as we were once again fortunate to see the wild dogs and have them hunting in our area for a few days.
With regards to the leopards, sightings were very good, but there was also a twist that shocked all of us. Let’s first start off with our resident female leopard, Salayexe. Last month I mentioned that she was looking for a safe den site for her little ones. Well, when we saw her this month it looked like she had become a mother again, as we could see that she has suckle marks. Now we need to keep our fingers crossed that this will be the litter of cubs that Salayexe raises to adulthood. Shadow, the female leopard, shocked all of us after she started mating with Mvula again. We all immediately feared the worse and we were unsure if the little cubs were still alive or dead, but it really did not look good for this little female. Weeks later the guys followed her tracks again and then suddenly there it was on the ground: two sets of tiny cub tracks, together with Shadow’s tracks! It’s now confirmed that both cubs are still alive. More good news is that it looks like Nsele, daughter of Salayexe, also has cubs. After being really under the radar the last month or two, she decided that it was time for a visit. We could clearly see her suckle marks. We are so excited and can’t wait to see the cubs! We are not sure how old her cubs are, as she gave us the slip for a few months. Moya also came out to say hello and we were lucky enough to see her a few times this month. Although we did not see her as often as we would have liked, she still looks very healthy and is still as beautiful as always. We also saw Thandi and Bahuti a few times this last month. I must say that these two are really looking good and healthy. Kurula and her two youngsters are also going strong and it really looks like she will continue with her 100% record in raising all her cubs to adulthood. Kurula is a really good mother and she is slowly starting with the weaning process as she leaves her cubs alone for longer periods than usual. The young Robson’s male leopard is still trying his luck in getting a piece of Lamula’s territory, as he is still in the area, marking his territory. Lamula is really looking good and it looks like he is now at the top of his game as he is growing more and more each day. It is just a matter of time before these two males will meet somewhere along the road. The Anderson’s male was also out and about. He still looks very impressive and healthy. He still moves more east, as he is slowly but surely creeping into Tingana’s territory, just staying on the outskirts of the area. Tingana was once again the star as we saw him a lot this last month, moving all over and marking his territory from back to front. Mvula was also seen a few times, moving through the area and also mating with Shadow. He is still a magnificent leopard.
What an awesome month! As far as lion sightings goes, we could not ask for better! We were really spoiled with the four lionesses of the Breakaway pride and their nine cubs, as they had two kills on our airstrip and they stayed there for a few days. These four ladies need to hunt on a regular basis, as they have a lot of mouths to feed with the growing youngsters. It is wonderful to see that this pride is still together and this just shows that these four females are extremely good mothers. The little cubs are growing up very fast and they are really looking gorgeous and very healthy. Then it brings us to the Styx pride, which had more misfortune this month, as they lost the younger cubs. We think they got killed by another pride. After the loss of the youngest cubs, they brought the three older cubs more in a westerly direction, away from the danger. The little cubs are so cute and don’t have a care in the world. All they want to do is play with anything that they can find. I really hope and keep my fingers crossed that these three little cubs will one day grow up and reach adulthood so that the pride can grow in numbers. With all the lion sightings this month, there was still room for more, as we also had the Fourway pride in our area for a few days. We also had a few wonderful sightings of three of the Majingi male lions, as they had a young buffalo kill in the area. It was so nice to see these big boys doing their thing as dominant males of this area. It is always nice to see a familiar face that you haven’t seen for some time and what a treat it was to see the familiar face of Solo, the male lion. Solo is the son of the late BB, the tailless lioness of the Tsalala pride. It was really nice to see him and I still can’t believe that he changed into this beautiful full maned king of the bush. For this nomad, it is not the best area to be in, as it is occupied by a very strong coalition of males. Solo had a companion, but no one has seen him for some time now. It might be that these two males were pressured by other males and that made them move north to our area.
We were very fortunate with the buffalo sightings this month as we saw a very nice herd of about 150-200 animals that gracefully moved through our area. The herd had quite a number of small, as well as bigger calves. With all this rain that we had during the month, there is an abundance of food and water available for these nice big breeding herds. Being bulk grazers, the buffalo herds needs a lot of food to feed all of the herd members. The big herds will not stay in one specific area for very long, as they get driven by food and water. In doing so, the big herds can be very destructive when moving through a specific area as there can be up to 2000 animals in a very large herd. This can cause them to trample the majority of the grass in a specific area. With all this water everywhere in the bush, our old dagga boys did not need to frequent the waterholes as much as they normally would, but we still got to see a few of them around.
This month was absolutely great for elephant sightings. The majority of the herds that we saw had a few small babies and youngsters in them. This is a good sign and it shows that the herd is doing well. It is normally the small elephants that make for a spectacular sighting, as they always mock charge the vehicles and also try to be as fearless as their parents, although this never quite works… An elephant has a very long childhood and they have a lot to learn during this period. That is normally why they think they can take on the world. From the time that the little ones are born, they are the center of all the attention. These little ones will also be completely dependent on their mothers or older sisters, aunties or grandmothers to teach them everything they would need to know, while growing up to being an adult.
The special sighting this month was definitely the surprise visit of Solo, the male lion. The last time we saw him, he was a young sub adult, walking around with his mother BB, the legendary tailless lioness of the Tsalala pride… That was around six years ago. It was great to see him all grown up, into an impressive, big maned lion! Well done, Solo.
Did you know?
A male lion will stay with the pride till around the age of three years, before he will be kicked out by his own father.
I hope you enjoyed this month’s report. See you out on game drive soon!