The bush has totally transformed in some areas as they changed from the lush green color to the pale yellow of the winter. As soon as the sun disappears behind the mountains to the west the temperatures drop in such a way that you are aware of the fact that it is winter in the bush. The morning drives are really chilly and the wind chill factor is not helping much. With me saying that, we also have the blankets and the hot water bottles to help keep us warm in that early morning before the sun comes up. We were very fortunate this month to have seen the pack of wild dogs again that came through our area for a few days. The night life also picked up a lot as aardvark, serval, civet, genet, honey badger, porcupine and the bush babies are out and about, entertaining us with their night activities. We did not have any rain this month and the average temperature was 26°C.
Leopard sightings were just awesome and out of this world! We had yet another sad time concerning the leopard population. Shadow lost her last cub as the Styx pride killed her cub the one morning on drive. Shadow made a kill the night before and went to fetch the little one; the next morning, without warning, the Styx pride got the scent of the kill and chased the two leopards up in different trees. Shadow sat up in a tree and watched how her little cub lost its footing and fell out of the tree and landed in the middle of the big cats. Shadow was stuck up the tree for almost the whole day as the lions were resting under the tree in the shade. A few weeks after the incident, Shadow mated with Tingana and right after that she mated with Mvula as well. Shadow’s twin sister, Thandi, also mated with Mvula this month. If all went well, we might see new cubs in the next 110 days! With all this sadness there were some good times with leopard females and their cubs. At last Salayexe’s den was found with two little cubs that is now almost three months old. Salayexe has already moved her den three times and we can expect her to move it a few more times, to ensure that no unwanted attention is drawn to the den and cubs. I can’t wait for the cubs to get bigger and start moving around more with Salayexe, they are still a bit hesitant but that is understandable for small cubs. There is a saying “good things happens to those who wait” Well that is true as we saw Moya’s little male cub a few times after it felt like ages of waiting for the little one to appear. We also had a quick glimpse of Nsele’s cub. It is going to be a challenge to get Nsele’s cub or cubs relaxed with the vehicles as this is the first time in months that they see vehicles but we will give it our best. Kwatile was also out and about this month and she really provided us with some stunning sightings. She also came to show off her little cub that should also be about three months old this month. Kwatile’s little one is also not too relaxed with the vehicles and needs a lot of time and space to realize we will not harm them. Lamula is looking great and he is in good shape and with that he has gained a lot of confidence. Last month, I mentioned that Tingana is pushing more south into Lamula’s territory. It was just a matter of time before these two heavyweights will meet. It was not too long before they had yet another standoff and the question was; who will dominate who? Lamula surprised all of us and I think Tingana was the most surprised of all when Lamula started dominating the standoff. Mvula was also seen a few times this last month and he is still looking like a beast.
The lion sightings were very special and what a privilege to have seen all three different prides of lions in this month, it was just out of this world! We saw a few old familiar faces that came to say hallo. The Styx pride is looking great and the little cubs are growing fast and becoming really adventurous. The two young sub adult males are still enjoying the company of their mother and sisters as there are no intention from their side to leave the pride any time soon. We were again spoiled with the Breakaway pride that came into our area for a few days. These four lionesses are just so beautiful and they are also getting bigger and bulkier just like their mothers. They have such good genes as they are half BB and Tsalala lionesses and the other half belongs to the Mapogo males. It is so nice to see that all nine cubs are still accounted for and that tells you a lot about the female’s motherly instinct and it shows that BB did a great job and she can be proud of herself. We were very fortunate this month as the three Tsalala pride females gave us a surprise visit. Although the visit was short lived and we did not get to see the cubs it was still very nice to see the old ladies. I’m so glad to see that the young sub adult lioness is still with her mother and aunt and it looks like they have accepted her into the pride. Having this young and free spirit lioness with them can only be a big asset for these two elderly ladies. These two sisters are now twelve years old and by having a three year old lioness in the pride will help them.
We are still eagerly waiting on the arrival of the big breeding herds. The grass is really drying out fast and it is not going to be very long before hunger and thirst will push the herd into this direction. The old dagga boys are still very reliable as always and we see these old boys almost every drive resting close to the water holes around our lodge. With all these old warriors around the lodge minding their own business, bushwalks are very interesting for us. We have also seen a small group of eleven dominant bulls that is hanging around in our area. This might be due to the fact that mating is finished in the herds.
We had wonderful elephant sightings this month. There were a few days where the elephants came and visited us at the lodge, almost coming up to reception! The breeding herds also entertained the guest when they came and quench their thirst on the open area while the guests were having breakfast or lunch. We are seeing bigger herds these days as the smaller herds are joining forces to form a bigger herd. There were also a few mature males that moved through our area not staying for too long before disappearing again. This month we also saw a young female with the end of her trunk missing. Now this can be that a crocodile got hold of her trunk or she might have lost it in a snare. For that female it will be difficult to feed herself for the first few weeks but elephants have the ability to adapt and I am sure that she will live for many more years, short trunk and all.
The special sighting of this month was to see one of Salayexe’s cubs. Although we only got a brief glimpse of the one cub, we now know for sure that she has 2 new bundles of fluff and we are hoping that she will raise these cubs to adulthood!
Did you know?
A pangolin walks on its hind legs and their front feet rarely touch the ground.
Hope to see you out on game drive soon!