At last spring has arrived and all the trees are getting beautiful and colourful flowers and new, green leaves. This month really felt like we were in heaven with the incredible and mind blowing sightings that we experienced. It was really like a beautiful puzzle, each piece just fitting perfectly together. This month a lot of the migrating birds like Yellow billed kites, Steppe eagles, Wahlberg’s eagles, Purple rollers and many more came back for the summer. We were very fortunate with the wildlife, as we had great cheetah sightings once again. The mother cheetah that we see regularly has two sub adult cubs with her. As the cubs get bigger, mum has to hunt more to feed them all. They should be close to 18 months now and it will not be long before she kicks them out to fend for themselves. We also had very nice hyena sightings around the lodge and at night we went to sleep with the distinctive call of the hyena, accompanying us into dreamland. The weather has definitely taken on the feel of summer. Our average temperature for this month was 32°C and we are now just waiting patiently for the first drop of summer rains.
We had a fantastic time with the different leopards and they had a few surprises in store for us as well. Salayexe is still looking great and she is expanding her territory further to the west and more to the south. To the west lies the territory of her daughter Nsele. To the south is her niece Moya’s territory. Both these young females know not to take on Salayexe at this stage, as she is still in her prime. Now that Salayexe is expanding her territory, it makes me wonder if she’s not maybe pregnant again. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that all will go well this time. We followed Salayexe one whole morning, as she was stalking a little steenbuck. It took her a long time to get into the right spot, where she had the wind in her favour. It all happened so fast and without warning, as she ran in with lightning speed. It was amazing to witness her skill in making a kill. Thandi gave us a pleasant surprise when she moved her cubs to a new den. It was really nice to see how she moves the cubs, by carrying them so gently in her mouth. She will move them again and again, until she feels satisfied that the cubs are safe. Thandi’s little cubs are so relaxed with us being around them, but we are still keeping it to a one vehicle sighting, as we do not want to put any unnecessary strain on the cubs. Kwatile and her cub were also out and about and they are really looking great. Kwatile’s cub is still very skittish, but we can see some improvement. It will take time, but I hope he will come around. Moya was seen a few times, but only for a day or so, before moving south again. She still comes in to mark the northern boundary of her territory, but she gets a lot of pressure from her aunt, Salayexe. Moya’s sub adult son is an epic little leopard and his hunting skills are remarkable, as he kills male impalas that are much bigger than him. When he makes a kill, it is not long before his father, Lamula, shows up and steels it from him. Although he loses a lot of his kills to hyenas or his father, it does not stop him from making another one. We saw him the one day with two grey duiker kills in one tree. Maybe he thought that dad could take one and then he would be able to keep the other one! He is not a very big leopard yet, but keep an eye on this little guy, as he is a legend in the making! Bahuti, the young male leopard, is growing up very fast and we saw him smelling branches and scent marking on them. Unfortunately the young male leopard can’t stay in the area and has to move on, as his father will push him out. Lamula is still as relaxed and laidback as always and every time we see him he has a huge belly, compliments of his son. We do see Anderson more and more in our area and around the lodge, which is good. At night he is much more relaxed than what he is during the day. I can still remember the time when he came into the area for the first time; he was not comfortable with the vehicles at all. Tingana is still looking good and there is still bad blood between Tingana and Anderson, both males are still not giving way. Tingana is also staying more around the lodge to try and keep the persistent Anderson at bay. At this stage only time will tell what will happen in the near future with these two heavyweights. Tingana is also pushing more south into Lamula’s territory and Lamula is also not backing off.
What a treat we had with the old familiar lions and also the not so familiar. There were three young male lions that came through our area and then decided to stay for a few days, before leaving again. We found out that these guys were pushed out by two big males after a pride takeover. They are really beautiful young males and it would be nice to see them again. Three of the four big Majingi male lions also came in and killed an old buffalo bull, they feasted on and off for three days. The morning of the fourth day we were quite surprised to see that the Majingi males are gone and the Tsalala females are feasting on the remains. The Tsalala pride is always a welcome site and it was so nice to see that the sub adult lioness is still with the pride and really looking good. The four cubs had a ball on and around the carcass, playing more than eating. There is one little female and three males born out of the litter. The young female was continuously bullied by her brothers. The Styx pride is spending a lot more time in the south of the reserve, but do come into our area from time to time. They had a run-in with one of the other prides in the area and the one sub adult male was beaten up badly and separated from the rest of the pride. These two young males need each other if they want to become dominant pride males and successfully sire cubs. The three cubs are also looking good and I know it is too early to say, but things are looking really good for their future. We were very fortunate to see the Nkuhuma lion pride, accompanied by one of the powerful Matimba male lions. The Nkuhuma pride made sure that we we entertained in all aspects of the game. We saw the Nkuhuma male again after he disappeared for so long. We found out that he was exploring through the whole Sabi Sand Wildtuin, which is understandable as he is also looking for his own females and territory. We also saw the Breakaway pride along with one Majingi male lion on a buffalo kill. The bride is in top shape and the cubs are really getting big now. The manes on the male cubs are getting bigger and with their mohawks they are looking like rock stars.
We had some unbelievable elephant sightings this month. We saw nice big herds and we were very lucky to see a baby elephant that was only a few days old, at most. This little guy was not only struggling to keep up over the rough terrain, but also had a hard time learning to use his trunk. At a stage he was so frustrated with his trunk that he stepped on it, then hit mom on the leg with it and finally he thought it would be a good idea to drown it… Well, I think all of you know that the drowning part did not go down as he had planned, but in the end this little rascal kept us entertained for quite some time. There was also a lot of action around the waterhole in front of the lodge. We had elephant sightings on the webcam on most days. The big bulls also came out to play and we saw some spectacular males. There were no real big tuskers, but they were quite big in body size. Sometimes you would find a few young males walking with the big boys. The big males will teach them and keep them in line.
We were so spoiled with all the great buffalo sightings this last month. There was also lots of interaction between buffaloes and lions this month. We had a few big herds that moved in and out of our area, but these herds never stay very long, as food is scarce. Besides the big breeding herds, we also had several great sightings of a bachelor herd of twenty bulls, walking together. Normally the lions would target the bachelor herds or the old dagga boys, before taking on a big herd. This month we saw the Styx pride and the Nkuhuma pride each hunting and killing young buffaloes from a big herd. We followed the Nkuhuma pride around the one afternoon when they came across an old male buffalo. It did not take very long for the lions to get into position and then the hunt was on. After almost an hour of being constantly attacked by the lions, the buffalo summoned his last bit of strength for one last fight. The buffalo shook the lions off his back, swung around and charged with every last ounce of strength that was left in him. The old male managed to get himself into a small waterhole, where he stayed for a few minutes. During the fight, the old boy lost his tail – a small price to pay in the end. To our astonishment we saw the buffalo bull again the following morning, bloody and bruised, but grazing as if nothing ever happened. The buffalo is the most dangerous prey species for lions and it takes a lot for a pride to bring down a big male buffalo. This one lived to tell the tale.
The special sighting of the month was Thandi and her small cubs. It is always nice to see small bundles of fur and what is even more amazing, is to see how gentle she is with the little ones.
Did you know?
Due to undeveloped eyes, termite workers and soldiers are blind.
I hope you enjoyed this month’s report, see you out on game drive soon!