Spring has finally arrived and the bush received a facelift in the form of wonderful colours. We were truly blessed this month with 18mm of rain. The average maximum temperature for this month was 31°C. The majority of the trees are full of flowers and their new bright green leafs are emerging. The first flowers have merged from the dry soil in some of the areas. It is not going to be too long before the entire area will be transformed. More migratory birds have returned to this area as the weather is changing and it gets warmer every day. Game viewing was again awesome this month and full of excitement. The wild dogs have been moving through the area again this month and we see them more frequently now. Our resident hyena clan is still doing very well and there were more babies born this month. The clan moved their pups to a new den on the western side of our airstrip. The pups are having a blast as they are exploring this new area around the den.

Red-billed oxpecker by Dawie Jacobs

Red-billed oxpecker by Dawie Jacobs

Leopards

There was so much excitement with the leopards again this month. Finally, Salayexe mated with the big man, Anderson. We are excited to see if she conceived this time around or will she go and look for Tingana as well. For the first time in her life, Tiyani was left to look after herself for longer than three days. Time is running out for this young female and we hope that she learned a lot from mum in this last few months. Overall Tiyani is looking great and although mum has mated with Anderson there is still somewhat of a bond between these two. I think it is safe to say that Shadow has lost her last cub again. She was seen mating with Tingana on two separate occasions for four to five days. Things are just not working out for her at this stage and she is really not a bad mother. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that she is pregnant at the moment and that it will work out for her this time around. Kurula and her two cubs are doing very well. These two cubs are growing up very fast and they are very relaxed with the vehicles around them. We still allow only two vehicles with the cubs if mum is not there and three when mum is present. With them being only seven months old we are still not viewing them at night with the spotlight. From next month we will give it a test run and see how they react with the light. If by any reason they do not like it, we will give it another month before putting light on them. Nsele was also seen a few times this month. Although she has only one eye, she is an extremely good hunter and great mother. We have not seen her cub this month but we have seen her tracks moving up and down with her mother’s tracks. We have started using the spotlight with this cub and she is totally relaxed. Thandi was also out and about this month. Finally we saw her two little bundles of fluff. They are looking great and are not too bad with the vehicles around them. As long as we keep our distance they are nice and relaxed. It is great to see these little cubs playing around mum and play with anything and everything. Nsele’s older daughter Nchila, is also still moving around in our traversing area. She is also much more relaxed with the vehicles. Tingana is still a beautiful male with a spectacular duel lap under his neck. We are seeing him a lot more in the western part of his territory. This might be due to young males moving through his territory. Anderson is just an impressive male and to see him mating with Salayexe just confirmed his size. Anderson is so relaxed with vehicles that he will even relax in the shade of the game viewers. It is wonderful to have this big male so calm with the vehicles.

Lions

Anderson the big male leopard by Dawie Jacobs

Anderson the big male leopard by Dawie Jacobs

There were a few sad days with some of the lions in the area this month. With all the sadness we also had joy and excitement. The month was not great for the Styx pride as they had a major setback with their cubs. It is never nice to lose an animal but that is part of nature. With this big loss in the Styx pride, there was also some excitement as the old female gave birth to a few youngsters. We closed the area where she was seen moving in and out from, so we do not know how many cubs there is at the moment. This is great for the pride to get a few more cubs after the loss of a few of the older cubs. She will keep them hidden for the next six to eight weeks before she introduces them the rest of the pride. Sometimes it can also happen that she keeps them hidden for longer as her cubs will have to compete against the older cubs for milk. At this stage we don’t really worry about how many cubs she has or what the sexes of the cubs are, as long as they are healthy. The three Styx pride females are very healthy and in good condition as they are killing a buffalo almost every week. These ladies are working together like an oiled machine. The Nkuhuma pride also braced us with their presence the one morning. They had two buffalo kills a mere 50 meters from each other. This pride is looking great and very healthy and the cubs are in mint condition. With all the weak buffalo around the lions do not have to go very far in search of them. At this stage the lions are hammering the buffalo herds in the area. The Birmingham males were also out a few times this month. They split themselves up again as two went with the Styx for a few days and two went with the Nkuhuma pride before they joined up again. These four boys are also looking great and they are eating very well, thanks to their ladies.

Buffaloes

Buffalo bull by Morné Fouché

Buffalo bull by Morné Fouché

What a great time we had with the buffaloes this month. Finally, the big herds have arrived and let me tell you it was awesome. We had a massive herd which leisurely made their way through the area. This herd was about 800 or more strong. Before seeing the herd, we saw the dust cloud in the sky which looked like a dust storm making way towards us. This was also short lived as they passed through the area in one day. After the big herd we saw a few smaller herds of about 60-80 individuals. There are no small babies but a few of the females are currently pregnant. We also had a lot of bachelor herds moving around in the area. We are spoiled every day with a big group of buffalo bulls resting in the water in front of our lodge. With the temperature rising and the days getting hotter, these buffalo bulls are spending a lot more time at the water holes or inside the mud wallows hiding from the African heat.

Elephants

Young Tsalala male lion by Dawie Jacobs

Young Tsalala male lion by Dawie Jacobs

The elephant sightings were absolutely brilliant this month. We had two to three different herds of elephants moving through the area every day. All of the waterholes around the lodge have dried up except for the waterhole in front of the lodge. The elephant herds move back and forth from this waterhole throughout the day to quench their thirst. We saw a massive herd on drive the one day with one of the smallest babies I have seen these last two months. We also saw a herd with a little white baby again. Although there is almost no grass, the elephants are still thriving. With the new leafs and flowers on the trees there is enough food for the elephants.

Special sighting

Special sighting this month was the interaction between the mother hyena and three wild dogs. The mother hyena had pups in the den when the three wild dogs killed a steenbok close to her den. After the wild dogs finished their meal they turned their attention to the single mother hyena. Although the mother hyena was out numbered she still did not give in and did not once hesitate to defend her babies.

Did you know?

A group of leopards together is called a leap or lepe of leopards.

See you out on the game drive soon.

Morné Fouché