Finally, the first baby impala arrived on the 19th and a few days after it was like a baby boom. All the migratory birds are finally back. If you are a keen birder this is the best time for you to be visiting the bush. The weather was absolutely great and we had some wonderful rain again. The bush has undergone a complete transformation. It is hard to imagine that a few months ago we experienced a bad drought in the area and there was no food around. The day temperature was really up and down with wonderful rain. The average maximum temperature was 32°C with 85mm of rain. We are so blessed with the wonderful rain that we had this month. We were also spoiled rotten with the animal sightings in our area. The pack of three wild dogs kept us on our toes as they came into our area on a regular basis this month. Our resident hyena clan is also doing really well as they got their share of the weak buffaloes in the area.

Tiyani the female leopard by Morné Fouché

Tiyani the female leopard by Morné Fouché

Leopard

Interesting times are awaiting us on the side of the leopards in our area. Salayexe and her daughter Tiyani are still together but I do not think it will be for much longer. Tiyani is spending much more time on her own. Salayexe left her for a full five days and she had to fend for herself. After those five days she went to fetch Tiyani again and took her straight to a fresh kill. This tells me that Salayexe is ready to break the bond between them in this next month or so. Tiyani spends the majority of her alone time around our lodge area. It is going to be very interesting to see how Tiyani starts her beginning to adulthood all alone and which piece of mum’s territory she will get. Both Salayexe and Tiyani are looking great and is in top condition after the drought. Nsele and her cub is also looking great. It is good to see that her cub is still alive and well. Nsele’s mother, Salayexe, is not making life so easy for her and her cub because Salayexe is moving more and more into Nsele’s territory. This next few months will be very interesting as both these females have daughters that needs a territory. Shadow kept a very low profile this month. We saw her once or twice this whole month. It is difficult to say where she went as her territory stretches into an area that we do not traverse. Fingers crossed that she is looking for a potential den site to use very soon. Kurula was also very low under the radar this month. We had a lot of tracks of her this month but she was always one step ahead of us. At least we saw her once or twice this month moving through our traversing. It is great to know that she and the cubs are doing just fine. The daughter of the Ingrid Dam female was also seen in our area this month. This young female very relaxed with the vehicles around her. She is definitely looking for a territory for herself. The only problem now is that she is moving around in Salayexe and Tiyani’s territory. It will really be interesting to see where she will end up in this next year or so. Tingana, the male, is looking great and was seen a few times this month. He is still patrolling his territory on a regular basis. He also has bulked up very well in this last few months with the weak animals. Anderson, the male, was seen a lot this month. This big beast is giving poor Tingana a run for his money as he is expanding again. We followed the Anderson male one day scent marking and vocalising in Tingana’s territory. The big question is now; Will Tingana just accept defeat and move on, or will he take on Anderson in a titanic brawl? These two have a history when it comes to territory and Anderson was victorious in all of them. Anderson also mated with the Ingrid’s Dam female and Salayexe this month. Fingers crossed for the next few months.

Lions

Baby hyena by Louis Liversage

Baby hyena by Louis Liversage

Once again we had a wonderful time with these big apex predators of the bush. The Tailless female of the Tsalala pride was seen a few times this month with the four sub adults. Later the month she left the four youngsters to fend for themselves and she returned to her sister and the rest of her pride. The four sub adults stayed around our area for a few days before moving on to look for the big female. These four youngsters also killed a buffalo in the time that they were alone. It is really strange that the old female did not take the young female with her to the rest of the pride. The young female will be a great asset to the rest of the pride when it comes to hunting. She has proved herself so many times in the last two months hunting next to the old female and sometimes leading the hunt. Only time will tell what fate lies ahead for the young female. Will she be excepted by the rest of the pride or will she remain with her brothers. For these four youngsters it is great to be in this area as there is no big males that will chase them around. The Styx pride is really doing great and looking really healthy. We were very fortunate to see them quite frequently this month. The two females who lost their cubs have mated again with the Birmingham male this month. The old female and her two cubs are still doing really well and the little ones are growing up very fast. The old lady still hides them a lot but does bring them to kills made by the pride. The little ones are so relaxed with the vehicles around them. What makes it even better is the fact that the old female let them come closer to investigate the vehicle. The Nkuhuma pride was also seen a few times this month. We were very lucky to see the females along with their cubs and a Birmingham male feeding on a buffalo kill. The Nkuhuma pride’s core of their territory is north east of us. We have seen them moving far west onto EP property. This is great if they expand their territory this way. We also had two young nomadic male lions of the Avoca pride in our area this month. These two males were nice and relaxed but very alert as well. They are two beautiful males but like all young males they are just passing through trying to avoid the big territorial males. These two males are extremely good buffalo hunters and they killed a few buffaloes in our area. They also had a run in with our resident hyena clan over a buffalo kill. The two males stood their ground but the twenty adult hyenas were just too powerful and the two brothers moved on. The Birmingham males are turning into impressive males as their manes are getting fuller. They spend a lot of their time with the Styx and the Nkuhuma pride. There are still times that they will join forces to patrol their boundary but that does not happen very often.

Buffalo

Bull elephant by Louis Liversage

Bull elephant by Louis Liversage

The big herds have returned. We have seen a few big herds of about 100-200 buffaloes this month moving through the area in search of enough food and water. With all the wonderful new green grass all over the area there is finally a lot to eat. There are still the smaller herds of between 20 to 30 all over the area. These smaller herds tend to stay longer in one specific area as there is a lot for them to eat seeing that they are not a big herd. The big herds on the other hand have to keep on moving more as there are a lot more mouths to feed. We have not seen any new born calves yet but it is still early in the wet season. The bachelor herds are also still in the area enjoying the new grass and fresh water in the waterholes. It will not be too long before these bachelor herds brake up and they return to the breeding herds to fight for mating rights. The old dagga boys are enjoying every moment of this wet season as all their mud wallows are once again filled with water. When driving past any mud wallow on a hot day you are bound to find a dagga boy or two having a day at the bush spa.

Elephants

Plains zebra by Morné Fouché

Plains zebra by Morné Fouché

The elephant herds are still in the area and they provided for some spectacular sightings this month. Once again we were fortunate to have three to four different herds moving through the area per day. The waterhole in front of the lodge was a real hot spot again as the elephant herds came to quench their thirst. We saw quite a few babies this month struggling to find the purpose for their trunk. We had such laughter and great fun with these small babies. It is so special to sit and watch the toddlers in the herd doing all kinds of things. One in particular was a little rascal. He will go and look for trouble as he picks a fight with the bigger youngsters in the herd. When the youngsters get fed up with him and turns around he runs to the safety of mums big and strong forelegs. When he sees that the coast is clear and everyone is busy eating again he makes his silent approach. This went on for nearly an hour. We did not see a lot of big males this month, just a few younger males moving through the area. With all the new growth the herds do not move very long distances in search of more food.

Special sighting

It is always great to see predator interaction and this month we witnessed just that. The two young nomadic male lions killed a buffalo bull during the day. After a few hours the first hyena got the scent of a fresh kill and followed the scent. On arrival she realized she was outnumbered and called for reinforcements. After calling the first time a few other hyenas responded with calls from different areas. It was not long before two more came running in and then more after that. In a matter of ten minutes there were just over ten hyenas. The young males did not stand back as they charged at the hyenas every so often defending their kill. At a stage it looked like the two brothers had the upper hand, or so we thought. There was more vocalization going on by hyenas behind us and they were coming closer fast. Suddenly the rest of the hyenas regrouped and got ready for the battle. The two brothers launched yet another attack and the hyenas scattered. Suddenly the matriarch hyena and a few of her daughters arrived on the scene. The now twenty strong group of hyenas with the matriarch leading from the front marched forward. The two brothers charged at the hyenas again but with a different result this time. The hyenas did not scatter, they split into two groups and went around the brothers. Realizing they were outnumbered the two brothers disappeared into the darkness.

Did you know?

The hyena does not fall under the cat family nor the dog family. They are under the Hyaenidae family.

See you out on the game drive soon.

Morné Fouché