Rangers ReportAugust 2017
Big tusker by Morné Fouché
It is strange how the unexpected can happen at any time and any place. The month started off with a bang and everything was out and about, going really well, until that one day. As most of you know by now Salayexe, our resident female leopard, passed away on the 18th of August. This sudden death shook the whole of the northern Sabi Sand Wildtuin and also everyone who had come to know her. Rest in peace, our fallen angel. The rest of the game viewing was just unbelievable this month, though, as we saw the little pangolin several times. We were also very lucky regarding the wild dog sightings, as we saw three different packs moving through the area. The nightlife was rocking this month and we saw many beautiful nocturnal animals. The average maximum temperature was 28°C with 2mm of rain.
Tiyani, the young female, is still all over the show. She still moves around in Shadow’s territory and also still frequents Salayexe’s old territory. I do not think that she knows yet that Salayexe has passed away, but I doubt that it will be too long before all the females will know that there is a prime piece of land up for grabs. The young Tiyani’s confidence levels are on a high at this stage, as she is scent marking all over her territory. Nchila was also seen a few times this month. Nchila is still occupying the north-eastern part of our traversing area. This female is also growing in confidence and is very relaxed with the vehicles around her. She has a sneaky streak in her and will let you know immediately if and when she has had enough of you.
The young Ingrid’s Dam female was also seen a lot this month. She is really becoming our go-to girl and there is never a dull moment with her. For some odd reason, she moved out of the area where we thought she would set up a territory for herself. She moved up north, right into the heart of Shadow’s territory and the best of all is that she is scent marking as well. Interesting times are waiting for us, regarding the young females in the area.
The old Ingrid’s Dam female and her cub were also seen a few times this month. It looks like this female is moving into our area more and more, so it will be great to gain another female leopard.
Moya and her cub were also seen a few times this month. It looks like Moya started expanding more north into the late Salayexe’s territory. Her cub is looking great and in tip top condition. She really is a little beauty.
Hosana, the young male leopard, is still around in Tingana’s territory. Hosana is looking great and he is still doing well for himself. Unfortunately, there will come a time when this young male, as with all young males, will need to move on to another area. Tingana is a very tolerant male, but like any male he has a limit.
Young Thamba was also seen a few times this month. This young male is always such a treat to watch and he is relaxed with the vehicles around him. He will be a great dominant male one day.
Mvula was seen several times this month. It looks like he lost everything now and he is a nomad again. At this stage, he is avoiding Tingana at all times, as the last thing that he wants would be to have a fight with a younger and stronger male.
Tingana was also seen a few times this month. I think he knows that Mvula is moving through the area. The only problem is that he can’t spend too much time looking for him, as he needs to check his whole territory for any younger intruders.
Anderson was also seen a lot this month. Every time we see him, he has a new scar on his face. It is unclear with who he battles it out every so often, but it should be interesting to see the other male. It also looks like Anderson has stopped expanding his territory for the time being, so Tingana can breathe again, for now.
The lion sightings were absolutely mind blowing. I would go as far as to say that the quality of the sightings was the best so far, this year. The Nkuhuma pride is doing really well and they are looking very healthy. The young Nkuhuma has given birth to three healthy cubs. This is so good for the pride, as they can potentially grow even more. At this stage, the cubs are still too small for us to view, as this is mom and baby bonding time… Too much traffic around a den is never a good idea. If there is a lot of traffic around a newly discovered den, it may cause unwanted attention by other predators. Fingers crossed that this first-time mother will be successful in raising her cubs to independence.
The Styx pride also shared the limelight with the Nkuhuma pride this month. The pregnant lioness of the Styx pride gave birth to four healthy babies around the 26th of August. This is such an exciting time for us. We all know this might be just the turning point we all have been waiting for. If all the cubs can survive, this pride will be able to grow in numbers.
Two lionesses of the Ximungwe pride were also seen a few times in our area. These two lionesses are really beautiful and very relaxed with the vehicles moving around them. At this stage, it is unclear whether they have a territory, or if they are just moving around in search of a place to call home. For two or three lionesses to hold their own against a pride of ten to fifteen individuals is always very difficult and so often, they would lose their territory. It will be great if they can take the area around the lodge, which used to belong to the Tsalala pride.
We had a surprise visit from the hair-bellied Matimba male lion this month. He was on his own and had a limp on his left hind leg. He did not stay very long before he moved out of our area again. Besides his limp, he appeared to be in really good shape.
The Birmingham males are still looking great and I must say that they have really bulked up a lot. They have joined forces a few times this month, but still split up the majority of the time. One good thing is that there is no competition for these for boys yet, but it is not going to be that case forever.
Birmingham male lion by Morné Fouché
At last it looks like the buffaloes are slowly moving back into the area. As food is getting scarcer in the reserve, the buffaloes tend to move more and more, as they search for sustainable food and water for the herd. We have seen two small breeding herds that moved around the area for a few days before they moved on again. It is great news for us that they are moving around, as this means that the big herds might also come through sooner or later. We also have two different bachelor groups which hanged around our lodge for almost the entire month. One of the hot spots for one of the group was the water hole in front of our lodge. In the early mornings, they would move into the brush to go and eat and then in the afternoon, move back to the water to quench their thirst.
It is great to see that the breeding herds are coming back into the area. We had such awesome sightings this month. We were spoiled for choice, as there were times when there were five to six different herds in the area. We were also very fortunate to see herds of elephants at the waterhole in front of the lodge. As the majority of the waterholes in the area are dry, the elephants make their way to the lodge almost every day. Elephants are most probably some of the most interesting and entertaining animals to watch. If you take the time and watch a herd for an hour or so, you soon realize that they are extremely intelligent and also such loving and caring animals. We also saw a lot of big males moving through the area. It is such a treat to see these big heavyweights in their natural habitat.
It was the most exciting thing to see the Nkuhuma lioness moving her tiny cubs to a new den. This is always special to see, as you cannot imagine that they can be so gentle with their strong jaws and long canines. One by one, she carried them to the new den, holding them ever-so-gently in her mouth. The cubs appeared so calm and peaceful, you would think that they were fast asleep. As this is still a closed sighting and we happened to see them by change, we will wait until later before viewing them again. Seeing them per chance while they were still so small made this extra special.
Did you know?
The woodland kingfisher is generally found away from water and prefers a diet of invertebrates, rather than fish.
See you out on the game drive soon.