Rangers ReportSeptember 2017
Anderson, the male leopard by Louis Liversage
Spring is finally here and with it, came some wonderful rain and temperatures. With 18mm of rain, the bush received a total facelift in the form of wonderfully bright, green colours. The average maximum temperature for this month was 32°C. All the browsers in the area are enjoying the lush green leaves and new flowers on the trees. A beautiful green blanket is also merging from the ground after the lovely rain that we had. All the grazers are totally over the moon with the green grass shoots. The first flowers have emerged from the dry soil in some of the areas where, not so long ago, there was only a brown canvas. It is not going to be too long before the entire area is transformed. This September was an absolute great birding month, as more migratory birds have returned to our area. Game viewing was also unbelievable and full of excitement. Again, we were very fortunate to have the wild dogs in our area. Our resident hyena clan is also doing very well and there were more babies born this month. The two new pups are extremely cute and very adventurous. It is a delight to see them and we are grateful to have the den on our property, very close to the lodge.
The leopard sightings were just out of this world and the quality of the sightings were any photographer’s dream. We were really spoiled for choice as some days there were more than four different sightings going. There are still big changes going on in the area between the female leopards, after Salayexe’s death.
Tiyani, the young lady has finally realised that Salayexe is not coming back. We saw her so many times this month moving around the lodge. Tiyani is scent marking all around our lodge and doing the territorial call as well. I must say, for a small cat, she’s got a powerful voice on her. Still it is not to say that she will set up territory in this area. She is still young and any other big female can come and take this territory from her. But for now, it is awesome to see her moving freely. The young Ingrid’s Dam female is also moving all over the show and scent marking on everything. She has also picked up on Salayexe’s absence and she has her eyes set on a piece of the late Salayexe’s territory. This young female does not want to stop there, as she is also putting some pressure on Shadow. She was seen scent marking in the western part of Shadows territory. It will be thrilling to see what will happen when these two finally meet.
Moya also knows that her aunt is not here anymore. She has started reclaiming the area that Salayexe previously took from her. She and her cub are both doing really well and both are looking really healthy. The young female is spending a lot of time alone, while mum is out, looking for Anderson. Moya has mated with Anderson twice this month, but is was not for the average four to six days each time.
Kuchava, the young female, was also seen a few times this month. She is such an energetic little cat and so relaxed with the vehicles around her. This young female is really a beauty and I really hope that she gets a territory in the area. If she wants a territory in this area, she would need to challenge her mother first. Her mother, Thandi, is not going to take it lightly if she finds an intruder in her territory, even if it is her own daughter. Kuchava was seen mating with Tingana this month, so there are some interesting times waiting for us in the near future.
Thandi is also doing very well. Thamba is also looking good and spending a lot of time on his own. This is also Thandi’s way to force him to hunt for himself. The reason for that is that he will be pushed out in another few months. This all depends on Thandi, if she thinks Thamba is ready to go out on his own, then she will kick him out.
Shadow and her cub were also seen a few times. The cub is very shy and does not like the vehicles around. Shadow was really up and down, patrolling her boundary. Unlike her sister, she is not very calm with the vehicles around her.
Hosana, the young male leopard was also seen a few times this month. This young male is one of the most relaxed young leopards in the area. Unfortunately for him, there is no room in the area and he will have to move on to a new territory, or be ready to challenge his father.
Mvula was also seen a few times this month moving around in Tingana’s territory. At this stage he needs to stay clear of Tingana, as he might get injured if Tingana gets hold of him. I must say Mvula is still looking great and is in good health.
Tingana was also seen a few times this month. Once again, it looks like Tingana has his hands full with the young males and Mvula moving around in his territory. It will not be too long before Tingana will be challenged by these young males.
Anderson was seen several times this month. It looks like he slowed down a little bit with expanding his empire more north and more east. So far Anderson has no challengers yet, but anything can still happen in the near future. Anderson is still in the prime of his life and an absolute brut of a male.
The Styx pride was seen on a regular basis this month. The females always manage to kill something for the cubs, even if it is only an impala. The three Styx lionesses are doing really well and they are caring really well for their ten cubs. We were so fortunate to see the four new cubs being moved from the old den to the new den. These four bundles of fluff are looking great and are so adventurous. When mum takes them into the safety of the under-growth thicket, they just walk out again. They want to go and explore around the new den. The one Birmingham male always pays a visit to the den and then stays at the den for a day or so, before moving on.
The Nkuhuma pride is also looking awesome and they are very healthy. We were also very lucky to see them on a number of occasions this month. It is always great to see them moving around in our area. The majority of times when we saw the lionesses together, there were only four together and not five. We know that the one female of the group has cubs somewhere. It will be so awesome when she brings them out for the first time. Fingers cross that they all survive and become independent.
One lioness of the Ximungwe pride was also seen this month. She did not stay very long before she moved back to the western part of the reserve. It is still unclear why she came here, but it was good to see her.
The Birmingham males were also seen several times this month. These males are looking great and with all the scars in their faces, they look like true warriors. We saw them a few times in groups of two or three, but never all four together. It is not to say that all four of them never walk together, I am sure they do from time to time. I must say there is nothing more impressive than four adult male lions with full manes, walking down the road towards you.
Birmingham male lion by Louis Liversage
We had a few great buffalo sightings this month. We were fortunate to see some small breeding herds moving through the area. This is good news for us, because it might just be that the big herds are on their way. There were no calves with the small groups that we saw – we only saw a few older youngsters and a lot of pregnant females. A few of the bigger mud wallows are filled with water and it did not take long for the small herds and the dagga boys to soak in the mud during a hot day. Buffaloes will take a mud bath to mainly cool down and also to get rid of tics and parasites on them. After enjoying a wonderful mud bath, they will go and rub against a big tree. There were two bachelor groups that moved around in the area. Both these groups moved between three main water holes, so we did not need to go and look very far for them. Also with the new grass coming out, things are looking much better for these bulk grazers.
We were very lucky with elephant sightings this month, as we saw multiple herds each day. The majority of the herds that we saw this month had about sixty or so individuals in it, together with a lot of babies. It was such an awesome experience for the guests to see such big breeding herd of elephants, quenching their thirst at the water hole in front of the lodge. We saw a few smaller family groups with a few very small babies that stayed in close proximity to the lodge area. This might be due to the little babies in the group. There is also lush green leaves and new grass coming through after the wonderful rain that we had, so they do not need to move very far. It’s really something to see when the small babies try to use their little trunks for the very first time. It was so special to spend some time with them, especially the little ones that are still trying to figure out how to use their trunks and what it is actually used for. When the baby is with mum, he tries to mimic her in everything she does. This is also how they learn what to eat and how to get it. There were a few times when mum had to gently use her trunk and move the little one out of the way, so that she could carry on feeding.
It was an absolute treat again this month to see the Styx female move all four her cubs to a new den. This isn’t something you get to see every day!
Did you know?
After a lioness gives birth, she will keep the cubs hidden from the rest of the pride and only introduce them to the pride after six to eight weeks.
See you out on the game drive soon.