Rangers ReportOctober 2017
Birmingham male lion with the Nkuhuma pride by Morné Fouché
What an awesome time out in the bush. The temperatures were pleasant most of the time, but the month ended with a heat wave of note! The average maximum temperature for October was a wonderful 32°C. We were once again on the tip of our seats, with all the amazing sightings this month. Just when you think you saw something you cannot top; the next sighting takes your breath away again. We had another 30mm of rain during the month and this really forced the bush into 2nd gear. Finally, the last trees got their lush green leaves. We were very lucky with the wild dog sightings again this month, as we had several packs moving through the area. The one afternoon we had two different packs on our property at the same time, moving into opposite directions. That was not where our luck stopped, as we were also privileged to see cheetah this month.
Changes are still taking place amongst the leopards. Tiyani, the young leopard is still moving far and wide, in search of the best area. She is still hanging around our lodge a lot. This might be due to the fact that she grew up in the area and it still feels like home. She knows the area very well and now she has also started scent marking all over the place. The Young Ingrid Dam female on the other hand, is new to the area, but has her eyes fixed on the very same spot. At this stage these two females utilise the same area when it comes to hunting. When the time is right, these two ladies will have the ultimate battle for supremacy. Moya was also seen a lot during the month. She is now expanding her territory more north and even south-east. She is spending a lot of her time in the newly reclaimed area and she also leaves her daughter in the area when she goes hunting. Her daughter is spending a lot of time around one of the water holes in our area. This little cat is a true lady. I just hope that she will one day set up a territory of her own in our area. Another female who is expanding her territory is the old Ingrid Dam female. She is expanding her territory into Nsele’s territory. So, it is not going to be long before these two females battle it out. Nsele was also seen a few times, but without her daughter. Her daughter was also seen a few times moving in and out of our western boundary. It looks like Nsele has finally broken the bond between mother and daughter. It is good to see the young lady moving through the area from time to time. Hosana was also out and about this month. He had a run in with his father the one afternoon over an impala kill. Tingana made sure that the young male understood who the boss was. It was quite a surprise to see the young male not holding back. The Gejima male was also seen this month, but he is not the most relaxed leopard in the area. This young male has also moved more and more south-west into Tingana’s territory. Gejima is a great looking young male, now scouting for his own territory and Tingana would need to start watching out, before this young male takes over his territory. Tingana had his hands full with all the young males moving around his territory. At this stage he is moving all over the show, as he tries to follow the various scents, being left behind by the youngsters. Mvula was also seen a few times this month. Despite his age he is still looking great. Mvula is still spending a lot of his time in Tingana’s territory. At this stage Mvula needs to be more worried about running into the Gejima male, than running into Tingana. The Anderson male was also seen a few times this month. There are still no challengers moving into his area. It also looks like he himself took a break in expanding his territory for now. For a big male to have an enormous territory also means that he might neglect another piece of the territory. We will have to see what will happen in the next few months, as there are a lot of dynamics involved in the male leopards of the area…
There was so much excitement with the different prides in our area.
The Nkuhuma pride was seen for almost the entire month around our lodge. They moved freely and made a few kills and even had the tiny cubs with them. They unfortunately lost one of the cubs this month, but it is still unclear what happened to it. At this stage the pride is still doing great and still looking very healthy. It was great to see the Birmingham males walking with the females, while exploring unfamiliar territory. It really looks promising that the Nkuhuma pride is looking to expand their empire more southwest into our area. The Styx pride was really low on the radar this month and we only saw them a few times. The four little cubs are just a treat to watch, while they constantly play around the pride members. The Styx pride lions are all looking fit and healthy. We also spent some time with a few members of the Tsalala pride. It was only the two old ladies – a sub adult female and a cub. Although the two old ladies are 15 years old now, they are still looking good for their age. Not having a resident pride male is tough on the pride, as they are slowly but surely loosing parts of their territory. If all goes well and all the young subadult females grow up and a few males can take over this pride, they might go back to full strength. We also saw an unfamiliar pride this month, which was quite exciting! The Nharu pride from the Manyeleti Game Reserve paid a visit the northern Sabi Sand Wildtuin. These three adult lionesses are the sisters of the four Birmingham male lions. They also broke away from the Birmingham pride in the Timbavati Game Reserve, in order to settle down in the Manyeleti Game Reserve. The name Nharu, means three, as the three sisters broke away from the main pride. They moved all over the area, exploring, before they went back to their own territory. It was amazing to see a new pride exploring some new areas. The four Birmingham males are looking great and growing in size and muscle. They are once again spending more and more time together, while doing their regular patrols. If they want to be as successful as the Majingilane coalition, they should stay together. I for one cannot wait for these four big boys to finally take over this area. I must say, there are some interesting times awaiting us in the next few months. The three young Tsalala males also came for a quick visit. These three males are looking great and very healthy. The scars on their faces are slowly getting more, as they continue to fight for survival.
Black bellied korhaan by Louis Liversage
There were several bachelor groups moving through the area this month. So far, we still await the return of the big herds. There are also a few of the females within the herds that are pregnant. Buffaloes will try and have their babies during the rainy season, or very close to the rainy season. This will be the time when more food and water become available, to help them get back into top condition, while nursing their new born calves. We also had a few smaller groups moving through the area, but these were just splinter herds from the main herd. The old boys are still moving around the lodge and every afternoon they are enjoying the water in the mud wallows. These old boys are spending the majority of their time in the water, as this brings welcome relieve against the hot African sun.
We had a few awesome sightings with these giants. Once again, we were spoiled for choice and we were just blown away by the wonderful sightings this month. We had several herds moving through the area, closely followed by a big male or two. Males live separately, alone or in small bachelor herds. Being nonterritorial, the mating success depends on size and weapons. Bulls continue to grow until old age and therefore the seniors are the biggest tuskers and do most of the breeding.
Elephants are arguable the worlds most versatile herbivore. They are equipped with an all in one nasal appendage. Their trunks are used for grasping, smelling, drinking water, squirting water and as a broadcasting tool. With their trunks they can reach leaves higher than a giraffe can reach. Their trunk can also wrap around grass, pick up small fruit of the ground and tear off tree limbs to eat.
It was an awesome experience and an absolute privilege to see a big tusker elephant this month. This big male moved around in our area for a short while, before moving on again. It was such a pleasure to see this absolute giant amongst giants and I hope to see him again in the years to come.
Did you know?
An elephant’s tusks will keep on growing throughout their lives.
See you out on the game drive soon.