Rangers Report September 2018

News from our Rangers

 

It’s spring time! What an awesome time to be out on safari. Migratory birds are returning and the trees are all in bloom with fresh, green leaves. Our temperatures jumped from the one extreme to the next. One day we were sweating in 43°C and the next day we had our blankets out on game drive again. The average maximum temperature for the month was 32°C and we had 3mm of rain. We had some amazing cheetah sightings this month, as well as the wild dogs. We had our first glimpse of the wild dog pups moving around with the pack. Our resident hyena den is still active as ever, with five new youngsters keeping the females on their toes. With temperatures moving up, nightlife is also getting more active. We were entertained by bush babies, a honey badger mom with her baby and a very inquisitive civet.

Woodland kingfisher by Morné Fouché

Woodland kingfisher by Morné Fouché

Leopard

The leopard sightings were just crazy this month. We were so lucky with all the action and drama that unfolded between these beautiful cats.

 

Tiyani is still expanding her empire and it’s unclear how long she can keep this up. She is still young but a big female for her age. At this stage her size is playing a major role in the expansion of her territory. Tiyani was also seen mating with Hukumuri again this month. Hopefully this time it will be successful and in about 100 days she will have her first litter of cubs.

 

Xidulu was also seen a few times this month. She is looking great and is in a very healthy condition. Xidulu is also expanding her territory and it looks like Xidulu and Tiyani’s territories overlap quite a bit. Both these young cats have some of the biggest territories of all the adult females in the area.

 

Moya was also seen a few times this month. Although Moya is nine years old, she is still on top of her game and looking very healthy. It appears that Moya has successfully expanded her territory more east. Her daughter, Makhomsava, is still moving around in her mother’s territory. It might be that Moya will leave Makhomsava to stay in the area. At this point in time, both mother and daughter are using the same hunting ground.

 

Sibuye and the little ones were also seen this month. Sibuye is looking great and very healthy. She is a good mother to the little one. Sibuye was expanding her territory more west and north but that came to a sudden stop. She’s got Xidulu to the north and Moya to the west. The big question now is: who will give way?

 

Nsele was seen on a regular basis this month. She looks very healthy and has suckle marks. At this stage it is unclear where the den is and how many cubs she’s got. The den can be anywhere from thickets in a drainage line, to rocky outcrops, to hollow tree stumps, or an abandoned termite mound. Hopefully next month we will get to see them.

 

Thamba came for a very short visit. He was minding his own business when the pack of wild dogs came running in and chased him up into a tree. There was absolutely nothing that this big cat could have done, but to climb the nearest tree. Thamba is getting big now and it looks like he is settling into an area south of our southern boundary. So hopefully we will get to see more of him during the coming months.

 

The new male in our area is still moving around a lot. He is a really nice looking male, but still very shy. We are still trying to get him habituated to the vehicles, but this will take time. There is already some improvement that we can see. So, it means we are on the right track.

 

Hukumuri was also seen a few times this month. It looks like between running after the new male and mating with the females, there is no rest for him! He has caught up to the new male twice already, but the new male keeps running away. Hukumuri is still bulking out and it looks like the new male is a little younger, but not by much. These two males are looking at the same area, so it will be interesting to see who will be victorious. Both Hukumuri and the new male are scent marking and doing their territorial calls.

 

Anderson was also seen this month. When seeing Anderson for the first time, you will never believe that he is 10 years old. Anderson is still in great shape and very healthy. Anderson has three young males in and around his territory. Thamba is moving around in his territory, the new male is moving around on the north western area and Hukumuri on the northern eastern side. Unfortunately, the time will come for Anderson to step down as the dominant male.

Investec pack member by Gerrit Ackerman

Investec pack member by Gerrit Ackerman

Lions

The lion dynamics are still upside-down and still no sign of any big male lions in the area. The Birmingham males have settled further south and looks like they have left the area for good. The three Avoca males are testing the water at this stage, but the Talamati pride caught their attention now. This distraction is very good news for the Styx pride and the Nkuhuma pride.

 

The Styx pride is looking good at this stage. The cubs are eating well and have round bellies every time we see them. The three adult lionesses are really good hunters and go far and wide in search of food. They also spend a lot of their time on the southern parts of their territories to avoid contact with the Avoca males.

 

The Nkuhuma pride was also seen a few times this month. Same as the Styx pride, the Nkuhuma pride is also spending more time on the southern part of their territory. The Nkuhuma pride is looking great and the sub-adult cubs are growing up very fast. The Nkuhuma pride has taken in a sub adult male from the Talamati pride. With the Avoca males taking over the Talamati pride, the young males had to flee. The one young male managed to join the Nkuhuma pride and it looks like they excepted him. This will be great for the young Nkuhuma male to team up with another young male, when they have to leave the pride.

 

The two Ximungwe females was also seen a few times this month. These two ladies are still moving up and down, without a male. It would be great for the Ximungwe females if the Avoca males become their pride males and bring some stability. These two ladies are in the prime of their lives and the only thing missing at this stage are males and a territory. Hopefully in the next few months this might all change for them.

Tingana the male leopard by Morné Fouché

Tingana the male leopard by Morné Fouché

Buffaloes

At last the long wait for a big herd is over. A beautiful big herd of between a 100 – 200 buffaloes and smaller herd of 20-30 buffaloes moved into our area this month. The big herd came into our area the one night and rested in front of our lodge for the entire day. This herd had a few youngsters in but no new-borns. The small herd had more males in than females, which tells me that it had to be a splinter group. This small group came into the area after the big group moved through. They might be part of the same group, but were split up by a pride of lions. The smaller herd of between 20-30 individuals moved all over the area. These smaller herds tend to stay longer in one specific area as there is still enough for them to eat. The big herds, on the other hand, have to keep on moving more, as there are a lot more mouths to feed. There were also a few bachelor units of between 15-20 individuals in the area. These big boys were just moving around between waterholes.

Pangolin

Pangolin

Elephants

 

We were very lucky with the elephant herds this month. There was no shortage of these magnificent animals. The herd sizes ranged between ten to fifty animals in a group. Evidence of these gentle giants are scattered all over the roads. With the knob thorn trees in bloom, elephants are enjoying them a lot more than any of the other trees. If the elephants can’t get to the juicy leaves on top they just push the tree over. There were a lot of trees pushed over the roads and pieces of branches scattered all over. We had the privilege to see another new-born baby this month. The mother was a big female and she was really relaxed with us being there. Although female elephants do not have a specific birthing season, they still tend to give birth during the wetter months. There was one big bull in musth, moving through the area.

 

Special sighting

The honey badger mother and her baby were so awesome to see. What made it even more impressive was to see them in the late afternoon, whilst still light. To see a honey badger is great, but to see a baby honey badger, now that is impressive!

 

Did you know?

Baby elephants will suck on their trunks as a soother, the same way a baby would suck on its thumb.

 

See you out on the game drive soon.

Morné Fouché

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