Rangers Report September 2018

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

Manager’s Report September 2018

  Wild photo of the month - by Paul, Sue, and Mark Johnstone Spring is in the air and the landscape is slowly changing. Some of the trees around camp are showing off new small, green leaves and before we know, we will be surrounded with a fresh burst of green. Now...

Manager’s Report May 2018

  We are at that time of the year again, winter has arrived! The bush is wearing its winter coat once again! We have the blankets and hot water bottles back on the game drive vehicles and game viewing has been spectacular! The trees and grass are not as lush anymore,...

Manager’s Report February 2018

The shortest month of the year came and went in the blink of an eye. We had loads of wonderful game drive sightings, had some maintenance projects and also celebrated many staff birthdays. We experienced some strange weather patterns as well. We had very hot, humid...

Manager’s Report January 2018

Like I always say: “Time flies, when you’re having fun!”   It feels like just a few days ago that we had our new year's dinner and we are already going into the second month of 2018. By now, I am sure that most people are back home after the festive season. Some might...

Manager’s Report December 2017

December was a great month to end the year. We had lovely animal sightings, shared happiness and laughter over the festivities of Christmas and New Year and just before we said our last goodbyes to 2017, we received a heavy downpour of rain and hail.  Our New Year's...

Manager’s Report November 2017

The final countdown has arrived… just one more month until we welcome the new year. With the bush now once again wearing its bright summer colours, we are looking forward to an eventful summer! Game viewing has been amazing and with all the new babies that were born...

Rangers Report September 2018

  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...

Rangers Report May 2018

This month was one for the record books. We had a great time with awesome weather and spectacular sightings. The day temperature was very pleasant, with only a few days where the temperature went as high as 33-34°C. The average maximum temperature for the month was...

Rangers Report February 2018

This month was very exciting, with incredible game viewing opportunities. The average maximum temperature for the month was 32°C, with a wonderful 86mm of rain. We had several wild dog sightings again this month. With our resident hyena clan, we are always guaranteed...

Rangers Report January 2018

We could not ask for a better way to kick off 2018. It was an absolute pleasure to be out in the bush this month. The sightings were phenomenal and there was never a dull moment. The weather was up and down, but the rain was a huge, welcome relieve. The average...

Rangers Report December 2017

And so all good things have to come to an end. It is hard to imagine that we’ve reached the end of 2017. Looking back on this year, one realizes once again just how fantastic the sightings were. December is normally a really hot and wet month. It was a little...

Rangers Report November 2017

  Finally, the long wait is over and the first babies of the season started arriving during November. The first impalas arrived between 10 and 13 November. November is the start of the rainy season and that directly translates into baby season. The majority of the...

Big 5 Sightings 26 November to 2 December

 The highlight of the week was one male lion of the Avoka coalition visiting, and three cheetah’s moving through the area. Monday,26 November 2018 (40ºC) Hukumuri, the male leopard resting on Airport Link Four members of the Nkuhuma pride of lions resting on Sawmill...

Big 5 Sightings 19 to 25 November

Monday,19 November 2018 (31ºC) Four members of the Nkuhuma pride of lions resting at Serengeti Dam Young Ingrid Dam female leopard resting on Star chestnut Road Ingrid Dam female leopard walking on Rocky Road A breeding herd of about 30 elephants feeding on Chestnut...

Big 5 Sightings 12 to 18 November

The highlight of the week was to see Young Ingrid Dam female leopard Monday,12 November 2018 (34ºC) A breeding herd of about 20 elephants feeding at Five Way Junction Tiyani the female leopard resting in a tree at Simbambili Firebreak Two Ximungwe lionesses and one...

Big 5 sightings 05 to 11 November

The highlight of the week, was to see a young pangolin foraging for ants just before sunset   Monday, 05 November 2018 (36ºC) Xidulu, the female leopard, resting on Xihumbane Road. Two elephant bulls feeding on Simbambili Fire break. A pack of four wild dogs and four...

Big 5 Sightings 29 October to 04 November

Monday 29 October, 2018 (37ºC) Xidulu the female leopard, feeding on a duiker kill on MMM North The Nkuhuma pride, three young Mhangene pride and one of the young Talamati males resting on Gowrie Main Road A breeding herd of elephants feeding on EP open area   Tuesday...

Big 5 Sightings 22 to 27 October

The highlight of the week was the female cheetah and her two subadult cubs hunting and killing an impala female on Bushcamp East Monday, 22 October 2018 (24ºC) Moya, the female leopard eating her duiker kill at Londoz Drift Six members of the Nkuhuma pride of lions,...

Rangers Report May 2018

Rangers Report May 2018

News from our Rangers

 

Nyl crocodile basking in the sun by Morné Fouché

Nyl crocodile basking in the sun by Morné Fouché

This month was one for the record books. We had a great time with awesome weather and spectacular sightings. The day temperature was very pleasant, with only a few days where the temperature went as high as 33-34°C. The average maximum temperature for the month was 25°C, with 24mm rain. The game viewing was absolutely incredible. We saw a sable antelope, as well as a mother cheetah with her two cubs. The wild dog pack also spoiled us with their presence. The alpha female of the pack is heavily pregnant and it will not be long before we see a few pups with the pack. The rutting season is in full swing now. Horns are clashing while the males are fighting for dominance and mating rights. Predators are definitely taking full advantage of the distraction and impala is the most popular item on the lion and leopard menu at this stage. In a way, this is also nature’s way to keep the strongest genes in the pool.

 

Leopard

May was definitely a very spotty month. We saw ten different individuals on a regular basis. We almost did not have one day without more than one leopard sighting.  

 

Tiyani, the female, finally mated for the first time with Hukumuri. A young female will usually mate with a male for a number of times over a few month, before she conceives. Tiyani is now three years old, meaning that she is now sexually matured and will hopefully have her own cubs within the next six months to a year. We are hoping that she will be more successful in raising cubs than her late mother, Salayexe.

 

I am proud to announce that we have a pregnant female amongst us. Xidulu is showing definite signs of pregnancy, with her growing belly and swollen milk glands. She also mated with Hukumuri, who will be a first-time father. Xidulu is now almost four years old and having her first cubs. If she carries her mother’s instincts, she will definitely raise plenty of cubs during the next few years to come. Due to the pregnancy, Xidulu is scent marking all over her territory. Once the cubs are here, she will not have as much time to get around, while caring for them.

 

We saw Moya, the female, only a few times this month. We usually see her quite often, while patrolling her northern boundaries. This month, she was a bit shy and we only saw her about two or three times while scent marking. She is now expanding her territory more to the north and east. After she mated with Anderson a month ago we can not confirm if she did conceive, as it would still be early days. Hopefully the next couple of weeks will bring good news.

 

After months of debating, Moya’s daughter has been named. This young female spends most of her time outside of our traversing area to the south. It was the privilege of the guides in the south to decide on a name. We found it easy to adopt to their decision to name her Makhomsava, meaning “mother earth”. She was seen scent marking around an area within her mother’s territory. I hope this does not lead to more bad vibes amongst them, while they decide who will stay and who will go. Moya’s current territory is just not big enough for both of them.

 

Tiyani’s older sister, Nsele, was also seen once or twice this month. She is still expanding her territory more to the east and north. The older she gets, the more she gets challenged by her younger sister. It will not be long before Tiyani starts to take over parts of her territory. Nsele is in very good condition for a nine-year-old and definitely has a lot of fight left in her.

 

Ingrid’s Dam female was also seen a fair bit this month. She and her cub are in really good condition and very healthy. She was also seen mating with an unknown male close to our lodge the one day. While she was mating with the good looking unknown male, she crossed over Nsele’s territory into Tiyani’s territory. This is a sign that it is almost time for the young daughter to move on. We also noticed that mum is a lot more annoyed with her daughter lately.

 

Sibuye, the female was also seen a few times this month. She is such an awesome mother and her two little cubs are growing up very fast. They are so relaxed with the vehicles around them. It is such a bonus if mum is relaxed with vehicles. One will find that the mother leopard plays a very important roll in the habituation of cubs. The cubs will always look at mother’s behaviour and then do the same.

 

Hosana, the young male is all over the show. We saw him the one afternoon on our southern boundary. The area where he was in was very far to the south/west from his normal area. We eventually left him as he crossed south over our boundary. It was not long before we saw him again close too Elephant Plains’ western boundary. This is good that he moves around and explores a little bit.

 

Hukumuri, the new dominant male leopard was seen a lot this month. Hukumuri is still expanding his territory more south into Anderson’s territory. He got one huge shock the one day while going south, scent marking in Anderson’s area. While Hukumuri was moving south, Anderson was moving north on the same road. The minute Hukumuri saw Anderson coming towards him, he turned around in his tracks and went back north. This showed me that he is still not confident enough to take on Anderson.

 

Anderson, the male, was also seen a few times this month. At the age of almost ten years, he is still looking good. One thing we noticed is that he’s age is starting to show. If he is lucky, he will be able to hold on to his territory for another 2 years maximum.

Zebra drinking water by Morné Fouché

Zebra drinking water by Morné Fouché

 

Lion

The lion dynamics are slowly but surely changing again. Change is not always a bad thing, but not while there are small cubs around…

 

The Nkuhuma pride was seen on a regular basis this month. They spent almost 90% of their time around our lodge and Elephant Plains property. We are so exited with the pregnant female who gave birth this month. It is unclear how many cubs she has, as she chose a very dense area for a den site.

 

We did not see the Styx pride a lot this month. They spent a lot of their time in the southern part of their territory. The youngsters are getting bigger and growing up fast. This pride had a lot of ups and downs in the last few years. I must say that it is really looking good for the Styx pride at the moment. All the members are looking very healthy.

 

The young Mhangeni sub-adults also made an appearance this month. They had a massive standoff with the Nkuhuma pride the one evening. The Nkuhuma pride killed an impala male and all the noise attracted the young Mhangeni sub-adult lions, who were not very far from the area. The very hungry Mhangeni’s came charging in and did not hesitate for one second. There was not a lot of food left for the nine hungry lions. They did not stay in our area for very long as they returned to the southwestern part of the reserve the following day.

 

We were very surprised to see the three young Tsalala males again this month. Like I mentioned earlier, the lion dynamics are changing. The Birmingham males are currently establishing a new territory down in the southern part of the reserve. This is forcing the other males of that area in different directions. The three Tsalala males were scent marking and calling the one evening, with no response from the Birmingham males. It really looks like these three boys are testing the waters. At this stage, only time will tell if they have what it takes to take over this area.

Tingana the male leopard Morné Fouché

Tingana the male leopard Morné Fouché

 

Buffalo

There were no big breeding herds this month, which is a bit strange, as we normally have big herds moving around this time of the year. These bulk grazers need a lot of food, as there are a lot of mouths to feed. Fortunately, we had a lot of late rains during May. This rain gave the grass much needed help to take us through the winter. We still had some wonderful sightings of the old dagga boys and the dominant males that recently left the herds.

Woodland Kingfisher by Morné Fouché

Woodland Kingfisher by Morné Fouché

 

Elephant

The elephant sightings were really spectacular. We saw at least two different herds per drive. There were also a few smaller herds in the area, of about ten to twenty animals. Overall, we were very fortunate with the big herds of about forty to sixty animals and sometimes even more. We were also joined by herds coming to drink water on our open area in front of the lodge almost every morning during breakfast, or in the afternoon during lunch. After they quenched their thirst they, moved down towards the dry riverbed to feed on the wild date palms. We also saw a few herds with tiny little babies of only a few weeks to a few months old. This is a very good sign, as it shows that the elephant herds are very healthy and that conditions are in their favor. These little babies made it so memorable for us as they were trying to be so big and fearless like mom or dad. We did not see a lot of really big bull elephants this month. One bull in particular followed a herd around the one afternoon. With his approach into the herd, the females were really stressed out and very vocal. When a big male gets the scent of a female in estrus, he will pursue the female to mate with her and that makes the rest of the females and the babies very unhappy.

 

Special sighting

Our resident pangolin, Benji, surprised us with his presence again this month. These illusive mammals have such secretive lives and when you see them out foraging, you realize how special and unique they are.

 

Did you know?

The scales of a pangolin are modified hair, which is keratin.

 

See you out on the game drive soon.
Morné Fouché

Manager’s Report September 2018

  Wild photo of the month - by Paul, Sue, and Mark Johnstone Spring is in the air and the landscape is slowly changing. Some of the trees around camp are showing off new small, green leaves and before we know, we will be surrounded with a fresh burst of green. Now...

Manager’s Report May 2018

  We are at that time of the year again, winter has arrived! The bush is wearing its winter coat once again! We have the blankets and hot water bottles back on the game drive vehicles and game viewing has been spectacular! The trees and grass are not as lush anymore,...

Manager’s Report February 2018

The shortest month of the year came and went in the blink of an eye. We had loads of wonderful game drive sightings, had some maintenance projects and also celebrated many staff birthdays. We experienced some strange weather patterns as well. We had very hot, humid...

Manager’s Report January 2018

Like I always say: “Time flies, when you’re having fun!”   It feels like just a few days ago that we had our new year's dinner and we are already going into the second month of 2018. By now, I am sure that most people are back home after the festive season. Some might...

Manager’s Report December 2017

December was a great month to end the year. We had lovely animal sightings, shared happiness and laughter over the festivities of Christmas and New Year and just before we said our last goodbyes to 2017, we received a heavy downpour of rain and hail.  Our New Year's...

Manager’s Report November 2017

The final countdown has arrived… just one more month until we welcome the new year. With the bush now once again wearing its bright summer colours, we are looking forward to an eventful summer! Game viewing has been amazing and with all the new babies that were born...

Rangers Report September 2018

  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...

Rangers Report May 2018

This month was one for the record books. We had a great time with awesome weather and spectacular sightings. The day temperature was very pleasant, with only a few days where the temperature went as high as 33-34°C. The average maximum temperature for the month was...

Rangers Report February 2018

This month was very exciting, with incredible game viewing opportunities. The average maximum temperature for the month was 32°C, with a wonderful 86mm of rain. We had several wild dog sightings again this month. With our resident hyena clan, we are always guaranteed...

Rangers Report January 2018

We could not ask for a better way to kick off 2018. It was an absolute pleasure to be out in the bush this month. The sightings were phenomenal and there was never a dull moment. The weather was up and down, but the rain was a huge, welcome relieve. The average...

Rangers Report December 2017

And so all good things have to come to an end. It is hard to imagine that we’ve reached the end of 2017. Looking back on this year, one realizes once again just how fantastic the sightings were. December is normally a really hot and wet month. It was a little...

Rangers Report November 2017

  Finally, the long wait is over and the first babies of the season started arriving during November. The first impalas arrived between 10 and 13 November. November is the start of the rainy season and that directly translates into baby season. The majority of the...

Big 5 Sightings 26 November to 2 December

 The highlight of the week was one male lion of the Avoka coalition visiting, and three cheetah’s moving through the area. Monday,26 November 2018 (40ºC) Hukumuri, the male leopard resting on Airport Link Four members of the Nkuhuma pride of lions resting on Sawmill...

Big 5 Sightings 19 to 25 November

Monday,19 November 2018 (31ºC) Four members of the Nkuhuma pride of lions resting at Serengeti Dam Young Ingrid Dam female leopard resting on Star chestnut Road Ingrid Dam female leopard walking on Rocky Road A breeding herd of about 30 elephants feeding on Chestnut...

Big 5 Sightings 12 to 18 November

The highlight of the week was to see Young Ingrid Dam female leopard Monday,12 November 2018 (34ºC) A breeding herd of about 20 elephants feeding at Five Way Junction Tiyani the female leopard resting in a tree at Simbambili Firebreak Two Ximungwe lionesses and one...

Big 5 sightings 05 to 11 November

The highlight of the week, was to see a young pangolin foraging for ants just before sunset   Monday, 05 November 2018 (36ºC) Xidulu, the female leopard, resting on Xihumbane Road. Two elephant bulls feeding on Simbambili Fire break. A pack of four wild dogs and four...

Big 5 Sightings 29 October to 04 November

Monday 29 October, 2018 (37ºC) Xidulu the female leopard, feeding on a duiker kill on MMM North The Nkuhuma pride, three young Mhangene pride and one of the young Talamati males resting on Gowrie Main Road A breeding herd of elephants feeding on EP open area   Tuesday...

Big 5 Sightings 22 to 27 October

The highlight of the week was the female cheetah and her two subadult cubs hunting and killing an impala female on Bushcamp East Monday, 22 October 2018 (24ºC) Moya, the female leopard eating her duiker kill at Londoz Drift Six members of the Nkuhuma pride of lions,...

Rangers Report February 2018

Rangers Report

February 2018
Nkuhuma cubs - Morné Fouché

Elephant herd by Morné Fouché

This month was very exciting, with incredible game viewing opportunities. The average maximum temperature for the month was 32°C, with a wonderful 86mm of rain. We had several wild dog sightings again this month. With our resident hyena clan, we are always guaranteed that there will be a standoff between the hyenas and wild dogs. Our resident hyenas also doing very well and they are still very strong. The den is always very active and we saw another heavily pregnant female hanging around the den. Hopefully with my next newsletter, we might have a new hyena baby or two.

Leopard

The leopard sightings this month were just unbelievable and we could not ask for more. There are big changes happening at the moment and some of these changes affect several leopard individuals.

There is a young female named Sibuye, who stole the lime light this month. She is moving more and more north from our southern boundary. This young female has two very small cubs and decided to make their den in our traversing area. She is a wonderful little cat and very relaxed with the vehicles. At this stage we only allow one vehicle at a time, when mum is at the den. If mum is not there the den is closed. The little cubs are still very weary of the vehicles, but that is understandable, because it is the first time they see vehicles. If all goes well they will be totally comfortable with the vehicles in a few months. All the more reason why we follow such strict habituation protocols!

Thandi was also in our area this month. She finally brought the little one into our area and we saw her cub for the first time. Thandi is moving the little one all over the area now, which is good for us. The core of Thandi’s territory is to the north and out of our traversing, so sometimes it happens that we do not see them for a few days.

Tiyani, the young female, was all over the show, as always. Tiyani is growing in confidence every day and her territorial calls are getting louder. She is scent marking all over the central and western parts of her late mother’s territory. Tiyani must be careful to not get too confident. She had two big stand offs with Xidulu and her big sister, Nsele. It will be interesting to see what the future will hold for this young, adventurous cat.

Xidulu was also seen a few times this month. This young female is a beautiful cat and very healthy. She has turned into a fascinating female, confidently expanding her territory. She is still going further east and also more north, deeper into Shadow’s territory. If she continues to expand more east, she will move into Thandi’s territory. Both Thandi and Shadow will have a hard time getting this young, determent female out of their territories.

The Ingrid’s Dam female was also seen this month. It is good to see that she is still doing her rounds in the area. The core of her territory is in the western part of the reserve. It is possible that she is expanding more northeast, due to her fast-growing daughter. Whatever the reason might be, it is still great to have another female in the area.

Nsele was also seen a lot this month while moving around and scent marking her territory. Nsele had a big standoff with her sister, Tiyani, on the eastern boundary of her territory. At this stage Nsele is not ready to give up any of her territory to her sister. Nsele went easy on Tiyani, maybe because Nsele has new cubs and cannot risk any injuries.

Thamba was seen a few times this month. He is still doing really well and has become an awesome hunter. The only problem for him now is that he still moves around in the very strong Hukumuri’s territory. He had a very close encounter with Hukumuri the one evening. I will not be surprised if he moves more north, out of the Sabi Sand Wildtuin.

Hosana was also seen a few times this month. This little guy is doing really well for himself and he looks really good. He might have to leave sooner than he thinks, as the Hukumuri male is expanding more east. Time will tell when this beautiful male would have to move on.

Tingana was also seen a few times this month. He was not looking so great and his age is starting to show. I must say that things are not looking good for him, as Hukumuri has already started to scent mark over his scent. At this stage it is not just Tingana’s future hanging in the balance, but also both Thandi, Shadow and their cubs. There are definitely some interesting times waiting for us in the next few months.

Hukumuri was also seen a few times this month, but nothing like previous months. As mentioned before, he is spending a lot of his time looking for Tingana, Thandi and her cub, or Shadow and her cub. It looks like he realized that Anderson in the south is too strong for him and he moved more east.

Anderson was seen a few times and he is expanding more north. This puts pressure on Hukumuri and the only way to go is east. Anderson is still looking great and he is still a force to be reckoned with. This is good, as the majority of his ladies have new cubs who needs protection.

Male giraffe by Morné Fouché

Hosana the young male leopard by Morné Fouché

 

Lion

We had some awesome lion sightings this month. I would go as far as to say we were spoiled by the lions.

We were very fortunate to see three members of the Tsalala pride. The 16-year-old tailless female is looking great and she is still very healthy. Her son is also in very good condition and growing up very fast. The other young female is also in tip top shape. I am very happy to see that they are all looking good. The only thing they need now is a male in the pride that can protect them, but that option does not look too good at this stage…

The Nkuhuma pride is looking great and it looks like they are expanding, or maybe just exploring, more into the western part of the reserve. It is not that unusual for a pride to move over their boundary, if they realize that there are no other prides close to them. It is really good to see that the pride moves around a lot, looking for food and soon they will see that there is a lot of old buffalo bulls in the area. Overall things are really looking good for this pride and if all goes well, there will be a few more females in the pride as the sub adults are getting bigger. Luckily for us, they still have another few years before they will come into estrus and by then, there might be new males in the area for them to mate with.

The Styx pride was also out and about this month. With all the misfortune this pride had to endure the last few years, it finally looks like there is a bright light at the end of the tunnel. The cubs are looking very healthy and are always well fed. The three ladies are also looking awesome and in good condition. The Styx pride is also moving more and more west, but this might be due to the males with them. The Birmingham males are moving more west and southwest and the Styx pride is just following. This forced them to go more into the Tsalala prides territory. At this stage the Tsalala pride is no match for the younger and stronger Styx pride. More interesting times are awaiting us in the next few months…

Young Ingrid's dam female by Morné Fouché

Elephant's eye by Morné Fouché

 

Buffalo

The buffalo sightings were really good this month. We were spoiled rotten when two big herds and a very small herd moved into our area. The smaller herd of the two big herds stayed in our area for a few days feeding away on the lush green grass in the area. This herd, with about 300 individuals, did not move very far in a day, as there was enough food and water in the area. The big breeding herd with about 700 individuals did not stay very long before moving on again. It was an awesome experience to see this big breeding herd moving along a small open area towards the water. To see a group like this is such a treat, as we do not often see a breeding herd this big. One noticeable thing was that both the big breeding herds had several newborn babies with the herd. This is very positive as the previous drought affected them very badly. There was also a wonderful bachelor group of males that moved into the area. These bachelors were staying around some of the bigger waterholes, as there was enough food around the waterholes for them.

Tiyani the female leopard by Morné Fouché

Red-crested korhaan by Morné Fouché

 

Elephant

Marula season is now in full swing and the elephants are making the most of this opportunity. We were so lucky with all the elephants moving through the area. It is awesome to see the herd move from marula tree to marula tree, in search of these wonderful fruit. Competition can get real between these heavyweights and at times the younger elephants will run ahead to get to the next tree before the adults. Once the adults get to the marula tree and there is no fruit left, they will shake the tree and more of the fruit will fall down. With their trunks, they will then sniff the fruits out in the tall grass. They will also use the trunk to pick these tiny fruits up from the ground and put it into their mouths. This tiny marula fruit is very high in vitamin C. It is really funny to see how the baby elephants are trying to use their trunks to get the fruits. This month was also like a baby boom, as we had several newborn babies in the herds. It is such a treat to see all the babies and how protective their older siblings are over them. These little ones will not go for 10 minutes, without one of the herd members touching them. The little babies need this insurance- that everything is all right. We also had a few big males in the area, following the scent of the female units.

Special sighting

It was such a treat to see the tiny cubs of Sibuye, the female leopard. It is always very special to see new cubs and it is a big bonus if they are already relatively relaxed with us around them.

Did you know?

A mother leopard may move her cubs to a new den as often as every two days, to avoid detection by other predators.

See you out on the game drive soon.
Morné Fouché

Manager’s Report September 2018

  Wild photo of the month - by Paul, Sue, and Mark Johnstone Spring is in the air and the landscape is slowly changing. Some of the trees around camp are showing off new small, green leaves and before we know, we will be surrounded with a fresh burst of green. Now...

Manager’s Report May 2018

  We are at that time of the year again, winter has arrived! The bush is wearing its winter coat once again! We have the blankets and hot water bottles back on the game drive vehicles and game viewing has been spectacular! The trees and grass are not as lush anymore,...

Manager’s Report February 2018

The shortest month of the year came and went in the blink of an eye. We had loads of wonderful game drive sightings, had some maintenance projects and also celebrated many staff birthdays. We experienced some strange weather patterns as well. We had very hot, humid...

Manager’s Report January 2018

Like I always say: “Time flies, when you’re having fun!”   It feels like just a few days ago that we had our new year's dinner and we are already going into the second month of 2018. By now, I am sure that most people are back home after the festive season. Some might...

Manager’s Report December 2017

December was a great month to end the year. We had lovely animal sightings, shared happiness and laughter over the festivities of Christmas and New Year and just before we said our last goodbyes to 2017, we received a heavy downpour of rain and hail.  Our New Year's...

Manager’s Report November 2017

The final countdown has arrived… just one more month until we welcome the new year. With the bush now once again wearing its bright summer colours, we are looking forward to an eventful summer! Game viewing has been amazing and with all the new babies that were born...

Rangers Report September 2018

  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...

Rangers Report May 2018

This month was one for the record books. We had a great time with awesome weather and spectacular sightings. The day temperature was very pleasant, with only a few days where the temperature went as high as 33-34°C. The average maximum temperature for the month was...

Rangers Report February 2018

This month was very exciting, with incredible game viewing opportunities. The average maximum temperature for the month was 32°C, with a wonderful 86mm of rain. We had several wild dog sightings again this month. With our resident hyena clan, we are always guaranteed...

Rangers Report January 2018

We could not ask for a better way to kick off 2018. It was an absolute pleasure to be out in the bush this month. The sightings were phenomenal and there was never a dull moment. The weather was up and down, but the rain was a huge, welcome relieve. The average...

Rangers Report December 2017

And so all good things have to come to an end. It is hard to imagine that we’ve reached the end of 2017. Looking back on this year, one realizes once again just how fantastic the sightings were. December is normally a really hot and wet month. It was a little...

Rangers Report November 2017

  Finally, the long wait is over and the first babies of the season started arriving during November. The first impalas arrived between 10 and 13 November. November is the start of the rainy season and that directly translates into baby season. The majority of the...

Big 5 Sightings 26 November to 2 December

 The highlight of the week was one male lion of the Avoka coalition visiting, and three cheetah’s moving through the area. Monday,26 November 2018 (40ºC) Hukumuri, the male leopard resting on Airport Link Four members of the Nkuhuma pride of lions resting on Sawmill...

Big 5 Sightings 19 to 25 November

Monday,19 November 2018 (31ºC) Four members of the Nkuhuma pride of lions resting at Serengeti Dam Young Ingrid Dam female leopard resting on Star chestnut Road Ingrid Dam female leopard walking on Rocky Road A breeding herd of about 30 elephants feeding on Chestnut...

Big 5 Sightings 12 to 18 November

The highlight of the week was to see Young Ingrid Dam female leopard Monday,12 November 2018 (34ºC) A breeding herd of about 20 elephants feeding at Five Way Junction Tiyani the female leopard resting in a tree at Simbambili Firebreak Two Ximungwe lionesses and one...

Big 5 sightings 05 to 11 November

The highlight of the week, was to see a young pangolin foraging for ants just before sunset   Monday, 05 November 2018 (36ºC) Xidulu, the female leopard, resting on Xihumbane Road. Two elephant bulls feeding on Simbambili Fire break. A pack of four wild dogs and four...

Big 5 Sightings 29 October to 04 November

Monday 29 October, 2018 (37ºC) Xidulu the female leopard, feeding on a duiker kill on MMM North The Nkuhuma pride, three young Mhangene pride and one of the young Talamati males resting on Gowrie Main Road A breeding herd of elephants feeding on EP open area   Tuesday...

Big 5 Sightings 22 to 27 October

The highlight of the week was the female cheetah and her two subadult cubs hunting and killing an impala female on Bushcamp East Monday, 22 October 2018 (24ºC) Moya, the female leopard eating her duiker kill at Londoz Drift Six members of the Nkuhuma pride of lions,...

Rangers Report January 2018

Rangers Report

January 2018
Nkuhuma cubs - Morné Fouché

Young Ingrid's Dam female leopard by Morné Fouché

We could not ask for a better way to kick off 2018. It was an absolute pleasure to be out in the bush this month. The sightings were phenomenal and there was never a dull moment. The weather was up and down, but the rain was a huge, welcome relieve. The average maximum temperature was 31°C with 90mm of rain. Bird life was fantastic and we saw an abundance of our feathery friends. We were very lucky regarding the wild dogs. We had several different packs moving in and out of our area this month. Our resident hyena clan is also doing great. All is going well at the den and the pups are growing up very fast. The young warthog male is still sharing the hyena den from time to time and it looks like they came to some kind of an understanding! The wild dogs and the hyenas provided us with excellent sightings. We have witnessed plenty of epic standoffs between them and I know that there will be many more in the near future.

Leopard

This month was excellent for leopard viewing. The number and quality of sightings that we had, was just crazy. This area is renowned for its leopard sightings and this month we were not disappointed. Tiyani, the young female was seen almost every day of the month. She is looking great and growing a lot in confidence. I watched her stalking a hyena one day. She almost pounced on the hyena! The poor hyena got such a fright when Tiyani came flying through the air. Xidulu, the young female, was seen a few times this month, moving all over her new territory. At this point it looks like she wants to expand more east. She pushed Shadow more east and took over the western part of Shadows territory. She was also seen mating with the Hukumuri male again. Hopefully the mating was successful and she conceived this time round. Moya, was also seen a few times this month.

Good news is that my feeling was correct in December. Moya has suckle marks, which is a definite sign off small cubs! This beautiful female is still in good shape and excellent condition. I can’t wait to see the new cubs as soon as she starts moving them. Thandi was also seen once or twice this month. Still no sign of her cub, but we have faith that she will move her sooner or later. Thandi is still looking great, but unfortunately, she is getting older. She is almost 11 years old and at this age she might start to lose some of her territory to younger females like her daughter, Kuchava. Shadow was also seen a few times this month, moving all over the show. Shadow lost a small section of her territory on the western border to the younger and bigger Xidulu female. Shadow’s daughter is looking great and spending a lot of her time alone. The future of this little cub is looking great and she is almost independent. Nsele was also seen a few times this month. Excellent news for us is that she had suckle marks when she was last seen. We know the den is just out of our traversing area, as we have followed her tracks crossing the boundary. Luckily, we know it will not be too long before she brings the babies over to our side.

Nsele’s daughter from her previous litter is also moving around our lodge. She and Tiyani already ran into each other twice this month. The Ingrid Dam female was also seen this month. She is still scent marking in the area, but Tiyani is like a nasty thorn in her flesh, as she is scent marking over her scent the whole time. So far, she is not really worried at all, as she does not go and look for Tiyani. It will be a matter of time before their paths will cross, though. Thamba, the young male, is moving all over his father’s territory. This young male is moving around a lot more than the other young males normally do. He is an excellent hunter and he eats well. This youngster is looking really healthy. Unfortunately for us, he will have to leave his birth place at some time in search of his own territory. Hosana is still moving around in his father’s territory and has no intension of leaving. This young male is growing up really fast and he is looking very healthy. Hosana is a really beautiful male and it will be sad to see him leave. Mvula was also seen a few times this month. At this stage, his age is really counting against him. This once very impressive territorial male, is now totally nomadic. It is sad to see yet another legend fading away, but I guess that is the way of life.

Tingana was also seen a few times, but not as much as we are used to. He is looking good, but his age is also taking a number on him. So far it looks like he still has some fight left in him to defend his territory against rival males. Anderson was also seen a lot this month. I think he finally realized that Hukumuri is moving into his territory. It is great to see him patrolling and doing his deep territorial call again. Anderson is almost 10 years old, which means that he will now also start losing some of his territory. One thing that counts in his favour is his size. It is crucial for him to hold on to his territory for another two years at least, as two of his ladies has new babies at the moment. Hukumuri was just all over the show. He has grown a lot in confidence while scent marking and doing his territorial call. One thing he is still afraid off is Anderson, and for good reason. He was pushed more north east by the old brut, Anderson. The positive aspect of this move, though, is that he appears to like this area and he is going to make it his new home.

Male giraffe by Morné Fouché

Birmingham male lion by Morné Fouché

 

Lion

The lion sightings were just awesome and we had such great sightings again this month. The Styx pride was seen a lot this month and they had full bellies almost every time we saw them. The three big females are doing a really good job with the youngsters. One thing we noticed is that when they go hunting, they will leave the four small cubs behind and take the six older cubs along on the journey. The six older cubs are not ready to help with the hunts, but at least they are starting to learn. I can not wait for the day that the young females will join the hunts in order to feed their own cubs. If all goes well, the Styx pride will be one formidable force to take on.

The Nkuhuma pride was also moving through our area the last month. Things are looking better and they are also eating very well. Like the Styx pride, all the members are fit and healthy. The sub adults in the pride are now undergoing hunting lessons. Hunting is an art, a skill passed on from generation to generation. Every lion pride in Africa is specializing in a certain animal when it comes to hunting. For the Nkuhuma pride, buffalo is their preferred meal. The two Ximungwe females came in for a quick visit this month. These two young females are really looking good and I do hope that we can see more of them in the near future. With the future of the Tsalala pride looking very shaky, it might open a door of opportunity for the two Ximungwe females. As we know all too well, nature works in mysterious ways. The Birmingham males spent a lot of their time out of our traversing with the Kambula females. Overall, the Birmingham males are looking great and very healthy. Still the one concerning factor is that they tend to split up for days at a time before they reunite. Maybe they feel confident enough and know that there are no other males in the area to challenge them.

Young Ingrid's dam female by Morné Fouché

Grey heron by Morné Fouché

 

Buffalo

There is still no sign of the big breeding herds in the area. There was a small splinter group, who moved around in our area. This group consisted of several females accompanied by a few dominant males. This group was only about fourteen individuals with no babies. They unfortunately did not hang around for very long before moving off again. The bachelor groups are still moving all over the area and they were spending a lot of their time close to the water. These males have bulked up a lot comparing to the bulls in the small breeding herd. These bachelors will soon leave the safety of the brotherhood and return to the herds to fight for the females again. We have not seen a lot of the old dagga boys this month, but their tracks still indicate that they are in the area. There is an abundance of new mud wallows after the amount of rain that we had. This can also be why we do not see them very often.

Tiyani the female leopard by Morné Fouché

Young elephant bull playing in the mud Morné Fouché

 

Elephant

It was a real treat to see all the different breeding herds of elephants in the area. There was really no shortage of elephants, as we saw five to six different herds on a drive. We saw several new baby elephants who were born during the month. It was a spectacular sight to see, as the herd comes moving through, with the babies safely tucked away in the middle of the herd. These herds do not move very far in a day and they rest quite a lot, because of the new-born babies who need to take more regular breaks. There were a few of the herds who moved around in the area, who had up to fifty members. This was definitely an elephant month!

Special sighting

We saw several baby elephants this month, but it was very special to see one specific baby, trying to take his first little baby steps. This baby was only about a day or two old at most. It was so difficult for this little youngster to stand up and the uneven roads made walking somewhat of a challenge. He tried with all his might, but gravity was just too great. He came down face first a few times, but that did not stop him from trying even harder. With each attempt his little legs became stronger, until he finally got the hang of it and followed mum into the bush. This was an awesome sighting and I am glad we were part of this.

Did you know?

An elephant herd is considered one of the most closely-knit societies of any animal. Then only time a female will leave a herd, is when she dies.

See you out on the game drive soon.

Morné Fouché

Rangers Report September 2018

  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...

Rangers Report May 2018

This month was one for the record books. We had a great time with awesome weather and spectacular sightings. The day temperature was very pleasant, with only a few days where the temperature went as high as 33-34°C. The average maximum temperature for the month was...

Rangers Report February 2018

This month was very exciting, with incredible game viewing opportunities. The average maximum temperature for the month was 32°C, with a wonderful 86mm of rain. We had several wild dog sightings again this month. With our resident hyena clan, we are always guaranteed...

Rangers Report January 2018

We could not ask for a better way to kick off 2018. It was an absolute pleasure to be out in the bush this month. The sightings were phenomenal and there was never a dull moment. The weather was up and down, but the rain was a huge, welcome relieve. The average...

Rangers Report December 2017

And so all good things have to come to an end. It is hard to imagine that we’ve reached the end of 2017. Looking back on this year, one realizes once again just how fantastic the sightings were. December is normally a really hot and wet month. It was a little...

Rangers Report November 2017

  Finally, the long wait is over and the first babies of the season started arriving during November. The first impalas arrived between 10 and 13 November. November is the start of the rainy season and that directly translates into baby season. The majority of the...

Manager’s Report September 2018

  Wild photo of the month - by Paul, Sue, and Mark Johnstone Spring is in the air and the landscape is slowly changing. Some of the trees around camp are showing off new small, green leaves and before we know, we will be surrounded with a fresh burst of green. Now...

Manager’s Report May 2018

  We are at that time of the year again, winter has arrived! The bush is wearing its winter coat once again! We have the blankets and hot water bottles back on the game drive vehicles and game viewing has been spectacular! The trees and grass are not as lush anymore,...

Manager’s Report February 2018

The shortest month of the year came and went in the blink of an eye. We had loads of wonderful game drive sightings, had some maintenance projects and also celebrated many staff birthdays. We experienced some strange weather patterns as well. We had very hot, humid...

Manager’s Report January 2018

Like I always say: “Time flies, when you’re having fun!”   It feels like just a few days ago that we had our new year's dinner and we are already going into the second month of 2018. By now, I am sure that most people are back home after the festive season. Some might...

Manager’s Report December 2017

December was a great month to end the year. We had lovely animal sightings, shared happiness and laughter over the festivities of Christmas and New Year and just before we said our last goodbyes to 2017, we received a heavy downpour of rain and hail.  Our New Year's...

Manager’s Report November 2017

The final countdown has arrived… just one more month until we welcome the new year. With the bush now once again wearing its bright summer colours, we are looking forward to an eventful summer! Game viewing has been amazing and with all the new babies that were born...

Big 5 Sightings 26 November to 2 December

 The highlight of the week was one male lion of the Avoka coalition visiting, and three cheetah’s moving through the area. Monday,26 November 2018 (40ºC) Hukumuri, the male leopard resting on Airport Link Four members of the Nkuhuma pride of lions resting on Sawmill...

Big 5 Sightings 19 to 25 November

Monday,19 November 2018 (31ºC) Four members of the Nkuhuma pride of lions resting at Serengeti Dam Young Ingrid Dam female leopard resting on Star chestnut Road Ingrid Dam female leopard walking on Rocky Road A breeding herd of about 30 elephants feeding on Chestnut...

Big 5 Sightings 12 to 18 November

The highlight of the week was to see Young Ingrid Dam female leopard Monday,12 November 2018 (34ºC) A breeding herd of about 20 elephants feeding at Five Way Junction Tiyani the female leopard resting in a tree at Simbambili Firebreak Two Ximungwe lionesses and one...

Big 5 sightings 05 to 11 November

The highlight of the week, was to see a young pangolin foraging for ants just before sunset   Monday, 05 November 2018 (36ºC) Xidulu, the female leopard, resting on Xihumbane Road. Two elephant bulls feeding on Simbambili Fire break. A pack of four wild dogs and four...

Big 5 Sightings 29 October to 04 November

Monday 29 October, 2018 (37ºC) Xidulu the female leopard, feeding on a duiker kill on MMM North The Nkuhuma pride, three young Mhangene pride and one of the young Talamati males resting on Gowrie Main Road A breeding herd of elephants feeding on EP open area   Tuesday...

Big 5 Sightings 22 to 27 October

The highlight of the week was the female cheetah and her two subadult cubs hunting and killing an impala female on Bushcamp East Monday, 22 October 2018 (24ºC) Moya, the female leopard eating her duiker kill at Londoz Drift Six members of the Nkuhuma pride of lions,...

Rangers Report December 2017

Rangers Report

December 2017
Nkuhuma cubs - Morné Fouché

Birmingham male scanning the area by Morné Fouché

And so all good things have to come to an end. It is hard to imagine that we’ve reached the end of 2017. Looking back on this year, one realizes once again just how fantastic the sightings were. December is normally a really hot and wet month. It was a little different this year, with little rain and mild days. There were only a few days where the temperatures reached the low 40°C’s. The average maximum temperature was 31°C and we had 23mm of rain.

We had a great time with the wild dogs once again. The wild dogs and hyenas made sure that we were entertained by having some standoffs. The Elephant Plains hyena clan has a new, rather unusual member in the clan. A young warthog male decided that the hyena den is the perfect place for him to call home. It is rather unique to see this kind of relationship between hyenas and a warthog. The warthog leaves the den in the early mornings to go and feed and returns later in afternoon. He does not bother the hyenas and they apparently do not bother him!

Leopard

The leopard sightings in our area were mind blowing, as always. Still there are some interesting times ahead of us, with the shuffling between the leopard females in the area. As we all know, nature works by a different guidebook than what we are used to and there is always a curve ball in the works. Moya and the older Ingrid Dam female have expanded their territories more north. At this stage they are putting more pressure on the two young females, Tiyani and the young Ingrid Dam.

Tiyani, the young female leopard, is growing a lot in confidence. After her mother, Salayexe, died it was like she transformed and climbed out of her shell. It is awesome to be a part of her life and to see how she grows into a more successful female.

The young Ingrid Dam female was also all over the show. She is getting more confident as the months go by. There is a big confusion regarding the two Ingrid Dam females, as the older Ingrid Dam female is pushing more north. We have decided that the young Ingrid Dam female will receive another name. We decided to give her a name that will suit her character. There is only one leopard who will always be on a termite mount. So, this made the choice very easy and we decided to call her Xidulu. Xidulu means termite mount in the local Shangaan language.

Shadow and her cub were also seen a few times this month. The young female is a beautiful cat and she is growing really fast. It will be great for us if she can survive and stay in the area. Shadow is still looking great, although she’s had some altercations with Thandi this month. Both these females are busy expanding into their late mother, Karula’s, territory. Shadow is really doing well in raising her little cub and so far, it looks like a bright future ahead.

The Ingrid Dam female and her cub are both very healthy. This female is expanding her territory more north east into a part of Salayexe’s old territory. This puts more pressure on Tiyani to also move more north. I think that the Ingrid Dam female has realised that Tiyani is a young female and that she could easily take her on.

Moya was also seen a few times this month. Moya is also expanding her territory more north, putting more pressure on the Xidulu female and Tiyani. Moya is only 8 years old and still in her prime, so she still has the upper hand. Moya’s daughter is now spending a lot more time on her own. It looks like Moya’s milk glands are swollen.  If this is the case, then there are new babies on the way. Moya’s daughter is a really awesome little friendly leopard. Hopefully she will survive to adulthood and stay in the area. The south-western section of the late Kwatile’s territory is still open and any young female can still claim this territory.

Nsele’s daughter from her last litter was also seen a lot this month. A few months ago, she was really skittish and did not like the vehicles at all. She has improved a lot and is much more relaxed with the vehicles around her. It would be awesome to see this young female more often. 

Both Tingana and Anderson were low under the radar this month. It looks like Tingana was in a fight with another leopard, as he had a sore front paw. It was nothing serious, but he just looked uncomfortable. Tingana is still looking good and very healthy.  I do, however, expect a lot of competition for him in 2018, with all the young males in the area.

Anderson is still fit and strong. It is always great to see this big guy, but it looks like he is neglecting his area a little bit. This is not good for business, as it leaves an open invitation for other young males to move in.

There is a new kid on the block called Hukumuri, who is currently moving into the area around our lodge. This young male came from the western part of the reserve where he was born. We estimate him to be about 4years of age and he is already scent marking in the area. Hosana was also seen a few times and he is still looking great. He still has no intention to leave his fathers territory. Slowly but surely, Tingana will get fed up with this little youngster and eventually push him out.

Lion

The lion sightings were absolutely spectacular and we ended the year with some mind-blowing sightings.

The Nkuhuma pride had more bad luck this month, as they lost yet another cub. Nobody really knows what happened to the little cub. We just saw them one morning with only one small cub. Overall the pride members are looking very healthy. The sub adults are also looking great and the youngsters are getting nice and big now. When the females go out to hunt, they take them with so that they can start learning.

The Styx pride was also out and about and seen very often. The three adult lionesses are in top condition. The 10 cubs are growing up fast. With the 10 hungry youngsters, the females need to hunt more often than usual. The three females are always on the lookout for a good meal and will travel long distances in search of food. The cubs are still too small to join in on the hunts and they are left in a safe place. The future is looking bright for the Styx pride, but as we know, nature works in mysterious ways.

The Tsalala pride was also seen a few times in our area this month. We only saw three members of the pride. The two older lionesses are approaching 16 years of age and they might not be around for much longer. Unfortunately, the future of this pride is really not looking good at the moment.

We were very fortunate to see the Mhangene pride again this month. This is definitely my favourite pride of all. These females had a tough life growing up, but they had a fantastic teacher to help them. They are awesome females and look very healthy. The 12 sub adults are also in good condition. The nine young males are going to be a formidable force when they grow up. If these nine males stay together, they will surely cause mayhem. It is still too early to say what will happen to these youngsters and if the three females will stay with their mothers or not.

The Birmingham males were very low on the radar this month. This might be because they are expanding and looking for new horizons.  Two of the Birmingham males were seen in the southern part of the reserve. There are definitely changes happening and it looks like the Birmingham males want to move more south. It is difficult to say what they are busy with, but I hope that they will stick around until their cubs are bigger, before they make a move.

The two old Matimba male lions also came for a visit this month. It was great to see these beautiful males again, even if it short lived. They are now nomadic, because they lost all their territory. These males are moving all over the reserve and avoiding the dominant males in the different areas. Careful not to hang around in another male’s territory…

Buffalo

Finally, the long wait is a thing of the past. We had a big herd of about 100 or more buffaloes this month, moving through the area. It is good to see that the herds are finally moving closer to our area in their quest to find food and water. One thing we noticed is that there were no small calves within this big herd. There were, however, plenty of pregnant females in the herd. This might be a smaller splinter group that broke off of the main herd. Hopefully this herd will realise that there is enough food for the whole herd and remain in this area for the next few months. We also saw several bachelor groups moving through the area. One specific group had about 14 males sticking together.  This all male group also stayed in the area for a long time, before moving on again. It is almost time for these big boys to return to the breeding herds.

Tiyani the female leopard by Morné Fouché

African sunset by Morné Fouché

 

Elephant

We had mind-blowing elephant sightings this month and could not ask for more. The rainy season is always great for elephant viewing. The mud wallows are full of water, acting as a mud bath spa for these gigantic bodies. Elephants need a lot of water to drink and need to cool down in the harsh African heat. Therefore, any water mass big enough to accommodate an elephant is a potential water spraying, mud throwing zone.

Special Sighting

It is always difficult to decide on the best, most special sighting of the month. This month there was one sighting that stood out from the rest. A spectacular interaction between a pack of wild dogs and the resident hyena clan still lingers in my memory. It was fascinating to watch how neither of the two groups wanted to give in. The noises and calls gave us all goosebumps and there was never a dull moment. Predator interaction like this is always very intense and exciting.  At the end, both parties got a bit of the impala pie and went their separate ways in peace.

Did you know?

A lion’s roar can be heard up to eight kilometres away. Roaring helps pride members to keep in contact, discourages intruders and advertises that the territory is occupied.

See you out on the game drive soon.

Morné Fouché

Rangers Report September 2018

  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...

Rangers Report May 2018

This month was one for the record books. We had a great time with awesome weather and spectacular sightings. The day temperature was very pleasant, with only a few days where the temperature went as high as 33-34°C. The average maximum temperature for the month was...

Rangers Report February 2018

This month was very exciting, with incredible game viewing opportunities. The average maximum temperature for the month was 32°C, with a wonderful 86mm of rain. We had several wild dog sightings again this month. With our resident hyena clan, we are always guaranteed...

Rangers Report January 2018

We could not ask for a better way to kick off 2018. It was an absolute pleasure to be out in the bush this month. The sightings were phenomenal and there was never a dull moment. The weather was up and down, but the rain was a huge, welcome relieve. The average...

Rangers Report December 2017

And so all good things have to come to an end. It is hard to imagine that we’ve reached the end of 2017. Looking back on this year, one realizes once again just how fantastic the sightings were. December is normally a really hot and wet month. It was a little...

Rangers Report November 2017

  Finally, the long wait is over and the first babies of the season started arriving during November. The first impalas arrived between 10 and 13 November. November is the start of the rainy season and that directly translates into baby season. The majority of the...

Manager’s Report September 2018

  Wild photo of the month - by Paul, Sue, and Mark Johnstone Spring is in the air and the landscape is slowly changing. Some of the trees around camp are showing off new small, green leaves and before we know, we will be surrounded with a fresh burst of green. Now...

Manager’s Report May 2018

  We are at that time of the year again, winter has arrived! The bush is wearing its winter coat once again! We have the blankets and hot water bottles back on the game drive vehicles and game viewing has been spectacular! The trees and grass are not as lush anymore,...

Manager’s Report February 2018

The shortest month of the year came and went in the blink of an eye. We had loads of wonderful game drive sightings, had some maintenance projects and also celebrated many staff birthdays. We experienced some strange weather patterns as well. We had very hot, humid...

Manager’s Report January 2018

Like I always say: “Time flies, when you’re having fun!”   It feels like just a few days ago that we had our new year's dinner and we are already going into the second month of 2018. By now, I am sure that most people are back home after the festive season. Some might...

Manager’s Report December 2017

December was a great month to end the year. We had lovely animal sightings, shared happiness and laughter over the festivities of Christmas and New Year and just before we said our last goodbyes to 2017, we received a heavy downpour of rain and hail.  Our New Year's...

Manager’s Report November 2017

The final countdown has arrived… just one more month until we welcome the new year. With the bush now once again wearing its bright summer colours, we are looking forward to an eventful summer! Game viewing has been amazing and with all the new babies that were born...

Big 5 Sightings 26 November to 2 December

 The highlight of the week was one male lion of the Avoka coalition visiting, and three cheetah’s moving through the area. Monday,26 November 2018 (40ºC) Hukumuri, the male leopard resting on Airport Link Four members of the Nkuhuma pride of lions resting on Sawmill...

Big 5 Sightings 19 to 25 November

Monday,19 November 2018 (31ºC) Four members of the Nkuhuma pride of lions resting at Serengeti Dam Young Ingrid Dam female leopard resting on Star chestnut Road Ingrid Dam female leopard walking on Rocky Road A breeding herd of about 30 elephants feeding on Chestnut...

Big 5 Sightings 12 to 18 November

The highlight of the week was to see Young Ingrid Dam female leopard Monday,12 November 2018 (34ºC) A breeding herd of about 20 elephants feeding at Five Way Junction Tiyani the female leopard resting in a tree at Simbambili Firebreak Two Ximungwe lionesses and one...

Big 5 sightings 05 to 11 November

The highlight of the week, was to see a young pangolin foraging for ants just before sunset   Monday, 05 November 2018 (36ºC) Xidulu, the female leopard, resting on Xihumbane Road. Two elephant bulls feeding on Simbambili Fire break. A pack of four wild dogs and four...

Big 5 Sightings 29 October to 04 November

Monday 29 October, 2018 (37ºC) Xidulu the female leopard, feeding on a duiker kill on MMM North The Nkuhuma pride, three young Mhangene pride and one of the young Talamati males resting on Gowrie Main Road A breeding herd of elephants feeding on EP open area   Tuesday...

Big 5 Sightings 22 to 27 October

The highlight of the week was the female cheetah and her two subadult cubs hunting and killing an impala female on Bushcamp East Monday, 22 October 2018 (24ºC) Moya, the female leopard eating her duiker kill at Londoz Drift Six members of the Nkuhuma pride of lions,...

Rangers Report November 2017

Rangers Report

November 2017

 

Nkuhuma cubs - Morné Fouché

Nkuhuma cubs - Morné Fouché

Finally, the long wait is over and the first babies of the season started arriving during November. The first impalas arrived between 10 and 13 November. November is the start of the rainy season and that directly translates into baby season. The majority of the animals will normally give birth during the wet season, when water and food is more abundant. The vegetation is getting really dense and searching for food is a thing of the past. The average maximum temperature was 30°C and we received a very welcome 74mm of rain. Game viewing was absolutely incredible. We were spoiled, not only with the quality of different sightings, but also with quantity. This month we had two different pangolins on our traversing area. This was once again so amazing to see, as the one pangolin was spotted a few hundred meters from our lodge. The wild dogs were also out in their numbers and they made sure we got some great sightings. The Elephant Plains hyena den have a brand-new puppy! What an amazing little creature. We are really spoiled with this hyena den on our property, especially due to this fact that it has been very active for more than a year now.

Leopard

There is still a lot of uncertainty with regards to the territory of the late Salayexe. Both Tiyani and the young Ingrid Dam female are still occupying the same area and they still scent mark the same areas as well. Both these females are fairly young and have a lot of life lessons to learn. It will be nice if both of them can share this available territory.

Tiyani is still getting bigger and she is showing some strong features. She also looks very healthy and this is definitely due to her successful hunting routine. It is always a treat to see this young cat. She was often spotted, moving through the area and scent marking as she went along. The area that Tiyani is scent marking and claiming is quite big for a young female. The possibility is evident that she might need to downscale a little to something smaller.

The young Ingrid’s Dam female was also seen a few times this month. This young female is a little older than Tiyani, but they are similar in size. Both of them can hear the distinct territorial call of the other, but chooses not to engage in any territorial disputes. Unfortunately, a territorial dispute is bound to happen somewhere in the near future.

Nsele was not seen too often this month. When we did see her, she had a belly that almost dragged on the ground. It would be so awesome if she is pregnant and we could see new bundles of fluff soon. This is not impossible, as her daughter from her previous litter is almost two years old now. We saw her older daughter a few times as well this month and she is a really stunning cat.

The young Hosana is growing up really fast and he is becoming a beautiful and bulky leopard, due to his excellent hunting skills. He still has no urge to move away, in search of his own little territory. Unfortunately, there will come a time when he would have to leave, as he will be forced out. But for now, he is still loving life around the area.

There is a new male on the block and he is moving around in the south-eastern corner of Tingana’s territory. He looks like a confident, focused and strong male, who wants to make his mark in the area. He is not that relaxed with the vehicles, but he will get there. At this stage he is smack bang in the middle, between Tingana and Anderson. Talk about being between stuck in between a rock and a hard place!

Mvula was also seen this month and he is still looking good. Mvula is still moving all over the show, as he has Tingana to the east and then Anderson to the south of him. So far it is still looking good and he is avoiding the younger, stronger males. The big question is just for how long he would be able to keep up this Houdini act.

Anderson was very low on the radar this month. During the times we did see him, he was still on a mission, patrolling his territory. He is spending a lot of his time in the southern and western parts of his territory. It might be because there is some new competition coming into the area, or he might just be busy expanding his territory.

Male giraffe by Morné Fouché

Elephants and a leopard drinking water by Morné Fouché

 

Lion

The lion sightings were absolutely brilliant this month. We were very fortunate with the different lion prides in the area. There was also a lot of excitement with these beautiful cats.

The Nkuhuma pride stole the spotlight during November. The Amber eyes female has suckle marks. It is still unclear how many cubs she has, as she was only spotted in a thick dry riverbed. It will be so awesome if we could see the cubs and find out how many there are. The young female with the two older cubs is spending a lot of time with the Amber eyes female at the den site. Fingers crossed that she will keep the new babies safe for the next few months or so, before she re-joins the pride. The young female with the two older cubs are also doing well. The two cubs are growing up really fast and they are keeping their mother on her toes. The other females with the bigger cubs are also looking good and they are eating really well. It will be interesting to see what the future holds for this pride.

The Styx pride was also seen a few times during the month. They are looking great and all the cubs are very healthy. It is always great to see this pride. As they are the oldest pride in the Sabi Sand, I will always have a soft spot for them. They’ve had a really tough time the last couple of years, as they were not able to raise a single cub to adulthood. So far, the three adult lionesses are doing really well for themselves. As long as they can eat well, they will stay healthy. It is good for the pride to have one, or even all four, of the Birmingham males accompanying them, to keep them safe.

The Tsalala pride was also seen a few times this month. Unfortunately, this pride still doesn’t have any pride males to keep them safe from other males. The responsibility all comes down to the adult females to keep the rest of the pride safe. It looks like the two fifteen-year-old sisters are back together, but there are a few pride members missing. The one young female of the Tsalala pride was mating with one of the Birmingham males this month. It is great to see that this young female is mating with the Birmingham male. All that needs to happen now is for the Birmingham boys to expand their empire more south, into the Tsalala prides territory. This is most probably what will happen within the next year.

The four Birmingham males are also looking very healthy. They have really turned into beautiful big male lions. They are getting more and more confident and moving further and further south, while scent marking and roaring. With the aging Majingi males to the west, it will not be too long before the Birmingham males will expand their territory further west.

Young Ingrid's dam female by Morné Fouché

Young Ingrid's dam female by Morné Fouché

 

Buffalo

More and more bachelor herds are making their way back to our area. This has a lot to do with the awesome rain we’ve received during the month. It is great to see the waterholes that were bone dry a month ago, finally three quarters full again. Mud wallows are an essential part of the day to day living of a buffalo’s life during the summer months. The buffalo bulls love to roll in the mud, as it is cool and soothing and also helps them to get rid of some of the parasites that might be stuck on them. We are still hopeful that the females and their calves are not too far away. Hopefully they would soon make their way into our area as well. This time of the year there should already be a few females with very small calves. Buffalo cows have a gestation period of between eleven and twelve months. This is the longest gestation period in the bovine family. Despite a long gestation and the ability of the calve to be able to stand within the first ten minutes after birth, they can’t keep up with the rest of the herd. Mothers that give birth within the herds rest period, are usually left behind by the herd when they move on to feed. This will force the mother to go into hiding with the calve, until it is strong enough to move along with the herd.

Tiyani the female leopard by Morné Fouché

Tiyani the female leopard by Morné Fouché

 

Elephant

The elephant sightings were just incredible this month. Normally the elephants will embark on their yearly journey to the Kruger National Park this time of the year. This year it was different and we had so many elephant herds moving through the area. One noticeable thing is that there are a lot more family units than in previous years. This certainly has to do with the amount of rain we’ve recently had, which totally transformed the bush. These family units will normally consist of an old female and her offspring, as well as their offspring. These herds consist of only about ten to fifteen animals. These family units will again join forces with the rest of their family during the winter, when they rely on the matriarch of the herd to find food for them. Leadership and experience play such a crucial role in the social structure of elephants.

Special sighting

The special sighting this month was to see a new, tiny hyena cub at the hyena den. He was so small that he had a hard time getting up to the entrance of the den. His mother was very relaxed with us being there and her focus was only on the little cub. Mum was lying on the slope just next to the entrance of the den and the cub walked with very wobbly legs towards mum. The slope turned out to be quite a challenge for the inexperienced walker, as he tripped and rolled down the slope, all the way to the bottom. Mum just looked on in shocked disbelieve at his clumsiness, as baby ended up all the way at the bottom of the mound.

Did you know?

Spotted hyena cubs are born with their eyes open.

See you out on the game drive soon.

Morné Fouché

Rangers Report September 2018

  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...

Rangers Report May 2018

This month was one for the record books. We had a great time with awesome weather and spectacular sightings. The day temperature was very pleasant, with only a few days where the temperature went as high as 33-34°C. The average maximum temperature for the month was...

Rangers Report February 2018

This month was very exciting, with incredible game viewing opportunities. The average maximum temperature for the month was 32°C, with a wonderful 86mm of rain. We had several wild dog sightings again this month. With our resident hyena clan, we are always guaranteed...

Rangers Report January 2018

We could not ask for a better way to kick off 2018. It was an absolute pleasure to be out in the bush this month. The sightings were phenomenal and there was never a dull moment. The weather was up and down, but the rain was a huge, welcome relieve. The average...

Rangers Report December 2017

And so all good things have to come to an end. It is hard to imagine that we’ve reached the end of 2017. Looking back on this year, one realizes once again just how fantastic the sightings were. December is normally a really hot and wet month. It was a little...

Rangers Report November 2017

  Finally, the long wait is over and the first babies of the season started arriving during November. The first impalas arrived between 10 and 13 November. November is the start of the rainy season and that directly translates into baby season. The majority of the...

Manager’s Report September 2018

  Wild photo of the month - by Paul, Sue, and Mark Johnstone Spring is in the air and the landscape is slowly changing. Some of the trees around camp are showing off new small, green leaves and before we know, we will be surrounded with a fresh burst of green. Now...

Manager’s Report May 2018

  We are at that time of the year again, winter has arrived! The bush is wearing its winter coat once again! We have the blankets and hot water bottles back on the game drive vehicles and game viewing has been spectacular! The trees and grass are not as lush anymore,...

Manager’s Report February 2018

The shortest month of the year came and went in the blink of an eye. We had loads of wonderful game drive sightings, had some maintenance projects and also celebrated many staff birthdays. We experienced some strange weather patterns as well. We had very hot, humid...

Manager’s Report January 2018

Like I always say: “Time flies, when you’re having fun!”   It feels like just a few days ago that we had our new year's dinner and we are already going into the second month of 2018. By now, I am sure that most people are back home after the festive season. Some might...

Manager’s Report December 2017

December was a great month to end the year. We had lovely animal sightings, shared happiness and laughter over the festivities of Christmas and New Year and just before we said our last goodbyes to 2017, we received a heavy downpour of rain and hail.  Our New Year's...

Manager’s Report November 2017

The final countdown has arrived… just one more month until we welcome the new year. With the bush now once again wearing its bright summer colours, we are looking forward to an eventful summer! Game viewing has been amazing and with all the new babies that were born...

Big 5 Sightings 26 November to 2 December

 The highlight of the week was one male lion of the Avoka coalition visiting, and three cheetah’s moving through the area. Monday,26 November 2018 (40ºC) Hukumuri, the male leopard resting on Airport Link Four members of the Nkuhuma pride of lions resting on Sawmill...

Big 5 Sightings 19 to 25 November

Monday,19 November 2018 (31ºC) Four members of the Nkuhuma pride of lions resting at Serengeti Dam Young Ingrid Dam female leopard resting on Star chestnut Road Ingrid Dam female leopard walking on Rocky Road A breeding herd of about 30 elephants feeding on Chestnut...

Big 5 Sightings 12 to 18 November

The highlight of the week was to see Young Ingrid Dam female leopard Monday,12 November 2018 (34ºC) A breeding herd of about 20 elephants feeding at Five Way Junction Tiyani the female leopard resting in a tree at Simbambili Firebreak Two Ximungwe lionesses and one...

Big 5 sightings 05 to 11 November

The highlight of the week, was to see a young pangolin foraging for ants just before sunset   Monday, 05 November 2018 (36ºC) Xidulu, the female leopard, resting on Xihumbane Road. Two elephant bulls feeding on Simbambili Fire break. A pack of four wild dogs and four...

Big 5 Sightings 29 October to 04 November

Monday 29 October, 2018 (37ºC) Xidulu the female leopard, feeding on a duiker kill on MMM North The Nkuhuma pride, three young Mhangene pride and one of the young Talamati males resting on Gowrie Main Road A breeding herd of elephants feeding on EP open area   Tuesday...

Big 5 Sightings 22 to 27 October

The highlight of the week was the female cheetah and her two subadult cubs hunting and killing an impala female on Bushcamp East Monday, 22 October 2018 (24ºC) Moya, the female leopard eating her duiker kill at Londoz Drift Six members of the Nkuhuma pride of lions,...