Rangers ReportFebruary 2018
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.
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.
Hosana the young male leopard by Morné Fouché
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…
Elephant's eye by Morné Fouché
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.
Red-crested korhaan by Morné Fouché
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.
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.