First report for 2011… Enjoy!
I hope you all had a blessed start to 2011 like we have!
It has been raining beautifully and we had amazing sightings of general game in the area. The grass is green and still very palatable. Daily sightings include large numbers of Impala, Zebra, Giraffe, Waterbuck, Kudu and Wildebeest.
Due to all the water around we also regularly have great sightings of water birds in the area.
Leopard sightings were good as always. We shared special bush moments with our resident leopards from the South right up to the North.
Ntombi and her 10 month old boy were seen frequently in the nearby vicinity of camp. One sighting that stood out was when she didn‘t allow him to climb into a tree to join her for a rest. He attempted a few times, but once he realized that there wasn‘t enough space he let it be and rested on the ground below. The youngster is now almost as big as his mother, so her kill rate needs to increase to supply both of them with enough food.
Rockfig Jr. and Tumbela (14 months old) spend less time with each other now. Tumbela was seen more regularly than her mother and on quite a few occasions with smaller kills of her own ranging from scrub hare to Steen buck and baby impala. Mom still collects her when a sustainable kill is made and this typically ends with an over-excited Tumbela driving her mother insane to get to the kill in a hurry. Tumbela will probably associate with her mother for another 4-6 months before tension between them will split them apart. Tumbela has a great chance of survival as she learned expert skills from her mother and successfully started making kills at only 11 months old.
Xinope-nope spent most of his time between Reflection Dam and Tanda Tula camp. This young male is growing to become a beautiful adult and has amazing presence in the area. He was seen on Impala kills twice and still frequent on the turf we regularly see him in.
Now for an update regarding some of our Northern Leopards
The 13 year old M‘bali female surprisingly reappeared on the Jaydee property. This is the oldest leopard we currently follow in our traversing and many of you may recognise her as the “bad luck” mother when it comes to raising babies. She seems to be back in parts of her old territory in areas we haven‘t seen her in for ages. She has now lost her Canine teeth on the left side of her mouth and only uses the remaining ones on the right to make kills. She is still successful and we saw her on kills four times during the month.
We‘ve been lucky seeing the Argyle male a few times in the month. This large male leopard is just an amazing sight to behold and satisfies many of our guess with the quality of the sightings he provides.
The Xakubasa pride provided us with the most regular lion sightings during the first two thirds of the month.
One particular event stands out. The pride killed a giraffe close to Hide Dam and managed to seed there for four days. Both male coalitions were in close proximity to the kill and we feared that they would loose the kill soon but luck was on our side, and theirs, and none of the males showed up.
We did however witness some amazing interaction between them and the Rockfig Clan of Hyena. There were 10 of them and daily they would put so much pressure on the five lions. These are very brave Hyenas (I have witnessed them in many fights with lions) and a pride of lions with a very low tolerance for them. The lions did turn out victorious and managed to finish the whole carcass before the hyenas moved in.
The Machaton pride made up for the remaining third of our month‘s lion sightings. All four of the cubs (all male) are still alive and looking very good. They did share a kill with the Timbavati boys and it looks like the cubs will be getting come cousins soon!! The other young lioness is approaching the end of pregnancy and may give birth very soon in February. Watch this Blog!!!
The Timbavati Boys spent most of the month far down south with another pride of lionesses. Two of them did visit a few times but most of our “maned” lion sightings belong to the Mahlatini Coalition.
These three lions were seen on numerous occasions following herds of buffalo in from the Klaserie and Umbabat reserves.
CAPE BUFFALO & ELEPHANT
The Buffalo heard move slower now with all the water and green grass about. Sightings were mostly of bachelors in close proximity to the dams and water holes.
Numerous elephants moved through the traversing, but closer to the end of the month the numbers got lower and more bachelor groups showed up.
Very few sightings during the month, but we did on a few occasions see a group of three roaming the North and North Western parts of our traversing. I think our resident bulls may be following females in neighbouring areas, so we‘ll wait for them to finish with their “honeymoons”.
The pack of 10 wild dogs was seen frequently and entertained numerous guests with special sightings of very rare animals.
We had one sighting of the Rockfig Clan of Hyena that deserves special mention in this section. It was a very hot morning and the clan decided to leave the shade they occupied close to the kill the lions had and moved to Hide dam for a swim!
It is not uncommon to see then resting in shallow water when it is hot, but to see the whole clan swimming and playing in the water was very special and indeed rare enough to put it into special sightings.
Cheetah sightings are less frequent than the wild dogs and right at the end of January we got to see three of them east of the camp!
A research team is based in the far south of the reserve and they send out regular newsletters updating us on Cheetah numbers in the area and how certain individuals are doing.
Hope to see you soon!
Morné and the Kings Camp guiding team.