The third month of the year has passed and so we share with you what we saw….
The bush is getting drier at this stage and we are really hoping for some later rain in April to help us through winter. That said, the dams are still quite full and the vegetation around the riverine is still green and lush. Therefore we recorded very good sightings of our general game such as Kudu, Zebra, Wildebeest, Waterbuck, Warthogs and many more…
Due to a few kills made by Leopards we also had a fair amount of Hyena sightings during the month. We are not sure where the Rockfig clan is denning at this stage but we are planning to follow the tracks from Hide dam to the areas of biggest activity to see if we can find it.
Leopard sightings were good during the month and here we have to highlight three individuals that contributed to most of the sightings during the month. They are Xinope-nope (young male from the South), Tumbela (Rockfig jr.‘s daughter) and Rockfig Jr.
Xinope-nope was seen frequently around “Impala dam”, “Donga lookout” and Marco‘s dam. He still walks around with pride and seems very confident about the area he traverses. We shared a lovely sighting of him in front of our neighbour‘s camp while he was feeding on a Chacma baboon kill. Baboons are generally very clued up when it comes to Leopards, but as masters of the undergrowth our spotted friends know all too well how, where and when to ambush some of the younger members of baboon troops.
Tumbela spent a lot of time along the Machaton river and was seen mostly around two dams along the riverbed. At first she “camped out” around Machaton dam where numerous guides witnessed the 16 month‘s antics with the other animals that came to quench their thirst. Since she was a tiny cub, her and her brother (he passed 8 months ago) used to stalk and pounce at larger animals like Buffalo, Elephant, Giraffe and Kudu. It is very natural for young cats to test their skills but it often gets risky and ends in close calls. Patrick witnessed, at this dam, her attempt at a Buffalo calf. If the calf‘s mother didn‘t react as quick as she did Tumbela would have had a good meal. She pounced at the calf that brushed past the thicket she was hiding in from the large herd of Buffalo drinking. We also saw her eating an Egyptian goose she managed to kill close to the water.
From there her mother collected her for a kill she made close to Entrance dam. They finished the Impala in less than 24 hours and Tumbela took rest at Entrance dam while her mother, Rokfig Jr., was found already hunting again 2 kilometres from there. Here she had another close shave with the Buffalo that came for a drink. They surprised her where she rested behind a log right next to the water. As witnessed by other vehicles she got unnerved and jumped out right into the herd. At first they all scattered but then one of the youngsters actually got hold of her and pressed her to the ground with his smaller sized horns. That saved her life as this Buffalo couldn‘t lift her up with shorter horns and as he tried she managed to scamper off and into a flimsy tree for safety. Let‘s hope she has learnt a valuable lesson from this!
We also had good sightings of the Northern Leopards and saw Kuhanya, the Argyle male and the young Argyle jr. a few times.
One sighting that stands out was of the large Argyle male fighting with his 2 year old offspring that tried to steal his kill out of a large Boer bean tree. This happened at night and I did not get good images of the fight.
This month’s sightings were mainly of the Machaton pride and their 9 cubs. You have been introduced to the four larger cubs and last month to the five newbie‘s.
Now the lionesses… move them to kills already and we often get lucky enough to see the three lionesses and all nine cubs together. They got interrupted by one of the Timbavati boys at Marco‘s dam after they killed a young Buffalo and lost the kill to him.
Clip by Morné’ Hamlyn
A few days later though we found them at Machaton dam and they all walked down the road to the East, straight to a big juicy male Waterbuck kill. They fed for two days uninterrupted and headed back to the Machaton river for a good rest.
The Mahlatini males also visited a few times and offered good sightings East of Java dam where the killed a female Buffalo.
ELEPHANT AND CAPE BUFFALO:
Large herds of Elephant frequented the areas where there is good drinking and swimming water. Most sightings were around Makulu dam and Peru dam in the North and around Machaton and Marco‘s dams in the South.
Cape Buffalo herds were very prominent following the water. Up to five herds was reported on some drives by various guides in the traversing. Of course we also have our ever present bachelors resting in the “Jacuzzi” wallows.
Both Mtenge-tenge and the Nhlangula males frequented their respective territories and we saw some increased movement from the West of larger “crashes” of females and youngsters coming onto our two properties (Kings Camp and Jaydee).
Two of our newest regulars are known as Rose and Maria, a female and youngster combination. Maybe you‘ll soon have a chance to see them too.
Wild dogs again made the special sightings list and few guests were indeed vey lucky to see them at Kings Camp.
The second special sighting was of a young African Rock Python. We spotted this snake crossing the road. We all jumped out for a closer look. Without pressurising the creature we all had a good opportunity to see Africa‘s largest constrictor in its natural habitat.
Check the following link for more info on the African Rock Python: http://www.ecotravel.co.za/african-wildlife/animals/reptiles/african-rock-python-sebae.htm
Take care and see you soon!!
Morné’ Hamlyn and the Kings Camp guiding team.
Report written by, Morné’ Hamlyn
Photography and clips by, Morné’ Hamlyn