Leopard Diaries 8th- 14th February
The week has seen some fantastic wildlife viewing, with lion numbers being exceptionally high. We have had two prides on the property for the entire week. General game viewing has also been superb with large herds of giraffe and zebra being seen regularly.
The weather has been quite good with some extremely hot midday temperatures pushing the mercury well into the 40 degrees Celsius mark. With the promise of rain heavy in the air on Friday we were disappointed to only receive a brief thundershower which delivered 2mm of rain!
The high temperatures have started to turn the grass in certain areas and it looks as if we may have a much drier winter than last year.
The young female leopard Mbilo has been seen almost daily in the vicinity of Big Dam, and we watched her late one afternoon as she attempted to catch a monitor lizard in the high branches of a Knobthorn tree. The lizard was not having anything to do with this and put up a brave and aggressive display and the inexperienced leopard backed away from the confrontation quite quickly.
It seemed to be the week for some interesting encounters with the leopards and the big lizards. Salayexe's male cub was found playing a game of "cat & lizard" with another small rock monitor. He would wait until the monitor had moved off and then go and retrieve and play with the reptile until it froze, the cub however did eventually kill the monitor and then left the kill to find his sister.
The male leopard, Mafufunyane was seen at the airstrip where he was marking and patrolling his territory. He chanced upon a sounder of warthogs and wasted no time in chasing down one of the year old pigs. He then spent the following three days finishing off the carcass which afforded us some excellent viewing.
The lion viewing this week, as previously mentioned has been phenomenal. Both the Styx and Tsalala prides have been present in the area and have provided us with some fabulous viewing.
The Styx pride was found moving through the eastern half of our traversing area and spent the majority of their time resting around the airstrip. The short grass plains that surround the airstrip are a magnet to the many grazing species including wildebeest and zebra, which are a favored prey of the big cats. The pride was unsuccessful on the occasions that we watched them hunt and as a result they left the property early on Sunday morning.
The Tsalala pride, was more successful and the appeared to have fed on at least three kills during their stay. The eight cubs are all still healthy and we have positively indentified that they are made up of two male cubs and six female cubs, which means that the pride is going to grow and become nine strong which will make them a formidable hunting unit. The cubs however are still young and the only thing that they are hunting at the moment is each other or the end of their mothers tail!!
Good elephant numbers have been seen this week, with the late fruiting marula's proving to be too much of a temptation for them. Herds have averaged between 10 and 20 animals and have been seen almost daily this week.
Buffalo & Rhinoceros
It seems that we have a new territorial male rhino. After a number of weeks of almost no rhino sightings this week we have been finding the pachyderms on almost every game drive. 2 crashes of four rhino have been seen regularly with either the Londolozi bull in attendance or the new rhino bull. This bull does not seem too relaxed with the vehicles and is often seen huffing and puffing in the background as his herd feeds peacefully nearby.
Buffalo numbers are still good with no large herds moving through the area during the week but the resident bulls have been seen on a regular basis all utilizing the mud wallows scattered around the property.
The pack of four wild dogs moved through the area for two days this week being seen on both morning drives on the days they were present. They managed to kill an impala in an open area after short chase and wasted no time in bolting the meat down. The four appear to range over the entire eastern half of the reserve and we are seeing them at least once a week.
The Simbambili Guiding Team