This week has seen us receive a considerable amount of rain, with a single thunderstorm on Wednesday afternoon resulting in just over 70mm of rain falling in the northern Sabi Sand. This has had a marked effect on the vegetation with fresh growth and renewal taking place and the waterholes all being fill to brimming.
The wildlife has also prospered after the welcome rain, with a very late new born impala lamb being seen on Sunday. The presence of the Tsalala lion pride on the property for the entire week has provided us with some very good lion sightings. The buffalo numbers have dropped as the three herds present last week have all moved off our traversing area. Leopard and elephant have been seen regularly, with the young female leopard Mbilo providing the bulk of the leopard sightings during the week.
As previously mentioned, Mbilo has provided the main leopard sightings of the week. Early one morning we found her on a fresh impala kill, which she had managed to hoist into the branches of a large marula tree. The young leopard fed on the kill for a further three days and finally moved off on Saturday morning, moving down to the dam to quench her thirst before spending the remainder of the day resting.
Nyeleti was seen in the same area on Friday and appeared to have been involved in a fight, as she was sporting a few fresh injuries. The worst of which was a bad cut under her eye! We just hope that the injuries were not as a cause of a fight to protect her cubs and as we have not seen them since cannot tell if they are all well.
Mafufunyane the male leopard, was seen moving through the eastern half of the area, scent marking and calling, late one morning and was left to his own devices as he moved off through a thicket.
The Tsalala pride has remained on the property for the entire week, spending a considerable amount of time around the lodge. They were first found on a wildebeest kill on the nearby airstrip. They had killed the wildebeest cow during the early hours of the morning and had all but finished the kill by the time we found them. Later that evening they were found a little further south of the morning's sighting, feeding on the remains of warthog that had been killed in the afternoon.
The sound of lions roaring woke us early on Sunday morning, and it did not take us long to find the entire pride resting close to the lodge. All of them appeared to have eaten well and it was assumed that they had made a kill the previous day on a neighbouring property, before returning.
The Mapogo males have also been seen regularly this week with three sightings of these two impressive males. They were seen early one evening as they groomed and started to move towards a waterhole for a drink. That evening they moved a considerable distance and were found on the outskirts of Simbambili Lodge, clearly following the roars of the Tsalala pride.
The Styx pride made a brief appearance on the property but due to the presence of the two males did not stay for long before moving east and removing themselves from any run-ins with the Mapogo's.
A number of herds have been seen this week. The highlight of the elephant sightings this week was the sighting of a very young elephant calf. The calf appeared to be a day or two old and was being carefully ushered by his mother and siblings as they fed near a large waterhole.
The last of the bigger herds of buffalo left the property on Thursday, moving eastwards out of our traversing area. They had been followed by the three groups of lions for their entire stay in the area and appeared to have lost three members, to the big cats during their week-long stay.
Rhino sightings have been constant and we have once again seen a large number of our sightings in the northern parts of the property as the rhino moved to and from the large waterholes.
The Simbambili Guiding Team
Leopard Diaries 28th March - 4th April 2010
What a week we have had here at Simbambili!! The game viewing has been nothing short of unbelievable, with the presence of all of the big cats providing some fantastic predator viewing for our guests.
The weather has been relatively good this week, with some much needed rain falling over the weekend. The total rainfall for the week has been approximately 35 mm, which has been very welcome and has filled a number of the temporary pans in the bush.
The general game numbers are still very high with zebra, wildebeest and giraffe being seen regularly. Buffalo numbers have also been good with a total of 3 herds being seen on the property during the week.
Leopard sightings this week have been predominantly of the two dominant male leopards, Tyson and Mafufunyane. The territorial struggle between these two cats has once again changed with Mafufunyane moving further west and hunting well within the territorial area of Tyson, who covers the area around Simbambili dam. He has been seen following the exact route taken by Tyson and appears that he is looking to challenge his old enemy for a greater part of his old territory.
Tyson was tracked one morning and found on a fresh impala kill. He spent the entire day resting near the kill, feeding at his leisure as the kill was safely stashed in the branches of a large Scotia tree. He finished the kill early on that evening before we left him resting along one of the large branches of the tree with a number of hyena waiting below for any chance of a meal from the scraps falling from the carcass.Â
Lion sightings this week have been good with the Mapogo males, the Tsalala and Styx prides being found at different times through the week.
We located the Styx pride late in the week as they rested near a waterhole in the eastern half of our traversing area. The pride was not complete with three of the adult lionesses not present. It is these three lionesses who we believe to be in oestrus and they could possibly be with the two Mapogo males in the area south of our property.
The Mapogo males were found in the company of a new male lion, feeding on two different buffalo carcasses. The first carcass was an adult buffalo cow which appears to have died of natural causes and had been fed on by hyenas before being appropriated by the lions.
The second carcass was of a sub-adult buffalo which was definitely killed by the males an hour or so before it was located. The two dominant males in the area appeared to accept the presence of the new male and it is going to be interesting to see how this interaction pans out.
The Tsalala pride spent the beginning of the week moving through the western half of their territory, leaving the 8 cubs resting in the nZimba riverbed, as the lionesses moved off to hunt. They seem to have been successful as they returned and collected the cubs, moving onto our western neighbouring property.
The pride still appears very healthy with all 8 cubs doing extremely well. The three lionesses have been fantastic mothers to the cubs and we are hoping that the pride is going to go from strength to strength as the young female cubs join in and become part of the hunting parties.
The presence of a number of herds has made elephants relatively easy to find this week. The herds have been moving through the area regularly and many are seen feeding in the acacia and teak thickets.
Buffalo & Rhinoceros
The arrival of three different herds of buffalo on the property this week has meant that these large bovids have been seen on every drive this week. The herds have numbered between eighty and a hundred and fifty animals, with all herds containing many new young calves and the lions have been very interested in following the herds as they moved through the area.
Rhinoceros have been seen regularly, the crash of 3 animals being seen regularly on the eastern airstrip grazing on the short grasses on the airstrip edges.
The female cheetah and her cub have been spending considerable time hunting in the area around the eastern airstrip. The terrain surrounding the airstrip is perfect cheetah habitat, with a large open plain area and an abundant supply of impala.
The female has made two kills this week, both being adult impala, the cub and herself have managed to feed on both kills and are both fat and healthy after the large meals. The second kill was stolen by Safari, the leopard female who stashed the remains in a large marula tree.
The Simbambili Guiding Team
March is always heralded as the beginning of the dry season as we enter into our autumn months, with the bush starting to shed its summer coat and the trees slowly changing colour and the grass turning drier. The temperatures this month have been rather unpredictable with some very hot weather being experienced, the hottest day this month pushed the mercury well over the 40 degree mark!
The bush is very dry for this time of the year and we are expecting a long dry season with certain of the waterholes not holding nearly enough water to see us through to the rains again in November. We have received just over 45mm of rain this month, the majority of which fell in one evening.
Game viewing has been very good, with the predator sightings being a particular highlight. We have been visited by three new male lions during the month. The leopard sightings have been phenomenal with leopard â€śspottedâ€ť on all but two days this month. The surprise arrivals of a female cheetah and her cub have allowed us a rare treat of having regular cheetah sightings over the last week of the month. Elephant, buffalo and rhinoceros numbers have also been good.
The leopard viewing is one of the bigger draw-cards to the area around surrounding Simbambili and the sightings this month once again proved why.
We have been seeing less of Salayexe and her two sub adult cubs as they have spent more time west of our traversing. However the young male and female have been seen moving independently of their mother on a number of occasions this month. This was to be expected as the cubs have just passed their first birthday and it will not be much longer before Salayexe starts to separate from them. The cubs have now been named as individual leopards, the young male is known as Rhulani and his sister will be known as Nsele.
Tyson the dominant male in the western half of our traversing has been seen far more frequently this month. We were fortunate enough to witness a mating session with between him and an unidentified female leopard. He was later in the month as he took care of the territorial housekeeping and was found again at the end of the month on an impala kill.
Mbilo has provided some good sightings as she continually utilises the area surrounding the Big Dam area. The area is proving to be a successful hunting ground and she was seen on three kills, an impala, a duiker and a warthog. We also watched as she once again stalked some young buffalo calves as a large herd moved in to drink at the dam.
The lion viewing improved as the month progressed with a notable absence of the big cats in the beginning of the month. However this changed as both the Styx and Tsalala prides moved into our traversing area. We also had a good sighting of three females from the Nxuhuma pride. These three lionesses were joined by two new males who have been reported moving with the pride but had not made any forays into our concession. This changed as they followed a large herd of buffalo and were found resting in the area surrounding Methlane Road.
The males are both impressive full maned male lions, they are however not to accustomed to the game viewing vehicles and need to be approached carefully. They only stayed for a day before moving off of the concession.
The Styx pride was seen in the company of the two Mapogo males early one morning, the dynamics of this pride is keeping us guessing all the time. The pride appeared to be avoiding the two males who are not the fathers of the four sub adults of the pride and would therefore provide a threat to the lives of the young lions. However on the morning of the sighting the four adult lionesses of the pride were found in the company of the two males, with the oldest lioness and the young sub adults missing. These four lions were found later on that day, on the other side of our traversing area. The oldest lioness seems to have taken the youngsters and fled in an effort to protect them from the two adult males.
It appears that as the lionesses are once again coming into oestrus they are starting to tolerate the presence of the males, even though this may jeopardize the lives of their previous cubs. Only time will tell if the males will accept the sub adult lions, with the young male lion of the pride facing the greatest risk from the two adult males.
The Tsalala pride returned early on a morning drive, late on in the month. Their tracks were found crossing into the area from our neighbouring property to the south and it appeared that they were following the large herd of buffalo in the area. They managed to kill one of the buffalo from the herd, later on in the day and left the area a couple of days later.
The elephant numbers have been constant throughout the month, with a number of bigger herds, averaging 30 or more individuals moving through the concession. The Thickets of round leaved teak will be a big attraction for these animals as we move into the dry season and the grazing quality diminishes.
Buffalo & Rhinoceros
The presence of a large herd of buffalo, numbering in excess of 150, in the concession has provided us with some quality buffalo viewing over the course of the month. The herd has moved gradually south and due to pressure from three different lion prides in that area once again moved north and then moved east. They appear to follow a set pattern of movement through the concession and only change if encountering a lion threat.
The white rhinoceros sightings have been far more frequent this month with a record of rhino being seen for six consecutive days on the concession. The majority of our sightings were of a crash of 5 animals that move between Simbambili Dam and One Eye Pan. They are accompanied by a new male rhino to the area that seems to have displaced the Short Horn bull as the dominant rhino bull in the northern area.
The Londoz bull is still dominant in the southern half of the concession but due to the terrain is not seen as frequently, he is often seen in the company of a crash of 4 animals.
The unexpected presence of a female cheetah and her six month old cub in our traversing area created a fair bit of excitement. The two cats were found on three occasions this month.
The female cheetah utilising the open clearings in the east to hunt impala and wildebeest calves. Unfortunately we did not see any successful hunting attempts, but we were able to get some fantastic viewing of this rarely seen predator.
The pair were last seen as they moved east into the Kruger Park and we hope that they return shortly.
Thatâ€™s it for this month and as you can see the game viewing is only getting better as we move into the dry season!!
Leopard Diaries 1st - 8th March 2010
Autumn has arrived and the bush has started to change into its' winter coat, with leaves and grass all starting to change color. Game viewing this week has been relatively good with a number of leopard sightings and a cheetah being found. Lions have been somewhat scarce with only a single sighting of the Mapogo male lions being seen early on in the week.
The weather has been typical of this time of the year with mornings starting out cool but warming up towards midday. We have had a small amount of rain, mainly in the form of late afternoon thundershowers with just over 5 mm falling through the week. The bush however is still very dry and the major waterholes are going to be heavily utilized during the coming dry season.
Leopard Mbilo, the young leopard female has been seen in her regular haunts around Big Dam. Early on a morning drive she was found feeding on a recently killed impala which was hoisted into a Jackalberry tree. We watched as she fed on the young impala eating everything including the bones which are easily digested by the leopard. During this sighting we noticed another leopard around the dam, this turned out to be Nyeleti who is being seen more regularly in her previous range as her cubs are now old enough to move longer distances with their mother.
Salayexe was seen on the fire-break with her two sub-adult cubs, the two cubs are now a year old and have been named, the young male is known as Rhulani and the young female as Nsele. The three appeared to have eaten recently and appeared healthy and in good condition. The cubs were very playful and we watched as they chased each other up and down trees which made for a very memorable sighting.
Lions The Mapogo males were seen late one afternoon as they stalked a herd of buffalo, the two males had spent the day resting in a thicket but were up and alert as a herd of buffalo came into view. We could hardly see the lions as they crouched in the long grass waiting for the buffalo to move closer. The two lions had positioned themselves so that the buffalo would walk straight into them and this appeared to be a sure setup for a successful hunt. The buffalo, still unaware that they were being hunted moved towards a nearby waterhole. The lions focused their attention on a buffalo cow that had strayed from the main body of the herd and moved closer to get within striking distance. Unfortunately the lions were spotted and the herd moved away heading into some very thick vegetation and we lost the herd as it moved quickly away from the threat posed by the lions.
Elephant Elephant numbers have decreased considerably this week as the marula fruiting season has ended. Small herds have been seen once or twice this week with a few big bulls being found around the main waterholes.
Buffalo & Rhinoceros Buffalo numbers have been good on the property this week. A large herd numbering nearly five hundred animals was seen on a few occasions as they grazed through the area moving to the waterholes in the late evenings.
The crashes of rhinoceros have been seen on two occasions this week; the southern crash has been utilizing the area around the Manyeleti and Marakene confluence. The single male rhino was seen at Serengeti pan as he enjoyed a late afternoon mud wallow.
Cheetah The four male cheetah were seen on the eastern boundary of our traversing resting under an acacia tree after feeding on an impala kill that the males had made earlier in the day. The cheetah were watching the approach of a black backed jackal, that had come to see if there was any scraps that were left after the cheetah had eaten their fill.
Regards The Simbambili Guiding Team
This month has once again the summer game viewing has been exceptional with the beautiful backdrops, provided by some very dramatic summer skies.
The weather has been unpredictable, with some exceptionally hot temperatures being experienced in the beginning of the month and cooler rainy conditions being experienced near the end of the month. The total rainfall for the month ended being approximately 30mm.
The waterhole in front of camp has been a hive of activity this month with lion, leopard, elephant buffalo and hyena being seen drinking. The general game viewing during the day has been great with large herds of wildebeest, zebra, giraffe and impala being seen.
The sightings of Salayexe and her two cubs were good with the three leopards being found on six different kills, four of these were impala and two were grey duiker. An interesting development in the relationship between the predators in the African bush has started to develop between Salayexe and the local hyena clan in her territory. Once the female leopard makes a kill she then has to fetch the cubs and then bring them to the carcass. The hyena, have realised and now follow the three leopards at any time that they are moving through the territory, in the hope that a free meal may be on offer.
The young female who has taken up residence around the big dam area, Mbilo, has been seen regularly again this month. The young leopard female appears to be surviving well and was found on a warthog kill late in the month. We were also able to watch her as she raided a francolin nest and proceed to catch and eat all the recently hatched chicks! The adaptability of this young leopard, who is able to utilise such a broad range of food sources is what makes her such a successful predator.
The territorial males, Mafufunyan and Tyson have been seen on a number of occasions this month. They both appear to be in good health and are still very much in control of their respective territories. Mafufunyan managed to kill a sub adult warthog and was seen to feed off of the carcass for the following three days, he was joined on one evening by the old female Safari who was quickly dismissed by the male leopard as she approached the tree where the kill had been stashed.
The sighting of the old female in the Rhino Pan area was an unexpected surprise one morning and the 18 year old leopard appears to be doing well and we are hoping to see more of her in the next few months.
The lion viewing this month has not been as good as last month, but we have however had the Styx Pride and Sandy Patch Lioness on the traversing area for large parts of the month. The Styx Pride was seen around the Safari airstrip on numerous occasions, waiting for the numerous grazing herds that utilise the short grass plains around the airstrip as a "safe" refuge during the hours of darkness.
There was however a twist to their trials at the end of the month, when they were seen roaring one evening. This pride has remained quiet in our concession ever since the Mapogo Males have taken over the territory. The sub adults have not been fathered by these males and they are in constant danger from the males who will not hesitate to kill the young lions. The roaring alerted the males to the presence of the pride and the following morning the three lionesses were found in the company of the two males who had killed a buffalo bull during the night. The rest of the pride however were scattered with two female sub adults being found together and another single sub adult lioness being found alone. The disheartening thing was that the young male was not found! Only time will tell what happened?!
The Sandy Patch lioness and her 10 month old cub are not surviving well. They were spotted late one afternoon as they drank from the waterhole in front of camp. The two cats are both very thin and emaciated and it not certain if they will survive. The Tsalala Pride was seen at the beginning of the month but moved of the concession onto our neighbouring property to the south and have not returned. The three lionesses and eight cubs are all healthy and doing very well.
The elephant sightings have been good with herds and single bulls being seen daily. The fruiting marula trees are the biggest attraction for the elephants at the moment, as we approach the end of summer the fruit provides welcome substance not only for elephants but for baboons and antelope and guides alike!
The sighting of an elephant swimming is always a pleasure, the feeling of joy and enjoyment is tangible as you watch the large animal splashing and cavorting in the water. We were lucky enough to watch a young bull swimming, he seemed to be having an absolute ball, splashing and dunking himself and then chasing the resident hippo around the dam!!
Buffalo & Rhinoceros
Buffalo have been more difficult to find with no herds being seen on the concession this month. We are lucky to have the resident "dagga boys" that utilise the mud wallows and the waterhole in the front of camp. These big bulls are seen almost daily as they move to their favoured wallows.
Rhinoceros numbers have been much higher this month with regular sightings of two different crashes both of which number four animals. The southern crash, which is found in the territory of the Londoz bull, were seen on three occasions. The bull was found on many occasions as he moved through his territory maintain his middens and territorial scent markings.
The northern crash has been seen with a new bull rhino, who does not seem too relaxed with the presence of the game drive vehicles and has to be approached with caution when we are viewing him.
A single sighting of a young male cheetah was had one morning as the animal moved through the far eastern half of our concession. The male moved north and it was reported later that he was seen stalking a herd of waterbuck on our northern neighbours property.