This week we have once again been treated to some wonderful game viewing and it was the big cats who stole the show. Leopards have been seen on every drive this week with Salayexe and her two cubs being seen on two different kills. The Styx Pride arrived back into our traverse area early on in the week and have provided us with some great sightings. The large number of elephants has also been fantastic with herds being seen daily.
The weather has been particularly good, with some very warm days promising a very hot summer. We received an unexpected thunder storm on Friday evening. The bush was revived by this downpour and as reported last week the change of the seasons is upon us. Some early summer migrants have returned and there are a number of Swallows busy constructing nests in the lodge surrounds. Matt and Doc also saw the first francolin chicks of the new breeding season this week.
This week we have seen a number of leopards, including a return visitor to our traversing area.
Mvula a young male leopard, who left the area last year, has returned. He is turning into a very impressive male leopard and has been seen in the Nkoro section of our traversing on a number of occasions. He was also seen mating with a female earlier in the month.
Salayexe and her cubs are still doing very well and the female leopardess is providing plenty of meat for the growing cubs. We located her early one morning moving with the cubs, they appeared to be moving with a purpose and it was not long before they led us to a bushbuck kill hoisted into the branches of a large Jackalberry Tree. The young male cub in his exuberance managed to dislodge the carcass from the branches and it fell to the ground. It was fed upon by all three of the leopards.
The next sighting of Salayexe proved how tenacious this young mother is. Guides found the leopard after being alerted to her presence by the alarm calls of a troop of vervet monkeys. It was only on closer inspection that it was discovered that she had in fact made a kill. A large impala ram was hidden in the grass next to the leopard. The noise of the kill and the alarm calls of the monkeys had unfortunately alerted not only us but also the attention of a number of spotted hyenas, who wasted no time in running in to appropriate the leopards kill.
The leopard made a brave attempt to get the kill into the branches of a nearby tree, it was just too heavy though and the carcass and leopard fell to the floor in an undignified heap. The hyena which had, by this time, arrived and was waiting at the base of the tree then moved in and grabbed the kill. Salayexe grabbed the opposite end and a brief tug-of-war took place. The hyena being bigger won and the leopardess was left with a very small piece of the kill which she took into the branches of a nearby tree. The hyena fed on a large portion of the carcass and moved off carrying the neck and head of the impala. Salayexe then followed them utilising the scent trail left by the carcass as it was dragged away to locate and eventually win back the remainder of the carcass from the lone hyena who had stolen it. This she put into a dense milkberry tree where she and the cubs fed off the remains for the next two days.
The Styx Pride has provided us with the bulk of our lion viewing this week as they have been in the concession since Tuesday. The pride is still made doing well and the five sub-adult cubs are doing well. They have made only one kill this week which was a young wildebeest.They were seen chasing a herd of buffalo late one night through one of our open areas and have been following the herd for the last few days. We have not however found any evidence so far that they have managed to bring down one of these large bovids.
Elephant, Buffalo and Rhino
There have also been regular sightings of a herd of approximately one hundred and fifty buffalo as they have moved from water source to water source through the concession. Elephant numbers are still high with the largest of the herds once again numbering upward of sixty animals. Rhinoceros have been seen almost daily with the two dominant bulls, Short Horns and the Londolozi Bull being seen in the company of a number of different cows and calves throughout the week. The three wild dogs in the eastern part of our traversing have also been seen this week. They were found late one afternoon feeding on an impala they had caught.
The Simbambili Guiding Team...
9 August to 17 August Once again for the third week in a row the Leopard diaries should really be called the lion diaries, as we have seen lions on everyday this past week, and it has not only been one pride. We have had the 3 Tsalala females and their 8 cubs on the property and all are looking great. The other pride that was seen was seen this week was the Styx Pride with the 4 females and 5 cubs. They had quite a week as on one occasion they had killed a zebra mare and had just started to feed when two unknown males probably from the Manyeleti ran in and chased them off. The 3 females turned and fought one of the males while the fourth female took the 5 cubs and moved them to safety. This is the first sighting of these two male lions and they certainly made their presence felt, by not allowing any vehicle closer than 40 meters. They would growl and snarl at the vehicles from that distance. This commotion then prompted the return of the 2 Mapogo males and they made a welcome return to the area. They gave the message to these two other males and the intruders moved off.
That was not the end; a report was received from the west of our traverse area that the Sandypatch lioness had lost both her cubs. We were eager to find out more and as soon as we got tracks for this female we followed up, and to our relief we found one cub and the lioness. The other one was found dead but we can be grateful that she still has one. She seemed to be nursing an injury which came when she met up with the Robson's Pride. Things can only get better for this female and we will keep you posted as to what happens in this regard.
On the leopard front, the female Salayexe's two cubs are doing well and we even saw the one grab a francolin and make his first kill. Then the two were treated to a fine meal when we found Salayexe dragging an impala right past the lodge to the cubs.
The territorial male Tyson has also been hanging around which is great as he then deters any other competition that may pose a danger to the cubs. The old male, Mafufenyane was also seen a number of times this week. He was seen once this week actually swimming inside a dam trying to catch cane rats that were in the water. The females, Mbilo and Safari were seen this week at big dam and they were fighting with each other for quite some time. All the noise then alerted Nyelti and she also made her way into the sighting.
A previously unknown male leopard was sighted this week and seems to be very relaxed with the vehicles. .Shadow and Tandi were also seen, which makes one fine week for leopard viewing to.
The wild dogs also made a few appearances this week. The 3 males that move in and out our area were seen. They are covering enormous distances all over the reserve. A male Cheetah was also seen this week, he was only seen on one drive, but we had spectacular sightings of him.A great week.
Until next week The Simbambili ranger team
3 August to 10 August 2009
This week has seen another strange bout of rainfall during the winter period here in the lowveld. We received a substantial downpour on Saturday evening. The rainfall is very unseasonal albeit not unwelcome as it has settled the large amount of dust that is so prevalent during our "usually" dry winter months. The temperatures have been very pleasant and cool mornings soon warm up into lovely warm clear days.
Game viewing has been good, with a number of leopard sightings, Salayexe and her two cubs providing us with a three day sighting as they fed on an impala kill. We have also had the Styx Pride feeding on a buffalo kill.
As previously mentioned Salayexe, the resident female leopardess has been seen regularly this week. Salayexe and both of the cubs were found early on in the week with a large impala kill. The kill had been placed in a large Marula tree and was fed on for three days by the trio. There were a number of Spotted Hyena present but this did not seem to bother the leopards who sat nonchalantly staring at the Hyena from the upper branches of the tree.
Salayexe was then seen moving through the western part of her territory alone. We followed as she wound her way back to the area of the previous impala kill; there she collected a cub that had been left in the safety of a large termite mound. Once she had safely located the cub she moved it further west and out of our traversing. This was a worrying time for us as on the same morning the two Mapogo male lions were seen in the exact same area and having only seen one cub we feared the worse. However, on closer inspection we found sets of tracks for both cubs and the female leopard moving out of the area. Salayexe, being the superb mother that she is had sensed the danger and had moved one cub and then hidden the second cub, only returning back to collect it once the lion threat had moved away.
The sound of a lion roaring is one of the most evocative sounds in the African bush and it was the sound we woke to early on Thursday morning. The two Mapogo males had been patrolling their territory and were announcing to anyone who would listen that they were the rightful owners of the northern Sabi Sands.
We quickly finished our coffee and headed out finding them as they made their way purposefully towards the western boundary of the concession. They approached a large waterhole known as Rhino Pan, and here they spent the rest of day resting in the shade of the thickets around the waterhole.
The Styx pride, still numbering nine individuals, four lionesses and five cubs were found in the eastern half of our concession. The lionesses had managed to kill an adult bull buffalo and the pride spent the remaining two days of the week either sleeping or trying to force another mouthful of buffalo down. They then moved off and spent the following day full bellied and fast asleep on the edge of a large waterhole.
Large herds of elephant have been seen daily as they move between the large remaining water sources through the reserve. The largest herds have numbered close of sixty animals ranging in size from the massive six tonne bulls all the way down to the tiniest calf of approximately one hundred and fifty kilograms.
Buffalo & Rhinoceros
Buffalo and more buffalo and even more buffalo have been the order of the week here at Simbambili. We have had as many as four herds ranging in size from twenty individuals up a massive herd of over three hundred animals, moving through the concession. We have been lucky enough to have two of these herds drink at the waterhole in front of camp. Rhinoceros have been seen regularly, with crashes of up to six being seen.
That's all for this week, speak to you soon......
The Simbambili Guiding Team
28 July to 02 August
General game over the past week has been tremendous with dazzles of about 40 zebra being recorded and various stretches of giraffe numbering up to 15.The waterbuck numbers seem to have increased 10 fold due to the large amount of rain we managed to receive this past year. Impala are also doing tremendously well and with summer approaching and the first rains virtually around the corner, we are sure the impala numbers will swell even bigger with the new arrival of all the fawns.
Rhino numbers have also definitely increased with the arrival of winter, we are seeing a lot of rhino bulls moving in from the west of our traversing and they seem to be relaxing more and more as they spend more time with us. The large crash of six rhino is still around on Simbambili and provides all the guests with excellent rhino sightings on a daily basis.Elelphants are always abundant as they have been this week. With at least 3 to 4 herds moving into the waterhole around the lodge to get the water. Buffalo have also been great this week with 3 different herds moving onto the property during the week.
Leopards were great this week with one seen on every drive, Salayexe still has her two cubs which are doing fantastically well, Tyson was back making sure know body is around his turf, Mafunyane is still being the old man and doing as little as possible and Safari is also providing us with fantastic sightings.Thandi, Shadow and Ntema and also Mbilo were also seen making it a great week for leopards all round. There also has been a new young female about 5 years also moving into the area, she has probably moved this far north due to the fact that she is in oestrus and wants to mate with Tyson.
The 3 wild dog were again sighted on our traversing this week, but were moving at a rate of knots, the amount of distance that these 3 males cover is incredible, there are reports of the 3 being seen right down by the Sabi river next to Paul Kruger gate, and then the are also being seen as far North as the Manyeleti that means they could be covering an area of more than 60 hectares which is not unusual for wild dogs but that is still an amazing feet for any animal.
The lion sightings this week were mostly due to the presence of the Tsala pride, this pride is showing obvious signs of pressure from other lions within there area as they are spending a lot more time in our area, but the bulk of the territory is made of the property to the South of us. This is great for us as we are seeing the 3 females and cubs almost every second day.
The Two mapogos were also seen this week, but only stayed for the morning and afternoon and then were off. The pride also showed up for in the east of our traversing and provided the guests with great viewing of the cubs.
Until next week.
The Simbambili ranger team
12 July to 19 July
Wild dogs once again have been the flavour of the week as sightings go. These rare and elusive animals have been frequenting our traversing area again. This is a pack of six dogs and it was originally thought that this pack of six was part of the larger pack of 12 that move in and out of our traversing, but as a result of the sightings we have been having we can see that these six are a different pack to the others. This pack moves in and out of the Manyeleti Game Reserve and seems to have decided to move more and more often into our area of the Sabi Sands.
This means that we have three distinct different packs that come and go over our area, the large pack of 12 and then the smaller pack of 3 and now this new pack of 6 animals. This is quite incredible to have so many wild dogs in an area as they are very endangered and the estimated total number of individuals in the entire greater Kruger National Park is approximately 300 animals. This also means that every impala in the vicinity has to be on its toes day in and day out otherwise it could end up being taken by these highly efficient hunters.
Lion sightings have also been great this week, with the first sighting for some time of the Sandy Patch lioness and her 3 cubs, she frequents the area around Djuma but we often see her tracks in and out of our traversing area, so we were very lucky when see was seen on drive with her cubs. They are 2 females and a male, we can just only hope that she can raise them to adulthood and then we may see the beginnings of a new pride in the north of our area.
The Styx Pride with the 4 females and 5 cubs has also been seen and the cubs are still looking in great condition. While rest of the pride, the two females and the two cubs seem to be in a bad way as there is still no sign of the two cubs after the interaction with the Tsalala Pride, so we can only hope that they are still alive.
The two Mapogo male lions have also been seen a few times, and every time they arrive back in the area, they feel that they have to roar and roar all night, which is incredible as you sit around the fire and listen.
The three young male lions that moved in not so long ago are back harassing the buffalo in the area, they are still little bit skittish with the vehicles but they are becoming a lot better and in time will settle down completely.
Leopard sightings were again great this week with at least one individual leopard seen on every drive. Salayexe still has her two cubs which are doing fantastically well, Tyson was back making sure there is no competition on his territory, funyane is still often viewed and the old female Safari is also providing us with fantastic sightings.Thandi, Shadow and Ntima and also Mbilo were also seen making it a greatweek for leopards all round.
Elephant, rhinos and buffalos have been seen everyday with a large herd of 300 buffalo drinking at the Simbambili waterhole during the week.