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Leopard Diaries

A word from our rangers.

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7 to 13 December

By Liam Rainier
Leopard Diaries 7th-13th December 2009

7dec1As we approach the middle of summer the bush is looking radiant as the trees have all come out in full leaf and the grasses have started to seed. The fruiting season has also started with a number of Sour-plums starting to bear their tart but very tasty fruit.

Predator viewing this week has been very good with leopard being seen on every drive and Al and Mumps were lucky enough to watch as Thandi, stalked and killed a young impala and dragged it into the braches of a Marula tree. A single male cheetah was also seen this week as well as a brief sighting of wild dogs.

The wildebeest calving season has begun and we have started to see the fawn coloured calves running with their mothers.

Leopard

The leopard viewing has been superb this week, with as many as five different leopards being found during a single game drive. Salayexe and her two cubs are still providing the bulk of our sightings as they move through the central areas of our traversing. The cubs are becoming more independent and have been seen exploring further on their own.

The old female leopard Safari , was seen on a young impala kill for a three day period as she remained in the vicinity and finished the kill that she had stashed in the branches of a Marula tree in a leisurely fashion. This old one-eyed female who is in her seventeenth year is still a very capable hunter. The wounds that she seems to have received from an encounter with a warthog appear to be healing well.

The young female Mbilo has made the area in the vicinity of Big Dam her own and has been found in the area over the past week often resting up in trees as she surveys her surroundings for any likely prey.
Leopard Diaries Leopard Tracking Leopard Trails

Lion

7dec5The Tsalala pride made a welcome return to our property during the week. The entire pride of eleven were found early one morning feeding on a recently killed wildebeest cow. The eight cubs are all in good condition and have grown considerably since we last viewed them. The pride remained in the area for the entire day resting in the shade of a thicket after they had finished the meal.

The two Mapogo male lions moved through the area during the middle of the week and were found resting in the eastern half of our traversing. These two males have been moving through the property more frequently, scent marking and roaring. This could be due to the fact that their scent marks are not lasting as long because of the frequent rainfall in summer.

The Sandy Patch lioness has still not fed this week and at the last sighting we had of her and her cub, the pair appeared rather thin and in need of a good meal. The lioness is struggling to hunt successfully due to the constant presence of her young son. The young lion in all his enthusiasm often gives away the presence of the lions to any possible prey as he bumbles along behind his mother.

Elephant

A number of breeding herds have been seen this week, feeding on the fresh growth of greenery that has appeared with our summer rains. Elephant appear to be grazing the very nutritious grasses around the termite mounds.

Buffalo & Rhinoceros

7dec6A large herd of approximately six hundred buffalo was found during the week. Seeing the African buffalo in such large numbers is always a memorable sighting and even more so if they are in an open clearing where one can get a true sense of the size of the herd. The number of buffalo bulls in the area is still high and the resident camp bulls have been seen wallowing in the mud pans around the lodge.

Rhinoceros viewing is still good with a crash of six being seen regularly. The rhino are all utilising the fresher grass growth in the open areas and have also been seen as they utilise the temporary pans that have been created by the heavy rain, wallowing in the thick mud to protect their hides from biting insects and the African sun.

Special Sightings

The sighting of a male cheetah was a highlight as we don't see these sleek cats that often. The cheetah was found early during a morning game drive as it fed on an impala. The cheetah then moved off and then headed in an easterly direction towards the Kruger National Park.

A single wild dog was seen as she moved along our southern boundary. The dog stopped and called often probably as a result of having lost the rest of the pack during a hunt. The remains of a kill possibly made by the pack were found in the area around Big Dam, this was quickly finished off by a number of vultures.

Kind Regards

The Simbambili Guiding Team

1 to 6 December

By Liam Rainier
Leopard Diaries 1st-6th December 2009

dec1This week has seen Simbambili closed for routine maintenance. The floors in the main area have been resurfaced, all of the pools have been resurfaced and new air conditioners have been installed.

As can be expected we have not been out on game drives for much of the week and it was fantastic to get out into the bush again on the afternoon of Saturday 5 December. We can also report that the excellent game viewing has not changed and we were treated to some fantastic sightings over the remainder of the week.

Leoparddec2

We watched Salayexe and her two cubs as they moved away from a duiker kill that had been stolen by a hyena. The trio of leopards moved along with the grace that is inherent of their species. The two cubs lagging behind and stalking each other, using every available piece of grass or small depression to hide in or behind, before rushing out and pouncing on each other. This "play" is crucial to the development of their hunting skills and was thoroughly enjoyable to watch.

Salayexe tried to stalk a large herd of impala that she had encountered but this opportunity was ruined as a spotted hyena bumbled into the herd and sent them scattering in all directions. Knowing the game was up the leopards all lay down in a large Bushwillow thicket.

Lion

The Sandy Patch lioness and her cub were spotted late in the afternoon as they rested in a thicket. The lioness and cub looked rather thin and don't appear to have eaten recently.

Elephant, Rhinoceros & Buffalo

dec3The crash of six rhino, were found in the afternoon after spending the majority of the day wallowing in a large pan. We spent a while watching them as they grazed contentedly along the edge of one of the airstrips.

Large numbers of buffalo are still present on the property and the resident bulls can be found at any temporary pan in the bush as they wallow away the hot days.

Elephant numbers seem to be lower than usual and only one herd has been spotted during the two drives that we made.



The Simbambili Guiding Team

Rangers Report November 2009

By Liam Rainier
Rangers Report November 2009

dec1November is a month of change here in the bush as the fresh flush of green and a number of young animals being born with the arrival of the first rains. We have had a bit of a “baby boom” with of a whole new generation of impala arriving and the lambing season in full swing. The migrant birds have all returned with the distinctive call of the Woodland Kingfisher being heard all over the bushveld.

The month’s rainfall has slightly affected our game drive area with a few roads becoming impassable and certain areas being closed to off-road driving. This has not really affected our game viewing and the wildlife viewing has not suffered. Leopard viewing in particular has been unbelievable this month with no fewer than fifteen different individual leopards being seen throughout the month.

We have experienced a lot of rain in the past month with a week during the middle of the month in which we had well over 120mm of rain falling over a five day period. A thundershower late on a one afternoon produced a downpour of 40mm, which caused the river in front of camp to flow for the third time this year.

Leopard

dec2As previously mentioned leopard viewing has been very good throughout the month, with leopard sightings on almost every drive. We have seen our resident territorial leopard Salayexe and her two cubs regularly. The leopard female is still providing very well for her growing cubs, which are becoming more independent daily. They have started to explore further and further on their own and have been seen to make a number of smaller kills. These have included rodents and birds.

dec3Mbilo, a young leopard female who has setup territory in the area surrounding Big Dam, has treated us to some very memorable sightings. We found her early one morning as she was dragging a recently killed impala ram. The ram was a fully mature adult and was a substantial kill for a young leopard. Unfortunately she was not able to benefit from the kill for too long as soon as she was chased from the kill later in the day by her mother, Nyeleti. The older, bigger female then brought her three new cubs to the kill and they fed off of the carcass for the following two days. The three small cubs are doing well and they seem to be growing daily

The other leopards seen this month have also included our two territorial males Tyson and Mafufunyan who seen mating with Thandi who has started moving into the west of our traversing. Ntima, a leopard we see very infrequently, has given birth again after losing a litter of cubs in April of this year. These cubs have come from a mating with Mafufunyan in May.

dec4Lion

The lion viewing this month has been fair with the Tsalala pride being seen on a number of occasions in the southern section of our traversing. We have also seen the Nxuhuma pride after a long absence, they were found early one morning finishing off the remains of a young buffalo that the pride had killed during the night.

The Mapogo males were also seen earlier in the month after they had killed a large buffalo bull. The two male lions stayed in the area feeding off of the buffalo for three days before moving south and out of our traversing area. The Sandy Patch lioness and her cub have also made an appearance in the concession, she appears to be doing well and the cub is growing.

Elephant

dec5A number of herds of elephant have moved through our concession area. The herds appear to be made of smaller numbers than usual; this could be due to the amount of water now available in the bush that the herds are able to split into family units. A number of larger bulls have also been seen as they follow the breeding herds which have female in oestrus. There has also been an increase in the amount of trees that have been pushed over in our area. The new leaf growth nearer the tops of the trees has more than likely been the main reason for this, as well as the softer ground due to the rain.

Buffalo & Rhinoceros
dec8
dec7There has been an incredible amount of buffalo grazing throughout the concession this month, with numbers of over eight hundred being seen in different herds. The resident buffalo bulls have taken to wallowing in the new pans that have filled due to the rain.

White rhinoceros have also been seen regularly throughout the month, after the dry season and absence of water in the concession, the rain filled temporary pans seem to have attracted them back into our traversing areas.

dec6

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