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Leopard Diaries

A word from our rangers.

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23 to 30 November

By Liam Rainier
30nov1Leopard Diaries 23rd - 30th November

The bush has truly come alive after the previous week's rainfall. The sound of the woodland kingfishers and a number of the cuckoo species being heard everywhere. The chorus of frog calls is almost deafening at night.

After the very wet weather that we experienced last week, the sunshine has been very welcome, giving everything a chance to dry out.  We did however experience a huge thunderstorm on Friday night which caused the Manyeleti River, in front of camp, to flow for the third time this year!

All of the temporary pans as well as the permanent waterholes have filled up nicely. The game viewing has been exceptional with large numbers of buffalo and rhino being seen. The "baby boom" has also started with all of the impala herds boasting large nurseries of lambs.

Leopard

The leopards have all benefited from the abundance of impala lambs and a number of sightings this week were of them feeding on this summer bonanza. Salayexe and her two cubs have been seen regularly, the female leopard providing a number of meals for the cubs. We have seen them feeding on a warthog and also a number of impala kills.

The young female from the Big Dam area, Mbilo, managed to bring down a fully mature impala ram which in itself was a huge testament to the strength of these cats. Early on a morning drive we watched as she managed to drag the kill under some bushes to hide it from the prying eyes of vultures and then  feed on a small portion of the carcass. We returned later in the day to find out if she had been able to hold on to the kill and were very surprised to find, Nyeleti another female leopard in the vicinity of the kill. The larger leopard female had displaced her daughter from the kill and returned with her three new cubs and fed off the carcass for the following two days.
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We have seen a new leopard on our property for the first time this week, a new adult male has been seen in the One-Eye Pan area. He is not completely relaxed with the vehicles but we have been fortunate to view him on two occasions this week. He appears to have been in a fight and is sporting a number of wounds.

Lion

This week has seen the return of the Nxuhuma pride, which was seen feeding on the remains of a young buffalo that they had killed early one morning. The pride has four sub-adult males that have grown considerably since their last visit to our property. They stayed within our traversing area for the entire day before moving away to the east.

The Tsalala pride was seen on four occasions this week, looking well fed and in good health. They appear to be favouring the area on our southern boundary. There has been some fresh grass growth on a recently burned area which is attracting a number of herds of zebra and wildebeest which in turn has attracted the lions to the area. The eight cubs are growing steadily and the pride is going from strength to strength. It will be interesting to see if they are going to attempt to catch buffalo in the future as the cubs appetites grow. Their favoured prey item seems to be kudu which they bring down regularly, the kudu is large antelope, but to feed eleven growing lions a larger food source will be needed.

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Elephant

Elephant numbers have been constant on the property over the week, with a number of herds feeding on the lush new growth. With the trees all in leaf and the bush starting to become quite dense it is amazing to watch as a six ton elephant virtually disappears as it moves into the tree cover.

It has been interesting to note that the elephant have been pushing over a lot of trees and this could be due to the softer, wetter ground. This has kept us busy with a lot of housekeeping, clearing the fallen trees from the roads!!



Buffalo & Rhinoceros

There has been a substantial increase in the numbers of both of these animals on the property this week. The number of buffalo in the area has been particularly noticeable, with small herds ranging from ten to forty being encountered daily. The resident buffalo bulls have been seen enjoying the mud wallows that have been created by the rain.

White rhinoceros have been seen daily this week, with as many as twelve different individual rhino being seen on a single drive. The new grass growth and abundance of drinking water has made it far easier to view these large pachyderms.

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That's all for this week

Regards

The Simbambili Guiding Team

23 November

By Liam Rainier
Leopard Diaries. 23 November 2009

This week has been a wet and rainy week at Simbambili. During the week we received over 100mm of rain, the small drainage lines are all flowing slowly, while the Pungwe River close to the lodge also began to flow slowly this week. We were all waiting for the Manyeleti River to come down in flood but surprisingly that never happened.

It is hard to believe what a change the rain has made to the bush, there is so much green around and there is fresh green grass and leaves for all the animals to feed on. All the baby impala have now been born and there are nurseries of these cute little impalas, all bunched together for protection, the zebras also have a lot of foals as well as the smaller antelope like the steenbuck and the duikers.


Lion

Lion sightings this week have been phenomenal with the Tsalala Pride making up the bulk of the sightings as they have been hunting within our area. The 8 little cubs are not that little anymore as they are now nearing close to 7 or 8 months of age. They are becoming a lot more boisterous and playful than before, and their mothers are doing a great job in ensuring that they are well feed all the time. Within a few months these young lions will be out there helping their mothers with the hunting.

november1


The Mapogo male lions were also seen this week, once on a buffalo kill and the second time in our traversing in the east. These two males seem to get bigger and bigger every time we see them. They always seem to be the most well fed lions in the Sabi Sands as they do not have to depend on any females doing any killing for them, they are both fine hunters and are killing buffalo and giraffe with ease.

The Sandypatch lioness was also seen this week with her cub. They still seem to be little bit thin but nevertheless are doing fine. She was seen hunting on a few occasions during the week.

Leopard
november2As always leopard sightings were fantastic during the week. The female leopard, Salayexe and her cubs were seen on two kills this week. Once on a warthog kill and the  other on a small duiker. Her cubs are both doing really well and also growing by the day, the little male is almost the size of his mother, and we were even fortunate enough to see the cub take an entire warthog head high up into a tree. This is amazing for a cub this size do this.

The big male, Mafunyane and the female Tandy were also seen on a kill this week. It looked like Mafanyane had moved in on Tandy's kill and stolen it from her, After he finished the kill he began to mate with Thandy. She is still too young to conceive but hopefully over the next few months this might change.

The territorial male, Tyson was also seen as well as the other females, White Cloth, Shadow, Mbilo and Nyeleti. The old female, Safari was also seen but definitely looks to be on her last legs and we are not to sure how much longer she will be around as she has a very deep wound on her back leg.

Elephants, rhinos and buffalos have all been plentiful, as well as all general game such as giraffe, zebra and wildebeest.

Until next week

The Simbambili ranger team.

5 November

By Liam Rainier
Leopard Diaries 5 November 2009

I arrived back from leave this week to find little bits of green grass scattered all over place as a result of the limited rain. However there were still no impala lambs. Then the next day on safari there one was and then there another was. They had finally started to drop. The week proceeded and no further impala lambs were produced. Then 4 days ago it began to get hotter and hotter and the clouds began to build and we had a downpour of 22mm in a few hours. This was the first proper rain for the year, the puddles were everywhere on the roads and in the bush and the animals were loving every minute of this bliss. Within a day the grass was greener everywhere and you could see a definite change, this was obviously the signal all the other female impala had been waiting for and they then all dropped their young.
nov9What female impala try to do is drop their babies within a few days of each other, so they all flood the market with a surplus of babies and then the predators like the lions, leopards, wild dog, cheetah and hyena can’t eat all of them at once and the survival rate is enhanced.

With regard to the cats they have all played their roles this week, with the 2 Mapogo male lions killing a large buffalo bull which resulted in our viewing them at the kill site for at least 5 days feeding on the buffalo, going to drink,  and then returning to feed some more. They left very little of the buffalo and provided some fine sightings for all of our guests to see.
The Styx pride of lions also made a welcome return to our area, but the Mapogos decided to change that by chasing them away.

The leopard sightings have  been fantastic, with the female leopard Salayexe and her two cubs seen on every day the entire week. Both the cubs are getting big and are turning into fine young sub-adult leopards and are providing us with excellent sightings that continue to amaze our guests. Salayexe’s older sister Nyeleti also brought her three cubs onto our traverse area this week and gave us some phenomenal sightings. We had the luxury of being able to offer our guests the choice of Salayexe and her two cubs or Nyeleti and her three cubs. The large territorial male leopards Tyson and the older male Mafufenyane also made a welcome return. In addition Shadow, Tandy, Safari and Mbilo were all seen this week and gave us an action packed week of sightings of 13 different individual leopards.
We were also fortunate to have a coalition of four male cheetah move through the area which gave us great pleasure. We were very lucky to see these rare and endangered cats!

Elephants have once again been plentiful as well as rhinos and buffalo.
General game viewing has been fantastic and so too viewing of the resident hyena clan which we are seeing on a daily basis around the same waterholes and at the den for those quiet times on drive.

nov10

Until next week
The Simbambili Ranger team

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