Leopard Diaries 13th- 19th September 2010
As we draw closer to the end of our dry season here in the lowveld, the cold winter temperatures are a fading memory, with our midday highs starting to average the high thirty degrees Celsius mark. The mornings and evenings are still pleasantly cool and this makes for some of the best times to see the wildlife.
We have also started to depart a little later on our afternoon drive; we are now back to our summer timetable with drives leaving at 16h00 in the afternoon.
The game viewing this week has been very good with the return of the Tsalala
Pride to the area a highlight. This however was with mixed feelings as they seem to have had an altercation with the Majingilane
males and we have not seen the pride since. Leopard
Once again this week, Rhulani
the young male leopard has provided us with some outstanding leopard viewing. This young leopard appears to have taken up residence in the area to the south east of the lodge and is seen almost daily in the vicinity of a nearby pan of water. We followed his tracks into an area of the pan that is inaccessible to vehicles and were surprised to find that he has taken to "fishing" in order to feed himself. The drying pan is filled with catfish and he has been catching the stranded fish in the smaller puddles. This is not uncommon as leopards being the ultimate survivors will utilise any prey source to feed themselves!
the territorial female from the Arathusa Big Dam
area has been seen throughout the week in the area surrounding this large body of water. We were lucky enough to find her on two different kills this week, one was a small antelope known as a steenbuck and the other one was a young impala ewe and we were lucky enough to watch her as she hoisted the remains of the kill into the branches of a large marula
tree. The leopard spent the following three days in the vicinity of the kill before finishing the meal and moving away to carry on with other territorial duties. Lion
The Tsalala P
ride, returned during the middle of the week, they spent the entire afternoon resting around a large waterhole before finally getting active just after sunset and heading in the direction of the buffalo herd. The pride was left to their hunting endeavours late on in the evening and we hoped that we would find them on a kill the following morning. This was not to be as we were in for a big surprise as we started our morning game drive!
We were alerted to the presence of half of the pride as they moved west close to the lodge, there were two adult lionesses and three sub-adults in the group and it appeared that they had been in fight! We decided to back track the spoor of the lions to see what had made them move so far and so quickly in the opposite direction of the previous evening. We found where the pride had met up with the four male lions and there appeared to have been a clash. We have not seen the pride again since and we cannot say whether any of the remaining sub-adults were injured or killed during the stand-off. We later found the remaining two Majingilane
males together with a lone Tsalala
lioness in the vicinity of Arathusa Big Dam
, the lioness was being mated by one of the males.
A pair of lionesses from the Styx
pride were also seen this week as they rested after feeding on a kill that we were unable to locate. The pair spent the following two days moving through the eastern half of our traversing area. Elephant
There have been numerous sightings of these gentle giants this week with a number of herds moving through the property.
The dry bush is not providing much in the way of sustenance for these large herbivores and we are seeing them utilising the lusher areas in the drainage lines.
Thankfully this week we have had no further night visits by the trio of young bulls that caused such mayhem in camp over the course of last week. Buffalo & Rhinoceros
There have been a number of buffalo sightings this week, with the resident buffalo bulls being seen in the vicinity of the lodge, moving through camp to wallow and rest in the vicinity of the waterhole.
A large herd was seen moving through the eastern areas. The herd numbered in excess of two hundred animals and provided some great viewing.
Rhinoceros viewing is still good with sightings almost daily of these grey behemoths as they move through their respective territories. Cheetah & Wild Dog
A big surprise this week was the presence of a male cheetah in the northern area of the property. The cheetah was found resting in the short grass areas of the recently burnt firebreak. Later that afternoon he started move and was rewarded with a meal as he chased and killed a steenbuck.
While doing some bird identification, Matt and Doctor were joined by the pack of ten wild dogs, the dogs all appear healthy and it would appear they had fed recently. They moved down the through the south western corner of the property before the heat of the late morning forced them to find a shady spot to rest up for the day. The pack was found again in the afternoon and unsuccessfully tried to chase a herd of impala before moving off in a southerly direction.
The Simbambili Guiding and Tracking Team