Leopard Diaries 24th - 31st January 2011
This week saw a break in the rain that has been falling steadily for the past few weeks.
The clay soils around the lodge and the Western part of our traverse area are still very wet but it has become a little easier to move around, for both man and animal. This resulted in an excellent week of game viewing.
The heavily pregnant resident female, Salayexe, continues to make almost daily appearances near the lodge along the Manyeleti River. She is resting in Marula trees for considerable periods and does not travel as far in a day as she usually does. We are still confident that, when she has her cubs, it will be somewhere near the lodge.
Salayexe's male cub, Rulani, has been seen regularly on the Southern edge of his mother's range. On one occasion he was foolish enough to stalk a fully grown buffalo bull; a game that could have gone badly wrong, but he was able to climb a tree just before the buffalo turned on him.
The large male leopard, Tyson, has been spending a lot of time along our Western boundary and has been seen in the riverine thickets along the Zimba River, which is a difficult area to negotiate after the heavy rains.
The Tsalala pride spent two days lying near Kraaines Pan digesting the zebra they had killed last week. Then, over the course of the next three days, they made an impala kill each night on the airstrip to the South of the lodge.
The Majingilane males have, after a long absence, appeared in the East of our traverse. They killed an adult buffalo cow and were joined at the carcass by two of the Styx Pride females. This should provide good viewing for the next few days as there is still a lot of meat on the carcass.
Elephant viewing continues to be erratic. Large herds have been moving into the area and out again, quite rapidly, and often overnight. They appear to be moving large distances between the fruiting Marula trees on our property and the Sand River to the South, which is still flowing rapidly following the recent heavy rains. We have encountered herds of approximately twenty animals on the high ground in the Marula forests and a number of large bulls have been observed moving through the area, probably following the breeding herds.
Buffalo & Rhinoceros
The large herds of buffalo have not returned to our area from the burnt areas in the Kruger National Park where they are concentrating on the new, fresh grass. We are still encountering large groups of buffalo bulls that have taken up residence in all the temporary pans and mud wallows. A group of ten have been seen almost daily in the pan in front of the lodge.
The wet conditions have made going off-road to view rhino difficult, particularly in the Guarri Bush thickets they often favour. One of the resident bulls has been frequenting the open airstrip areas quite a lot and has provided good viewing opportunities. He also appears to have had a confrontation with a younger bull, which is sporting some painful looking cuts on his nose and neck. This young bull has withdrawn Eastwards and will probably think twice before visiting our area again.
African Wild Dog
The seven Wild dogs that entered our property last week have continued to be seen on a daily basis this week. This extended period of small range coverage can possibly be explained by the fact that the lead pair of dogs (known as the alpha pair) have been mating repeatedly for the past four days. Their reluctance to move has forced the pack to stay in a relatively small area and they have killed a number of impala and nyala. We were lucky enough to witness one of these kills in the riverine thicket to the South of the lodge.
Simbambili Guiding Team