The dominant male leopard in the west of our traverse area, known as Tingana, was seen stealing a female bushbuck off one of the female leopards close to Simbambili Lodge. Male leopards will often scavenge from smaller predators including other leopards. Female leopards really do have a tough time, especially when they have cubs as they are pressurised to make kills more frequently to feed their ravenous offspring. Where a fully grown impala will last a female leopard on her own up to three days, it will only last her a day with fast growing cubs and therefore she will be under a huge amount of pressure to provide enough meat for her family, never mind herself. So as hard as it is to raise cubs on their own, they then have to cope with the much larger male leopards that at any given chance will push the poor females off their well-earned kills. Although male leopards do indirectly play a role in protecting their young by defending their territory against other males who will kill young leopards not belonging to them, they donâ€™t directly help raise their own cubs.
||It was mentioned in previous diaries that Salayexe gave birth to two cubs late in June. Her cubs are now at the age when she will bring them out and give them their first taste of meat. They are over two and a half months already and have been seen on numerous occasions. It was Salayaxe who had her kill stolen by Tingana but at this stage her cubs are still too young for her lost meal to have any serious effect on her.
Probably the most frequently seen leopard over the past month has definitely been the dominant male leopard in the eastern parts of our traversing, known as Mvula. He has been seen on an impala kill he had hoisted high up a Marula tree that he fed on for two days, another impala he killed and hoisted up a Greenthorn which he also fed on for two days. In addition he chased the young male leopard known as Xivambalana off yet another impala kill that he then treed up a Marula and a few days later he was found killing a warthog boar in the far eastern part of Nkhoro . He took this kill up a Marula as well and fed on the carcass for almost four days.
||Although the dominant female leopard in the south eastern section, known as Kwatile, was seen mating on numerous occasions with the young male, Lamula, it seems sheâ€™s looking for a male to mate with again. She has been calling frantically around the Big Dam area, maybe to try and entice Tingana into mating with her, but her calls fell upon deaf ears and the only male to respond to her once again was Lamula. The two leopards spent three days mating constantly, so letâ€™s hope that she is now pregnant and yet another female will be giving birth to cubs in the near future. After her mating marathon with the young male she was found with a duiker kill she had dragged up a tree. Posing perfectly in the sunset we were able to get some great pictures of her, while the hyenaâ€™s waited patiently under the tree and eventually claimed the scraps after she dropped them.
The breakaway Tsalalaâ€™s are some of the most beautiful lionesses Iâ€™ve seen. They are in such great condition and this is testament to their amazing hunting skills. In the past two years they have preyed upon a huge variety of animals including buffalo bulls, giraffe, kudu, zebra, wildebeest, waterbuck, nyala, warthog and countless impala. Two of them look heavily pregnant and could drop any day now, it is likely that the other two are also pregnant as they too were seen mating with the Majingilane male lions. If they carry on the way they do, they will no doubt be great mothers. I am looking forward to the next year with these lionesses and I canâ€™t wait to see how they fair with young cubs to look after.
The Matimba male lions made an appearance from the north east in the past month. Four of the notorious six males came in from Vuyatela one morning to grace us with their presence. They are a formidable coalition and it seems are still after the young surviving male from the Nkhuma Pride. They did manage to kill this young maleâ€™s older pride member a couple months ago and are persisting on the trail of the lone lioness and her 14 month old cub. Itâ€™s amazing to see the strong mothering instincts of this lioness as she stays in hiding from the big males and her natal pride.
The Styx Pride always seem to be the lions closest to the big buffalo herds. Whenever we see the big herds coming through our property, close on their heels are the Styx Pride. Here you can see two of the sub-adults busy feeding on a very wet morning, they are growing fast and are looking healthy. The youngest of the adult lionesses has given birth to cubs sired by the Majingilanes and they were in fact seen close to this kill site.
Four very young cheetahâ€™s came in from the north into the east of our traverse area last week and these individuals have never been seen in the Sabi Sands before. The first day that they arrived they were contact calling constantly, so we thought that their mother was not far behind but she didnâ€™t show up. The three young males and one young female stayed in the area for four days providing the most fantastic game viewing as the siblings played with one another showing off their unbelievable athleticism, hunted with one another and posed on top of termite hills and fallen over trees. They made five kills that we know of in the little time they had spent in the area and luckily we were there to witness one of them from start to finish.
The Simbambili team>
© Photos and text by Liam Rainier
(We also record our sightings on our Simbambili Game Lodge facebook page)