March is always heralded as the beginning of the dry season as we enter into our autumn months, with the bush starting to shed its summer coat and the trees slowly changing colour and the grass turning drier. The temperatures this month have been rather unpredictable with some very hot weather being experienced, the hottest day this month pushed the mercury well over the 40 degree mark!
The bush is very dry for this time of the year and we are expecting a long dry season with certain of the waterholes not holding nearly enough water to see us through to the rains again in November. We have received just over 45mm of rain this month, the majority of which fell in one evening.
Game viewing has been very good, with the predator sightings being a particular highlight. We have been visited by three new male lions during the month. The leopard sightings have been phenomenal with leopard â€śspottedâ€ť on all but two days this month. The surprise arrivals of a female cheetah and her cub have allowed us a rare treat of having regular cheetah sightings over the last week of the month. Elephant, buffalo and rhinoceros numbers have also been good. Leopard
The leopard viewing is one of the bigger draw-cards to the area around surrounding Simbambili and the sightings this month once again proved why.
We have been seeing less of Salayexe
and her two sub adult cubs as they have spent more time west of our traversing. However the young male and female have been seen moving independently of their mother on a number of occasions this month. This was to be expected as the cubs have just passed their first birthday and it will not be much longer before Salayexe
starts to separate from them. The cubs have now been named as individual leopards, the young male is known as Rhulani and his sister will be known as Nsele.Tyson
the dominant male in the western half of our traversing has been seen far more frequently this month. We were fortunate enough to witness a mating session with between him and an unidentified female leopard. He was later in the month as he took care of the territorial housekeeping and was found again at the end of the month on an impala kill.Mbilo
has provided some good sightings as she continually utilises the area surrounding the Big Dam area. The area is proving to be a successful hunting ground and she was seen on three kills, an impala, a duiker and a warthog. We also watched as she once again stalked some young buffalo calves as a large herd moved in to drink at the dam. Lion
The lion viewing improved as the month progressed with a notable absence of the big cats in the beginning of the month. However this changed as both the Styx
prides moved into our traversing area. We also had a good sighting of three females from the Nxuhuma
pride. These three lionesses were joined by two new males who have been reported moving with the pride but had not made any forays into our concession. This changed as they followed a large herd of buffalo and were found resting in the area surrounding Methlane Road
The males are both impressive full maned male lions, they are however not to accustomed to the game viewing vehicles and need to be approached carefully. They only stayed for a day before moving off of the concession.
pride was seen in the company of the two Mapogo
males early one morning, the dynamics of this pride is keeping us guessing all the time. The pride appeared to be avoiding the two males who are not the fathers of the four sub adults of the pride and would therefore provide a threat to the lives of the young lions. However on the morning of the sighting the four adult lionesses of the pride were found in the company of the two males, with the oldest lioness and the young sub adults missing. These four lions were found later on that day, on the other side of our traversing area. The oldest lioness seems to have taken the youngsters and fled in an effort to protect them from the two adult males.
It appears that as the lionesses are once again coming into oestrus they are starting to tolerate the presence of the males, even though this may jeopardize the lives of their previous cubs. Only time will tell if the males will accept the sub adult lions, with the young male lion of the pride facing the greatest risk from the two adult males.
pride returned early on a morning drive, late on in the month. Their tracks were found crossing into the area from our neighbouring property to the south and it appeared that they were following the large herd of buffalo in the area. They managed to kill one of the buffalo from the herd, later on in the day and left the area a couple of days later.
The elephant numbers have been constant throughout the month, with a number of bigger herds, averaging 30 or more individuals moving through the concession. The Thickets of round leaved teak will be a big attraction for these animals as we move into the dry season and the grazing quality diminishes. Buffalo & Rhinoceros
The presence of a large herd of buffalo, numbering in excess of 150, in the concession has provided us with some quality buffalo viewing over the course of the month. The herd has moved gradually south and due to pressure from three different lion prides in that area once again moved north and then moved east. They appear to follow a set pattern of movement through the concession and only change if encountering a lion threat.
The white rhinoceros sightings have been far more frequent this month with a record of rhino being seen for six consecutive days on the concession. The majority of our sightings were of a crash of 5 animals that move between Simbambili Dam
and One Eye Pan
. They are accompanied by a new male rhino to the area that seems to have displaced the Short Horn
bull as the dominant rhino bull in the northern area.
bull is still dominant in the southern half of the concession but due to the terrain is not seen as frequently, he is often seen in the company of a crash of 4 animals.
The unexpected presence of a female cheetah and her six month old cub in our traversing area created a fair bit of excitement. The two cats were found on three occasions this month.
The female cheetah utilising the open clearings in the east to hunt impala and wildebeest calves. Unfortunately we did not see any successful hunting attempts, but we were able to get some fantastic viewing of this rarely seen predator.
The pair were last seen as they moved east into the Kruger Park and we hope that they return shortly.
Thatâ€™s it for this month and as you can see the game viewing is only getting better as we move into the dry season!!