October has been a month full of change here in the northern Sabi-Sands, the bush is getting greener by the day with all of the trees starting to show new leaf and a fair number carrying a heavy blossom. Antelope are waiting for the summer with the large number of impala ewes heavily burdened by their unborn lambs. Game viewing highlights of the month have included the continued growth and development of both of Salayexe‚Äôs cubs and the arrival of a large pack of wild dogs, totalling twenty four, these canids have provided us with some fantastic moments this month! Leopard
This month has been exceptional with regards to leopard sightings, with the majority of our sightings being of Salayexe and her two growing cubs. We have also had good sightings of Mbilo, Thandi, Mafufunyan and Safari. Nyeleti, made an appearance for a morning with her new cubs which are about three months old. A number of kills have been found with the largest proportion being impala, with duiker and bushbuck making up the rest. The sighting that stands out as a highlight was a territorial dispute between Salayexe and Nyeleti. We had been following the tracks for a single female leopard, when we heard a territorial call in the area to the east of our position. We moved into the area and found a very young leopard cub in the top of a small tree. We moved a little closer and found a spotted hyena at the base of the tree. The hyena had however been drawn to the area by a territorial dispute between the two leopard females, the cub had unfortunately been caught in the middle and had looked for a safe spot away from the fighting. We watched with apprehension as Salayexe approached the base of the tree and we all were expecting her to attack the cub. This did not happen and she moved off out of the area, continually scent marking as she moved away. Nyeleti, the mother of the cub was calling continually and collected her cub once Salayexe had moved away and the cub and her moved out of our concession in a southerly direction.
Lion sightings have been consistent this month with the Sandy Patch lioness and her eight month old cub being seen almost daily since they moved into our concession in the middle part of the month. We were also fortunate to see the Styx and Windmill prides during the month. The Mapogo Males made a brief appearance when they were found feeding on the remains of a dead hippo at one of the larger dams.
The Sandy Patch lioness has been fortunate enough to have found a number of good meals, feeding off of the carcass of a zebra that had died near Simbambili dam. We then found her on a buffalo kill, she had followed the buffalo herd for a number of days and we had noticed a buffalo cow within the herd which had a broken leg, although a tough animal to bring down by a single lioness the broken leg must have made the kill a lot easier for the lioness. The pair of lions fed off of the carcass for the better part of four days. The lioness then stole an impala kill from the wild dogs and was still sleeping of the free meal when we saw her last.
The larger bodies of water have provided us with a point to start following the resident rhinoceros in the concession. We were able to regularly see a crash of four rhino in the south eastern section of the concession as they moved from the water to grazing and back.
Wild Dog A rare and special sighting whenever they are found, it was a pleasant surprise to find a very large pack late one afternoon. The pack totals twenty four, with twelve adult dogs and twelve puppies. The pack has a number of mouths to feed and as can be expected have to kill regularly to feed all of the pack members.
The sighting of the month started in the early afternoon when the pack of dogs were found resting in long grass, close to the area they had been seen earlier in the day. They soon got active with the adults moving off and the pups following behind. The adults moved off the road and started to coarse through bush in search of prey and it did not take long before they flushed, chased and caught a steenbuck. The small antelope was consumed in less than five minutes!!! The rest of the pack had already moved off and when contact calls where heard south of where we were sitting with three of the dogs we moved in that direction.¬† We found the rest of the pack on two impala carcasses, the dogs were busy feeding and as we watched we noticed that they had chased a leopard into a nearby tree, this leopard turned out to be Thandi. The dogs were busy feeding and moving around the two impala carcasses when they flushed another small antelope, a duiker, which three dogs pursued, caught and ate! This commotion and the distress calls of the duiker alerted another leopard female who approached the kill site and was immediately chased and sent up a tree by the pack of dogs!
The pack had moved off of the concession, but we hope that they may still return.