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6th December - 13th December 2010

Leopard Diaries

A word from our rangers.

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6th December - 13th December 2010

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Leopard Diaries 6th December - 13th December 2010

The harsh browns and yellows of the Lowveld landscape completely transform in the summer. The rains bring much needed water and nutrients to the vegetation of the area. The new green lush vegetation determines the condition of the herbivores, which in turn play a role in the condition of the predators of the area. In his book, Bushveld Trees: Lifeblood of the Transvaal Lowveld (1993); Malcolm Funston describes the interconnection between all living organisms and the environment as follows:

"The trees of the bushveld are indeed the lifeblood of the eastern Transvaal lowveld (Greater Kruger area), for without them the remaining wilderness of the region would simply not exist as we know it. Certainly the great diversity of wildlife, one of South Africa's most valuable natural assets, would be absent and not only in this country, but the entire world would be poorer from it."

This statement has certainly proved to be true here at Simbambili over the past week. The impala herds have grown substantially as most of the females have given birth to lambs, bringing new life to the Lowveld. These births coincide with the less harsh summer conditions, when food is plentiful, allowing the mothers to produce good quality milk for the lambs.

Leopard

Leopard sightings this week have been amazing. Interesting and new interaction between different leopards has been noted in the area. For instance on one morning drive, the female Nyeleti was seen up a tree, growling aggressively at another young male on the ground, Rhulani. Rhulani, the son of Nyeleti's "younger sister", Salayeshe; had treed Nyaleti and remained on the ground, appearing very confident and satisfied with himself. He did not however, see his father Tyson stalk up behind him. As soon as he saw Tyson he immediately submitted to the much larger leopard. It may be possible that Nyeleti may be coming back into oestrus, which may have attracted Tyson to hang around her for some time.
3dec1

A few days later, Rhulani was again seen harassing Nyeleti and had stolen an impala kill from her. When Nyeleti's female cub joined the sighting, she was immediately chased up a tree by Rhulani. Nyeleti paced around the base of the tree, frantically contact calling to her cub, now left with nowhere to go as Rhulani had climbed the same tree. Rhulani and the young cub had a scuffle in the tree, after which Rhulani descended and moved off. It is possible that due to his size, he has undergone a huge boost of confidence and has yet to be humbled by another large male leopard (possibly even his own father soon).

Other leopard sightings have included Shadow and the cubs as well as of the young nomadic male we refer to as the Rhino Pan Male

Lion

Lion sightings this week have been mostly of the younger two of the adult Tsalala females. They were seen on Wednesday on Londolozi boundary and have been hanging around the area, although not sighted every day.
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On Monday morning, returning from the far eastern boundary with the Kruger National Park, the four Majingilane male lions were sighted lying in the road just inside of Mala Mala.

The two young Nxuhuma male lions have still been hanging around in the north around Simbambili Dam and on Sunday morning; we tracked and eventually found the two males. They are however still skittish, and if this aspect of them is respected and they are viewed from a distance, we are confident they will eventually allow us to view them close up.

Elephant

A small herd of very relaxed elephants was sighted at Pungwe Pan. The herd trumpeted and rushed toward a Spike thorn thicket. Out of the thicket, on the other side, a young male leopard was flushed out. Even though there is no chance of him killing elephants, they still do not appreciate the presence of a predator.

Bulls have been sighted throughout the property over the past week.

Rhino and Buffalo

Rhino have been plentiful over the last week. The majority of the sightings have been of the Londolozi Bull around Safari Airstrip and Big Dam; and the Utah bull around Elephant Plains.

A large herd of buffalo have been hanging around in the east of the property, close to Arathusa Safari Lodge for about three days. Tracks for other big herds have also been seen further east around Chitwa Chitwa.

Other sightings of buffalo have consisted mainly of older bulls around camp, and in the mud wallows, once the heat of the day has set in by 09h00.

Regards

The Simbambili Guiding & Tracking Team

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