Leopard Diaries 1st - 8th November 2010
We have finally received the much promised first rains of summer!!
After a week of promise the first proper rain shower fell on Friday evening with just over 15mm of rain falling in a short shower. The next day however was the big one with a huge shower of 30mm falling and causing the river in front of camp to flow for the first time in over a year.
The change in the bush has been dramatic with green shoots appearing overnight and the sounds of frogs and toads adding to the night time serenade.
The game viewing has been phenomenal with a very dramatic lion interaction which was watched by our guests.Leopard
The leopard viewing this week has been good although the spotted cats have been a bit more difficult to locate.
We found Salayexe around one of the few remaining waterholes late one evening as she fed on the carcass of a freshly killed duiker. The kill had been hoisted high into the branches of a Leadwood tree out of the reach of the ever present hyenas. This female leopard surprised us the next morning when she was found on the opposite bank of the river line with the remains of another kill, once again hoisted into a tree, this time the kill was a scrub hare. The leopard female spent two days in the vicinity of both kills feeding on both at her leisure before moving away to take care of her territorial patrolling.
A rather interesting sighting was that of the old female leopard Safari, who was found just outside Simbambili camp one morning. This old female leopard has not been seen this far north before and we watched and wondered what had made her come this far out of her normal territory, could it be that she is being heavily pressurised by the two younger female leopards, Shadow and Kwatile?
The territorial male Mafufunyane was spotted after the first rain shower as he made his way along one of our main roads scent marking and scraping. This behaviour is normal and as the rain would have washed away any previous scent markings left by the male it is necessary that he move throughout his territory re-establishing these boundary markers.Lion
Just when we had thought that the lion dynamics had started to settle down after the territorial take over of the area by the four Majingilane males, we were to be surprised and shocked by a sighting that took place late on an evening game drive.
We had located four members of the Tsalala pride, two adult lionesses, a sub-adult male and a sub-adult lioness, earlier in the week as they lazed around the water at one of the larger waterholes.
The sub-adults both appeared to be in poor condition and the young lioness was missing the majority of her tail! The four lions moved through the property and were seen on the following two days as they rested during the hot weather.
On Thursday afternoon the four were found moving towards a small waterhole to quench their thirst, Laz and Service followed as the lions all approached the water. The lions had just settled down and started to drink when one of the spotlights lit up one of the Majingilane males who had suddenly appeared on the opposite end of the waterhole!
The action happened very quickly, the male lion rushed into the four lions chasing the two sub-adults and catching the young male. He was badly mauled and it was thought that during the mauling the larger male had broken the back of the smaller sub-adult male. The sub-adult lioness in the mean time had run away and was being pursued by a second Majingilane male.
The young Tsalala male was now crippled and tried to drag himself under some bushes, this however was to no avail because as soon as the second Majingilane male, moved in he rushed at the injured lion and applied a strangulation bite to the neck of the sub-adult male and killing him!
The two female lionesses were helpless and stood no chance of protecting their youngsters from the two large males, who after killing the young male, left the carcass and moved off in pursuit of the young lioness.
All of us had expected something like this to happen but for the guests that had witnessed this sighting it became quite clear how hard lion life can be. The males are only killing the cubs so that they can ensure that their genetic code can get into the system and by killing the cubs they ensure that the lionesses will once again come into oestrus and provide mating opportunities for them. This will ensure that the energy invested, by the male lions; in protecting a territory will be to ensure the survival of their own offspring.
Elephant are once again proving to be elusive, it is thought that due to the first rains the Mopani veld to the north is providing a fresh supply of highly nutritious leaf growth and due to this a vast majority of the elephant have moved into the areas north of the reserve.Buffalo &Rhinoceros
Buffalo have been everywhere this week, with a huge herd of over one thousand animals making their way through the area. The herd was seen drinking in the open area in front of camp on two different occasions. The sight of so many of these big bovids moving together was truly awe inspiring!
The rhinoceros sightings have been good and we have found the Utah bull a number of times this week in the western half of our property. He is still sporting a number of scrapes and scratches from his clash with another rhino bull last week but does not seem to be suffering too many other ill effects from the bout. The Londolozi bull has also been seen a number of times this week.Wild Dog
We enjoyed three different sightings this week of the same pack of seven dogs. These dogs are the pack that denned on a neighbouring western property in July,
but unfortunately seem to have lost four members including three of the new pups.
The first sighting was late on an afternoon drive as the pack rested in a shady thicket waiting out the heat of a very hot afternoon before moving off in search of a meal. They were found again the next morning resting in the shade of a small thicket in one of the open clearings in the north of the property.
The third sighting was the most active that we saw the dogs, the pack was watched as they chased and caught and wrestled with each other early on a morning drive. The pack then all headed off in the direction of a recently killed impala ewe where they all fed before moving away in a westerly direction.
The Simbambili Guiding & Tracking Team