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Leopard Diaries

A word from our rangers.

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27 September - 3 October

By Liam Rainier
Leopard Diaries 27th September - 3rd October 2010

thumb_oct1This week the game viewing has been rather tricky with some very windy conditions making game quite difficult to find. The absence of large numbers of lions from our traversing area has got us all guessing but this has more than been compensated for by wonderful leopard viewing. We have also enjoyed some good sightings of the larger herbivores with buffalo, elephant and rhinoceros being seen daily.

The highlight of the week however was definitely the presence of a large pack of twenty one wild dogs. The pack stayed in our area for an entire day before moving back north.

Leopard

The leopard viewing this week has been exceptional, with sightings on every drive and we have not struggled to find this spotted cat at all.

We have had some fabulous viewing of the young male leopard Rhulani; he was seen on a morning drive chasing a helpless banded mongoose. The mongoose was caught and released in a cruel game of "cat & mouse" before finally darting into a termite mound. The young male leopard tiring of the game;  left the mongoose to recover but was found later in the morning at his favourite fishing hole trying to catch a large catfish that had been stranded in a rapidly drying pool.

The female leopard Nyeleti was found in the company of Tyson this week and it would appear that she has once again started to come into oestrus as she was seen to be flirting, albeit unsuccessfully with the large tom. The male leopard paid her little attention and ignored her flirtatious gestures. The pair had stolen a nyala kill from Nsele earlier in the day and Tyson was more interested in sleeping off the large meal than he was in the prospect of mating.

Lion

No lion were seen during the week until finally late on Sunday morning a lone lioness was spotted in the eastern half of our traversing.

oct2Elephant

There have been a large number of elephants seen this week. The herds have been utilising the waterhole in front of the lodge almost daily and guests have enjoyed watching these large animals quenching their thirst while enjoying their breakfasts or lunches on the viewing deck of the lodge.

Buffalo & Rhinoceros

Two large herds of buffalo have been spotted through the course of the week as they have moved through the property.  The first herd was considerably larger than the second with an estimated three hundred animals moving in the herd. The second herd that came in from the east of the reserve numbered approximately two hundred animals.

White rhinoceros have been seen daily, with the territorial bulls providing the bulk of our rhinoceros sightings.

Wild Dog

As mentioned earlier the sighting of the week must be that of a large pack of wild dogs that came into our property from the north. The pack consisted of eleven adult dogs and ten pups of about four months of age.

The dogs were found as they approached a large waterhole where they all drank and then started to play. As we watched a large herd of buffalo bulls approached the water for a morning drink and it did not take the dogs long to start to chase and taunt the big bovids.
oct3

The buffalo were never in any danger from the smaller canids and it was with some great laughs that we watched as the buffalo chased the dogs this way and that before finally conceding that it was a waste of energy and moved away from the water. The dogs settled a bit further north of the waterhole and were seen again later in the day.

Regards

The Simbambili Guiding Team

13th - 19th September 2010

By Liam Rainier
Leopard Diaries 13th- 19th September 2010

sept1As we draw closer to the end of our dry season here in the lowveld, the cold winter temperatures are a fading memory, with our midday highs starting to average the high thirty degrees Celsius mark. The mornings and evenings are still pleasantly cool and this makes for some of the best times to see the wildlife.

We have also started to depart a little later on our afternoon drive; we are now back to our summer timetable with drives leaving at 16h00 in the afternoon.

The game viewing this week has been very good with the return of the Tsalala Pride to the area a highlight. This however was with mixed feelings as they seem to have had an altercation with the Majingilane males and we have not seen the pride since.

Leopard

Once again this week, Rhulani the young male leopard has provided us with some outstanding leopard viewing. This young leopard appears to have taken up residence in the area to the south east of the lodge and is seen almost daily in the vicinity of a nearby pan of water. We followed his tracks into an area of the pan that is inaccessible to vehicles and were surprised to find that he has taken to "fishing" in order to feed himself. The drying pan is filled with catfish and he has been catching the stranded fish in the smaller puddles. This is not uncommon as leopards being the ultimate survivors will utilise any prey source to feed themselves!

sept2 sept3


Mbilo the territorial female from the Arathusa Big Dam area has been seen throughout the week in the area surrounding this large body of water. We were lucky enough to find her on two different kills this week, one was a small antelope known as a steenbuck and the other one was a young impala ewe and we were lucky enough to watch her as she hoisted the remains of the kill into the branches of a large marula tree. The leopard spent the following three days in the vicinity of the kill before finishing the meal and moving away to carry on with other territorial duties.

Lion

The Tsalala Pride, returned during the middle of the week, they spent the entire afternoon resting around a large waterhole before finally getting active just after sunset and heading in the direction of the buffalo herd. The pride was left to their hunting endeavours late on in the evening and we hoped that we would find them on a kill the following morning. This was not to be as we were in for a big surprise as we started our morning game drive!

We were alerted to the presence of half of the pride as they moved west close to the lodge, there were two adult lionesses and three sub-adults in the group and it appeared that they had been in fight! We decided to back track the spoor of the lions to see what had made them move so far and so quickly in the opposite direction of the previous evening. We found where the pride had met up with the four male lions and there appeared to have been a clash. We have not seen the pride again since and we cannot say whether any of the remaining sub-adults were injured or killed during the stand-off. We later found the remaining two Majingilane males together with a lone Tsalala lioness in the vicinity of Arathusa Big Dam, the lioness was being mated by one of the males.

sept4 sept5

A pair of lionesses from the Styx pride were also seen this week as they rested after feeding on a kill that we were unable to locate. The pair spent the following two days moving through the eastern half of our traversing area.

Elephant

sept6There have been numerous sightings of these gentle giants this week with a number of herds moving through the property.

The dry bush is not providing much in the way of sustenance for these large herbivores and we are seeing them utilising the lusher areas in the drainage lines.

Thankfully this week we have had no further night visits by the trio of young bulls that caused such mayhem in camp over the course of last week.

Buffalo & Rhinoceros

There have been a number of buffalo sightings this week, with the resident buffalo bulls being seen in the vicinity of the lodge, moving through camp to wallow and rest in the vicinity of the waterhole.

A large herd was seen moving through the eastern areas. The herd numbered in excess of two hundred animals and provided some great viewing.

Rhinoceros viewing is still good with sightings almost daily of these grey behemoths as they move through their respective territories.

Cheetah & Wild Dog

A big surprise this week was the presence of a male cheetah in the northern area of the property. The cheetah was found resting in the short grass areas of the recently burnt firebreak. Later that afternoon he started move and was rewarded with a meal as he chased and killed a steenbuck.

sept7 sept8

While doing some bird identification, Matt and Doctor were joined by the pack of ten wild dogs, the dogs all appear healthy and it would appear they had fed recently. They moved down the through the south western corner of the property before the heat of the late morning forced them to find a shady spot to rest up for the day. The pack was found again in the afternoon and unsuccessfully tried to chase a herd of impala before moving off in a southerly direction.

Regards

The Simbambili Guiding and Tracking Team

30th August to 4th September 2010

By Liam Rainier
Leopard Diaries 30th August - 4th September

ld-aug-01This week has seen the start of the spring season and for the first year in a long time spring day was fantastic, with warm sunny weather and some really great game viewing.

A slow change is definitely happening in the bush, with the Acacias starting to blossom and the Bushwillows also starting to bud.  A bigger number of the migratory birds are being seen already.

The wildlife has also been unbelievable this week with some really exciting animal interactions being witnessed. We have another pair of mating leopards, good lion viewing and some great viewing of some of our resident leopards. The highlight of the week definitely must have been the sighting of the entire pack of Wild Dogs including four new pups.

Leopard

The pair of mating leopards were found in the middle of the week, in the eastern half of our traversing area. Mafufunyane and Ntima had been mating for a period of three days and we hope that this mating session will be a successful one for the female leopard who has not had the best record with cubs, having lost her last two litters.

Rhulani, the recently independent male was seen on a number of occasions this week as he moved through the area surrounding the lodge. He was also seen in the company of his sister Nsele, who appears to be taking to independence much more readily and we watched her aggressively confront her brother. Rhulani, is bigger and always dominates the slighter female, this was clearly seen when we came across the pair after Nsele had killed a female impala and had unfortunately lost the kill to the resident hyena clan. Rhulani had followed the sound of the kill and was following the hyenas as they dragged the remains of the carcass away. Nsele followed a short distance behind the whole procession but as soon as Rhulani spotted his sister he aggressively chased her for a long way before relenting and moving off towards a large herd of buffalo that had caught his attention.

ld-aug-02 ld-aug-03

Lion

The Styx Pride spent a short time on the property this week, although thin, all five members are looking healthy and we watched as they slowly groomed and stretched before heading off to hunt, in the early evening .

The Tsalala Pride were spotted on a few occasions this week, the whole pride has not been together for the entire week with two of the adult lionesses having moved away from the pride. Reports from the our southern neighbours are that the two lionesses have been seen mating with the Majingilane males. The oldest lioness and all six of the sub-adults have been moving about in the south-western half of our traversing area.

ld-aug-04 ld-aug-05 ld-aug-06


ld-aug-07Elephant

The elephant numbers have been good this week,with a number of larger herds being seen. There have also been a number of large bulls moving through the area and one of these bulls has a large pair of tusks that must measure in excess of one and half meters each and both tusks are beautifully shaped and symetrical.

Buffalo & Rhinoceros

The large herd of six hundred buffalo have moved through the property this week. There have also been a number of smaller groups of buffalo bulls who have been seen utilising the remaining waterholes throughout the area.

Rhinoceros sightings have been good with a number of the territorial bulls being seen. The larger groups or crashes appear to have separated into either solitary individuals or pairs of animals and are therefore a little harder to track down.


Wild Dog
ld-aug-08The pack of wild dogs returned for a quick visit late one afternoon. We had just set up for sundowners when one of the guests pointed out an animal coming to the nearby waterhole.

It turned out to be the entire pack of wild dogs, with four of the new pups in tow. We watched in amazement as they came down to the water, to an inquisitive interest from the resident hippo bull. The pack then moved off and started to hunt.

Kind Regards

The Simbambili Guiding and Tracking Team

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Africa is the heartbeat of our planet, haled as the orig in of mankind, its contrast of breathtaking beauty and brutal survival fascinates us, we are drawn to the bush almost in response to a primordial call...

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Renamed the Thornybush Collection in 2007, our group has since grown in stature from five to ten lodges. Of these prestigious properties, all but one is located within the pristine 14-000ha Thornybush Nature Reserve.

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