12 to 18 July 2010
The dry season here in the lowveld is the time of year which always seems to deliver some of the best game viewing, possibly anywhere in Africa. We have been treated to some absolutely outstanding sightings at Simbambili this week.
Lions have been the highlight of our weeks' sightings and the presence of the Tsalala pride and two of the Majingilane males made for some interesting dynamics!
Elephant, buffalo and white rhinoceros numbers have also been very good with almost daily sightings. Unfortunately for the first time in a long time we have not had a cheetah sighting this week.
The female leopard Salayexe and her two sub adult cubs have been seen on a number of occasions this week; they were seen on two different impala kills, where Rhulani the male cub seems to be using his bigger size to muscle in on the "leopards share" of the meal on offer.
We were also fortunate enough to see the territorial male, Tyson, as he rested in the shade of a riverline, cleaning himself after feeding on what appeared to be a substantial kill if the size of his belly was any indication. This large male leopard spent the majority of the day resting up and was seen later in the evening as he crossed into the neighbouring property to the south of our traversing area.
The old female, Safari, who is proving to be a remarkable survivor, was seen during one of our sun-downer stops. While chatting to guests, the leopard walked right past us and carried on scent marking and scanning for prey, completely ignoring us as we all stood amazed at the chance of watching a leopard on foot with a G&T in hand!!
This week has been phenomenal in terms of lion viewing with the true nature of these cats being seen in many of the sightings we were fortunate to witness.
The tracks of the Tsalala Pride were found early one morning having walked straight down the lodge driveway the previous night. We immediately started following the tracks and had soon located the lions as they lay around in the sun trying to shake off the early morning chill. The pride is now made up of nine members, three adult females, five sub-adult females and a lone sub-adult male. The pride soon roused themselves and headed off in the direction of a nearby elephant carcass.
The pride ran in and chased the large amount of vultures and three spotted hyena from the carcass, before all of the lions settled in for a good feeding session. The pride remained at or near the carcass for the rest of the day.
This however was not the last action that the lion pride provided, the following morning, the roaring of two male lions was heard and we rushed over to the elephant carcass. As we arrived the Majingilane males had just rushed in and scattered the entire pride, chasing one of the lionesses for a few hundred metres. The males had not come to the carcass to feed and moved on almost immediately, their intent was to kill the remaining six cubs, all of which had been fathered by the now deposed Mapogo males.
The Tsalala pride was scattered and managed to regroup a day later and returned to the elephant carcass. The pride moved to a nearby waterhole to quench their thirst and it was here we found them one morning. We began following as the pride moved back to the elephant carcass but as the pride moved through a rather dense area the sound of a kill and lions feeding made us all rush in to get a closer look. The lions had managed to bring down an adult impala ram and in the following fifteen minutes had completely finished the entire carcass. This was a great sighting which highlighted the opportunistic nature of predators. The lions were well fed and heading back to a large unfinished carcass but faced by an easy meal took the opportunity to feed!
A number of big herds have been seen as they moved through the property feeding on the large stands of Round-Leaved Teak.
Buffalo & Rhinoceros
Two large herds of buffalo have been seen moving through the area this week. The major herd numbering well over 300 animals was seen in the eastern half of our traversing and was being trailed by members of the Styx lion pride.
The smaller herd, numbering approximately 100 individuals had been utilising the area in the northern half of our concession, they grazed throughout the concession moving from one large waterhole to the next.
A number of white rhinoceros have been seen during the week.
The elephant carcass has provided us with some very interesting sightings of some intense scavenger interactions. The carcass has attracted well over a hundred vultures and the battles between these large raptors as they squabbled for each mouthful were fascinating. The vultures were also joined by a number of spotted hyena and jackal.
The Simbambili Guiding and Tracking Team