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Leopard Diaries

A word from our rangers.

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26 March to 4 April 2010

By Liam Rainier
Leopard Diaries 28th March - 4th April 2010

mar1What a week we have had here at Simbambili!! The game viewing has been nothing short of unbelievable, with the presence of all of the big cats providing some fantastic predator viewing for our guests.

The weather has been relatively good this week, with some much needed rain falling over the weekend. The total rainfall for the week has been approximately 35 mm, which has been very welcome and has filled a number of the temporary pans in the bush.

The general game numbers are still very high with zebra, wildebeest and giraffe being seen regularly. Buffalo numbers have also been good with a total of 3 herds being seen on the property during the week.



Leopard

Leopard sightings this week have been predominantly of the two dominant male leopards, Tyson and Mafufunyane. The territorial struggle between these two cats has once again changed with Mafufunyane moving further west and hunting well within the territorial area of Tyson, who covers the area around Simbambili dam. He has been seen following the exact route taken by Tyson and appears that he is looking to challenge his old enemy for a greater part of his old territory.
mar2 mar3 mar4

Tyson was tracked one morning and found on a fresh impala kill. He spent the entire day resting near the kill, feeding at his leisure as the kill was safely stashed in the branches of a large Scotia tree. He finished the kill early on that evening before we left him resting along one of the large branches of the tree with a number of hyena waiting below for any chance of a meal from the scraps falling from the carcass. 

Lion

Lion sightings this week have been good with the Mapogo males, the Tsalala and Styx prides being found at different times through the week.

We located the Styx pride late in the week as they rested near a waterhole in the eastern half of our traversing area. The pride was not complete with three of the adult lionesses not present. It is these three lionesses who we believe to be in oestrus and they could possibly be with the two Mapogo males in the area south of our property.

mar5The Mapogo males were found in the company of a new male lion, feeding on two different buffalo carcasses. The first carcass was an adult buffalo cow which appears to have died of natural causes and had been fed on by hyenas before being appropriated by the lions.

The second carcass was of a sub-adult buffalo which was definitely killed by the males an hour or so before it was located. The two dominant males in the area appeared to accept the presence of the new male and it is going to be interesting to see how this interaction pans out.

mar6The Tsalala pride spent the beginning of the week moving through the western half of their territory, leaving the 8 cubs resting in the nZimba riverbed, as the lionesses moved off to hunt. They seem to have been successful as they returned and collected the cubs, moving onto our western neighbouring property.

The pride still appears very healthy with all 8 cubs doing extremely well. The three lionesses have been fantastic mothers to the cubs and we are hoping that the pride is going to go from strength to strength as the young female cubs join in and become part of the hunting parties.

Elephant

The presence of a number of herds has made elephants relatively easy to find this week. The herds have been moving through the area regularly and many are seen feeding in the acacia and teak thickets.

Buffalo & Rhinoceros

The arrival of three different herds of buffalo on the property this week has meant that these large bovids have been seen on every drive this week. The herds have numbered between eighty and a hundred and fifty animals, with all herds containing many new young calves and the lions have been very interested in following the herds as they moved through the area.

mar7

Rhinoceros have been seen regularly, the crash of 3 animals being seen regularly on the eastern airstrip grazing on the short grasses on the airstrip edges.

Cheetah

The female cheetah and her cub have been spending considerable time hunting in the area around the eastern airstrip. The terrain surrounding the airstrip is perfect cheetah habitat, with a large open plain area and an abundant supply of impala.

The female has made two kills this week, both being adult impala, the cub and herself have managed to feed on both kills and are both fat and healthy after the large meals. The second kill was stolen by Safari, the leopard female who stashed the remains in a large marula tree.


mar8 mar9 mar10


Regards

The Simbambili Guiding Team

Rangers Report March 2010

By Liam Rainier
Rangers ReportMarch is always heralded as the beginning of the dry season as we enter into our autumn months, with the bush starting to shed its summer coat and the trees slowly changing colour and the grass turning drier. The temperatures this month have been rather unpredictable with some very hot weather being experienced, the hottest day this month pushed the mercury well over the 40 degree mark!

The bush is very dry for this time of the year and we are expecting a long dry season with certain of the waterholes not holding nearly enough water to see us through to the rains again in November. We have received just over 45mm of rain this month, the majority of which fell in one evening.

Game viewing has been very good, with the predator sightings being a particular highlight. We have been visited by three new male lions during the month. The leopard sightings have been phenomenal with leopard “spotted” on all but two days this month. The surprise arrivals of a female cheetah and her cub have allowed us a rare treat of having regular cheetah sightings over the last week of the month. Elephant, buffalo and rhinoceros numbers have also been good.

Leopard

The leopard viewing is one of the bigger draw-cards to the area around surrounding Simbambili and the sightings this month once again proved why.
Simbambili Private Game Reserve Rangers Report
We have been seeing less of Salayexe and her two sub adult cubs as they have spent more time west of our traversing. However the young male and female have been seen moving independently of their mother on a number of occasions this month. This was to be expected as the cubs have just passed their first birthday and it will not be much longer before Salayexe starts to separate from them. The cubs have now been named as individual leopards, the young male is known as Rhulani and his sister will be known as Nsele.

Tyson the dominant male in the western half of our traversing has been seen far more frequently this month. We were fortunate enough to witness a mating session with between him and an unidentified female leopard. He was later in the month as he took care of the territorial housekeeping and was found again at the end of the month on an impala kill.

Mbilo has provided some good sightings as she continually utilises the area surrounding the Big Dam area. The area is proving to be a successful hunting ground and she was seen on three kills, an impala, a duiker and a warthog. We also watched as she once again stalked some young buffalo calves as a large herd moved in to drink at the dam.

Lion

Rangers Report The lion viewing improved as the month progressed with a notable absence of the big cats in the beginning of the month. However this changed as both the Styx and Tsalala prides moved into our traversing area. We also had a good sighting of three females from the Nxuhuma pride. These three lionesses were joined by two new males who have been reported moving with the pride but had not made any forays into our concession. This changed as they followed a large herd of buffalo and were found resting in the area surrounding Methlane Road.

The males are both impressive full maned male lions, they are however not to accustomed to the game viewing vehicles and need to be approached carefully. They only stayed for a day before moving off of the concession.

Rangers Report at Simbambili Game Lodge
The Styx pride was seen in the company of the two Mapogo males early one morning, the dynamics of this pride is keeping us guessing all the time. The pride appeared to be avoiding the two males who are not the fathers of the four sub adults of the pride and would therefore provide a threat to the lives of the young lions. However on the morning of the sighting the four adult lionesses of the pride were found in the company of the two males, with the oldest lioness and the young sub adults missing. These four lions were found later on that day, on the other side of our traversing area. The oldest lioness seems to have taken the youngsters and fled in an effort to protect them from the two adult males.

It appears that as the lionesses are once again coming into oestrus they are starting to tolerate the presence of the males, even though this may jeopardize the lives of their previous cubs. Only time will tell if the males will accept the sub adult lions, with the young male lion of the pride facing the greatest risk from the two adult males.

The Tsalala pride returned early on a morning drive, late on in the month. Their tracks were found crossing into the area from our neighbouring property to the south and it appeared that they were following the large herd of buffalo in the area. They managed to kill one of the buffalo from the herd, later on in the day and left the area a couple of days later.
Simbambili Lion Signting Lion at Simbambili Game Lodge Lion Pack at Simbambili Game Lodge
Elephant

The elephant numbers have been constant throughout the month, with a number of bigger herds, averaging 30 or more individuals moving through the concession. The Thickets of round leaved teak will be a big attraction for these animals as we move into the dry season and the grazing quality diminishes.

Buffalo & Rhinoceros

The presence of a large herd of buffalo, numbering in excess of 150, in the concession has provided us with some quality buffalo viewing over the course of the month. The herd has moved gradually south and due to pressure from three different lion prides in that area once again moved north and then moved east. They appear to follow a set pattern of movement through the concession and only change if encountering a lion threat.

Rangers Report at Simbambili Game Lodge
The white rhinoceros sightings have been far more frequent this month with a record of rhino being seen for six consecutive days on the concession. The majority of our sightings were of a crash of 5 animals that move between Simbambili Dam and One Eye Pan. They are accompanied by a new male rhino to the area that seems to have displaced the Short Horn bull as the dominant rhino bull in the northern area.

The Londoz bull is still dominant in the southern half of the concession but due to the terrain is not seen as frequently, he is often seen in the company of a crash of 4 animals.

Cheetah

Rangers Report at Simbambili Game Lodge
The unexpected presence of a female cheetah and her six month old cub in our traversing area created a fair bit of excitement. The two cats were found on three occasions this month.

The female cheetah utilising the open clearings in the east to hunt impala and wildebeest calves. Unfortunately we did not see any successful hunting attempts, but we were able to get some fantastic viewing of this rarely seen predator.

The pair were last seen as they moved east into the Kruger Park and we hope that they return shortly.

That’s it for this month and as you can see the game viewing is only getting better as we move into the dry season!!

1 to 8 March 2010

By Liam Rainier
Leopard Diaries 1st - 8th March 2010
Leopard DiariesAutumn has arrived and the bush has started to change into its' winter coat, with leaves and grass all starting to change color. Game viewing this week has been relatively good with a number of leopard sightings and a cheetah being found. Lions have been somewhat scarce with only a single sighting of the Mapogo male lions being seen early on in the week.
The weather has been typical of this time of the year with mornings starting out cool but warming up towards midday. We have had a small amount of rain, mainly in the form of late afternoon thundershowers with just over 5 mm falling through the week. The bush however is still very dry and the major waterholes are going to be heavily utilized during the coming dry season.

Leopard
Mbilo, the youngGame Drives on the Leopard Diaries leopard female has been seen in her regular haunts around Big Dam. Early on a morning drive she was found feeding on a recently killed impala which was hoisted into a Jackalberry tree. We watched as she fed on the young impala eating everything including the bones which are easily digested by the leopard. During this sighting we noticed another leopard around the dam, this turned out to be Nyeleti who is being seen more regularly in her previous range as her cubs are now old enough to move longer distances with their mother.
Salayexe was seen on the fire-break with her two sub-adult cubs, the two cubs are now a year old and have been named, the young male is known as Rhulani and the young female as Nsele. The three appeared to have eaten recently and appeared healthy and in good condition. The cubs were very playful and we watched as they chased each other up and down trees which made for a very memorable sighting.

Lions

The Mapogo males were seen late one afternoon as they stalked a herd of buffalo, the two males had spent the day resting in a thicket but were up and alert as a herd of buffalo came into view. We could hardly see the lions as they crouched in the long grass waiting for the buffalo to move closer. The two lions had positioned themselves so that the buffalo would walk straight into them and this appeared to be a sure setup for a successful hunt. The buffalo, still unaware that they were being hunted moved towards a nearby waterhole. The lions focused their attention on a buffalo cow that had strayed from the main body of the herd and moved closer to get within striking distance. Unfortunately the lions were spotted and the herd moved away heading into some very thick vegetation and we lost the herd as it moved quickly away from the threat posed by the lions.
march3 march4
Elephant
Elephant numbers have decreased considerably this week as the marula fruiting season has ended. Small herds have been seen once or twice this week with a few big bulls being found around the main waterholes.

Buffalo & Rhinoceros

Buffalo numbers have been good on the property this week. A large herd numbering nearly five hundred animals was seen on a few occasions as they grazed through the area moving to the waterholes in the late evenings.

The crashes of rhinoceros have been seen on two occasions this week; the southern crash has been utilizing the area around the Manyeleti and Marakene confluence. The single male rhino was seen at Serengeti pan as he enjoyed a late afternoon mud wallow.

Cheetah

The four male cheetah were seen on the eastern boundary of our traversing resting under an acacia tree after feeding on an impala kill that the males had made earlier in the day. The cheetah were watching the approach of a black backed jackal, that had come to see if there was any scraps that were left after the cheetah had eaten their fill.

Regards
The Simbambili Guiding Team

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