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Leopard Diaries

A word from our rangers.

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Rangers Report February 2010

By Liam Rainier
rrleopard1This month has once again the summer game viewing has been exceptional with the beautiful backdrops, provided by some very dramatic summer skies.

The weather has been unpredictable, with some exceptionally hot temperatures being experienced in the beginning of the month and cooler rainy conditions being experienced near the end of the month. The total rainfall for the month ended being approximately 30mm.

The waterhole in front of camp has been a hive of activity this month with lion, leopard, elephant buffalo and hyena being seen drinking. The general game viewing during the day has been great with large herds of wildebeest, zebra, giraffe and impala being seen.

Leopard

The sightings of Salayexe and her two cubs were good with the three leopards being found on six different kills, four of these were impala and two were grey duiker. An interesting development in the relationship between the predators in the African bush has started to develop between Salayexe and the local hyena clan in her territory. Once the female leopard makes a kill she then has to fetch the cubs and then bring them to the carcass. The hyena, have realised and now follow the three leopards at any time that they are moving through the territory, in the hope that a free meal may be on offer.
rrleopard2
The young female who has taken up residence around the big dam area, Mbilo, has been seen regularly again this month. The young leopard female appears to be surviving well and was found on a warthog kill late in the month. We were also able to watch her as she raided a francolin nest and proceed to catch and eat all the recently hatched chicks! The adaptability of this young leopard, who is able to utilise such a broad range of food sources is what makes her such a successful predator.

The territorial males, Mafufunyan and Tyson have been seen on a number of occasions this month. They both appear to be in good health and are still very much in control of their respective territories. Mafufunyan managed to kill a sub adult warthog and was seen to feed off of the carcass for the following three days, he was joined on one evening by the old female Safari who was quickly dismissed by the male leopard as she approached the tree where the kill had been stashed.

The sighting of the old female in the Rhino Pan area was an unexpected surprise one morning and the 18 year old leopard appears to be doing well and we are hoping to see more of her in the next few months.

Lion

The lion viewing this month has not been as good as last month, but we have however had the Styx Pride and Sandy Patch Lioness on the traversing area for large parts of the month. The Styx Pride was seen around the Safari airstrip on numerous occasions, waiting for the numerous grazing herds that utilise the short grass plains around the airstrip as a "safe" refuge during the hours of darkness.

There was however a twist to their trials at the end of the month, when they were seen roaring one evening. This pride has remained quiet in our concession ever since the Mapogo Males have taken over the territory. The sub adults have not been fathered by these males and they are in constant danger from the males who will not hesitate to kill the young lions. The roaring alerted the males to the presence of the pride and the following morning the three lionesses were found in the company of the two males who had killed a buffalo bull during the night. The rest of the pride however were scattered with two female sub adults being found together and another single sub adult lioness being found alone. The disheartening thing was that the young male was not found! Only time will tell what happened?!

Simbambili Lion Signting Lion at Simbambili Game Lodge Lion Pack at Simbambili Game Lodge
The Sandy Patch lioness and her 10 month old cub are not surviving well. They were spotted late one afternoon as they drank from the waterhole in front of camp. The two cats are both very thin and emaciated and it not certain if they will survive. The Tsalala Pride was seen at the beginning of the month but moved of the concession onto our neighbouring property to the south and have not returned. The three lionesses and eight cubs are all healthy and doing very well.

Elephant

Simbambili Big Five: ElephantThe elephant sightings have been good with herds and single bulls being seen daily. The fruiting marula trees are the biggest attraction for the elephants at the moment, as we approach the end of summer the fruit provides welcome substance not only for elephants but for baboons and antelope and guides alike!

The sighting of an elephant swimming is always a pleasure, the feeling of joy and enjoyment is tangible as you watch the large animal splashing and cavorting in the water. We were lucky enough to watch a young bull swimming, he seemed to be having an absolute ball, splashing and dunking himself and then chasing the resident hippo around the dam!!

Buffalo & Rhinoceros

Buffalo have been more difficult to find with no herds being seen on the concession this month. We are lucky to have the resident "dagga boys" that utilise the mud wallows and the waterhole in the front of camp. These big bulls are seen almost daily as they move to their favoured wallows.

Rhinoceros numbers have been much higher this month with regular sightings of two different crashes both of which number four animals. The southern crash, which is found in the territory of the Londoz bull, were seen on three occasions. The bull was found on many occasions as he moved through his territory maintain his middens and territorial scent markings.

The northern crash has been seen with a new bull rhino, who does not seem too relaxed with the presence of the game drive vehicles and has to be approached with caution when we are viewing him.
Simbambili Big 5 : Rhino Simbambili Big 5 : Buffalo Big Five Buffalo at Simbambili

Cheetah

A single sighting of a young male cheetah was had one morning as the animal moved through the far eastern half of our concession. The male moved north and it was reported later that he was seen stalking a herd of waterbuck on our northern neighbours property.

Regards

The Simbambili Guiding Team.

15 to 21 February 2010

By Liam Rainier
Leopard Diaries 15th - 21st February

leopard1This week we have had some wonderful rainfall which has revived the bush after the hot temperatures which were experienced over the previous two weeks.  The temperatures this week have also been far milder and had made game drives a lot more comfortable. 

Game viewing has been good with a number of fantastic leopard sightings. Lion sightings however have been fewer as both the Tsalala and Styx prides moved off our traversing.  Elephant Numbers have been good with a number of herds being seen, many of which are still feeding on the fruiting marula trees.  The highlight of the week has been the increased number of rhino sightings with a crash of four animals being found daily moving around the property, utilising the mud wallows made available by the rainfall.

Leopard

Salayexe and her two cubs all still healthy and have provided some very memorable sightings to our guests.  The two cubs were found early one morning and we watched as they moved around chasing not only each other but very nervous trees squirrels.  The squirrels were chased up and down a Leadwood tree for twenty minutes with the young female cub trying everything in her power to catch one.

The old female Safari was found late one afternoon on a kudu kill. She had managed to bring down a young calf and was seen for the following three days as she fed on the carcass.  Although now 17 years of age, she is still proving to be a very able hunter.

The young leopard female Mbilo, was seen around Big Dam trying to hunt a herd of impala.  She was unsuccessful and moved on to a termite mound posing for some fantastic photographic opportunities.

leopard1 leopard1 leopard1


Lion
lion1
The Styx pride was seen early one morning on a juvenile zebra kill which was already finished.  The pride then moved to a nearby waterhole and spent the rest of the day relaxing in the shade of some trees close to the water.

The Sandy Patch female made a surprise appearance late on Sunday afternoon when she was seen drinking from the waterhole in front of the lodge just before the evening game drive.  The lioness and her cub appear to be surviving on smaller kills and had not gained any condition since the last time we had seen them.  They spent the evening resting close to the waterhole and we expect to be seeing more of them in the coming week.

Elephant

As previously mentioned, elephant sightings have been good this week.  A large number of herds have been seen moving through the property feeding on the Marula fruit that is still abundant. 

Buffalo and Rhinoceros

The resident Buffalo bulls have provided the majority of our Buffalo sightings this week. A large herd then moved through the eastern half of the traversing area but was then seen moving north into a neighbouring property during the latter half of the week.

Rhinoceros have been easier to find and we have had regular sightings of a crash consisting of four animals that have been utilising the area around Simbambili Dam. The Shorthorn rhino bull has also been seen making regular territorial patrols in the northern half of the traversing area.  The Londolozi rhino bull was also seen marking his territoy in the company of three other rhinoceros during the week.

cheetah1Cheetah

Every sighting of cheetah is a special one here at Simbambili,  and the sighting of a young ingle male cheetah on Saturday was no different.  However after we had viewed him the young male moved north out of our property and was reported later to be stalking a herd of waterbuck in a neighbouring property.

Kind regards

The Simbambili Guiding Team

8 to 14 February 2010

By Liam Rainier

Leopard Diaries 8th- 14th February

Lion Game Reserve

The week has seen some fantastic wildlife viewing, with lion numbers being exceptionally high. We have had two prides on the property for the entire week. General game viewing has also been superb with large herds of giraffe and zebra being seen regularly.

The weather has been quite good with some extremely hot midday temperatures pushing the mercury well into the 40 degrees Celsius mark. With the promise of rain heavy in the air on Friday we were disappointed to only receive a brief thundershower which delivered 2mm of rain!

The high temperatures have started to turn the grass in certain areas and it looks as if we may have a much drier winter than last year.

Leopard

The young female leopard Mbilo has been seen almost daily in the vicinity of Big Dam, and we watched her late one afternoon as she attempted to catch a monitor lizard in the high branches of a Knobthorn tree. The lizard was not having anything to do with this and put up a brave and aggressive display and the inexperienced leopard backed away from the confrontation quite quickly.

It seemed to be the week for some interesting encounters with the leopards and the big lizards. Salayexe's male cub was found playing a game of "cat & lizard" with another small rock monitor. He would wait until the monitor had moved off and then go and retrieve and play with the reptile until it froze, the cub however did eventually kill the monitor and then left the kill to find his sister.

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