1 to 7 February 2010
Clear blue skies and warm sunny weather have made the days and evenings very pleasant here at Simbambili this week. The bush is as lush as I have seen it and the grass in certain areas is as tall as an elephants shoulder! This has made game viewing a little bit tricky but has not affected the number of fantastic sightings that we have enjoyed this week.
Leopards have been spotted on every game drive this week, but it has been the presence of the biggest cat, the lion, that has been the most pleasant surprise. Elephant numbers have been good as they move in to feed on the fruiting marulas. We have found it less easy to find rhinoceros and buffalo numbers have been relatively lower than normal this week.
Salayexe, the female leopard, has been seen regularly again this week and it is becoming evident that she is starting to move through her territory on her own, often spending three or four days away from her cubs. The cubs have been seen resting on their own on three occasions this week, often chasing and stalking each other as they hone the skills necessary for their future hunting endeavours.
Mbilo also provided us with some fantastic viewing. This young leopardess was seen early one morning as she moved through the bush, looking for a meal. A rustle in the long grass and the strident alarm calls of the parents alerted her to the presence of a francolin nest. The leopard wasted no time in catching and eating all of the young chicks present in the nest. Later in the day we watched as she stalked a small herd of impala, although she was unsuccessful it is always exciting to watch in anticipation as a predator stalks its prey.
The presence of the Tsalala Pride has been a welcome surprise after almost a month of not seeing the pride as they spent the majority of last month in a neighbouring property.
The three lionesses and their eight cubs have been seen on every drive since Friday evening. The highlight was a sighting of them chasing a small herd of buffalo on one morning drive. It is great to see that the cubs with their inquisitive natures starting to stalk and follow prey, it will not be long before the lionesses start to include them in the hunts. The pride managed to kill two wildebeest early one morning and had finished the carcasses by the time they were found resting with full bellies on one of the airstrips in our traversing area.
Elephant herds have been seen every day as they move through the area feeding on the marula fruits. The warm weather has also seen the herds moving to the waterholes to relieve themselves from the heat with a good mud bath and a long drink.
Buffalo & Rhinoceros
The resident buffalo bulls have been utilising the waterhole in front of the lodge on a daily basis. The bulls arrive just before sunrise and spend most of the day submerged in the cool water of the pan, moving out to feed as the sun sets. Other than these "daga boys" There has been only a large single herd of buffalo on the concession this week.
Rhinoceros have been difficult to find, they seem to be utilising the inaccessible river-lines, which provide not only cool shady cover but also readily available water and wallowing spots. We managed only one sighting this week which was of a small crash of four rhino as they grazed peacefully early one morning.
We enjoyed a surprise sighting of the four male wild dogs this week. The dogs were spotted on the driveway as we left the lodge early one morning. They proceeded to move straight through the lodge and finally chased and killed a young impala later in the morning. The four dogs appear to be utilising the area more frequently and we are hoping that a female will join them to start a new breeding pack this season.