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Leopard Diaries

A word from our rangers.

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Rangers Report December 2009

By Liam Rainier
Rangers Report December 2009

rrd1The month has been filled with some fantastic game viewing and the weather has played along with some clear blue skies and hot temperatures being experienced. The temperatures for the month were an average minimum of 20 degrees Celsius and an average high of 35 degrees Celsius. Rainfall has been good and the total for the month was 75 mm, the heaviest rainfall was a 30mm deluge late one evening.

The wildlife viewing has been superb with predators being seen in good numbers, we even managed to get a sighting of a cheetah. Elephant and buffalo numbers have been consistently high throughout the month and rhinoceros have been seen regularly. There have also been some good birding opportunities and a number of rarities have been seen.

Leopardrrd2

Salayexe and her cubs are still together and providing guests with some great sightings. The trio of leopards were seen on five different kills this month, two of which they unfortunately lost to hyena. Both of these kills were full grown impala rams and the leopard female was not able to hoist the heavy carcasses into trees in time to prevent the hyenas from appropriating the kills.

We have had a number of sightings of Nyeleti and her three cubs, the female leopard is utilising a bigger portion of her old territory and it is great to see her bringing the cubs into the concession area.

A new leopard female was spotted on a number of occasions in the western part of our concession; she appears to be an older female of about 10 years old and is relaxed with the vehicles.

Other leopards seen this month have included; Mafufunyane, Tyson, Mbilo, Ntima and Safari.

Lion
rrd3

This month has seen some of the best lion viewing this year. We have had a three prides and four different male moving through the concession. The Tsalala, Styx and Nxuhuma prides have all been seen with most prides feeding on the new wildebeest herds and their calves.

The Tsalala Pride has been seen moving with their eight cubs and all appear to be healthy and growing daily. The pride was seen on two zebra foal kills early one morning and harrd4ve been resting in the Manyeleti river-line for the last two days leading up to the end of the month. The three females are providing regularly for their cubs and it is looking good for their future.

The Nxuhuma Pride, who has not been seen on the concession for two months, made a return and spent three days around One-Eye Pan. The pride killed an adult wildebeest bull and were seen feeding of the remains late one afternoon.

rrd5The Styx Pride has managed to find the lioness that was separated from the pride. The female was being seen in the eastern half of our concession and it is really good to see her back with her pride. They were last seen as they attempted to hunt impala late one night on one of the airstrips.

The presence of four different males throughout the month has been a nice surprise and the presence of two new males in the east of the concession. The Mapogo males have been accompanying the Tsalala Pride and seem to be spending the majority of their time in the presence of this pride.

Elephant

A large number of elephant have been moving through the concession; these large herds are being followed by a large number of bulls and have provided us with some outstanding sightings. There has been a herd of between 40 and 50 elephant in the concession for the last three days of the month who are by far some of the most relaxed and approachable elephants that I have managed to view. The entire herd spent fifteen minutes sleeping and resting in the shade of a tree that I had parked under while viewing them. An absolutely spell binding experience to have elephants of all shapes and sizes, completely relaxed and at ease with our presence.

rrd6Buffalo & Rhinoceros

Large herds of between 50 and 150 buffalo have been seen moving through the concession this month. The herds have been seen utilising the bigger waterholes that have been filled by the summer rainfall. The herds are all growing as calves are being dropped almost daily.

White rhinoceros have been relatively easy to find and all guests who have come to the lodge have left having seen at least one of these pachyderms.

Wild Dog & Cheetah

The day time hunters have provided three sightings this month. The cheetah sighting was in the eastern half of our concession and a young male cheetah was seen feeding on the remains of an impala that it had recently killed.

Wild dogs were seen early one morning as they hunted a large impala herd close to one of the airstrips. The pack was successful in bringing down two of the young lambs and we watched as they quickly finished these small kills.

Wild Dogs Wild Dogs Cheetah


rrd10

20 to 27 December

By Liam Rainier
Leopard Diaries 20th-27th December

20dec1The Christmas week delivered some really good game viewing. The lion prides have provided some fabulous viewing and the leopard viewing has got back to its outstanding best after a quiet period at the beginning of the week.

The weather has been good with some cooler overcast conditions near the end of the week. We received a little over 10mm of rain this week and the bush is looking very lush. The animals have all regained condition after the taxing dry season and all of the game is looking sleek and healthy. 

There has also been some fantastic birding to be had with some rare sightings including, Black-Crowned Night Heron, Dwarf Bittern, Pennant-Winged Nightjar and a large flock of Abdim's storks being seen.

Leopard

Fresh leopard tracks always cause a ripple of excitement and this week when we picked up tracks early one morning as we were leaving the lodge it was no different. We had been struggling to find our usually ever present leopards and it was with excitement that we started to follow the tracks that had moved right up the lodge driveway. It was not long before we found Salayexe and her two cubs as they moved through a river-line close to the lodge. The family of leopards looked well fed and spent the majority of the morning resting in the shady riverine thickets.20dec2

Tyson and Shadow were seen later on the same morning after they had killed a warthog piglet. The larger male making the actual kill and therefore being able to dominate the female and feed on a larger share of the small meal that was on offer. The pair of leopards was left to their meal as the day heated up. That afternoon Salayexe had moved into the area and chased Shadow the younger leopard female out of her territory.

Salayexe and the cubs provided us with another great sighting on Saturday. The leopards were seen resting near the carcass of a large impala ram that they had been feeding on since the early hours of the morning. The sun had started to heat up the carcass and it did not take long for the hyenas to follow their noses and find the kill. The leopard female attempted to make a stand against them but in the end had to relinquish her meal.
20dec3
The three leopards stayed in the area and fortunately found a few scraps that the hyenas had overlooked. They fed on what they could find before retiring to the cooler riverine area to rest up for the day.

Lion

This week lion viewing has been some of the best for some time. The Tsalala pride has been utilising the southern section of our traversing area for the last four days resting in the area around one of the airstrips. The availability of prey seems to be attracting them to the area more regularly, with large numbers of zebra, impala and wildebeest being found in the open areas around the airstrip.

20dec4 20dec5 20dec6


The Styx pride also made an appearance earlier in the week and spent three days in the area. We were lucky enough to witness them attempting to hunt impala and waterbuck one evening. The younger lionesses of the pride running for over a hundred meters as she chased a herd of waterbuck. The attempt although unsuccessful was great entertainment and it was good to see the sub adult lions taking an active part in the hunt.

Elephant

Elephant herds have been seen on a daily basis, the lush grasses being eaten with relish by the large pachyderms. There have also been a number of larger bulls on the property during the week.

Buffalo & Rhinoceros
20dec7
A number of herds of buffalo have been seen throughout the area, the largest of which numbered in excess of a hundred and fifty animals.

There have also been a number of young calves in the herds and the births seem to be continuing with new calves being seen almost daily.

Regards, The Simbambili Guiding Team

14 to 20 December

By Liam Rainier
The Leopard DiariesLeopard Diaries 14th - 20th December 2009

The game viewing this week has been fantastic, we have been lucky to have had a number of fantastic predator sightings. Lion, leopard and wild dogs have all been seen over the course of the week.

A large number of elephant and buffalo have also been on the property. White Rhinoceros have been seen daily and this has made game drives really rewarding.

The weather has been great with some very hot and humid days being experienced. We have had two rain showers this week with a total of 50 millimetres of rain falling. Dinner on Sunday evening was beautifully highlighted by a large electrical storm lighting up the night sky.


Leopard

Leopard DriveNyeleti and her three cubs were seen for two days this week, as they played and rested in the Manyeleti riverine. The three cubs are growing up well and appear to be healthy and all three are relaxed in the presence of the vehicles. The trio entertained us for well over an hour one morning as they stalked and chased each other up and down the river bed.

The sighting of a new female leopard in the area had us all hoping to get a glimpse of this new visitor. The leopard female appears to be an older female and is utilising the area around Rhino Pan. She was found in the area over a three day period and was seen on a young impala kill.Leopard Sighting

Salayexe and her two cubs were found early one morning on an impala kill. This was quickly stolen by a hyena that ran in and appropriated the carcass. The full grown impala ram carcass was too large to hoist into a tree and the leopards had to wait until later in the day to reclaim the remains of the carcass from an hyena.

Mbilo and the old female Safari had an altercation near our southern boundary. The younger of the two leopard females, Mbilo, had managed to bring down an impala ewe and to hoist the carcass into the branches of a large marula tree. The commotion caused by the kill had attracted the attention of Safari who approached and chased the young leopard away from the kill. The pair spent the following two days in the area although it appears that there was never an actual physical confrontation between the two cats.

Lion

Lion SightingThe highlight of this week's game viewing has been the number of lion sightings that we have enjoyed with two different prides being found in our traversing area.

The Windmill Pride, were found early on in the week with a freshly killed buffalo. The pride numbering eight lions fed off the carcass before being chased off by two large male lions that move into the area from the Manyeleti reserve.

These males fed on the buffalo carcass for the following three days, chasing the young males of the Windmill Pride who are rapidly approaching independence from the pride.  The pride however seems to have regrouped and their tracks were seen heading east into the Kruger National Park.

The Styx Pride made an unexpected return to our property when they were found feeding on a wildebeest kill one morning. The pride is made up of seven individual lions, three lionesses, three sub adult lionesses and a young male lion. They have spent the week moving around the northern section of our traversing.

Lion Territory Pride of Lion Lion Savannah

The Tsalala Pride also made a brief appearance one morning being found feeding on the remains of a wildebeest kill that they had made on one of the airstrips. They moved south and out of our property later that day. The eight cubs are all still well and are growing almost daily as their mothers provide them with a constant source of meat. The wildebeest have all calved recently and this has added to the bonus that summertime brings for most predators.

Elephant

Large numbers of elephant were present this week with all of the larger herds utilising the mud wallows to cool off during the hot weather that has been experienced. The sight of a large herd of elephants enjoying a mud bath is one of the highlights of any safari. The excitement that ripples through the herd as they move toward water and the relief it will bring from the heat is almost palpable. The young elephant as with children cannot resist a good play session in the mud and often have to be dragged away from the water by their mothers as they gather the herd together to move off and feed.

14dec8Buffalo and Rhinoceros

Buffalo have been seen daily this week with the resident bulls once again being found easing away the days submerged in a cool mud wallow or waterhole, often with only their eyes and nostrils protruding out of the water!!

White rhinoceros have been found most afternoons as they move to the waterholes or temporary pans to wallow or slake their thirst. Once again the tracks of a black rhinoceros were found on the property and it is only a matter of time before we get a glimpse of this rare pachyderm.


Wild Dog
14dec9
A Pack of six dogs was spotted moving over one of the airstrips in the area, it appeared that they were hunting and it was not long before the excited yips of feeding dogs were heard.

We approached to find the pack feeding on an impala lamb. The dogs soon finished the small kill and moved away, they entered an area with very dense bush and we could not follow any further.

We hope that you have a safe and festive Christmas

The Simbambili Guiding Team

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