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Leopard Diaries

A word from our rangers.

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26 October to 1st November

By Liam Rainier
Leopard Diaries 26th October - 1st November

The change of seasons has finally arrived this week with our first summer rainfall. We have now seen the arrival of the vast majority of our migrant bird species back from their wintering grounds around the world. The sounds of cuckoos, Wahlberg's Eagles and Woodland Kingfishers can now be heard again.

Highlights of the week in terms of game viewing have been the arrival of yet another new pack of wild dogs, numbering 24 individuals and these rare and endangered predators provided us with some unbelievable sightings during the week.

Nyeleti, the leopard female has returned to the property with her three new cubs and should be around for the foreseeable future. The Sandy Patch lioness and her cub have been seen on two different kills, one of which amazingly was an adult buffalo cow. Elephant and buffalo have been seen almost daily.


Salayexe and her two cubs are still providing us with some fantastic sightings, the cubs have become very relaxed in the presence of the vehicles and we have now started to view them at night. The trio were seen on a number of kills during the week, including impala and a duiker. The young male cub is growing rapidly and is almost twice the size of his sister.


Nyeleti has returned and has brought her three new cubs out hiding. The cubs are all doing well and the two young males and one female cub are now approximately four months old and are starting to eat meat.  One evening the leopard family was found feeding on a freshly killed impala ewe and the next morning the kill had been hoisted into large Jackalberry tree.

The leopards were still on the kill at the end of the week and we are looking forward to seeing more of this new litter of cubs. Nyeleti looks very healthy, she is the older sister of Salayexe and it was interesting to watch a territorial confrontation between these two leopard females earlier in the week.

Lion sightings this week have been dominated by the Sandy Patch lioness and her single cub. They have been seen feeding on two different kills over the course of the week and it is pleasing to see these lions looking healthier than they have recently. It is not easy for a single female lion to survive but this lioness is a hardy individual. This was borne out by the fact that the lioness killed an adult buffalo cow late one evening. We had previously seen her following a small herd of buffalo and one of the buffalo cows appeared to have a broken leg and it did not take long for the injury to be noticed by the lioness and she took advantage of this. Nevertheless it is still difficult for a single lioness to take down and adult buffalo injured or not.  We arrived the following day and found the lions feeding on the buffalo but also with a fresh impala carcass nearby. The antelope must have moved into the area of the kill and was easily dispatched by the lioness.

The Styx Pride made an appearance earlier in the week. Having killed an adult zebra the six lions finished the kill within a day. They then moved further west over the next three days before moving out of our traversing area altogether.


A large herd of elephant moved through the property during the week. This herd numbered well over forty animals and we were able to view them regularly over a number of days as they moved from water source to water source. There have also been a large number of bulls in the area and it is always something special to have these huge pachyderms feeding or moving close to the vehicles.

Buffalo & Rhinoceros

Good numbers of buffalo have been seen with three herds moving through the property in the week. These herds numbered between fifty and one hundred animals. The herds have been seen regularly around Simbambili Dam. White rhinoceros have also been seen regularly with the crash of four being seen around Big Dam on a number of occasions.

Wild Dog

nov5The highlight for all of us this week was the arrival of a large pack of twenty four dogs from the north. The pack consisted of twelve adults and twelve pups. The pack moved into the property for three days. Having so many mouths to feed meant that the dogs were very active and made numerous kills.

One afternoon we watched as the adults chased and caught a steenbuck, this small kill was consumed in less than two minutes with only three of the dogs managing to get a meal.

nov5The rest of the pack had already moved off and it was a contact call from the successful hunters that had the pups and back markers running in their direction. We followed as quickly as possible and found the entire pack feeding on two different impala kills. As the dogs fed and moved around the kill site they flushed a duiker, this was also pursued and caught by the pack. It was only after viewing the feeding dogs for a short while that we noticed that they had treed a leopard close to the kill site, this turned out to be Thandi, a young leopard female. This was turning out to be a truly once in lifetime sighting, but was not over yet!! As we watched the last of the impala being consumed, Safari the old female leopard with one eye was attracted to the area by the distress calls of the duiker. She moved into the area with purpose and tried to steal one of the impala carcasses from the wild dog puppies. This almost proved to be her last act as the adults quickly mobbed the leopard female and she barely made it to the safety of a large tree as the dogs attacked her.
nov5 nov5
What a sighting!


The Simbambili Guiding Team

Rangers Report October 2009

By Liam Rainier
rr1Rangers Report October 2009

October has been a month full of change here in the northern Sabi-Sands, the bush is getting greener by the day with all of the trees starting to show new leaf and a fair number carrying a heavy blossom. Antelope are waiting for the summer with the large number of impala ewes heavily burdened by their unborn lambs. Game viewing highlights of the month have included the continued growth and development of both of Salayexe’s cubs and the arrival of a large pack of wild dogs, totalling twenty four, these canids have provided us with some fantastic moments this month!


This month has been exceptional with regards to leopard sightings, with the majority of our sightings being of Salayexe and her two growing cubs. We have also had good sightings of Mbilo, Thandi, Mafufunyan and Safari. Nyeleti, made an appearance for a morning with her new cubs which are about three months old. A number of kills have been found with the largest proportion being impala, with duiker and bushbuck making up the rest. The sighting that stands out as a highlight was a territorial dispute between Salayexe and Nyeleti. We had been following the tracks for a single female leopard, when we heard a territorial call in the area to the east of our position. We moved into the area and forr4und a very young leopard cub in the top of a small tree. We moved a little closer and found a spotted hyena at the base of the tree. The hyena had however been drawn to the area by a territorial dispute between the two leopard females, the cub had unfortunately been caught in the middle and had looked for a safe spot away from the fighting. We watched with apprehension as Salayexe approached the base of the tree and we all were expecting her to attack the cub. This did not happen and she moved off out of the area, continually scent marking as she moved away. Nyeleti, the mother of the cub was calling continually and collected her cub once Salayexe had moved away and the cub and her moved out of our concession in a southerly direction.


19 October to 25 October

By Liam Rainier
Leopard Diaries 19th to 25th October

october1The dry season still continues here at Simbambili with some very hot, dry days being experienced this week with Sunday peaking at a scorching forty three degrees centigrade!!! There is still no sign of significant rainfall that will herald the arrival of summer and the dry and dusty bush is in desperate need of rain.

The game viewing as can be expected under such conditions has been very concentrated around the main waterholes and dams. The Simbambili Dam area has been a hive of activity with lion, leopard, elephant and buffalo being seen almost daily in the vicinity.  Big Dam has also been busy with two different leopards and rhinoceros drinking at the dam almost daily and this has given us some fantastic sightings throughout the week. The highlight of the week was a sighting of three different predator species utilising the remains of a zebra at Simbambili dam.october4

Salayexe and the two cubs are still providing us with some exceptional sightings. All of the family was found early one morning as the female leopard led the cubs back to a freshly killed impala. There was a pleasant surprise when she was joined by Tyson the territorial male and father of the cubs. The four leopards fed on october3the carcass for the entire morning and had finished it by the time we arrived back later in the day on the afternoon game drive.

A lesser known leopard to our diary pages is Karula, who has two, year old, cubs. Both of these cubs are males and due to these leopards utilising a territory further north of our traversing area they are not seen regularly. During this week she had moved into our property and Karula had managed to kill a young impala ram and had hoisted the carcass into the branches of a marula tree. The two cubs and their mother were viewed feeding on the carcass for a full day.


There have october6been no large lion prides on the property this week as all of the prides have presently moved further south. We have however been lucky enough to have the Sandy Patch lioness almost permanently utilising the area around Simbambili Dam.  The lioness and her cub are still struggling to find a constant source of food but were fortunate october7enough to come across the carcass of a large zebra stallion that had died of natural causes. Both of the lions managed to have a good meal and were left resting at the carcass late one evening. As we were leaving the area, we spotted a female leopard, who turned out to be Shadow, who had also come to investigate the chance of a free meal. On returning to the area in the morning the carcass had been stolen and finished by the local hyena clan, the lioness and cub had moved away and were found resting in a large Guarri thicket not far from their last location. The leopard female Shadow was also found later that morning as she moved into the area to investigate if there was any of the carcass left over.


A larger number of elephant have been on the property this week, with at least three breeding herds and a number of mature bulls being seen throughout the week. The largest herd numbered well over twenty five animals and had a very young calf, who we guessed to be barely a few days old. The little calf was still unsteady on his feet and his ears still had a pink tinge to them!
Buffalo & Rhino

A large herd of approximately a hundred buffalo moved through the property during the week, utilising the bigger dams and the waterhole in front of the lodge for their daily water requirements. The group of five buffalo bulls have been seen daily in and around the lodge, utilising the waterhole to get some relief from the scorching midday temperatures.  White rhinoceros have been seen almost daily with a crash of four utilising the area around Big Dam.

The Simbambili Guiding Team


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