26 October to 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.
The 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.
The 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.
What a sighting!
The Simbambili Guiding Team