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Leopard Diaries

A word from our rangers.

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20 October

By Liam Rainier
Leopard Diaries 12th - 18th October 2009

Once again the weather decided to turn this week, and brought the clouds and a few little showers. This did not deter our game viewing. The week started off with a very large python being seen very close to the lodge and this was the first time we have seen one of these large snakes this year. It is quite a sight to see such a large snake moving around the bush, these large snakes are capable of taking an adult impala and swallowing it whole.

Other snakes have also begun to get active again as the temperatures have risen, with sightings of Boomslangs, Mozambique Spitting Cobras and of course the very well known Black Mamba.      

The leopards have also been active this week, with sightings of the new young male that is beginning to make the area around the camp his temporary domain He was seen quite frequently with at least two sightings of him this week. This young male has to be careful as he is moving around inside the territorial male Tyson’s core territory and if Tyson does find him he will chase him or might even kill him. Tyson was also seen inside the lodge this week, so he is still patrolling and looking after his piece of property.  

The older territorial male leopard Mafunyane was also seen on an impala kill; he remained there for about 3 days and then moved off to the East. The young female, Mbilo was seen once this week and is really growing into one of the most beautiful leopards within our area. Having a mother like Nyeleti and a father like Tyson she definitely has the right genes to make her into the most incredible leopard. We haven’t seen Nyeleti this week but news from the South is that she and her 3 young cubs are doing very well. We should get to see her soon as the cubs get bigger she will begin to move them greater distances.  

Salayexe was also seen this week and we found her on an impala kill not to far away from the lodge. She and the cubs fed on the kill and stayed in the vicinity of the lodge until the hyenas found the remains of the carcass and stole it from the leopards.  

Lion sightings also have been good this week, with the return of the Tsalala Pride with their 8 young cubs who are in great condition, very fat and healthy. The Sandypatch lioness has also been around this week and seemed to have killed something as she and her cub are looking fat and healthy again.  

Elephant, rhino and buffalo have once again been plentiful this week and other general game sightings have been excellent.  

Until next week.  
The Simbambili ranger team.

5 October to 11 October

By Liam Rainier
Leopard Diaries 5th - 11th October 2009oct1

We have enjoyed yet another wonderful week of game viewing here at Simbambili with the return of the largest cat, the lion, back into our area. Wild dogs have also made an appearance and this has been the highlight of the week's sightings. The weather has been good, with some very hot days experienced mid week, the mercury hitting the forty degree celcius mark! We have still not received any of the rainfall which heralds the real start of summer. There have been some wonderful predator sightings this week, with leopard being seen every day, wild dogs interacting with lions and a new spotted- hyena den being found very close to Simbambili Lodge. There are no new hyena pups at the den yet, the matriarch of the clan is heavily pregnant and we expect her to give birth shortly.

oct2
Leopard


We have been seeing a new young male leopard over the course of the week. He appears to be approximately three years of age and was first seen around the Simbambili Dam area. Although he appeared rather shy at first we have managed to get closer to him and have been rewarded with a fantastic sighting of him on an impala kill late in the week. He remained on the kill for three days and had some confrontations with a few hyenas that had been attracted by the smell of the carcass. He moved off the carcass but his tracks woct4ere found this morning and it is hoped that he will be located again by this afternoon.

Salayexe has provided us with another week of good leopard viewing and was seen on a large impala kill in the middle of the week. The two cubs are still growing and are providing guests and guides alike with hours of entertainment. Shadow, a young leopardess who occupies the territory in the area east of the Simbambili traversing is being seen more regularly and is becoming much more accustomed to the presence of the land rovers. We were lucky enough to spend an entire morning with her as she stalked a duiker. We were alerted to her presence by the alarm calling of a troop of vervet monkeys. These small primates had spotted her as she rested in a tree surveying the area around her.

oct3Mbilo was seen early one morning resting in the branches of a large marula tree, this young leopardess is being seen regularly in the southern part of our traversing and always provides us with memorable sightings. On this occasion she attempted to hunt impala and duiker while we watched but both attempts were unsuccessful.

Lion

The return of lion to the property was a relief after an absence of two weeks. The Styx pride was attracted to an elephant carcass early on in the week and stayed in the area for three days, feeding on the large carcass. The pride then moved off of oct5our traversing but returned later in the week. These were however not the only lions on the property. The Windmill pride who are not seen as regularly as some of the other prides managed to bring down a large buffalo bull in the eastern half of our traversing area where they stayed for the following four days. The three sub-adult males in this pride are approaching maturity and are going to be a formidable coalition.

The Sandy Patch lioness and her remaining cub have also been found this week and although thin seem to be doing well. The sighting of the week had to be of both  he lioness and cub feeding on a recently killed duiker. The lioness being very aggressive and the cub having to compete for every mouthful of meat, as they were completing the kill a large pack of wild dogs moved into the area and the interaction between the dogs and the lions was fascinating to watch. The dogs barking and growling at the big cats clearly nervous of her presence, the lioness on the other hand completely ignoring the dogs as she finished the kill.

Elephant

The number of elephant on the property has dropped considerably this week with very few of these big grey animals being seen. We have had one herd move through the property and we had a wonderful sighting of the calves within the herd who chased not only each other but the game drive vehicles as well!!


oct6oct7oct8
Buffalo & Rhinoceros

The bigger herbivores have been difficult to find and we have been lucky to have four buffalo bulls frequenting the area around the lodge waterhole. No herds have been through the area in the week. Rhinoceros have been scarce with a few sightings of a small crash of four animals being seen late in the week and the crash of six being found on Saturday.

Regards
The Simbambili Guiding Team

 

28 September to 4 October 2009

By Liam Rainier
Recent blog posts - Page 25 Leopard Diaries 28th September - 4th October

Recent blog posts - Page 25 sept1The seasons are definitely changing here in the Sabi Sands, withmost of trees having new leaf growth and many carrying a heavy load of bright blossoms. The Cassia and Wisteria trees carrying beautiful lavender and yellow flowers and the Scotia are covered in their scarlet blooms. It is a wonderful to drive along the ridges and look down on the colourful tapestry after the dry and dull colours of winter!

Game viewing has been good; however we have not seen any sign of lion this week. Although a prized sighting for many on safari, their absence has allowed other predators to move into the area and we have been lucky enough to have both cheetah and wild dog sightings this week!! The leopard have been fantastic and Salayexe has been seen on two different kills, providing meat for here growing cubs!!


Leopardsept2

Salayexe and her two cubs are still doing exceptionally well, the cubs seem to be growing bigger daily and the young male cub is almost twice as big as his sister already. This does create a bit of competition at kills as he tends to take a larger share and twice this week we watched as his mother had to aggressively chase him off the remainders of the carcass that she had yet to feed on.

sept4Leopard sightings are always a wonderful experience, although often made better by the location of the sighting. This week both of Salayexe's kills, were in such picturesque surroundings that they have to rate as some of my favourite sightings of her. The first kill was an impala ewe that she had placed in the branches of a huge fallen Jackalberry tree. The sight of three leopards draped over the trunk of this large tree was one that will be remembered for a long time.

The second kill, a very young bushbuck lamb was hoisted into a very large and knurled Leadwood tree on the banks of the Manyeleti River. The kill was placed in the higher branches and was being fed on by the female cub when we arrived. The male cub inquisitively came over to investigate our vehicle before climbing the tree to join his mother and sister.

Recent blog posts - Page 25 Mafufunyan has also been seen, havinsept3g hoisted a warthog kill into the branches of a large Milkberry tree he proceeded to feed off the kill for the next three days. He was joined at the kill by Safari, but he was very possessive and the smaller leopardess moved out of the area almost immediately. Safari is being pressurised from the east by Thandi and this younger leopardess has been seen making longer forays into the older female's territory. She was seen on a duiker kill on the last day of the week and was chased off the kill by Safari the following morning!

Recent blog posts - Page 25 Buffalo & Rhino
sept5 Recent blog posts - Page 25 Exciting news is that tracks of a black rhino were found to have moved through the area late one night. The tracks were followed by the rangers and trackers but unfortunately the animal had moved out of our concession area. We are all waiting for our first sighting of this species of rhino here at Simbambili. White rhino have been seen regularly and the larger crashes are numbering up to six or seven individual animals.

We have had a number of buffalo herds through the concession this week. With the absence of lion in the area the buffalo seem to favour the concession as it is relatively free of predators. The largest herd is estimated at being approximately one hundred and fifty animals. While the other two herd's number in the region of seventy animals.

Elephantsept6

Recent blog posts - Page 25 The number of elephant in the concession has dropped considerably. The main reason for this is that at this time of the year most of the elephant move northwards out of our reserve. The Mopani trees further north of us all start to grow new leaves and this nutritious food source is favoured food source for elephant. This is the wonder of our open system between the Kruger National Park and the private reserves that allows the free and seasonal movement of game species.

We still have two herds present and they have been seen daily, there are a number of large bulls moving through the area and these big pachyderms are always a pleasure to watch.


Special Sightings

sept7Wild dogs have returned to Simbambili!! We were lucky enough to see three dogs early one morning before setting off for the morning game drive. The trio of dogs moved through the riverbed east of camp and then drank at the waterhole.

Once we had set out we followed the tracks of the dogs but received a radio call that the pack had been found on an impala kill. We moved into the area and found another pack of dogs finishing off the remains of a large impala ram. The pack consisted of four adult males, all of which we have not seen before. They moved off towards a seasonal pan were they drank and played in the early morning coolness.


Recent blog posts - Page 25 We have also had three sightings of cheetah this week, with an adult male cheetah being seen in the eastern part of our traversing. He moved through the area and killed a bushbuck late one morning.

Regards

The Simbambili Guiding Team.

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