Leopard Diaries 10th - 16th January 2011
We have just gone through a very wet week, the rain has finally arrived and we now have some very full waterholes and the rain is still far from over. The Manyeleti River in front of the lodge has once again flowed this week following a very heavy thundershower on Friday evening and has not subsided and flowed again on Sunday evening.
The heavy rains have somewhat limited our game drive area but this has not affected our sightings in any way and we have seen some fabulous wildlife over the last week. The leopard viewing in particular has been fantastic, but we have once again had good cheetah sighting and the buffalo viewing has been very good.
The elephant numbers are however still proving to be limited and we have had to travel long distances to find these large pachyderms.
Once again this week we returned to the kind of leopard viewing that makes the Sabi Sands Reserve so famous. This week we have had no fewer than seventeen individual leopard sightings. Guests that were with us for three days saw a total of ten different leopards during their stay.
The young female Moya, has provided some great viewing, she is still a young leopard and is constantly testing what the limits should be for an independent leopard. We found her early one morning after a rain shower as she rested in the branches of a large Marula tree. The wet grass was not to her liking and she decided that the most comfortable place to be was in the high branches of the large tree.
We found Shadow and her young cub on a rainy afternoon as she brought the little one back to a recently killed impala ewe.
This pair of leopards appears to be doing very well and are spending a lot of time around the eastern airstrip. The abundance of impala in the vicinity, is providing a ready source of food.
The carcass was unfortunately stolen by the dominant territorial male, Mafufunyane who dragged the carcass away and chased the female from the area. He was found later that afternoon resting with a bulging belly in the shade of a nearby thicket.
News is that at least two of the leopard females in the east of our traversing area now have new cubs. Thandi has apparently given birth to two cubs that were fathered by Mvula. The cubs are thought to be approximately three weeks old. Ntima has also given birth but we have yet to get a viewing of the cubs.
A pleasant surprise this week was a sighting of the Xuhuma Pride and the two Gijima males who are rare visitors to the property. The pride is usually resident in the north eastern half of the reserve but do make occasional forays into our traversing area. The pride spent the entire day resting in some shady thickets and provided some great photo opportunities as they came out on the road in the early evening. The pride has two four month old cubs with them and the pair of young males are very healthy.
The Styx Pride was found in the far east of our traversing area as they rested in the early morning sunshine. The pride is still quite fractured and the old lioness and two sub adults appeared to be trying to escape the attention of the four Majingilane males.
The majority of sightings this week were of large lone bulls as they moved through the property.
Buffalo & Rhinoceros
A good sized herd of buffalo have been present in the area this week. The herd numbers approximately eighty buffalo and the herd was still present on Sunday evening. A large number of buffalo bulls have been seen throughout the property usually concentrated around the permanent waterholes.
Fewer rhinoceros sightings have been had this week, although all guests have managed to see at least one of these grey behemoths during their stay.
The cheetah pair were found on an early morning drive, the adult female had successfully brought down a duiker and the pair was seen feeding on the carcass of the small antelope. Unfortunately the cheetahs were interrupted by a large male leopard who chased the cheetah off the kill. The cheetah then moved off and left the reserve going east into the Kruger National Park.
Some of the new arrivals that we are seeing include wildebeest calves, warthog piglets and impala lambs throughout the property. The birds have also started breeding and we are seeing a number of francolin chicks, guinea fowl chicks and Egyptian goose goslings.
Simbambili Guiding and Tracking Team