Leopard Diaries 27th December 2010- 2nd January 2011
We would like to wish all a very prosperous new year and hope that we get to meet many of you and share the wonderful wildlife sightings at Simbmbili over the course of the following year.
The weather has been pleasant over the last week although the lack of rain has a number of us wondering if we are going to have a drier year than last year. The small amount of rain which has fallen has done so mainly at night which has made for a lovely fresh start in the morning.
The highlight of the week however had to be the presence of the wild dog pack, who returned to the property after an absence of approximately two months. The lion viewing has also been good as have large numbers of rhinoceros and buffalo sightings have also been had. The elephants are still scarce but with the marula fruiting season approaching this should not be for too long.
A very interesting week of leopard viewing, with almost all, of the resident individuals being seen at some stage through the week. The highlight of the week must be the continued presence of Shadow and her new cub. It is now confirmed that she has lost one of the cubs, which is sad, but expected as this is her first litter and having raised the lone cub to this age is an achievement in itself. The pair was found on a fresh impala kill; early on a morning drive and we had some fantastic viewing of the little ball of spots.
Nsele, the daughter of Salayexe, has also been seen on two different occasions this week. The first sighting was of her as she relaxed in the early morning sun. We had spotted her as she rested on a large termite mound where she spent the next few minutes posing for photographs.
The second sighting we had of this beautiful young leopard was late on Sunday evening when she had a run in with a pack of wild dogs. We had found the dogs which appeared to have stolen an impala kill from a leopard which was sitting uncomfortably in the branches of a nearby tree.
The leopard in question was a young male who has been seen in the area for a few weeks now. It would appear that he had in fact stolen the kill from Nsele who was waiting in the wings to investigate what the commotion was all about. The young leopard female hesitantly entered the area but as soon as the dogs spotted her she was duly chased up another nearby tree. We left the sighting as the dogs moved away with both leopards still uncomfortably sitting in their respective trees!!
The presence of the four Majingilane males has made for great viewing this week. The coalition of males has spent a large part of the week moving through the northern parts of their territory, they have also been seen in the presence of the Styx pride. We had a great sighting of the males as they woke up from a lazy day. The presence of a female rhino and her sub adult calf got the attention of three of the males who eyed up the par of pachyderms before deciding that the meal was a bit big!
The four females of the Styx pride were found resting on the airstrip on a morning game drive; the pride appeared hungry and watched a herd of impala for most of the morning before conceding defeat and moving off to a shady spot as the day heated up. It would also appear that at least two of the lionesses are pregnant and we are sure that we should have new cubs within the next few weeks.
A few herds have been seen this week as they fed whilst moving through the area; one herd in particular was very relaxed and allowed us a fantastic sighting as they fed in the early evening light at some stages passing within a few feet of the game drive vehicle. The presence of these breeding herds has been followed immediately by some large elephant bulls that have been following the herds, in the hope that there may be mating opportunities available.
Buffalo & Rhinoceros
A number of small buffalo herds have been seen during the week. The large waterholes are being utilised, by the buffalo, to cool off during the heat of the day. It is an impressive sight to see upwards of twenty to thirty buffalo resting in the water. The resident buffalo bulls have returned to the area around camp and we are seeing at least four "dagga-boys" utilising the camp waterhole during the heat of the day.
It was a rather unexpected surprise to find the pack of dogs moving through the western half of our traversing this week. The pack of seven dogs has been seen on three different occasions this week. The highlight was seeing the pack as they chased and brought down two impala lambs. The speed that the dogs eat a fresh kill has to be experienced, it took approximately five minutes for both of the impala kills to be completely finished!!
The dogs were also seen again late on Sunday when they had stolen a kill from the leopard mentioned earlier in the report. We are hoping that the pack will remain with us for an extended stay this year.
New Year Celebrations
We celebrated New Year with some traditional Shangaan dancing which was enjoyed by all of the guests and staff and the festive atmosphere went on long into the night.
We hope that everyone has a fantastic 2011.
The Simbambili Guiding & Tracking Team