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Leopard Diaries

A word from our rangers.

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Liam Rainier

Liam Rainier

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Leopard diaries 17 March – 23 March 2012

By Liam Rainier
17-leopard-01Leopard Diaries 17-23/03/12

LEOPARD

We really had to work for our leopard sightings this week. Early in the week we picked up some female leopard tracks around Boundary Pan and tracked her for five kilometres until her tracks crossed out of our traversing area.

Disappointed, we carried on the following morning. Checking around the western boundary, we came across fresh tracks for a male, they were on top of vehicle tracks of that morning. We followed them into our property but we soon realised with the thick bush and all the elephant around we weren't going to have much luck.

That evening we stopped for drinks on the western boundary and heard the cough of a male leopard to our north. After an hour of searching fruitlessly with a spotlight, we headed back to camp, again disappointed. The next morning, with guests leaving, it was now or never. We'd give the male on the western boundary one last chance. We left camp and slowly made our way towards the Uthla Corner to start checking the boundary when he was spotted by another vehicle further down the boundary.
We immediately responded and heard on the radio there was another leopard calling north of the male. Heading south towards the sighting, we came over a rise to find Salayexe walking up the road.17-lion-01

LION


Lion sightings this week were somewhat infrequent, but for two mornings we did have the Styx pride and the dark maned Maxingilane male around. The first morning they just lay around, the cubs played whilst the females kept a close eye on them.

The Maxingilane male was head down, sleeping. Occasionally the distant roars of the Matimba males calling from the Manyeleti woke him.   That night they didn't move far.

They had only moved a few hundred metres but they had made a substantial kill. We never found a carcass but all of them had full stomachs the next morning.
17-lion-02

OTHER

The pack of two wild dogs dogs were running around in the area chasing impala and after a few failed attempts they found themselves having a rest and a water break right in front of Simbambili Lodge.
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The last week we have been inundated with elephant.
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17-elephant-02 Herds and herds of cows with young calves and bulls causing endless roadblocks as they push vegetation onto our roads.

It sure makes for interesting walks though. This was a female with a unique deformity to her left tusk. 

And one of the biggest bulls I have seen in a while, his tusks are not very long but are thick and his general size was impressive. 


Regards

Richard S and The Simbambili Team

Leopard diaries 2 March – 16 March 2012

By Liam Rainier
Leopard Diaries 2 March – 16 March 2012

Leopard

2012-ld-02


2012-ld-01
Most of the usual leopards have been around in the last two weeks. We came across Shadow one evening on the way back to camp. She was looking
healthy and furiously marking territory as she went.

Salayexe was seen a number of times, on two occasions right outside the lodge. She killed an impala ram on the helipad just behind the lodge but didn't take it up into a tree. The following morning we found her lying 20 metres away watching a hyena eat her well-earned kill.

Salayexe also had a small run in with Tingana at Serengeti a few nights ago. For some reason the large male got aggressive with her and attacked her. She managed to get up a tree and the male just sat at the bottom watching and waiting for her to come down. We are not sure how the situation ended but she has been seen since and is fine.2012-ld-03


Tingana was also seen on a number of occasions covering his huge territory and marking as he went.

A nice surprise a few mornings ago, whilst looking for rhino on the Londolozi boundary. We saw leopard tracks and a few minutes later came across the leopard, it was Tyson. He didn't move north of the boundary but walked for some distance along it.

A real treat to see him again.

Other leopards seen in the past two weeks include Nsele, just a brief sighting but definitely Salayexe's first female cub. Karula, Lamula and Kwatile were also in the area.

Lion

2012-ld-05
The young Tsalala female lionesses made a buffalo kill during the week. They took their time feeding on it before leaving it only to kill a waterbuck bull a few days later. BB and the rest of the Tsalala Pride made a brief appearance at Big Dam but left after only a day.

The Tsalala lions had a little fun when they chased an African Civet up a tree. Civets are not really known for climbing but did what had to be done to escape certain death. The lions lay under the tree for the whole day and only in the evening when they started to move did the civet climb down. He was so tired he didn't even run away, just ambled along.

The Nkuhuma lionesses hung around for a few days as well. They made no kills whilst in the area but we did receive a report from the north that they had killed a wildebeest shortly after they left.

2012-ld-04
The Nkuhuma males moved through the area giving us a brief glimpse as they passed.

Other lions seen included the Styx Pride as well as the Four Ways Pride (from Kruger).


General Sightings

2012-ld-08
We were lucky enough to have two sightings of the wild dogs during the week. The Exeter pack entered our traverse area and for a day and tried half-heartedly to catch impala but failed.
2012-ld-09
The smaller pack of three dogs has been moving between Safari and Elephant Plains airstrips killing several impala in the last week.

Plenty of new born zebras are providing fantastic game viewing around the airstrips; also a bush buck showing the results of a ferocious stand-off that these male antelope often have.

Something interesting practiced by the occasional antelope is Osteophagea, meaning to chew on bones. This is done by the animal when it feels like it lacks calcium in its diet and needs to supplement it. Here in the photograph belwow, a kudu cow has found an old bone and repeatedly picks it up, chews on it and drops it again.

Regards,
Liam and the Simbambili team

Leopard diaries 23 February – 5 March 2012

By Liam Rainier
Leopard diaries 23 February – 5 March 2012

Lion

lion-01 lion-02
One of the highlights of our lion sightings over the past two weeks was when all four Majingilane male lions were found resting together one morning – a rare sighting of all four of them together which apparently has been happening more frequently of late. This is a good sign as with all the pressure from surrounding males in the vicinity they can be extremely vulnerable while separated.

lion-03
The Styx Pride have been spending a lot of time in the eastern parts of our traversing area. The young male belonging to "Gogi" the old female is still going strong despite losing his sibling at an early age. Another one of the females in the pride was also sighted mating with the "Dark-maned" Majingilane male. Unfortunately we weren't there to witness it but the pride is promising to grow within the next few months.

lion-04
The two Nkahuma females with their two young male cubs killed a young waterbuck near the lodge. They've managed to keep the two youngsters out of the war path of the strong male lion coalition, the Matimba's. These six male lions have taken over the territory to our north east and the Nkahuma pride was hit hard when four of their six cubs got killed. Similar to the Tsalala scenario the two mothers have had to stay in hiding and this is probably the reason we've been seeing them more often in unfamiliar territory.

Leopard

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Karula is one of our frequently seen dominant female leopard's that seems not only to provide food for her two fast growing cubs, Shavindzi and Shivambalana, but just like a sighting that was posted last year, we found her and her two cubs together with the dominant male Jordaan sitting beneath a small tree with the young male leopard from her previous litter, Nduna, feeding on a large impala ram. I have no doubt that she had made the kill as tracks showed where she had fetched her two cubs from Vuyatela and come straight back to where she had hoisted her kill. It is rather unusual to see how tolerant Jordaan is of Nduna's presence, at his age he should have already been chased out of the territory. Lets hope that this extra pressure on Karula doesn't result in her undoing.
leopard-03 leopard-04
leopard-05 leopard-06

Tingana, Salayexe and Shadow have been in a love triangle for over four weeks now. It seems that both the female leopards have come into oestrus at the same time. The sequence of photo's above shows Tingana and Shadow mating late one afternoon and then he and Salayexe mating again the same evening. When female leopards come into oestrus they initiate the whole mating process by seeking out the male. It seems that Shadow kept on moving into Salayexe's territory while she was looking for Tingana to mate with; Salayexe being much larger kept on chasing her away from the big male only to take her position as his mate.

leopard-07
After following two wild dogs that were hunting one afternoon around Arathusa airstrip, they became interested in something else in the bushes. We could see they had definitely seen something as they both were hopping up on their back legs trying to intimidate whatever was there.

After following them we eventually caught up with Ntima who had been chased up a Marula tree.
leopard-08 leopard-09
Regular sightings have been had of the dominant male leopard, Tingana.

Other Sightings

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A female wild dog with her young male pup have been sighted on the Arathusa airstrip on a regular basis harassing the impala herds that frequent the open areas.

zebra-02 buck-02

Plenty of new born zebras are providing fantastic game viewing around the airstrips; also a bush buck showing the results of a ferocious stand-off that these male antelope often have.
eagle-01 eagle-02

Probably the sighting of the month, a male Crowned Eagle which we spotted perched on a Knobthorn in the open areas around Elephant Plains. An eagle you would normally find in the indigenous forests where it specializes in preying on small mammals like monkeys, baboons, dassies, mongooses, cats and even small antelope. They have been known to range far from the forests when hunting.

Regards,
Liam and the Simbambili team

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