Liam Rainier - Page 6

Leopard Diaries

A word from our rangers.

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Liam Rainier

Liam Rainier

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Leopard Diaries 16th - 23rd May 2011

By Liam Rainier
16may01Leopard Diaries 16th - 23rd May 2011

Despite having one last electrical storm with high speed winds which even blew a large Greenthorn (Balanites Maughamii) over, the bush finally seems to be drying up. All the Autumn colours are showing and the bush is changing once again. This week has provided fantastic game viewing once again, with a special sighting of a female cheetah in the far east which looks like she has swollen mammaries and is lactating.


The very successful mother leopard and territorial female in the north west, Salayexe, was found with not one impala kill but two and both hoisted up in trees. She never ceases to amaze our guests as she is one of the most relaxed leopards in the area. The sighting proved to be extremely successful as we finally got to view her two cubs. They are still very young and any slight noise from the vehicle sends them scurrying in the other direction, but with careful viewing hopefully they will become habituated soon. The sighted was interrupted when the two Tsalala lionesses came into the area and chased Salayexe up a tree. The lionesses managed to climb up and steal the one carcass which was hanging in a Marula tree but the other carcass wasn't as easy to get to. Luckily her cubs were nowhere to be seen and were safely hidden away from the danger, the lions eventually got bored of waiting and moved off.

Mati, a young male leopard who spends most of his time in the south western parts of our traversing, was found hot on the trail of what seemed to be another leopard. He finally reached a hoisted duiker kill, which evidence showed had been killed by a female leopard. The young male took advantage of the free meal and took the carcass out of the tree to feed on it safely hidden within some thick bushwillows.

Mafufunyane was found once again in a fight, he never seems to be left in peace. He had a big territorial fight with another large male, Jordaan. Thankfully the two males didn't do too much damage to each other and departed their separate ways with only a few scratches.



As mentioned the two Tsalala females chased Salayexe up a tree during the week, but what I didn't mention is that one of them is heavily pregnant. It looks as if she is about to give birth within the next week, the great news is that she is spending a lot of time close to the lodge so with good fortune she'll find a den site nearby. The two sisters were also found on another occasion during the week with the four existing cubs, who are about six months old and looking very healthy, as well as one of the Majingilane males. It was a great sighting with the cubs totally infatuated with the large male who was extremely patient with their playful behaviour.

The older, tailless Tsalala female, Bibi, was seen with the four sub-adult females in the north western corner of our traversing. They are still doing very well and staying out of harm's way i.e. the Majingilanes have not yet caught up to them. The sub-adults are almost at the age where they should be accepted by the new, powerful coalition. The five females moved further east to unfamiliar territory; let's hope they don't find any trouble.


There have been elephants all over the property during the week, we've seen big herds passing in front of the lodge on a daily basis as they come and drink at the lodge's pan. There are plenty of playful and cheeky youngsters who provide excellent  photographic opportunities as they "mock" charge the vehicles.

Buffalo & Rhinoceros

Large herds of buffalo are constantly moving in and out of our traversing area, this is probably the reason we've been having so many lion sightings as they follow the buffalo - we're not complaining.

The white Rhino who hangs around the north west of our area seems  to have come to blows with another bull as he is wearing some battle scars. They don't look too serious so he should be okay, let's hope the other guy isn't worse off.

Leopard Diaries 2nd - 8th May 2011

By Liam Rainier
Leopard Diaries 2nd - 8th May 2011

8may01It has been a fantastic week once again here at Simbambili, the weather has changed and we are waking up to a misty fairy tale world with dew drop covered spider webs and thick mist shrouding the valleys out in the bush.

The temperature has been normal for this time of year with warm days and cool clear evenings. We did have an unexpected thunder shower late one evening, which treated us to a natural light and sound show!

The game viewing as previously mentioned has been great with some of the highlights being the continued presence of the female leopard  Kurula and her two cubs, a lion kill, literally on our doorstep and large herds of elephants still being seen almost daily!


The leopard viewing this week has been dominated by the presence of one of our leopard families. Kurula and her two cubs, one of which is a male and the other a female, have delighted us with their antics. The two cubs were left for two days on their own as their mother moved off to hunt and patrol her territory.

Salayexe has also been seen this week. A quick glimpse was had, of her two new cubs which have just started moving around with her. They are estimated to be about ten to twelve weeks old and are being hidden in dense riverine vegetation in the south west of our property.

The female leopard killed a fully grown impala ram and spent the first three days of the week feeding on the carcass, we found her early one morning later in the week taking care of her territorial "house keeping".

The constant patrolling, calling and scent marking will hopefully ensure that no intruders will enter her territory and pose a threat to her young cubs.
The young leopard male known as Mati has been seen on a more regular basis this week and seems to be looking at setting up a more permanent territory in our area. This is exciting as he is a beautiful cat and is very relaxed in the presence of the game viewing vehicles.

Lion viewing this week has been good, with the presence of the two young Nxuhuma males who managed to bring down a buffalo cow near one of the waterholes approximately five minutes from the lodge. The pair have been utilising the far northern section of our property for the last six months and although they are not very relaxed in with the vehicles do provide us with a few sightings. This sighting however proved to be a blessing and we were able to witness the two males feeding on the large carcass for nearly a week.

The other lions seen this week have been two of the Styx lionesses, which were seen moving through the eastern half of our traversing.  The oldest and youngest females in the group have separated from the other two lionesses that have moved off to give birth to new litters of cubs.

Elephant sightings have been amazing this week with numerous herds being seen throughout the area. A number of the larger herds have been moving into the riverine vegetation and open areas in front of the lodge and have provided great viewing from the deck. A number of big bulls have also been seen and one in particular this week possessed a large beautifully curved set of tusks.

The early morning mists always adds a surreal quality to the early morning sightings and we were lucky enough to find a large herd of elephants as they moved down to drink at one of the larger waterholes. The mist and rising sun added a very special feel to this particular sighting.

Buffalo & Rhinoceros

A number of good buffalo sightings have been had this week. At least two different herds have moved through the area and both herds have numbered in excess of a hundred and fifty animals. A smaller herd of ten has made frequent use of the waterhole in front of the lodge and were seen almost daily from the lodge.

White rhinoceros sightings have been good and we are still regularly seeing the large territorial bull grazing in front of the lodge on a regular basis.

8may05Spotted Hyena

The resident clan of spotted hyena are providing some great viewing of these often misunderstood carnivores. The clan is made up of approximately eight members, of which three are sub-adults.

The clan is often seen trailing the resident leopards in the hope that there will be a free meal on offer and will make use of any opportunity to run in and steal a free meal.

We watched as the entire clan waited patiently in the area around the lion kill this week and were eventually rewarded with a very smelly but sizeable meal once the lions had decided that they had had their fill.


The Simbambili Guiding Team

Leopard Diaries 26th April - 2nd May 2011

By Liam Rainier
Leopard Diaries 26th April - 2nd May 2011

2may01Another great week of game viewing, bird watching and although winter is close on our heels the sun has made more of an appearance compared to the past month. The male impalas testosterone levels are still running high, their snorts and roars are attracting plenty of unwanted attention - the leopards are taking full advantage. The abundance of Emperor moth caterpillars has given the cuckoos no option but to stick around for the feast before heading further north, specifically the Levaillants and the Jacobin Cuckoos who are constantly gleaning the bushes in front of our deck for caterpillars.


Quite a number of sightings of large male leopards have raised the question of whether there is currently an unoccupied territory in the central and southern parts of our traversing area. Two large males, Jordaan and another large male from Londolozi, have been seen scent marking and the Jordaan male in particular has been calling constantly. Where's Tyson? He has not been seen recently and the last time he was seen was in the south western corner of our traversing. Has he been pushed out, only time will tell?      
2may04Maybe their presence is the result of Shadow coming back into oestrus after it seems that she lost her cub. The young, playful female has been spending a lot of time scent marking and following the trail of other males in particular Jordaan, I'm sure we will find them mating soon.

Karula and her two cubs have once again provided us with fantastic leopard viewing. She made another kill around One-eye pan, her cubs are looking fat and healthy and although she can be a little aggressive with her cubs around she has let us in and provided brilliant sightings.

The best news of the week is that Salayexe was seen on a impala kill with her two new cubs, this must be their first taste of meat. They are still very young, about 6 - 7 weeks, and didn't stick around long enough for us to get a photo but knowing what a great mother she is we soon will be able to do so.

Over the past two months or so we've found the tracks of two young male lions following a small group of buffalo on the Simbambili property. The two young lions aren't relaxed with the vehicles and have eluded us most of the time, although sightings of them under the spot light have been more frequent lately. Their attempts at hunting the ferocious buffalo have resulted in one of the lions being very badly injured; he can hardly walk and is not looking too good. This week, however, their perseverance paid off and they managed to bring down a large buffalo cow. Evidence showed that they also got close to bringing down another cow in the herd who wore the battle scars of her narrow escape. The large meal should hopefully get them back on track; they are certainly not letting anything get close to their prize and haven't moved further than a few metres from the rotting carcass over the past four days.



We have enjoyed a number of great elephant sightings from the deck of the lodge. Large herds are frequently passing the open areas by the water hole, including many young calves as well as a number of large bulls, some of which are clearly in musth.

Buffalo & Rhinoceros

A brand new white rhino calf found near Arathusa Safari lodge has delighted all of us; this is some good news to the species for a change.

Although the large herd of buffalo have moved off, smaller groups have been seen together with scattered dagga boys all over the property. The smaller groups have seemed to be a target for the lions, where tracks show that one group was chased into Robson's property by the Majingilane males and then of course the group around the lodge where one did get killed and another narrowly escaped.


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