Leopard 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.