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Leopard Diaries

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Liam Rainier

Liam Rainier

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Leopard Diaries 7th - 14th March 2011

By Liam Rainier
Leopard Diaries 7th - 14th March 2011

7march01It has been a magnificent few weeks of game viewing here at Simbambili and we have continued the trend this week with great sightings of all of the major predators.

We have had no further rain this week and the bush is looking decidedly dry and dusty. The leaves on a lot of the deciduous trees are already turning colour and the grass is drying very quickly.

Game viewing highlights this week have included the continued presence of the large pack of Wild Dogs, who have been moving around throughout the area. We have also had a number of sightings of three different sets of leopard cubs. We have also located on the den site of Salayexe, our resident leopard female who has two cubs of approximately a month old.

Leopard

Karula has been keeping her cubs in the drainage lines on our eastern boundary and we have had a number of sightings of the young cubs. Their mother made an impala kill late in the week and had brought the cubs to the kill site. We had a brief glimpse of the family late on a morning drive and were looking forward to an extended sighting of the family as they continued to feed on the carcass. This was not to be as on our return later in the afternoon the kill had been stolen by a young male leopard who had chased the female and both cubs from the area.

We did not see much of the nervous young male leopard and left the area, we were very surprised though to find Karula approximately a hundred metres away with another kill! This time a young kudu calf, however the cubs were not present. This kill was however stolen again by the same young male who had taken the carcass up a nearby tree by the following morning. We approached the sighting carefully and had a better sighting of the nervous leopard as he fed on the carcass. However Karula made a return and the young male vacated the tree in a hurry and dislodged the carcass from the tree as he moved off. The hyenas quickly moved in and got the biggest share of the prize.

7march02Salayexe has been spotted on a number of occasions this week and we were fortunate enough to catch her up a tree early one morning after she had a brief territorial scuffle with another leopard. She spent the remainder of the morning scent marking and calling in the area as she moved back to her den site. We have received reports that she has two cubs and they have been aged at approximately one month old.

7march03Lion

We can report that we have once again had a rather good week of lion viewing!

The four Majingilane males and the oldest Styx lioness were found resting in the vicinity of a large waterhole in the far eastern half of our traversing area and we had a fantastic view of the five lions as they got active towards the end of an afternoon drive.

We have also had the five Tsalala lionesses in the vicinity of camp, where we have watched them stalking various herds of impala and zebra. The five lionesses did eventually leave our property as they headed further west in the reserve and we eagerly await their return.

Elephant

7march04The elephant herds have been scarce this week and we have had to look hard to find these large herbivores during the course of the week.

The warm afternoon temperatures have sent us heading straight to most of the larger waterholes in the search of the large herbivores such as rhinoceros, elephant and buffalo which are often to be found either wallowing or enjoying a refreshing drink.

We were rewarded on one late afternoon drive as we came across an entire herd of about fifteen elephants having a long cooling swim in one of the larger dams. Two bulls in particular spent an extended session dunking and wrestling each other in the cool waters.

Rhinoceros & Buffalo

Buffalo numbers have been good although no herds have been seen this week, the buffalo bulls have been seen on regular occasions.

White rhinoceros sightings have also been constant and we have not struggled to find these grazing animals, a number of sightings of them being enjoyed as the animals wallowed away the warmer afternoons at a number of the waterholes.

Wild Dog

The large pack of dogs has once again enthralled us as they spent the majority of the week in the area. We were lucky to witness an interaction between them and a member of the smaller pack of wild dogs that we see more regularly on the property. The entire pack had been hunting and a number of members had been separated. The alpha male dog started to call and soon the pack had reunited and started to move off to drink. A single dog appeared at the edge of the clearing where the pack had gathered and it did not take long for them to realise that a stranger was in their midst. The entire pack took off a full pace and chased the lone dog a long way. We were unable to keep up but did find the pack later that afternoon as they rested in a large thicket.

The alpha pair has also been seen mating and we are hoping that we may have the pack denning in our area this year!!

7march05


Regards

The Simbambili Guiding Team

Leopard Diaries 1st - 6th March 2011

By Liam Rainier
Leopard Diaries 1st - 6th March 2011

1mar1We have had an unbelievable week of game viewing here at Simbambili, which could easily have compared with some of the best game viewing anywhere in Africa!

The weather has been wonderful with clear blue skies and some great autumn temperatures, making the game drives, even more enjoyable. The autumn colours are also returning to the bush with all of the Bushwillow species starting to turn rich yellows and reds.

As mentioned previously the game viewing has been exceptional with all of the major predators including a pack of twenty African Wild Dogs being seen. We have also been fortunate to view two different hunts one of which was successful with the other being particularly entertaining viewing, but more about that later.

Leopard

The leopard viewing this week has been at its best with leopard once again being seen on every day this week.

Karula, the leopard female from the eastern half of our traverse area has started to bring her two new female cubs into our area on a more frequent basis this week and we have had three great sightings of this leopard trio. The highlight was a sighting of the three leopards as they relaxed around a small waterhole, the young leopards taking it in turns to receive their morning grooming from their mother before settling down in the shade for the rest of the day.

1mar2


Salayexe has also been seen on a number of occasions this week and we have got a very good idea of where she now has her new cubs stashed away. The den site has moved and we are waiting for an opportunity to follow her to the den site to get a first introduction to her new cubs. We have found her moving through the eastern half of her territory calling and scent marking.

1mar3


We have also seen the following other leopards throughout the course of the week Rhulani, Nyeleti, Shadow and her cub and the Jordaan male.

Lion

Lion viewing has been very good this week, with the return of the Tsalala lionesses. They were first spotted from the main deck while we enjoyed coffee one morning before game drive, as they lazed around the waterhole in front of the lodge.

The five lionesses are doing very well and spent the following four days of the week on the property, making one impala kill early one evening and making a number of attempts on the zebra and impala herds which congregate around the northern airstrip.

1mar4


During one afternoon game drive we heard over the radio of a buffalo hunt taking place and made our way into the area to investigate. On our arrival at the sighting we were greeted by the sight of approximately two hundred buffalo moving away from the four Majingilane males. The herd moved steadily eastwards heading for the KNP boundary but were followed the entire way by three of the males who made three further unsuccessful attempts at bringing down a buffalo. We finally left the three lions resting in the cool of the evening as the buffalo drifted away.

Elephant

Good sightings of both large breeding herds and single elephant bulls have been enjoyed this week. The marula fruiting season is now drawing to a close and this may have an effect on the numbers of elephant in the area. These large pachyderms may start to move further south to the precious water in the Sand River as the bush dries out.


Rhinoceros & Buffalo

A number of good rhinoceros sightings have been had this week, with our resident crashes being found in the vicinity of the major waterholes.

The buffalo viewing has been far better this week with two different herds moving through the property. The first herd was the herd mentioned in the lion update, which numbered well into the two hundreds. The second herd was smaller and numbered approximately fifty animals and is still in the area.

African Wild Dog

1mar5


The highlight of the week has been the presence of two wild dog packs in our traversing area. The first pack is the one that we see on a regular basis and numbers seven animals. The second however is far larger and moves into our reserve from the north, this pack numbers twenty animals and are truly an amazing sight to see on game drive.

The big pack was found early one morning and we watched in awe as they attempted to hunt a herd of wildebeest that had a number of calves present in the herd. The dogs rushed this way and that as they tried to fool the adult wildebeest into making a mistake. The adult bulls in the wildebeest herd were having nothing of it and managed to keep the dogs at bay.

The two packs of dogs did have an altercation one morning with the bigger pack chasing the smaller pack off and causing a fair bit of chaos in the reserve that day. We had wild dogs from the pack of seven running in every direction trying to re-gather after being separated during the scuffle. The end result was the smaller pack leaving the area and returning to the western half of the reserve. The bigger pack is still here and we will keep you up to date with their movements.

Cheetah

The pair of female cheetah has been seen on a number of game drives again this week, one of which proved to be a moment that will stand out for a long time!

We were following the pair of cheetah as they moved along a road early on a morning drive, when all of a sudden a young kudu calf ran out into the road. The cheetah wasted no time and brought the calf down right in front of us. The death cry had unfortunately alerted a nearby hyena who loped in to investigate.

The young female cheetah was having nothing of this and aggressively charged at the lone hyena, repeatedly trying to chase this unwelcome visitor away. This is very unusual as cheetah rank low down in the predator hierarchy and will often back away from confrontation with a hyena. The hyena was soon joined by two more of it's clan members and the cheetah beat a hasty retreat, losing out on their meal.

This was not the last of the sighting because as we were leaving we spotted a large male leopard resting very near to the where the kill had taken place. It did not take him long before he rushed in grabbed what was left of the carcass from underneath the hyenas noses and scampered up the nearest tree to enjoy the spoils!!

Only in Africa.........and only at Simbambili.

Regards

The Simbambili Guiding Team

Leopard Diaries 14th - 20th February 2011

By Liam Rainier
Leopard Diaries 14th - 20th February 2011

14feb1Well, summer is almost drawing to a close and the bush is as lush and dense as we have ever seen it here in the Sabi Sands, this is fantastic for the wildlife and all species are in fine condition due to the abundance of the nutritious vegetation, however this does make for difficult game viewing!

We have had a little more rain with just over 8mm falling through the week. Simbambili Dam is a sight to behold and it is the fullest that it has been in years.

Game viewing and in particular lion and leopard viewing this week has been rather difficult, elephant, buffalo and rhinoceros sightings have been good and we have seen both cheetah and wild dog again this week.

Leopard

The leopard certainly proved to be elusive this week and we only had four sightings of the spotted cats this week.

We found one of Nyeleti's now independent cubs late one afternoon as he moved through a dense patch of Combretum woodland. The young male leopard was clearly intent on finding a meal and he pursued any noise or movement, without any success, before finally climbing into the branches of a nearby Marula tree. We left him as he dozed away the rest of the afternoon.

Karula and her two new cubs were once again seen on our eastern boundary and the cubs and mother allowed us some fantastic viewing as they lazed around the base of a large Bushwillow. The sighting was unfortunately disturbed by two hyenas who decided to "gate crash" the party. The presence of these scavengers sent the cubs scurrying away to the safety of the tree tops and their mother immediately took an aggressive stance against the two intruders. The trio of leopards finally moved off once the threat from any of the hyenas had disappeared. 

Lion

The five Tsalala lionesses made an appearance on Saturday afternoon and spent the following two days in our traversing area.  They all appear to be very healthy and this must be down to the experience of the older lioness who is known to be a good mother and teacher. The pride appears to be targeting the zebra herds of the area, all of which have young foals at present.

Elephant

The large number of elephant have, delighted both guests and guides alike over the last week, with sightings of both herds and single bulls being enjoyed on every drive this week. The herds have all numbered between ten and twenty animals and many small calves are also present. The sight of these large animals being gentle and tender with these little ones is a truly mesmerising sight.

Rhinoceros & Buffalo

Buffalo sightings have been good, with a herd of approximately a hundred animals moving into the property early one morning. They did not stay long and it would appear that the herd was being followed by two lionesses from the east.

The four old buffalo bulls have been utilising the waterhole in front of the lodge on a daily basis and provide hours of viewing pleasure for the guests as they enjoy their lunches on the lodge deck.

Rhinoceros sightings have been a highlight this week with a number of animals being seen.

Cheetah

14feb2


The pair of female cheetahs was seen early on in the week as they stalked an impala herd through an open clearing early one morning. The exuberance of the young female cub still gets the better of her and the impalas spotted her as she moved into the clearing in plain view.

Wild Dog

The pack of seven wild dogs returned on Saturday evening and were spotted as they fed on an impala kill that they had made on a nearby airstrip. The pack had actually killed three different impala and took almost no time in wolfing down all three kills before moving to a nearby waterhole to slake their thirst.

Regards

The Simbambili Guiding Team

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