Leopard Diaries 7th - 14th March 2011
It 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.
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.
Salayexe 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.
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.
The 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.
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!!
The Simbambili Guiding Team