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Leopard Diaries

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Liam Rainier

Liam Rainier

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Leopard Diaries 7th - 13th February 2011

By Liam Rainier
Leopard Diaries 7th -13th February 2011

This week was the first time this summer that we have not had any rain. The clear blue skies and warm daytime temperatures have made for some fantastic conditions for game drives and the wildlife has responded in kind with a number of great sightings being enjoyed.

Leopard

The leopard sightings this week have been good, with the highlight being a very quick sighting of two of our newest leopard cubs. Karula has moved into our traversing area and has her two, approximately three month old, cubs stashed away in a dense riverline on our eastern boundary. The two little balls of fur did not stay visible for too long and we did not want to pressurise them too much, without their mother being present. The cubs will often follow their mothers lead when faced by new objects such as vehicles and we try to only view the young cubs when she is present. Even better news is that it appears that our resident female leopard Salayexe has once again given birth. The area that she has been seen moving into and out of repeatedly this week is relatively inaccessible to vehicles and we have not been able to get any sightings of the new cubs. The suspicion was confirmed when Salayexe was found at a nearby waterhole and her teats are showing distinctive suckle marks!!!

Lion

The lions have been very conspicuous by their absence this week! We have only seen lions once this week, with two of the Styx lionesses being seen resting in the vicinity of one of the waterholes in the eastern half of our traversing.  

Elephant


The return of the elephants has been a real delight for us here at Simbambili. After the relative scarcity of these big grey beasts over the last two months it is wonderful to be able to drive out and not only find fresh signs and tracks of large numbers of elephants, but also to be able to find the animals themselves, utilising the marula fruit bounty to be had in the bush at the moment.

Rhinoceros & Buffalo

The sightings of white rhinoceros have been good with two different crashes of four being seen on a number of occasions this week. The two dominant bulls have been seen moving through their respective territories and would often be found in the company of the either of the two crashes. The buffalo sightings are still dominated by the groups of "Dagga-boys" who can be found lazing away the warm days either in or close to a convenient waterhole or mud wallow.

Cheetah

The two female cheetahs were seen on two different occasions this week; both of the sightings saw the pair trying to stalk impala herds. Unfortunately on both occasions the cats were unsuccessful in their hunting attempts, but are still both in great condition and providing some good sightings.

Till next week......

Leopard Diaries 31st January - 6th February 2011

By Liam Rainier
Leopard Diaries 31st January - 6th February 2011

The weather has improved over the last week, we have had very little rain, giving the western part of our traversing area time to dry up.

The game has been good in most of the areas and sightings are getting better, as the bush is drying , off-roading  has become possible again and following game is easier.

Leopard

The female leopard, Salayexe has been moving between Simbambili and Elephant Plains, hopefully looking for a suitable place to give birth as she is heavily pregnant. She had a run-in with Moya but it did not last long, Moya being considerably younger was chased up a tree and showed submission to the more dominant female.

Nyeleti has moved back into the area, we found her in her favourite Jackalberry tree where she lay in for an hour or so until she was disturbed by a herd of elephant searching the near by Marula trees for their prized fruit.

Lion

The Majingilane male lions have moved back out of the area leaving only the two Styx females within our traversing area. A male leopard had made a kill close to where the lionesses were lying one evening and they picked up on the activity. Upon seeing the lions, the leopard dropped his kill to the ground and this was stolen by the two females, he remained in the tree until the lions had finished the kill and then moved away.

There has been no sign of the Tsalala pride of lions this week, they moved to the west and have been away for about a week or so.

Elephant

There have been many elephants in the area this week, mostly out to the east with some herds reaching a hundred animals or so. They seem to be on the move still after the marula fruits while still in season. We had a big tusker in the area, he was seen moving around on Simbambili property for a few days. His ivory was of decent thickness and length, protruding about 120 cm or so from the lip.

Buffalo & Rhinoceros

There is still no sign of any large buffalo herds, though four buffalo cows with one calf were seen this morning, possibly separated from a herd nearby.

Sightings of our territorial  bull rhinos have been frequent as well as a small group of females and sub adults in the east.

African Wild Dog

After a week since the pack of seven dogs left the area, they re surfaced last night around Big Dam, they moved all over the western part of our traversing last night and were finally found this morning  on Safari airstrip. All of them had full bellies indicating a kill at some stage in the night.

Other interesting sightings include an African Harrier Hawk raiding a yellow billed hornbill's nest, pulling out 3 of its young chicks and the defenceless female from its nesting hole in a Marula tree.

Regards

Simbambili Guiding Team

Leopard Diaries 24th - 31st January 2011

By Liam Rainier
Leopard Diaries 24th - 31st January 2011

This week saw a break in the rain that has been falling steadily for the past few weeks.

The clay soils around the lodge and the Western part of our traverse area are still very wet but it has become a little easier to move around, for both man and animal. This resulted in an excellent week of game viewing.

Leopard

The heavily pregnant resident female, Salayexe, continues to make almost daily appearances near the lodge along the Manyeleti River. She is resting in Marula trees for considerable periods and does not travel as far in a day as she usually does. We are still confident that, when she has her cubs, it will be somewhere near the lodge.

Salayexe's male cub, Rulani, has been seen regularly on the Southern edge of his mother's range. On one occasion he was foolish enough to stalk a fully grown buffalo bull; a game that could have gone badly wrong, but he was able to climb a tree just before the buffalo turned on him.

The large male leopard, Tyson, has been spending a lot of time along our Western boundary and has been seen in the riverine thickets along the Zimba River, which is a difficult area to negotiate after the heavy rains.

Lion

The Tsalala pride spent two days lying near Kraaines Pan digesting the zebra they had killed last week. Then, over the course of the next three days, they made an impala kill each night on the airstrip to the South of the lodge.

The Majingilane males have, after a long absence, appeared in the East of our traverse. They killed an adult buffalo cow and were joined at the carcass by two of the Styx Pride females. This should provide good viewing for the next few days as there is still a lot of meat on the carcass.

Elephant

Elephant viewing continues to be erratic. Large herds have been moving into the area and out again, quite rapidly, and often overnight. They appear to be moving large distances between the fruiting Marula trees on our property and the Sand River to the South, which is still flowing rapidly following the recent heavy rains. We have encountered herds of approximately twenty animals on the high ground in the Marula forests and a number of large bulls have been observed moving through the area, probably following the breeding herds.

Buffalo & Rhinoceros

The large herds of buffalo have not returned to our area from the burnt areas in the Kruger National Park where they are concentrating on the new, fresh grass. We are still encountering large groups of buffalo bulls that have taken up residence in all the temporary pans and mud wallows. A group of ten have been seen almost daily in the pan in front of the lodge.

The wet conditions have made going off-road to view rhino difficult, particularly in the Guarri Bush thickets they often favour. One of the resident bulls has been frequenting the open airstrip areas quite a lot and has provided good viewing opportunities. He also appears to have had a confrontation with a younger bull, which is sporting some painful looking cuts on his nose and neck. This young bull has withdrawn Eastwards and will probably think twice before visiting our area again.

African Wild Dog

The seven Wild dogs that entered our property last week have continued to be seen on a daily basis this week. This extended period of small range coverage can possibly be explained by the fact that the lead pair of dogs (known as the alpha pair) have been mating repeatedly for the past four days. Their reluctance to move has forced the pack to stay in a relatively small area and they have killed a number of impala and nyala. We were lucky enough to witness one of these kills in the riverine thicket to the South of the lodge.

Regards

Simbambili Guiding Team

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