Leopard Diaries 17th - 23rd January
This week has seen some torrential rainfall affecting most parts of South Africa and we have not been spared here at Simbambili. We received approximately 100mm of rain during the week and it is a pleasure to report that all of the permanent water holes are now full to brimming!!
The reserve is extremely wet and this has had a slight effect on the areas that we are able to access on game drives; it has not however had any effect on the game viewing on offer. The presence of all of the large predators that are found in the reserve was a real bonus for us.
Elephant numbers have also improved and we were lucky enough to see at least four different herds of these big grey pachyderms during the course of the week. The highlight of the week however had to be the return of the pack of wild dogs, but more on that later.
We have been treated once again to some great leopard viewing this week. Late on an afternoon game drive we heard that Shadow had moved into an area in the northern part of our traversing area and we quickly made our way to the area. We found the leopard as she was in the process of stalking an impala herd, utilising all of the long grass and cover to conceal her approach. It did not take her long to get into position and we watched with baited breath as the leopard positioned herself right into the path of the oncoming herd of antelope.
The impala moved past the position where we had last seen the leopard and in a flash she was up and running at her chosen target. We lost sight of the leopard for a few moments but were stunned to find her with a young impala ewe that she had in a throat hold.
The impala was duly dispatched and the leopard began the arduous task of dragging the fresh kill to cover. We left as she moved the kill into a dense stand of thorn trees. On returning to the area the following day, it appeared that the leopard had unfortunately lost the kill to a spotted hyena.
A number of sightings of Salayexe have been enjoyed and she is looking heavily pregnant and it should not be long before she gives birth to her new litter of cubs. We have also seen a dramatic increase in her territorial behaviour, scent marking and calling, in and around the area close to the lodge, we are hoping that she may utilise the area as her denning sight. Time will tell and we will keep you posted.
The Tsalala pride made a return to our traversing area and all five of the females were found feeding on a fresh zebra kill. The pride fed on the carcass for the following day and a half and all moved away from the kill site with bulging bellies.
They moved steadily northwards during the course of the week and were found on the following three days not having moved very far from the position they were left. Their fat bellies have started to subside and it won't be long before we see them starting to look for the next meal.
A lone member of the Styx pride was seen in the eastern half of the property. It would appear that the pride has been scattered once again by the presence of the Majingilane Males.
Good numbers of elephant have been recorded this week, with a number of different herds being seen moving through the area. The lure of the ripening marula fruit has proved to be too strong for these large herbivores to ignore and we are seeing signs of elephant in the areas dominated by these large fruiting trees.
Buffalo & Rhinoceros
We have enjoyed consistent sightings of both of these large herbivores during the week. The small groups of buffalo bulls are providing the majority of our sightings and it is great to see that a small group has once again taken up residence in the area around the lodge and are utilising the waterhole in front of camp to wallow in.
A fair number of rhinoceros sightings have been enjoyed with the majority of the sightings being had in the eastern half of our traversing. We were fortunate to find two different crashes on a single afternoon which gave us a sightings record of six rhinoceros in a single afternoon! We even had a large rhinoceros bull join us in a cheetah sighting which was a stroke of luck to have two members of the magnificent seven in a single sighting.
The cheetah pair spent the first three days of the week in our area hunting the impala herds that are so predominant around the eastern airstrip. Although unsuccessful in the attempts that we were fortunate enough to witness, they did appear to have caught a small impala at some stage as they were found with full bellies late on an afternoon drive as they lazed in the sun.
African Wild Dog
The highlight of this week's viewing was the return of the pack of seven wild dogs, which were spotted on a morning drive by staff at camp. The pack had managed to chase an impala ewe into the waterhole and two of the pack members had laid siege to the edges waiting for the stranded antelope to make an attempt at leaving her watery sanctuary.
The dogs unfortunately, eventually lost interest in the antelope and loped off to find the remainder of the pack which had in the mean time, made another successful kill and were busy feeding approximately two hundred metres away.
The dogs have been in the area for the entire week and we have a sighting of them on every day.
Simbambili Guiding Team