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Leopard Diaries

A word from our rangers.

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Leopard Diaries 2 March – 16 March 2012



Most of the usual leopards have been around in the last two weeks. We came across Shadow one evening on the way back to camp. She was looking
healthy and furiously marking territory as she went.

Salayexe was seen a number of times, on two occasions right outside the lodge. She killed an impala ram on the helipad just behind the lodge but didn't take it up into a tree. The following morning we found her lying 20 metres away watching a hyena eat her well-earned kill.

Salayexe also had a small run in with Tingana at Serengeti a few nights ago. For some reason the large male got aggressive with her and attacked her. She managed to get up a tree and the male just sat at the bottom watching and waiting for her to come down. We are not sure how the situation ended but she has been seen since and is fine.2012-ld-03

Tingana was also seen on a number of occasions covering his huge territory and marking as he went.

A nice surprise a few mornings ago, whilst looking for rhino on the Londolozi boundary. We saw leopard tracks and a few minutes later came across the leopard, it was Tyson. He didn't move north of the boundary but walked for some distance along it.

A real treat to see him again.

Other leopards seen in the past two weeks include Nsele, just a brief sighting but definitely Salayexe's first female cub. Karula, Lamula and Kwatile were also in the area.


The young Tsalala female lionesses made a buffalo kill during the week. They took their time feeding on it before leaving it only to kill a waterbuck bull a few days later. BB and the rest of the Tsalala Pride made a brief appearance at Big Dam but left after only a day.

The Tsalala lions had a little fun when they chased an African Civet up a tree. Civets are not really known for climbing but did what had to be done to escape certain death. The lions lay under the tree for the whole day and only in the evening when they started to move did the civet climb down. He was so tired he didn't even run away, just ambled along.

The Nkuhuma lionesses hung around for a few days as well. They made no kills whilst in the area but we did receive a report from the north that they had killed a wildebeest shortly after they left.

The Nkuhuma males moved through the area giving us a brief glimpse as they passed.

Other lions seen included the Styx Pride as well as the Four Ways Pride (from Kruger).

General Sightings

We were lucky enough to have two sightings of the wild dogs during the week. The Exeter pack entered our traverse area and for a day and tried half-heartedly to catch impala but failed.
The smaller pack of three dogs has been moving between Safari and Elephant Plains airstrips killing several impala in the last week.

Plenty of new born zebras are providing fantastic game viewing around the airstrips; also a bush buck showing the results of a ferocious stand-off that these male antelope often have.

Something interesting practiced by the occasional antelope is Osteophagea, meaning to chew on bones. This is done by the animal when it feels like it lacks calcium in its diet and needs to supplement it. Here in the photograph belwow, a kudu cow has found an old bone and repeatedly picks it up, chews on it and drops it again.

Liam and the Simbambili team
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Leopard diaries 23 February – 5 March 2012


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One of the highlights of our lion sightings over the past two weeks was when all four Majingilane male lions were found resting together one morning – a rare sighting of all four of them together which apparently has been happening more frequently of late. This is a good sign as with all the pressure from surrounding males in the vicinity they can be extremely vulnerable while separated.

The Styx Pride have been spending a lot of time in the eastern parts of our traversing area. The young male belonging to "Gogi" the old female is still going strong despite losing his sibling at an early age. Another one of the females in the pride was also sighted mating with the "Dark-maned" Majingilane male. Unfortunately we weren't there to witness it but the pride is promising to grow within the next few months.

The two Nkahuma females with their two young male cubs killed a young waterbuck near the lodge. They've managed to keep the two youngsters out of the war path of the strong male lion coalition, the Matimba's. These six male lions have taken over the territory to our north east and the Nkahuma pride was hit hard when four of their six cubs got killed. Similar to the Tsalala scenario the two mothers have had to stay in hiding and this is probably the reason we've been seeing them more often in unfamiliar territory.


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Karula is one of our frequently seen dominant female leopard's that seems not only to provide food for her two fast growing cubs, Shavindzi and Shivambalana, but just like a sighting that was posted last year, we found her and her two cubs together with the dominant male Jordaan sitting beneath a small tree with the young male leopard from her previous litter, Nduna, feeding on a large impala ram. I have no doubt that she had made the kill as tracks showed where she had fetched her two cubs from Vuyatela and come straight back to where she had hoisted her kill. It is rather unusual to see how tolerant Jordaan is of Nduna's presence, at his age he should have already been chased out of the territory. Lets hope that this extra pressure on Karula doesn't result in her undoing.
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Tingana, Salayexe and Shadow have been in a love triangle for over four weeks now. It seems that both the female leopards have come into oestrus at the same time. The sequence of photo's above shows Tingana and Shadow mating late one afternoon and then he and Salayexe mating again the same evening. When female leopards come into oestrus they initiate the whole mating process by seeking out the male. It seems that Shadow kept on moving into Salayexe's territory while she was looking for Tingana to mate with; Salayexe being much larger kept on chasing her away from the big male only to take her position as his mate.

After following two wild dogs that were hunting one afternoon around Arathusa airstrip, they became interested in something else in the bushes. We could see they had definitely seen something as they both were hopping up on their back legs trying to intimidate whatever was there.

After following them we eventually caught up with Ntima who had been chased up a Marula tree.
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Regular sightings have been had of the dominant male leopard, Tingana.

Other Sightings

A female wild dog with her young male pup have been sighted on the Arathusa airstrip on a regular basis harassing the impala herds that frequent the open areas.

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Plenty of new born zebras are providing fantastic game viewing around the airstrips; also a bush buck showing the results of a ferocious stand-off that these male antelope often have.
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Probably the sighting of the month, a male Crowned Eagle which we spotted perched on a Knobthorn in the open areas around Elephant Plains. An eagle you would normally find in the indigenous forests where it specializes in preying on small mammals like monkeys, baboons, dassies, mongooses, cats and even small antelope. They have been known to range far from the forests when hunting.

Liam and the Simbambili team
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Leopard Diaries 27 June - 11 July 2011

What an exciting couple of weeks! Only in the Sabi Sands do you get animal interactions like we've had recently. Some drives have been quiet and the lions have been moving long distances overnight, getting us excited when we find their tracks only to find they have crossed onto another property. Leopards too have proved to be elusive over the last two weeks but it's all worth the patience and hard work when we finally catch up to them.


On a morning game drive in the eastern part of our traversing we heard a warthog screaming, instantly we thought "Leopard!" We drove around the corner and saw a male leopard dragging his hard earned warthog kill across the road - It was the famous warthog killer, Mafufunyane. Not long after he had settled down to eat a hyena appeared, so the powerful male leopard hoisted his carcass up a nearby Marula tree with amazing ease. "There's another leopard!" and out came Safari (the old female leopard with one eye), Mafufunyane wasn't happy with her and he growled aggressively. Suddenly out of nowhere a lion appeared and chased Safari up another Marula tree! Three Styx lionesses and one male Maxingilane who had obviously heard the sound of the kill arrived at the scene and they were clearly hungry. The older lionesses, wisely, waited for the much younger and energetic female to jump into the tree and with surprisingly ease climb up towards Mafufunyane. Although she received a few slaps in the face from him she succeeded in stealing the prize away from the male leopard and was now stuck high up a Marula in a very awkward position. Coming down wasn't nearly as graceful and she landed flat on her face, even worse for her, the Maxingilane male stole the warthog and that was that! On close inspection we could see that Mafufunyane had killed the warthog by biting at its chest cavity which allowed the warthog to scream and squeal a lot easier than if the leopard had a tight stranglehold and that was probably the reason why so many predators arrived at the scene in such a short space of time.

Tyson, the dominant male leopard in the north west of our traversing, made an appearance this week. We have not seen this male in a while and it was a great surprise to see him back in what used to be his core area. It seems that he is moving further south into Londolozi and the reason could be that the dominant male just south of his territory is getting old or the density of females is greater further south? It was great to see the impressively large leopard again. The unknown male that has been spending a lot of time around Simbambili is taking full advantage of Tyson's absence and was finally caught on camera mating with Salayexe. It seems that Salayexe has accepted him as the resident male and now is mating with him to conceive. With time we can hope the new male relaxes with the vehicles.


Who said leopards are solitary? After following the tracks of a female in one direction and then getting her tracks coming back into the same area together with tracks of two cubs we knew we were on the trail of a female leopard that had a kill stashed away.

We finally found her and saw that she had made an impala kill, it was Karula. Once we pulled the vehicle in and got a closer look we saw a young male, who was approaching Karula carefully. She hissed at him and he held back, it was Nduna, a young male from her previous litter. Watching Karula feed on the carcass we were amazed to see another male leopard approach the scene. Jordaan, unlike the younger male, rushed in and stole the kill away from Karula. All five leopards within a few metres from each other. This could only happen in the Sabi Sand...



Lions have been rather scarce the past two weeks, the highlight being the arrival of the Robson's Pride, who were found full of blood and with a few members wearing some battle scars. The young lions, consisting of two young males, three young females and one yearling male, had made a kill and were obviously chased off. It is unknown who chased them but suspects could be the two skittish Kahuma males as they were briefly seen close by.

The Styx pride made two appearances, one morning we found the four females stalking a herd of kudu, unfortunately they were unsuccessful. The next day we found them stealing Mafufunyane's warthog. One of them clearly lactating and the other was seen mating just two weeks before, so the Styx are growing and their future looks promising.


Other sightings

A male cheetah has been sighted twice, it seems he is carrying a serious injury as he can't put any weight onto his front left leg. He could be a male from the coalition of four that spend most of their time far east towards KNP. Lets hope he heals quickly and being in a strong coalition will bail him out of serious danger.

Elephant sightings have been good and apart from the usual solitary buffalo bulls a large breeding herd of buffalo was also seen heading into KNP.



The Simbambili team
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