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Leopard Diaries

A word from our rangers.

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Leopard diaries 20th - 27th June 2011
20june01

With the cold, and accompanied by dry winds the bush is starting to thin out and it is becoming increasingly drier and dustier by the day. The game viewing was a bit on-and-off over the past week, with some drives providing sightings around every corner and then some days the animals proving to be quite shy - probably a result of the cold wind as the animals tend to be more skittish in windy conditions with the predators scent blowing everywhere. There were still some unforgettable game viewing  experiences during the week.

Leopard

Salayexe, now aware that her two cubs are dead, was seen mating again. The last time she was seen mating was with an unknown male who has a large scar on his neck, they were mating near Simbambili Dam. She was found again, mating with another unknown male, this time the mating marathon lasted a lot longer. Probably keen to try and mate with as many males as possible to coax them into thinking her new cubs will be each of theirs, sly but clever. Hopefully her new cubs won't share the same fate of her previous litter.
20june02

Ntima has also been seen frequently in the east of our traversing area, on one occasion she came very close to killing an Impala right next to the vehicle. Her daughter, Kwatile, was seen briefly as well, both large females extremely beautiful as always.
20june03

It seems its honeymoon season as another pair of leopards was seen mating. A large male known as Emsagwen and Shadow, who lost her last litter about two months ago. The large male dwarfs the female as he climbs over her.

Lion

After killing a big "daga" boy buffalo a couple weeks ago, the Tsalala pride in the form of the tailles lioness and the four sub-adults are running high on confidence as they were seen trying to tackle another big buffalo bull. This time, however, they were unsuccessful, although the sighting was still fantastic. We received news that they did manage to bring a buffalo down in Vuyatela the next day. Without a resident male with them this is quite a feat.
20june04

One of the Styx lionesses was seen mating with one of the Maxingilane males, she is still quite young and this seems to be the first time she has come into oestrus. Honeymoon season continues...
20june05


20june06Elephant

It seems the larger herds of Elephants have moved towards the flowing rivers where more vegetation is available. The bush is extremely dry at the moment and other than some small herds the majority of the elephant sightings have been of lone bulls. A couple of large tuskers have been the highlight of the week.


Buffalo and Rhino

As with the elephants the buffalo are also looking for better grazing grounds, especially the large herds. Some daga boys are ever present around the lodge.

The Rhino sightings have been good with a large group of seven hanging around Little Gowrie. The Uthla bull still occupying his area around the lodge as well.
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Leopard Diaries 30 May-5 June 2011

This week proved to be difficult for sightings of cats in general, with most of the lions in the area out of our traversing and leopards failing to make their regular appearances. This is most unusual for Simbambili but the sightings we did have were worthwhile. We also experienced two cold fronts moving through the area.

Leopard

The female leopard Salayexe made a few, brief appearances around Serengeti and the Rocks, we suspect she has left her cubs in a drainage system close to Elephant Plains but can't be sure. The last confirmed sighting of the two tiny cubs was on the 19th of May. Moya has also been hanging around Serengeti, she was seen scent marking there and to the south on the 1st. This week there was no sign of Nyeleti.

The bib territorial male leopard, Tyson finally showed up again, on the 31st. We followed him a short way from the road to an old termite mound in which a warthog was present. We sat in anticipation as the warthog slowly moved from his burrow and once clear, Tyson made his move. The fight went in favour of the warthog as he managed to escape after first getting the leopard off his back and then ramming him with his head and tusks, Tyson knew the warthog was too big for him, and did not pursue him.

Lion

Only the Styx pride and the male coalition were seen this week in the eastern parts of our traversing, the females of the Styx pride killed a mature kudu bull south of the Chitwa airstrip. Once all the lionesses and the cubs in the pride had eaten, there was not much meat left for later sightings. Once full, the mother of the cubs moved them away from the kill back south towards Mala Mala.

By the time the four male lions came across the carcass in the morning, there was little for them to feed on as a number of vultures and a few black backed jackals had already started tearing at the remains.

Elephant

Breeding herds of elephants have been quite plentiful in the area, and are always a pleasure to watch. Moving throughout our traversing, herds of different sizes and all different ages are to be found.

We had fantastic experience with a tiny calf of under six months, charging the vehicle trying to scare us off while the rest of the herd paid us no attention.

Very few mature bulls have been seen lately, the odd young bull here or there but that's all. A very unfortunate young bull has been seen with a broken leg, no one is sure as to how he broke it but it is heart breaking to watch as he tries to stay with his herd.

Buffalo & Rhinoceros

Only one herd of buffalo was seen on the 4th, close to the Kruger boundary, there were an estimated 300 animals in the herd. They didn't hang around in the area long and just passed through and by the afternoon they were gone.

The usual old bulls have still been hanging around in various waterholes and mud wallows on our property.

Three rhino have been seen regularly around the Safari airstrip, The Londolozi bull and two cows moving with him. They have spent most of their days in the bush but have come out onto the airstrip at Buff pan in the evenings to wallow and drink.

Very good news for the rhino population, a cow with a very young calf has been spotted on several occasions in the area. The calf looks to be around 6 weeks old now and although the cow seems relaxed, the youngster is still wary of the vehicles.

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16may01Leopard Diaries 16th - 23rd May 2011

Despite having one last electrical storm with high speed winds which even blew a large Greenthorn (Balanites Maughamii) over, the bush finally seems to be drying up. All the Autumn colours are showing and the bush is changing once again. This week has provided fantastic game viewing once again, with a special sighting of a female cheetah in the far east which looks like she has swollen mammaries and is lactating.

Leopard

The very successful mother leopard and territorial female in the north west, Salayexe, was found with not one impala kill but two and both hoisted up in trees. She never ceases to amaze our guests as she is one of the most relaxed leopards in the area. The sighting proved to be extremely successful as we finally got to view her two cubs. They are still very young and any slight noise from the vehicle sends them scurrying in the other direction, but with careful viewing hopefully they will become habituated soon. The sighted was interrupted when the two Tsalala lionesses came into the area and chased Salayexe up a tree. The lionesses managed to climb up and steal the one carcass which was hanging in a Marula tree but the other carcass wasn't as easy to get to. Luckily her cubs were nowhere to be seen and were safely hidden away from the danger, the lions eventually got bored of waiting and moved off.

Mati, a young male leopard who spends most of his time in the south western parts of our traversing, was found hot on the trail of what seemed to be another leopard. He finally reached a hoisted duiker kill, which evidence showed had been killed by a female leopard. The young male took advantage of the free meal and took the carcass out of the tree to feed on it safely hidden within some thick bushwillows.

Mafufunyane was found once again in a fight, he never seems to be left in peace. He had a big territorial fight with another large male, Jordaan. Thankfully the two males didn't do too much damage to each other and departed their separate ways with only a few scratches.

16may02


Lion

As mentioned the two Tsalala females chased Salayexe up a tree during the week, but what I didn't mention is that one of them is heavily pregnant. It looks as if she is about to give birth within the next week, the great news is that she is spending a lot of time close to the lodge so with good fortune she'll find a den site nearby. The two sisters were also found on another occasion during the week with the four existing cubs, who are about six months old and looking very healthy, as well as one of the Majingilane males. It was a great sighting with the cubs totally infatuated with the large male who was extremely patient with their playful behaviour.
16may03

The older, tailless Tsalala female, Bibi, was seen with the four sub-adult females in the north western corner of our traversing. They are still doing very well and staying out of harm's way i.e. the Majingilanes have not yet caught up to them. The sub-adults are almost at the age where they should be accepted by the new, powerful coalition. The five females moved further east to unfamiliar territory; let's hope they don't find any trouble.

16may04Elephant

There have been elephants all over the property during the week, we've seen big herds passing in front of the lodge on a daily basis as they come and drink at the lodge's pan. There are plenty of playful and cheeky youngsters who provide excellent  photographic opportunities as they "mock" charge the vehicles.



Buffalo & Rhinoceros

Large herds of buffalo are constantly moving in and out of our traversing area, this is probably the reason we've been having so many lion sightings as they follow the buffalo - we're not complaining.

The white Rhino who hangs around the north west of our area seems  to have come to blows with another bull as he is wearing some battle scars. They don't look too serious so he should be okay, let's hope the other guy isn't worse off.
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