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Leopard Diaries

A word from our rangers.

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Leopard Diaries 2nd - 8th May 2011

8may01It has been a fantastic week once again here at Simbambili, the weather has changed and we are waking up to a misty fairy tale world with dew drop covered spider webs and thick mist shrouding the valleys out in the bush.

The temperature has been normal for this time of year with warm days and cool clear evenings. We did have an unexpected thunder shower late one evening, which treated us to a natural light and sound show!

The game viewing as previously mentioned has been great with some of the highlights being the continued presence of the female leopard  Kurula and her two cubs, a lion kill, literally on our doorstep and large herds of elephants still being seen almost daily!

Leopard

The leopard viewing this week has been dominated by the presence of one of our leopard families. Kurula and her two cubs, one of which is a male and the other a female, have delighted us with their antics. The two cubs were left for two days on their own as their mother moved off to hunt and patrol her territory.

Salayexe has also been seen this week. A quick glimpse was had, of her two new cubs which have just started moving around with her. They are estimated to be about ten to twelve weeks old and are being hidden in dense riverine vegetation in the south west of our property.

The female leopard killed a fully grown impala ram and spent the first three days of the week feeding on the carcass, we found her early one morning later in the week taking care of her territorial "house keeping".

The constant patrolling, calling and scent marking will hopefully ensure that no intruders will enter her territory and pose a threat to her young cubs.
8may02
The young leopard male known as Mati has been seen on a more regular basis this week and seems to be looking at setting up a more permanent territory in our area. This is exciting as he is a beautiful cat and is very relaxed in the presence of the game viewing vehicles.

Lion
8may03
Lion viewing this week has been good, with the presence of the two young Nxuhuma males who managed to bring down a buffalo cow near one of the waterholes approximately five minutes from the lodge. The pair have been utilising the far northern section of our property for the last six months and although they are not very relaxed in with the vehicles do provide us with a few sightings. This sighting however proved to be a blessing and we were able to witness the two males feeding on the large carcass for nearly a week.

The other lions seen this week have been two of the Styx lionesses, which were seen moving through the eastern half of our traversing.  The oldest and youngest females in the group have separated from the other two lionesses that have moved off to give birth to new litters of cubs.

Elephant
8may04
Elephant sightings have been amazing this week with numerous herds being seen throughout the area. A number of the larger herds have been moving into the riverine vegetation and open areas in front of the lodge and have provided great viewing from the deck. A number of big bulls have also been seen and one in particular this week possessed a large beautifully curved set of tusks.

The early morning mists always adds a surreal quality to the early morning sightings and we were lucky enough to find a large herd of elephants as they moved down to drink at one of the larger waterholes. The mist and rising sun added a very special feel to this particular sighting.

Buffalo & Rhinoceros

A number of good buffalo sightings have been had this week. At least two different herds have moved through the area and both herds have numbered in excess of a hundred and fifty animals. A smaller herd of ten has made frequent use of the waterhole in front of the lodge and were seen almost daily from the lodge.

White rhinoceros sightings have been good and we are still regularly seeing the large territorial bull grazing in front of the lodge on a regular basis.

8may05Spotted Hyena

The resident clan of spotted hyena are providing some great viewing of these often misunderstood carnivores. The clan is made up of approximately eight members, of which three are sub-adults.

The clan is often seen trailing the resident leopards in the hope that there will be a free meal on offer and will make use of any opportunity to run in and steal a free meal.

We watched as the entire clan waited patiently in the area around the lion kill this week and were eventually rewarded with a very smelly but sizeable meal once the lions had decided that they had had their fill.

Regards

The Simbambili Guiding Team

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Leopard Diaries 26th April - 2nd May 2011

2may01Another great week of game viewing, bird watching and although winter is close on our heels the sun has made more of an appearance compared to the past month. The male impalas testosterone levels are still running high, their snorts and roars are attracting plenty of unwanted attention - the leopards are taking full advantage. The abundance of Emperor moth caterpillars has given the cuckoos no option but to stick around for the feast before heading further north, specifically the Levaillants and the Jacobin Cuckoos who are constantly gleaning the bushes in front of our deck for caterpillars.

Leopard

Quite a number of sightings of large male leopards have raised the question of whether there is currently an unoccupied territory in the central and southern parts of our traversing area. Two large males, Jordaan and another large male from Londolozi, have been seen scent marking and the Jordaan male in particular has been calling constantly. Where's Tyson? He has not been seen recently and the last time he was seen was in the south western corner of our traversing. Has he been pushed out, only time will tell?      
2may02
2may04Maybe their presence is the result of Shadow coming back into oestrus after it seems that she lost her cub. The young, playful female has been spending a lot of time scent marking and following the trail of other males in particular Jordaan, I'm sure we will find them mating soon.

Karula and her two cubs have once again provided us with fantastic leopard viewing. She made another kill around One-eye pan, her cubs are looking fat and healthy and although she can be a little aggressive with her cubs around she has let us in and provided brilliant sightings.

The best news of the week is that Salayexe was seen on a impala kill with her two new cubs, this must be their first taste of meat. They are still very young, about 6 - 7 weeks, and didn't stick around long enough for us to get a photo but knowing what a great mother she is we soon will be able to do so.
2may03
Lion

Over the past two months or so we've found the tracks of two young male lions following a small group of buffalo on the Simbambili property. The two young lions aren't relaxed with the vehicles and have eluded us most of the time, although sightings of them under the spot light have been more frequent lately. Their attempts at hunting the ferocious buffalo have resulted in one of the lions being very badly injured; he can hardly walk and is not looking too good. This week, however, their perseverance paid off and they managed to bring down a large buffalo cow. Evidence showed that they also got close to bringing down another cow in the herd who wore the battle scars of her narrow escape. The large meal should hopefully get them back on track; they are certainly not letting anything get close to their prize and haven't moved further than a few metres from the rotting carcass over the past four days.

2may05

Elephant

We have enjoyed a number of great elephant sightings from the deck of the lodge. Large herds are frequently passing the open areas by the water hole, including many young calves as well as a number of large bulls, some of which are clearly in musth.

Buffalo & Rhinoceros

A brand new white rhino calf found near Arathusa Safari lodge has delighted all of us; this is some good news to the species for a change.

Although the large herd of buffalo have moved off, smaller groups have been seen together with scattered dagga boys all over the property. The smaller groups have seemed to be a target for the lions, where tracks show that one group was chased into Robson's property by the Majingilane males and then of course the group around the lodge where one did get killed and another narrowly escaped.
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Leopard Diaries 7th - 14th March 2011

7march01It 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.

Leopard

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.

7march02Salayexe 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.

7march03Lion

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.

Elephant

7march04The 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.

Wild Dog

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!!

7march05


Regards

The Simbambili Guiding Team
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