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Leopard Diaries

A word from our rangers.

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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.


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.


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.


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.


Simbambili Guiding Team
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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.


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.


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 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.


Simbambili Guiding Team
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Leopard Diaries 17th-23rd January 2011

17jan1This 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.


17jan3The 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
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