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Leopard Diaries

A word from our rangers.

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Leopard Diaries 10th - 16th January 2011

10jan01We have just gone through a very wet week, the rain has finally arrived and we now have some very full waterholes and the rain is still far from over. The Manyeleti River in front of the lodge has once again flowed this week following a very heavy thundershower on Friday evening and has not subsided and flowed again on Sunday evening.

The heavy rains have somewhat limited our game drive area but this has not affected our sightings in any way and we have seen some fabulous wildlife over the last week. The leopard viewing in particular has been fantastic, but we have once again had good cheetah sighting and the buffalo viewing has been very good.

The elephant numbers are however still proving to be limited and we have had to travel long distances to find these large pachyderms.

Leopard

Once again this week we returned to the kind of leopard viewing that makes the Sabi Sands Reserve so famous. This week we have had no fewer than seventeen individual leopard sightings. Guests that were with us for three days saw a total of ten different leopards during their stay.

The young female Moya, has provided some great viewing, she is still a young leopard and is constantly testing what the limits should be for an independent leopard. We found her early one morning after a rain shower as she rested in the branches of a large Marula tree. The wet grass was not to her liking and she decided that the most comfortable place to be was in the high branches of the large tree.

10jan02We found Shadow and her young cub on a rainy afternoon as she brought the little one back to a recently killed impala ewe.

This pair of leopards appears to be doing very well and are spending a lot of time around the eastern airstrip. The abundance of impala in the vicinity, is providing a ready source of food. 

The carcass was unfortunately stolen by the dominant territorial male, Mafufunyane who dragged the carcass away and chased the female from the area. He was found later that afternoon resting with a bulging belly in the shade of a nearby thicket.

News is that at least two of the leopard females in the east of our traversing area now have new cubs. Thandi has apparently given birth to two cubs that were fathered by Mvula. The cubs are thought to be approximately three weeks old. Ntima has also given birth but we have yet to get a viewing of the cubs.

Lion

A pleasant surprise this week was a sighting of the Xuhuma Pride and the two Gijima males who are rare visitors to the property. The pride is usually resident in the north eastern half of the reserve but do make occasional forays into our traversing area. The pride spent the entire day resting in some shady thickets and provided some great photo opportunities as they came out on the road in the early evening. The pride has two four month old cubs with them and the pair of young males are very healthy.

The Styx Pride was found in the far east of our traversing area as they rested in the early morning sunshine. The pride is still quite fractured and the old lioness and two sub adults appeared to be trying to escape the attention of the four Majingilane males.

Elephant

The majority of sightings this week were of large lone bulls as they moved through the property.

Buffalo & Rhinoceros

A good sized herd of buffalo have been present in the area this week. The herd numbers approximately eighty buffalo and the herd was still present on Sunday evening. A large number of buffalo bulls have been seen throughout the property usually concentrated around the permanent waterholes.

Fewer rhinoceros sightings have been had this week, although all guests have managed to see at least one of these grey behemoths during their stay.

Cheetah

The cheetah pair were found on an early morning drive, the adult female had successfully brought down a duiker and the pair was seen feeding on the carcass of the small antelope. Unfortunately the cheetahs were interrupted by a large male leopard who chased the cheetah off the kill. The cheetah then moved off and left the reserve going east into the Kruger National Park.

New Life
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Some of the new arrivals that we are seeing include wildebeest calves, warthog piglets and impala lambs throughout the property. The birds have also started breeding and we are seeing a number of francolin chicks, guinea fowl chicks and Egyptian goose goslings.

Regards

Simbambili Guiding and Tracking Team
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Leopard Diaries 3rd-9th January 2011

3jan01Well, what a week it has been!! We have been treated to some exceptional game viewing this week with most game drives being dominated by some superb big cat sightings.

We have had the welcome return of the cheetah pair who were present here last year during the summer. The lion viewing has also been very good with lions being seen on almost every drive this week. Leopard viewing has been a little slower, due to the lion presence but we have seen a fair number of the spotted cats through the week.

The weather has been damp and we have had a few wet game drives this week. The bush has responded to the rain and is looking lush and greener than ever.

Leopard

Due to the increased lion presence on the property this week, we have found the leopard viewing to be a little more challenging than usual. This does not mean that we have not seen the spotted cats, but have had to look hard to locate them.

We found the dominant male, Tyson resting in a large Jackalberry tree on one damp afternoon drive. He appeared to have fed recently and had moved in from our southern neighbouring property during the course of the morning. He spent the following two days in the area and we found him again the next morning moving west and scent marking along one of the main roads.

We have also had good sightings of two of our lesser seen leopards. The Tavangumi female was found resting on our southern boundary. This old female leopard is the oldest leopard in the area but still looks to be in very good condition. The second leopard is a new unnamed female leopard that has been seen moving around the northern section of the reserve, she appears to be a young recently independent leopard. We found her on an impala kill which she had safely stashed in the branches of a Leadwood tree.

Other leopards seen during the week included the Rhino Pan male, Nyeleti and Moya
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3jan04


Lion

The week started off with the Styx pride being found after a good bit of tracking. The pride's tracks were found coming into the property following a herd of buffalo and it did not take long before we had located three of the lionesses feeding on a sub adult buffalo carcass. The young male of the Styx pride was seen the previous day moving in the area around one of our airstrips, he appears to have recovered full from his encounter with the four Majingilane males. We found him the following day in the company of the rest of the pride.  The four lions then spent the following four days resting with very, distended bellies on the airstrip, hardly moving more than thirty metres during this time!!

The five Tsalala lionesses were seen in the northern half of our tarversing and all appear to be in fine health. They moved into the area late in the evening and headed to the northern airstrip, where they were able to bring down a zebra foal during the evening.

Elephant

The elephant viewing has been difficult, with the cool weather these large pachyderms have been sticking to the thickets and have not shown themselves very well this week.

Buffalo & Rhinoceros

The buffalo viewing this week has been very good, with a number of small groups of bulls being seen throughout the property. We have also had a small herd of perhaps eighty animals moving through the eastern part of our area during the week. We were fortunate to watch an interaction between the Styx pride and the buffalo herd. The herd returned to the sight of the buffalo kill and proceeded to chase the lions from the carcass of the sub adult buffalo that the lions had killed earlier. The lions showed little regard for the enraged buffalo and moved away a short distance before returning to continue their meal.

The rhinoceros sightings have dropped off this week and we have had to actively go and look for these grey behemoths. The open grassy clearings have been favoured as the nutritious grasses continue to sprout after the new rainfall.

Cheetah

3jan05It is a very welcome return of cheetah to the area this week.

We have once again started to find the two female cheetah who enthralled us during the summer period last year.

The young cheetah cub has grown into a sub adult and should be nearing the time of independence.

The two cats were found on a morning drive as they headed north towards the open areas around the southern airstrip. They spent the following two days in the area before moving off due to the presence of the Styx pride.

Regards

The Simbambili Guiding & Tracking Team

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Leopard Diaries 27th December 2010- 2nd January 2011

december04We would like to wish all a very prosperous new year and hope that we get to meet many of you and share the wonderful wildlife sightings at Simbmbili over the course of the following year.

The weather has been pleasant over the last week although the lack of rain has a number of us wondering if we are going to have a drier year than last year. The small amount of rain which has fallen has done so mainly at night which has made for a lovely fresh start in the morning.

The highlight of the week however had to be the presence of the wild dog pack, who returned to the property after an absence of approximately two months. The lion viewing has also been good as have  large numbers of rhinoceros and buffalo sightings have also been had. The elephants are still scarce but with the marula fruiting season approaching this should not be for too long.

Leopard

A very interesting week of leopard viewing, with almost all, of the resident individuals being seen at some stage through the week. The highlight of the week must be the continued presence of Shadow and her new cub. It is now confirmed that she has lost one of the cubs, which is sad, but expected as this is her first litter and having raised the lone cub to this age is an achievement in itself. The pair was found on a fresh impala kill; early on a morning drive and we had some fantastic viewing of the little ball of spots.

Nsele, the daughter of Salayexe, has also been seen on two different occasions this week. The first sighting was of her as she relaxed in the early morning sun. We had spotted her as she rested on a large termite mound where she spent the next few minutes posing for photographs.

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The second sighting we had of this beautiful young leopard was late on Sunday evening when she had a run in with a pack of wild dogs. We had found the dogs which appeared to have stolen an impala kill from a leopard which was sitting uncomfortably in the branches of a nearby tree.

The leopard in question was a young male who has been seen in the area for a few weeks now. It would appear that he had in fact stolen the kill from Nsele who was waiting in the wings to investigate what the commotion was all about. The young leopard female hesitantly entered the area but as soon as the dogs spotted her she was duly chased up another nearby tree. We left the sighting as the dogs moved away with both leopards still uncomfortably sitting in their respective trees!!

Lion

The presence of the four Majingilane males has made for great viewing this week. The coalition of males has spent a large part of the week moving through the northern parts of their territory, they have also been seen in the presence of the Styx pride. We had a great sighting of the males as they woke up from a lazy day. The presence of a female rhino and her sub adult calf got the attention of three of the males who eyed up the par of pachyderms before deciding that the meal was a bit big!

The four females of the Styx pride were found resting on the airstrip on a morning game drive; the pride appeared hungry and watched a herd of impala for most of the morning before conceding defeat and moving off to a shady spot as the day heated up. It would also appear that at least two of the lionesses are pregnant and we are sure that we should have new cubs within the next few weeks.
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The pride was seen again on the Sunday afternoon game drive and the most heavily pregnant female was missing from the pride. We will keep you posted but we think that she may have moved away from the pride to give birth.

Elephant

A few herds have been seen this week as they fed whilst moving through the area; one herd in particular was very relaxed and allowed us a fantastic sighting as they fed in the early evening light at some stages passing within a few feet of the game drive vehicle. The presence of these breeding herds has been followed immediately by some large elephant bulls that have been following the herds, in the hope that there may be mating opportunities available.



Buffalo & Rhinoceros

december08A number of small buffalo herds have been seen during the week. The large waterholes are being utilised, by the buffalo, to cool off during the heat of the day. It is an impressive sight to see upwards of twenty to thirty buffalo resting in the water. The resident buffalo bulls have returned to the area around camp and we are seeing at least four "dagga-boys" utilising the camp waterhole during the heat of the day.

Wild Dog

It was a rather unexpected surprise to find the pack of dogs moving through the western half of our traversing this week. The pack of seven dogs has been seen on three different occasions this week. The highlight was seeing the pack as they chased and brought down two impala lambs. The speed that the dogs eat a fresh kill has to be experienced, it took approximately five minutes for both of the impala kills to be completely finished!!

The dogs were also seen again late on Sunday when they had stolen a kill from the leopard mentioned earlier in the report. We are hoping that the pack will remain with us for an extended stay this year.

New Year Celebrations

december09 We celebrated New Year with some traditional Shangaan dancing which was enjoyed by all of the guests and staff and the festive atmosphere went on long into the night.

We hope that everyone has a fantastic 2011.

Regards

The Simbambili Guiding & Tracking Team
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The Thornybush Collection is in the heart of the wilderness!

Africa is the heartbeat of our planet, haled as the orig in of mankind, its contrast of breathtaking beauty and brutal survival fascinates us, we are drawn to the bush almost in response to a primordial call...

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Renamed the Thornybush Collection in 2007, our group has since grown in stature from five to ten lodges. Of these prestigious properties, all but one is located within the pristine 14-000ha Thornybush Nature Reserve.

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