May has been a brilliant month for wildlife sightings, and made all the more exquisite by some misty mornings, low clouds and cooler temperatures. The autumn light for photography is simply the best. The baobab trees are hanging heavy with fruit, and guests have enjoyed cracking open the oval velvety orbs and tasting the creamy tangy ‘powder’ covering the seeds inside.
Here’s a sightings snapshot for May:
Nduna Pride: This pride has spent much time west of their original territory again, so perhaps their new territory now includes the Nhanga Pan, West Valley Road and Ultimate Drive areas.
Northern Pride: Interestingly this pride that we very seldom see was spotted in the Lojaan/Nduna area, so perhaps they have moved into that space now that the Nduna Pride are not spending as much time in the Lojaan/Nduna area.
The Southern Pride have provided excellent sightings around Hwata Pan. Six members have been seen there, including a mating pair.
A lioness and three cubs from the River Pride were seen east of Nyamasikana Bridge.
Most of the leopard sightings in May have been of the male that shows himself around Sosigi Dam and Pamushana Hill. Long may this relaxed male stay in the area!
The rhino sightings are truly incredible. Now that the temporary pans have dried up the rhinos gather to drink at the permanent sources, and we are treated to seeing them in large crashes.
Ten white rhinos were seen drinking at Banyini Pan, alongside a bull elephant. Up to 20 individuals have been seen gathering at Hwata, not far from where there were a mating pair of lions. Two highlight sightings were seeing two bulls having a territorial clash; and watching a little month-old calf with its mother.
To see six black rhinos in one morning drive is phenomenal, but happened this month. (On the same drive guests saw a lion on a buffalo kill.) Mother and calf duos have been seen, and an adult bull kept everyone’s adrenalin pumping with a lot of mock charges.
It’s been so good to see the return of elephant bulls to Hwata Pan, now that there is less water around.
Mesmerising breeding herds, sometimes more than 60 individuals at a time, have been seen feeding along the river and drinking at Sosigi Dam.
Cavalries march in and out on a regular basis at the main pans, often over 200 buffalo at a time.
The alpha female in the pack of 11 is heavily pregnant, and should start denning any minute now.
The pack of 4 have been seen hunting on the Hippo Valley side.
Hyena presence is starting to pick up again in the central region.
Eight of them were seen walking along Pamushana Access and then trying to hunt warthogs.
Four hyenas killed a young giraffe south of Nyari Pan.
Plains game abound – there really are an abundance of impala, zebras, giraffes and wildebeest. Sightings of sable antelope and Lichtenstein hartebeest have also increased this month.
One of the best things about the dry season means that the sunken photographic hide at Hwata Pan can be used regularly. Animals congregate to the area, and guests can view them undisturbed, from ground level as they drink. Highlights from the month include: elephant bulls, rhinos, buffalo, wildebeest, jackal and a mating pair of lions!
The sundowner safari boat cruises are a highlight of any stay, and a unique offering at this property. A very lucky bonus for guests this month was seeing two black rhinos drinking from the Nyamasikana River.
It was bizarre to see a white rhino bull chasing a lion cub around a dead thorn tree.
There is a crowned eagle nesting in the Lojaan area.
A chameleon stole the show one morning and had all the guests off the vehicle taking photographs of the cryptic colourful little celebrity!
Another great thing about the dry season is that it is the best time to do nature walks. These are often the highlight of guests’ stays, as it was for two groups of guests this month who went on walks with their guide and tracker and, apart from studying the flora in more detail, were rewarded with observing white rhinos that were oblivious of the human presence.
Various walks have been conducted to the ancient rock art on the reserve.
Kambako Living Museum of Bushcraft
Guests enjoyed visits to Kambako, and participated in some of the demonstrations as well as sampling the traditional food.
Gonarezhou day trip
One morning safari started with a game drive on our reserve before entering into neighbouring Gonarezhou National Park. A total of 12 white rhinos were spotted within the first hour of the drive, plus an elephant bull in musth that went on to push over a big mopani tree. Once in the park several herds of elephants were seen and the Chilojo Cliffs were as impressive as ever.