The promise of summer is upon us, with warm winds and slightly warmer mornings, waterholes diminishing daily as the ever climbing temperatures suck up the remaining pools of water. As we head further into the dry season our concentration of animals becomes very apparent, with massive herds of zebra and elephant frequenting the N’wanetsi Concession daily, having to make the long arduous journey from the surrounding dry grazing grounds towards the rivers and the ever productive Gudzane dam. Flame creepers drape over riverine vegetation, fireflies are out, yellow-billed kites are back early, and the majestic morning glory flowers bloom; all sensing the seasonal change.
Here’s a Sightings Snapshot for August:
We had a total of 110 different lion sightings for the month of August.
Three of our lion prides are denning at the moment, with the Shishangaan Pride, Mananga Pride and Mountain Pride hiding cubs around various denning sites across the property. We are looking forward to the mothers bringing out their cubs and introducing them to the respective prides.
The Kumana Males were seen on 13 different occasions, still in association with the Shishangaan Females. They have primarily been spotted around the lodges, and their roars have been heard filling the night skies on most evenings.
The Shishangaan Males were seen on 19 occasions, mostly in the company of the Mountain Pride and Mananga Pride. All three males are still in very good condition.
The Shishangaan Pride have been seen on 14 occasions. On the morning of the 26th several guides witnessed the pride set-up and ambush a zebra as it made its way towards the water.
The Mananga Pride was primarily found around Gudzane Dam. A den-site was also discovered earlier this month, but it is uncertain as to how many cubs have been born as the mother is still hiding them in a thicket.
The Mountain Pride is still doing well, and they too have new cubs that the lioness is hiding close to Two Tekwane Drainage.
23 Members of the Southern Pride have also been seen venturing into the territory of the Shishangaan Pride. The majority of this pride consists of very inquisitive sub-adults and cubs. On the evening of the 25th they were found chasing two honey badgers, and after an epic battle, they managed to subdue and kill one of the badgers.
Leopard sightings have been a bit sporadic this month, with a total of 31 seen, possibly due to the increased number of lions in the area. The N’wanetsi Male was seen on numerous occasions in and around the N’wanetsi River. The Nhlangulene Female was also seen and provided some great photographic opportunities.
There were five sightings of cheetah recorded in August. Two male cheetah were seen around the Central Depression.
A sub-adult had been killed by one on the Kumana male lions, close to Tortillis Clearing. The carcass was scavenged by a fellow clan member, and even a leopard fed on the remains.
Elephants are plentiful this time of the year due to the dry conditions and abundant water on the concession. Gudzane Dam in particular has been very popular and numerous herds are seen daily coming down to drink and cooling down with mud from one of the many wallows around the water’s edge.
As is usual for this time of the year, very large herds of buffalo are seen making their way down to the available water on the concession. A very large herd of around 1 000 individuals has been moving in and out providing great photographic opportunities as they create large plumes of dust as they speed up to get to the water’s edge for a welcome drink.
There are large herds of zebra, wildebeest and giraffe present at the moment, particularly in and around the area of where the management burn took place recently. Large groups of waterbuck are also present all along the N’wanetsi as well as the always present large groups of impala.
A coalition of two male cheetahs was found near Impala Lilly where they had managed to kill an impala ram. The commotion soon attracted the attention of a family of black-backed jackal and a flock of vultures, and within minutes, a Mountain Pride lioness came in to inspect. Once she saw the cheetah, she charged in and stole the kill from them, and the two brothers could do nothing but run off and look on at a distance as their hard-earned meal got devoured in front of their eyes.
We also witnessed two young Shish lionesses robbing a leopard of its fresh impala kill. While the leopard retreated into the canopy out of reach of the lions, a young lioness climbed the tree and awkwardly started to feed while her sister waited patiently at the bottom for the carcass to fall down.
A yellow-billed kite was seen scavenging from a carcass on the 1st of August. This Intra-African migrant is usually the first to arrive, heralding the arrival of summer.