October is often the hottest month of the year for us, in the south-eastern lowveld of Zimbabwe. However, October 2020 has not really lived up to its usual reputation. Early showers in September and October set the course for a rather pleasant month. Even with all this early moisture the vegetation is still quite dry but species like Lebombo potato-bush (Phyllanthus pinnatus), bead-bean (Maerua angolensis), gummy gardenia (Gardenia resiniflua) have flowered, which has added some vibrancy to the bush. Migratory birds have started to return, with species like red-chested cuckoo (Cuculus solitarius), thrush nightingale(Luscinia luscinia) and European bee-eaters (Merops apiaster) being very vocal and saturating the bush with their distinctive calls.
Here is a snapshot of October sightings:
We have had reports of lions feeding on eland, along the Chiredzi River.
One River Pride male was seen at Sosigi Dam, and he seemed to be on a mission to find the rest of his pride.
Both River Pride males were seen at Simbiri Dam, dealing out some discipline to hyenas.
The wild dogs have been very active in the north, hunting around Bravo 1 and down towards Sosigi.
We hosted the grade 7 class from Razawi School for five days, and they had fantastic sightings of the dogs hunting.
We are delighted to report that the pack now consists of 17 dogs altogether, comprising 10 pups and 7 adults.
There have been a number of leopards seen during the month.
The youngster that is seen mostly around West Valley Road has graced us with its presence on a regular basis, mostly in the hours of darkness.
Mark Friend and Alex Kadzanyike had beautiful moments with a leopard at Simbiri Dam – Mark describes this in his story that follows.
There is a small breeding herd of buffalo living around Manyuchi Pan, about 15 in number.
The large herd is still moving between Banyini and the east.
Incredible sightings of both species of rhinos, especially as the bush gets drier by the day.
The rhino ear notching operations by the conservation team went off very successfully with 14 black rhinos notched.
There has been a magnificent elephant bull in the West Valley Road area, and he’s been doing some landscape re-designing with a few trees being pushed down…
A breeding herd of elephants has been seen regularly around Malilangwe Dam, then feeding through the hills and heading east towards Lojaan and Nduna Dams.
The pair of black-backed jackals we see regularly on the Banyini have pups. They were born this month and are only just poking their noses out of the den now. We’ve seen three pups, and can confirm they are absolutely adorable!
Cicadas have started making a racket and there are a number of butterflies fluttering around. Most exciting is that every day is a day closer to the rains.
The annual game count by the conservation team also took place this month. Analysis of the figures will provide valuable data for our wildlife conservation work.