Winter is here! Most of the trees have lost their leaves now – but we caught this beauty, at the start of the month, in a state of undress from green to gold.
The pride of lions that lost a cub last month is doing well, and there’s another pride with two young cubs of about four months old. More could arrive in about 110 days – we’ve witnessed the intense and rather volatile actions of a mating pair.
The hyenas give us regular sightings around their den on the lodge road. A super morning was spent watching four adults and seven cubs playing and chasing each other. The clan fight of last month seems over and a new order has settled.
No pups yet, although we’ve had excellent sightings of the wild dogs hunting. On a walk we found that they’d killed two impalas, and guests watched spellbound as the dogs ate the kills and fought with hyenas. There has been plenty of wild dog and hyena action – the hyenas seem to follow the wild dogs and try to steal their kills – on one occasion we watched a tug of war between ten hyenas and nine wild dogs fighting over an impala. The fight went on for more than twenty minutes, and finally the hyenas were the victors!
We had a fantastic sighting of two juvenile male cheetahs, as well as another of a female scanning her surroundings for prey.
With time on our guests’ side they spent an entire afternoon with eight bull elephants. What is so rewarding when you are able to spend hours observing the same animals is the behaviours you notice – we watched as one elephant purposefully selected a long stick, and holding the stick with its trunk, used it to scratch his itchy stomach.
We’ve enjoyed excellent sightings of white rhinos, and some very special encounters with black rhinos too.
I’m loathe to use the word ‘mega’ because it has been used to describe everything from big burgers to tall buildings, but when you see a herd of six hundred buffalo together, as we have done this month, I think it is fair to describe it as a mega-herd!
The month’s highlights were an exceptional sighting of a beautiful giant eagle owl, a Verreaux’s eagle perched on the cliffs, two white-faced owls and a hammerkop trying to eat a huge toad.
Two smaller creatures gave us some very special moments this month, one where a very relaxed small spotted genet walked around the car inspecting it, while guests photographed the rare occasion; then there was the slender mongoose that posed for us out of a hole in a tree. A male klipspringer looked keen on procreating, while the female seemed less so, and their yearling looked completely confused.
Now that it’s so dry the best (and easiest) places to find wildlife are at the pans – congregations seen at different pans include six Lichtenstein hartebeest, a herd of 400 buffalo and a pride of lions including two very cute cubs.
At another were two elephant bulls, followed by three lionesses and the pride male. While we had sundowners a male leopard sat watching us, about 100 metres away, and later came to drink at the pan. Other highlights at the pans were two black-backed jackals and a herd of eland.
Photo hide: The photographic hides have been put to great use. Patient guests were rewarded with seven elephant bulls drinking, along with six giraffes, wildebeest, impalas and zebras. On another occasion inside the hide we had two elephant bulls wallowing, impalas, wildebeest, hartebeest, warthogs, buffalo bulls and, at last light, six white rhinos.
Community tours: These have been popular – especially the Kambako Bushcraft Museum where the heritage, culture and bushcraft skills of the Shangaan people are practised.
Rock art: Guests have expressed keen interest in the rock art, and many walks have been conducted to various sites. An excellent source of reference and information is our new book, The Rock Art of Malilangwe.
Fishing: Some great fun and catches – see the tongue-in-cheek story towards the end of this journal.