These winter months are the most popular for safari – and it’s no secret why… cold crisp mornings lead to warm sunny days, where the vegetation is dry and the wildlife is drawn to the sparse permanent water sources. But every now and then you’ll be startled out of the meditative monotony of the earthy colours by dazzling sabi star flowers or a flashy chafer beetle.
The lions are also feeling the cold. Four of them had curled up for warmth in the drainage tunnels beneath our main access road – it’s a little unnerving knowing you are driving ‘over’ four ferocious predators! The lion prides seem to have had a preference for buffalo meat this month – there have been quite a few kills. The two dominant males of the western section have been spending the last few days lounging about with full stomachs on the other side of the Chiredzi River. At one stage they were seen on the riverbank with three adult females and one young cub. Hopefully some new cubs are on the way as there was mating activity with one of the lionesses – we’ll have to wait for at least 110 days to be sure, as that’s the gestation period. Wild dogs:
The pack, up to 14 of them at a time, are seen hunting regularly because they’re denning in the hills – but still no sign of the pups…
We’ve had good cheetah sightings this month – a couple have been seen hunting, and so has the female who has raised several litters – she’s easy to identify as she is missing the tip of her tail.
The elephant highlights for the month come from the bulls – we’ve seen magnificent tuskers drinking, feeding, resting, dusting and mud-bathing. They are calm when not in musth and during this calm phase we are able to enjoy long, close-up peaceful encounters with them.
Rhino viewing is what we’re renowned for. The highlight this month was when guests got to see black and white rhino bulls interacting, with six lions spectating in the background!
The eight black rhinos that we were able to donate to Botswana have settled and are doing well.
The breeding herds we’re seeing are slightly smaller because
they’ve split up to go in search of smaller pockets of pasture. That’s said guests and guides got a good dusting when a herd of about 300 Cape buffalo stampeded towards a pan for a drink!
The varieties of habitats here provide nourishment for a diversity of plains game. It’s not uncommon to see herds of sable, eland and Lichtenstein hartebeest, as we did this month. Far more abundant are impala, kudu and zebra. Here a family of kudu browse on bush that still retains some green foliage.
Eliciting a chorus of compliments were a new-born giraffe, still with its umbilical cord attached, and a brand new zebra foal being nuzzled by its mother. Other special sightings were of an African wild cat, genets, a civet, a porcupine and a honey badger. An adult male leopard graced us with his presence, close to one of the safari vehicles, giving guests a chance to admire him.
On the feathered front were many good owl sightings while five racket-tailed rollers stole the show near Nduna Camp.