Winter is here! The early mornings are freezing! Well, that’s possibly an exaggeration – our minimum recorded low was 12,8˚C (65,1˚F) which is a balmy day in many areas of the world, but for us in sunny southern Africa it means pulling on a fleece and a jacket when setting out on a sunrise safari.
Lions: One of a coalition of two male lions was seen mating with a lioness. One of the other coalitions of three male lions was seen biding their time – a story about them follows…
Guests hopped off the game-viewer for morning coffee at Chikwete cliffs while their view included two lions drinking from the river below and retiring to the shade just below the cliffs.
Cheetahs: We’ve had some good and always lucky cheetah sightings, especially of two males.
A highlight was finding a young female cheetah that we have never seen before. She was very shy and did not stick around for long; but how wonderful it is that she’s here.
Leopards: These sightings have been good by our standards – especially when a couple of game-viewers with guests were able to watch a male leopard for quite some time as he drank from a pan and relaxed near the water’s edge.
We were delighted to see a flash of a female leopard with a cub one evening – but she quickly hid herself and her little one.
Wild dogs: The alpha female of the wild dog pack that’s currently on the reserve couldn’t look more pregnant. She will be giving birth to her pups at any second if she hasn’t already. This is tremendously exciting for us, especially because we’ve seen the pack hunting in our heartland. Hopefully she will den nearby and we can enjoy regular sightings of these awesome, yet highly endangered carnivores.
Hyenas: We’ve had good sightings of hyenas coming and going on our access road, so they too must have a den nearby. A highlight, especially for the hyena, was when it stole an impala carcass from a male leopard and gobbled it up while the leopard watched from a distance, in bristling yet contained fury.
Rhinos: One morning’s sightings report states, “It was a rhino day with a total of eleven white rhinos feeding along the river loop.” Other highlights were six white rhinos drinking together from a pan. If white rhinos are spotted a ‘walkable’ distance from the road our guides will often invite guests to do an approach on foot. This not only preserves the vegetation by unnecessarily driving over it and possibly damaging saplings and squashing insects, but it gives safari-goers a far more intimate and natural experience. The ideal outcome is to approach within a distance that you have a good view, but the animal is unaware of your presence and therefore not disturbed in any way.
Elephants: Excellent sightings of breeding herds and bulls – especially of bulls swimming at Sosigi Dam.
Buffalo: Thanks to the good grass at the moment we are seeing massive congregations of buffaloes. In some cases we’ve estimated up to 600 hundred together. One group of guests went for a picnic lunch on our platform that overlooks Nduna Dam. In due course a herd of around 400 buffalo came to drink there, while hippos and crocodiles lazed in the sun.