We’ve passed the equinox and are enjoying lovely sunny days and very chilly nights. Now is the time when we begin each day in several layers and seem to shed them by the hour! There’s still good vegetation about because of the late rains, but most of the seasonal pans are dry and the wildlife is drawn to the permanent water sources.
Wild dogs: We eagerly await sightings of pups in the next few months, but for now we are regularly seeing the pack hunt and go about their ways while the alpha female is denning on the reserve. One morning’s drive included seeing the dogs hunt and kill two impala. It seems that wild dogs and hyenas just cannot resist a good spat every so often. One of these occasions was when we were on a morning walk and came across 11 wild dogs fighting with hyenas.
Lions: The Hippo pride seems to be perfecting the skill of hunting giraffes. Again they were seen this month feeding on a giraffe kill. We’ve also had good sightings of our coalition of three male lions, as well as the other coalition of two. There has been a pair of lions mating this month.
Cheetahs: Excellent news is that the female cheetah with a short tail looks pregnant. She’s successfully raised litters before, so lets hope there are some healthy fluffy cheetah cubs soon. Two cheetah brothers have been spotted regularly in their preferred area south of our staff village, and another cheetah seems to have been driving its prey towards the fence around our head-quarters, to help in its hunting. This is not ideal but is behaviour seen from time to time – especially by wild dogs, where they cleverly work out that a fence can be used to aid their prey capture.
Leopards: Male and female leopards have been seen this month on our central plain, with one highlight being a leopard seen fighting with a troop of baboons.
Rhinos: We’ve had good sightings of black rhinos and many sightings of white, including a brief glimpse of a white rhino cow and her small calf.
Buffalo: There have been several occasions where we’ve seen a vast herd of buffalo – we estimate up to 900! This photo is of a lone bull, moments after he’d finished wallowing in the sticky dark mud.
Plains game: There have been masses of plains game on the central open area. What a memory it is to stop for a cup of morning coffee and have over 30 zebra and a journey of giraffe grazing around you.
Elephants: Our guests didn’t know where to look when a huge breeding herd of elephants surrounded the vehicle, all of the giants totally relaxed. What a joy it is to see baby elephants at play.
Hyenas: Hyenas are really clever. One of their strategies is to tag hunting wild dogs, and then try and snatch their kills for themselves, so we’ve seen them several times this month milling around where the wild dogs are. But the most memorable hyena sighting of the month was when we found 16 hyenas at a pan, early one morning. Some of them were jumping around the base of a thorn tree and, lo and behold, trapped in the tree was a young male lion. Each time the lion tried to descend the clan would pounce on him, and this went on for close to two hours. As the morning warmed up some elephants came to drink, and they chased the hyenas – but the hyenas kept coming back. It was then that we discovered a wildebeest carcass. We suspect the lion killed the wildebeest before the hyenas ganged up on it.