Autumn is finally on its way after our long wet summer, and we’ve had some misty mornings that make for interesting and unusual wildlife photography.
Here’s our wildlife overview for April
Lions: A lovely surprise was seeing three new lion cubs which couldn’t have been more than two months of age. The full-bellied, roaring, territorial males have been seen often, as have the different prides. It’s great to find a complete pride – we have one totalling ten lions (two adult males, four lionesses and four cubs).
Leopards: The trophy sighting of the month went to an adult female leopard stalking prey in the valley below the lodge. She caught a spurfowl right in front of our eyes and enjoyed her meal without giving thought to our vehicle. Then she turned her attention to a main course of impalas and gave chase to one, catching it just two metres away from the game viewer. As we tried to move away to give her space, nine hyenas exploded onto the scene and fought her for the kill. She left the impala to them and wisely left the scene for safety. In stark contrast was this male leopard who had indeed eaten a whole impala, as evidenced by its meagre remains and a tree nearby. He had then hauled his bulging spotted belly into a tree and found a hammock-like configuration to hang it in.
Elephants: I’m happy to report that as the vegetation thins out a little we are finding the breeding herds of elephants with their youngsters again. On the subject of breeding, the sighting of the month went to mating elephants. Head Guide, Brad Fouché, says it was the first time in his 25 years of guiding that he’s witnessed this; “We had some hair raising moments with competitive bulls chasing other bulls that would run blind towards us. We, at one stage, were surrounded by cows and had a huge musth bull approach. It was havoc but they left us alone! A big tuskless cow approached with a calf at foot and what could only be her older child. They came right up and investigated us for some time before moving on. It was epic!”
Rhinos: Rhino sightings here are always excellent. Some of the highlights were two black rhinos being chased off by a bigger bull. Then a brief encounter with a mother white rhino and very young calf.
Buffalos: All is good on the buffalo front, especially with the bachelor bulls who are making the most of the drying pans to wallow in the thick mud.
Wild dogs: We have seen the pack this month, but they are in the southern area close to our border with Gonarezhou, and this always makes us concerned that they’ll cross out of our reserve.
Hyenas: All is good with the hyenas too, and they have some lovely young cubs that are very curious to meet us and our chewy-tyred vehicles.
Cheetah: Fortunately there were cheetah sightings again this month, this time of two males seen on our southern boundary. They were very relaxed and grooming themselves all the while with guests taking some amazing pictures.
Plains game: There always seems to be plains game aplenty, thanks to the good and well-managed grazing on the reserve.
Here’s a medley of a zebra mare with her successive foals, a nyala bull with his mouth full, some giraffe just hanging around in the road, and a long-lashed wildebeest calf posing for the camera.