We often have guests visit us repeatedly, and it was an honour this month to welcome one of our guests back after she’d last visited 18 years ago!
It’s really been a fantastic month of sightings, and intense multiple sightings have been had at our underground photographic hide, at the edge of a waterhole. One of these was when a guide and his guests spent most of an evening there during the full moon. They saw more than 27 white rhinos, ten elephant bulls and six buffalos. Dinner was delivered to the hide and as the guests dined they listened to all the animal sounds of the night. Another group of guests had a similar experience later in the month, but on that occasion they were also joined by five lions lapping the cool water!
Lions: We’ve had sightings of lions every day this month. Apart from their usual sleeping activity our guests have witnessed prides on a buffalo kill and a zebra kill. Two mating pairs have also been active – so 110 days from now some new cubs could be making their debut into the world.
Leopards: There have been several leopard sightings – some quick glimpses of skittish individuals and some of more relaxed cats. However, it has been the month for multiple sightings. First there were the two leopards on an impala kill south of one of our scout camps; then two leopard cubs were seen feeding on an impala kill at a spring, and winning the bragging rights for the guide and his guests was when they found a male leopard at a pan – he tried to hunt impala but failed, then he began calling and a female leopard arrived on the scene. Everyone watched as the two leopards interacted with each other in a very tense manner, but then the male called again and again and all of a sudden another female leopard arrived! Everyone sat in quiet disbelief as the solitary cats socialised.
Rhinos: Finding white rhinos can be done on any day here, so the challenge is to search out the far more volatile and elusive black rhinos. A bonus is when you see a couple together, such as the bull and cow pair that both had extremely impressive horns, that posed a little while before running off.
An interesting sighting of a white rhino was the bull that was seen drinking and then mud wallowing. He had wounds on his face and neck that were consistent with a fight he may have had with another rhino, which resulted in some horn puncture marks to the neck area, the loss of his second horn and a partial snapping of his front horn. The bull was in good spirits and should heal well.
Elephants: Bull elephants have been seen drinking and mud-bathing with delight. Guests in the underground photographic hide had to close the windows at one point as a bull elephant was getting so carried away with his bath that everyone was getting splattered with mud!
We have some big tuskers on the reserve, some of which are known to us. Our head guide was viewing three elephant bulls and realised one of them was Mapunzawaya, one of our named big tuskers. The youngest of the three bulls was rather intrigued with the vehicle and approached with an inquisitive mind. He seemed to think it was rather funny to start throwing sand and stones at the game viewer! Luckily no one was adversely affected. He moved off shortly after giving the guests a sand bath, which then gave them a great photographic opportunity with Mapunzawaya.
Buffalo: Herds numbering up to 600 are still being seen converging on the permanent water sources.
Cheetahs: We’ve seen a female and a coalition of two males this month. One group of guests were enjoying morning coffee when they spotted vultures descending in the distant trees. Their guide took them on a walk into the area and they located a freshly finished impala kill. The tracks surrounding the scene were of cheetahs so they followed them on foot and eventually located two adult male cheetahs, with full bellies. So as not to disturb the cats they returned to the vehicle and then drove closer to the scene where they enjoyed some real quality time with the relaxed predators.
Wild dogs: There have been sporadic sightings of a splintered pack throughout the month.
Hyenas: One of the highlights was when five hyenas were seen running on the road. By following them they led the safari to some wild dogs, which was a real bonus.
One dead hyena was found, and a closer inspection revealed that she was killed by other hyenas. Hyenas live in a strictly matriarchal society so the fight would have been to do with clan dominance.