These mid-year months are exceptional for wildlife sightings – it’s dry, there’s little foliage resulting in no place to hide, and everything is drawn to the permanent water sources – either to drink or to hunt. The light and palette is a photographer’s paradise and you need to pack an extra memory card especially when you have a an afternoon drive that results in lions, a leopard, white rhino, black rhino, elephant, hyena and plains game! But wait until you see what our “Unusual” animal of the month was…
Here’s a Sightings Snapshot for June:
We’ve enjoyed sightings of the River, Northern and Southern Prides this month. The large River Pride is splitting up but reconnected one night via contact roaring and successfully hunted a buffalo that morning.
Many buffalo kills have been made, as well as a giraffe.
The Southern Pride have cubs and it was a delight when one of them was brave enough to come and investigate the game-drive vehicle.
Two leopards were seen in the area where a pride of lions was feeding on a buffalo kill.
There have been quite a few sightings of male leopards this month, probably the best one was from the boat, of a young male leopard relaxing on top of a rock.
The two males have been seen and the highlight was watching them chase and catch a warthog.
Some impressive tuskers have been seen. Interesting behaviour was watching one moving fallen down thorn trees to access the protected green panicum grass growing beneath them.
Wonderful breeding herds have been seen crossing the river or coming to drink at the dams. In one instance the mother elephants came over to the vehicle, paused and then slowly walked past with their babies for us to admire.
Large herds of several hundred buffaloes at a time have been converging at the waterpoints.
It was interesting to note a lot of day-old babies at one sighting. Normally the calving season for them here is in February and March, so it is very late this year.
Our rhino viewing is, “off the charts” to quote a recent visitor. You’ll have no problem seeing large crashes of white rhino and might need to put in a bit more work to find black, but you should. One group of guests had an amazing afternoon on the boat when four black rhinos came to drink at the shoreline, about twenty metres from the boat.
We’ve seen two packs on the property this month.
The alpha female of the large pack of 13 is heavily pregnant and will give birth any day now, if she hasn’t already done so.
The wild dogs are hunting impala like an efficient machine, but the hyenas are trailing them and constantly trying to steal their kills.
The war scenes get extremely charged as the
dogs twitter and yelp and the hyenas growl,
squeal and whoop – and often the hyenas get
away with the spoils.
The hyenas have also been taking on the lions for their kills. A clan of 26 took on six lions over a buffalo carcass – there was so much dust everywhere we couldn’t even see the buffalo, but in the end the hyenas won.
Plains game abound, including good sightings of herds of eland, sable and even hartebeest.
A highlight was seeing a newborn giraffe staggering about on its lanky legs.
A BROWN HYENA! The brown hyena (Hyaena brunnea), also called strandwolf, is the rarest species of hyena. We’ve had sporadic unconfirmed reports of sightings on the property before, but twice this month a brown hyena was seen feeding on the remains of buffalo kills made by lions.
Walks and rock art
It’s the best time of year to walk, and guests and guides alike are thoroughly enjoying the bush experience on foot. On one walk the guide led the guests from the Nduna Dam viewing platform and as they got to the other end of the dam they saw a black rhino come to the water’s edge, so they hid behind a bush and watched it drink – it was completely unaware of them. Then they continued on to an ancient rock art site and back to the vehicle, in a circular route.
We’ve had some very active guests and have had such fun playing soccer, practising archery and going for runs in the wild!
Day trips to Gonarenzhou National Park have been enjoyed as well as morning visits to Kambaku where guests enjoy a full game drive and the shared knowledge of bushcraft from Shangaan members there.