The first thunderstorms have arrived and after the dramatic skies clear we are treated to the most brilliant sunsets. The parched earth drinks thirstily as do leopard tortoises that endured the arid conditions in a state of aestivation.
The first of the season’s baby impalas have been born and are an utter delight to watch frolicking about on their stilt-like legs.
Here’s a Sightings Snapshot for November:
• The prides are targeting buffalo and quite a few kills of these formidable bovids have been made this month.
• At the scene of one buffalo kill near a pan we watched as a large male lion, a lioness and a tiny cub of about 3.5 months all waddled to the water, with fat bellies almost dragging on the ground, and drank directly opposite us.
• Mavuto tracked a sub-adult male leopard only to find it four paces in front of him, resting in the shade of a mopane tree. We moved to within 10 metres of it and it had no idea or concern that we were there. After 15 minutes of perfect unobstructed viewing we left it to continue its uninterrupted siesta.
• We had excellent spotlight night viewing of two leopards in a marula tree. It was a female and her sub-adult cub relaxing and interacting.
• An afternoon was spent watching a relaxed female sub-adult leopard trying to catch geese and doves, climbing trees and sneaking up on some white rhinos.
• Two cheetah brothers were spotted hunting on the airstrip. They failed to catch an impala and all the noise caused from the hunt drew in three hyenas.
• An interesting sighting was of a hyena being followed closely by a troop of menacing baboons which was rather unusual as it is usually hyenas that are following other predators.
• A highlight was watching two adult hyenas feeding four cubs the afterbirth from impalas that were born in the night.
• A delight was seeing a small breeding herd of elephants, including a baby, all bathing and swimming in Sosigi Dam.
• Watching two huge bull elephants drink and mudbath was so special but we also enjoyed watching the birdlife (African jacanas, a three-banded plover and a wood sandpiper) run around the elephants’ feet, taking advantage of the disturbed mud, which in turn provided rich pickings of aquatic delicacies for the little birds.
• There have been plentiful encounters with white rhinos, and sporadic sightings of black rhinos.
• A highlight during a spectacular sunset was of a mother white rhino and her tiny baby having a mudbath and then later, joined by another mother and her calf, coming over to the vehicle with the babies being fascinated by this ‘big creature’ that seems to live in their environment. It was such a special moment to see these innocent animals being so friendly and curious.
• Buffalos abound and, on one occasion during sundowners, we were surrounded by more than 500 buffalos and three elephants.
• The pack of 14 wild dogs are chasing down the impala lambs with great success.
• After a feeding frenzy we watched the wild dogs resting in the shade, while zebras and impalas stood a few meters away knowing full well that the dogs were not in hunt mode.
• There have been good sightings of sable, eland and Lichtenstein hartebeest as well as the more prolific species.
• A highlight was a real close-up with a female kudu that, while feeding on a pushed over tree, just ignored us and fed and walked within a couple of metres of the vehicle, while bathed in great light.
• A hyena ambling along a track with an adult honey badger leading the way.
• A black mamba at the roadside surrounded by birds and squirrels all alarm calling.
• A cane rat relaxing on the shoreline of the dam.
• Two rare birds seen in November were a Narina trogon and an osprey.
• An interesting sighting was when a bull elephant walked passed the vehicle and touched a mopane tree as it went by, causing a mopane moth to flush. Upon the moth’s exposure it was immediately seized by a fork-tailed drongo. The drongo caught the large moth with its feet, much like an eagle would, instead of using its beak!
• We had an avid fly-fisherman with us this month which led to some fantastic sightings. While fly fishing for tigerfish, and landing one, four lionesses were sunning themselves on the bank watching the fly being cast back and forth. We then got even luckier by moving to fish another spot and discovering that we were being watched again, but this time by a beautiful leopard resting in the shade out in the open on the shoreline, completely fascinated with this fly-fishing business!