The delights of mid spring are upon us and the first signs of clouds bringing rain have been hopeful. With a few lights showers of rain in the evening this has just been enough to settle the dust and clear the old animal tracks in the sand. There is always a refreshing start to the morning after an evening rainfall. The smell of the air after a little rain is invigorating, new tracks left behind along the roads are exciting and the green buds of life appear within hours. The wildlife is frantically moving through the vegetation in search of these nutrient gems as soon as they sprout.
Here’s a highlights package of the month’s sightings:
Leopards: The N’weti male leopard continues to occupy an area fairly close to the lodges and is proving to be successful on his own. As the weeks have past, we are starting to realise that the male continues to explore further from his comfort zone of being in his mother’s territory and the sightings are fewer than previous months. This young male leopard is becoming a large leopard now and often from a distance he is misidentified due to his size. The Hlab’Nkunzi female has been exploring the rocky outcrops to the east of the lodges and this is a common practice that has been seen on previous occasions when she is in search of prospective den-sites for a new litter.
Wild dogs: The den-site has been moved once again and this time it is much further west, thus limiting our viewing of these incredible social animals. As the puppies continue to grow, they will be moving further from the selected den-site in search of prey, which would result in more sightings of the pack.
Lions: Lions continue to dominate the area with their predominant movement along the Sand River. Within a short period of six days the Mhangene pride managed to kill seven buffaloes. Three buffaloes were killed in each of two separate sightings. They have managed to maintain their dominant behaviour within the area and their den-site has been kept along the river, just east of Singita Boulders Lodge. The coalitions of Majingalane male lions have been enjoying the feast of buffaloes, somewhat to the disapproval of the lionesses from the Mhangene pride.
Buffaloes: With the drier conditions, buffaloes find it difficult to maintain their large size and healthy condition and this is normal for this time of the year. But given that the conditions are drier than in previous years, the lions have made the most of hunting the large herds and the weaker and older buffaloes have become easy prey. Large groups continue to move through the central areas of the reserve constantly within a short distance of water. The herds move over vast distances for suitable grazing material and often areas around the permanent water resources have been impacted by the bulk grazers, leaving no vegetation matter on the ground, with desolate conditions affecting the smaller grazers to also move further away from water sources.
Elephants: On average the last few game drives reported more than four different sightings of herds of elephant exceeding 40 individuals. Elephant herds have been viewed along with several other species feeding on the fallen fruits from the Jackelberry trees. Congregation of these herds will stay for a few hours feeding on the little berries that are full of nutrition.