‘Tis the season of all things small. The last few weeks we have been fortunate enough to watch the Sand River rise and fall shortly after a rainfall in the evening. It’s been building up and the few showers that we have experienced have been a delight, as we watched the bush turn a dark shade of green. Before the rain puddles began to evaporate, tortoises were moving really quickly across the roads to quench their thirst (actually they were moving pretty slowly but you know what I mean).
Here’s a highlights package of the month’s sightings:
Wild Dogs: Sightings of two different packs have been recorded this month. The sightings have been infrequent but always memorable.
Lions: The Mhangene pride is dominating the area and many of lion sightings. The cubs are a highlight, as there never seems to be a dull moment in the life of this large pride when they are active after a good meal. The lions continued to follow the remaining buffalo that were wandering along the Sand River in search of good grazing material just before the rains arrived. We have been privileged to watch the Othawa lioness with her three young cubs for several weeks, where she has remained south of the river. The den-site was merely a thicket along the edge of a river. Limiting the vehicles at the sighting, along with providing sufficient space for the lioness and cubs to feel comfortable, payed off as she kept them in the area for most of the month, awarding many guests and guides a glimpse into a lion den-site.
Leopards: When the lions are away the leopards are out to play! The sightings have been nothing short of phenomenal. The N’weti male leopard seems to enjoy residing just north of Ebony Lodge and on more than one occasion after finishing one carcass, he simply finds another unsuspecting prey animal in the thickets along the river, coincidentally using the same tree to hoist his prized meal. The Hlabankunzi female continues to patrol in the surrounding areas of the lodges and we suspect that she may just be looking for a hiding spot for her offspring. Now that would be a great Christmas present!
Buffaloes: There were a few reports this month of larger groups being seen north of the river.
Elephants: Elephant sightings have been in waves, seen today and gone tomorrow. With the flush of new life in the vegetation there is no longer a need for them to remain in close vicinity of the river. On a few occasions during some really warm days, the herds continue to move along the river rewarding with some good entertainment for the guests watching from the open decks of the lodges.