Here’s a highlights package of the month’s sightings:
The month of February should really be considered the green month, the recent rains have nourished the bush, making the grass a scenic backdrop to our sightings. The last few weeks of February, the level of the Sand River rose to the highest within the season which was exciting to watch, however it quickly subsided within a few hours. During the last few weeks of February we experienced light rain and lower temperatures compared to our normal seasonal temperatures.
Lions: The icon prides have been quite accommodating during the rainy season as they have avoided the long grass and have spent much of their time on the roads. With the recent loss of one of the coalition members, it will be interesting to see if the dynamics change between the prides, and already bush rumours have it that other coalitions are starting to move from the Kruger National Park to areas further west. Since the loss of this one male coalition member, the remainder of the Majingilane male lions have continued to stay with the Mhanghene pride and they have capitalised on the kills that have been made by the successful females. The Majingilane coalition may reign strong with their current territory, however they still compete with the prides in the area for food sources and often this results in wounds to all involved.
Leopards: Since the recent sighting of the Schotia female and her cubs, only one other sighting of the Schotia female has been recorded and unfortunately only one cub was sighted at the last sighting. It seems that she may have moved the den-site again and unfortunately, due to the heavy rainfall, the site has been inaccessible for viewing.
The Hlab’Nkunzi female leopard has been sighted on several occasions and two very special sightings have been recorded of her as her two young cubs had accompanied her to the various kills. One kill was a Chacma baboon and the other was a female impala. The latter sighting of the Hlab’Nkunzi female and her two cubs was rather interesting as her previous offspring, the N’weti male (who is now two years old) was found within close vicinity. His behaviour was quiet interesting as he chuffed (made a soft snorting sound) and acted submissively as if he was still part of the family. This is not the first time this has been witnessed where a young male has stayed in close contact with the mother for several months, even years, after becoming independent. The Khashane male is rarely seen and it has been reported that he has moved further south, returning to his birthplace. This too is not extraordinary for leopards as many leopards that have passed their prime have been known to return back to areas where they were born.
Elephants: With the lush green vegetation and the abundance of marulas, large herds of elephants have been recorded in the various areas of the property throughout February. In particular several large bulls that are in musth have been viewed trailing behind some of the large groups of females. Due to the nature of these bulls being temperamental, a wide berth is always being given to them.
Buffaloes: Large numbers of buffaloes have been sighted throughout the month south of the railway road and due to the large amount of water in seasonal pans, along with the good grazing conditions they have not really moved much and few other sightings have been reported.
Hyenas: With great excitement it was announced on the radio during a game drive that a hyena den that was last active two years ago was active again. Currently two females have been seen in the area along with two cubs of different ages. We look forward to the sightings that they’ll offer and hope that they have found their home and will be there for a while.
Birds: The bird count in February was of 207 different species. A notable special being of an Eurasian golden oriole.