Golden light, misty mornings and sultry sunsets – winter has been full of delights. Our morning game drives have lengthened into later hours of the morning as the cooler temperatures allow for extended drives, not to mention that the sightings have continued throughout the day.
Here’s a highlights package of the month:
Lions: Prolific lion sightings were had not only due to the large variety of kills the lions were viewed feeding on, but also a number of different individuals that are seldom seen – both lionesses from unknown prides and young coalition males possibly seeking new territories. The Majingilane males continue their stronghold in this area, though were seen returning from the east a little scarred and worse for wear. Sad news from the month is that the Ottawa pride have lost one of their cubs – they are now down to two youngsters, two sub-adults and two adult lionesses. Mhangeni pride in full force moving through the reserve in search of the buffalo herds. The proximity to watch these lions act out in their natural behaviour is a privilege.
Leopards: A leap of leopards should be the term of the month! Several sightings included more than two leopards, with cubs and mating leopards attracting many “oooh” and “aaah” moments. A very active Mobeni female ensured that she has covered all of her territorial bases, by mating with the various territorial males within her range. First she was with the Torchwood male, then a few days later associating with the Nyelethi male leopard – sparks were flying as the mating ensued for several days. The Mobeni female is generally known to be an elusive female, so with the multiple sightings of her over the last few weeks, it has been a treat to view her.
Buffalo: The excitement of finding a large herd, is always further enhanced by the possible opportunity of seeing lions in the area. The Manghene pride continues to follow these large grazers as they provide a sustainable meal for a pride of 16 lions, and they are often joined by three male lions taking advantage of their hunting success.
Wild dogs: It is that time of the year again – den-sites and puppies! We have wonderful news to share – a pack of wild dogs has settled down at a den-site north of the river, the very same one that they made use of last year. Excitement is hard to contain as you drive towards the den-site, especially with 12 new pups slowly finding their legs, playing and interacting with the adults.
Elephants: Large groups of elephant continue to move through the reserve, and some of the matriarchs have been easily recognised by their unusual tusk development, ear tears, or any other distinguishable markings. It is proving to be interesting to see just how far these large pachyderms travel in a 24-hour period.