With the end of the year hot on our tails, this month’s sightings were sensational to say the least. The thunderstorms prevailed in the evenings, cooling down the temperatures and covering the bushveld in a quilt of various shades of green. Tortoises, terrapins and chameleons are just some of the smaller species that rejoice in the season as it moves into full bloom. It’s a time of plenty and on occasion already this month, the Sand River has risen substantially and subsided within the same day.
Here’s a highlights package of the month’s sightings:
Hyenas: The den-site has been active and we are enjoying seeing the cubs exploring their surroundings. Adults have been seen spending less time at the den to source food for the clan and we are starting to see the young members’ independence at sightings.
Elephants: Sporadic herds were reported throughout the month, with a large number of single bulls.
Lions: Sightings of the Mhangene pride have been sporadic and the movements of this pride have been astonishing to see in a short period of time. The three large Majingalane males continue to move with the pride, but we are starting to see a shift in their movements as the males spend more time separated as they try to continue to dominate the prides within the area. A lioness from the Othawa pride has been continued to be pursued by the three males in courtship behaviour. A highlight this month was watching some of the young sub-adult male lions from the Mhangene pride catch a honey badger and play with the carcass for several minutes after it was killed.
Buffalo: Smaller groups were viewed north of the river. Some of the sightings of the buffalo showed that they had been interacting with a pride of lions north of the river and there was a good possibility that this would be the Othawa pride. Several of the older buffalo showed signs of injury that would be the result of lions, with deep cuts on their backs and hindquarters.
Leopard: Awesome as always, with regular sightings. A nice surprise this month was finding the Anderson male leopard. This is a leopard that we rarely get to see in the north and it was a great sighting as we watched him gorge himself on the remains of an impala.
Wild dogs: There have been two packs of wild dogs that have been moving through the area. It is not often that you see two packs of these highly endangered animals in close quarters of each other!