The Sand River continues to flow, with green vegetation wrapping the banks on either side. The waterway now becomes an attraction to all species as the seasonal pans have started to dry up, awaiting the summer rains later in the year. As the last few cooler mornings subside, we enter into spring with temperate conditions during the day, with a slight breeze.
Hippos continue to bask and watching them emerge out of the water to the banks or return to the water in the later part of the afternoon, is always a highlight. It is fascinating watching these large mammals, as they seem unfit to be moving at high speeds based on their size, however it can be quite astonishing to watch as they can be spooked by the smallest of sounds and they quickly move back to the refuge of the river in safety, creating enormous commotions as they move, not to mention a tidal wave of water as they enter the river.
With fewer lions currently frequenting the area, the hyena population has continued to thrive and to such an extent that the leopards and cheetahs would be under threat as the hyena population increases. Solitary predators are more sensitive to the increase in hyena populations, as they can be easily intimidated by the strength of several clan members. It will not be long until this peak of density is drawn back to normal as the Mhangene pride will continue hunting more actively in the area, with several more lions to feed.
It is interesting how we are all intertwined in one manner or form and the smallest changes may indirectly affect another species. Now would be the time to review our own personal spaces and ensure we, as the ultimate denominator of changing the world, take a step back and ensure we manage a balance and reduce our effects in any way or form on our way of living. With more campaigns that are on a drive to remove plastic, we should not only be engaging more in these movements, but also saving species that are on the brink of extinction due to our demand of wanting commodities such as rhino horn or ivory.
Where you sit when you are old will reflect where you stood when you were young. This too could be subjective towards our own lives. Let us all start making a difference. No matter how small, it adds up to one great success story.
Elephants: Bustle through the silver cluster leaf trees, uprooting them for huge distances during the drier months and as much destruction this does cause, it is unimaginable just how quickly the bush does recover in summer. Larger herds are gathering along the waterways of the Sand River consistently with the rising mercury during midday.
Lions: The turn of the times has started as we encounter sightings of new predators that break the dawn with a roar, and it is these exciting times that offer some of the most rewarding interactions in the wild. The Mhangene pride maintains a strong presence in the area, particularly as they raise their new litter of cubs along the Sand River. It will not be long before they introduce them to carcasses whilst weaning them from their rich nutritious milk.
Wild dogs: The wild dog den has always been a treat to visit when it’s active and as the puppies continue to grow, we are fortunate to engage in the experience. One can almost feel a part of the pack while watching the interactions between the adults and the puppies. It is one of the few times where you really can study wild dog behaviour and particularly work out the complex ranking order in the pack. Currently only the alpha female has given birth to the litter of 11 puppies and fortunately the den-site has only been moved once in the last few months. With the limited lion activity in the north it has proven to be a safe haven for the pack, as this will now be the third year in a row that they denned in the same location.
Leopards: As time in the bush moves at a much slower pace, the weak and the old unfortunately are caught up in this slow movement and often it can be tough to see. The Hlab’Nkunzi female has reached her 14th year this year and with that comes the toll of survival of the fittest. She has endured a good life in the bush and has raised several litters of cubs most of which have been male in her last two litters and one very special daughter, the Schotia female. A special sighting of a male leopard was recorded this month, as the Kashane male decided to return to his stomping grounds after several months of not seeing him. Hopefully he returns more frequently, however with the current strong movement of the Nyelethi and Torchwood males dominating the north and south, it would be unlikely for an older leopard to return.