With dusk falling to a later dawn, and the last marula fruit disappeared, we realised that we are already in autumn. The crisp cool mornings are a relief from the searing summer temperatures. The bush blanket of green has started to shift slightly to warming colours. The longer grass stalks have a graduating tawny colour and sway back and forth as your drive down any of the roads. Autumn is a shift from green vegetation in the latter part of summer to warm winter tones with the beauty of healthy vegetation.
Here’s a Sightings Snapshot for March:
This month brought on a few surprises with lions, one in particular was the reporting of the Styx Pride being located north of the river. Over the last few weeks, the pride has moved further west and has continued to explore some new surroundings.
The three new lion cubs in the Mhangene Pride continue to be hidden along the Quail Donga drainage line. On few occasions we have been fortunate to see them exploring in open areas along the banks of the drainage line and they continue to pull at everyone’s heart strings.
The Hukumuri female surprised us when we found her with her remaining female cub. The young female has been sighted on only a few occasions during the last few months. It is estimated that the young female is approximately a year old and should be independent within a few months. We look forward to seeing more of this female as it’s likely she’ll stay in close quarters of her mother’s territory.
A large number of groups have been reported throughout the reserve during the month. With the large surplus amounts of food available the elephants continue to roam over vast areas. One of the most surprising things at the moment is noticing that elephants can be very well hidden amongst the greenery of summer!
Sporadic smaller groups of male buffalos have been viewed along the Sand River. The larger herds continue to move along the open clearings in the south. The large expansions of grassland are preferred habitat during this time of the year.
Our wild dog sightings boomed this month with a few different packs moving through the property, with a particularly great sighting of a pack chasing an impala into one of the dams, only to have hippos force it out of the water and into the dogs’ mouths.
The total bird count for the month of March was 210 (201 in February). Specials for the month included sightings of: Fulvous duck, Cape vulture, lesser moorhen, marsh owl and grey-headed gull.