An enchanted energy rests over the land. The morning mist of April drifts through the tall grasses, highlighting the delicate seeds and fluorescence. Sun rays creep through the trees and a peaceful stillness lingers in the fresh morning air. Flattened grass marks pathways created by the movements of the nightlife, like veins they weave through the dew-covered land. A red-billed quelea flock ripple in the backdrop, their synchronised movements hypnotic, like waves crashing against the shore. This new season brings many beautiful colours and textures, emphasising small details and treasures that can be found in the bushveld.
This month brought a new chapter for the three Mhangene cubs, as they were introduced to the rest of the pride. This delicate but successful introduction was a wonder to watch and we look forward to their upcoming activities as they become more integrated with the rest of the pride.
Further north on the other side of the Sand River, we tracked the Styx Pride’s movements and watched as they headed back to their territory in the east.
Some unusual but exciting sightings this month, with the Nyaleti male joining the Kokovela female and their cub at an impala ram kill close to the Sand River. Tensions were high as a clan of four spotted hyena eagerly paced around the base of the marula tree, hoping for scraps to fall to the floor. Some lessons on patience were learnt that morning as the young cub grew restless in the branches.
The shy Mobeni female, active in the southern part of the reserve, was spotted carrying a very small cub in her mouth. We look forward to seeing this baby grow.
Large breeding herds trample through the tall grass, weaving patterns in the maze of autumnal shades as they venture towards water sources. Splashing and squelching can be heard, as they excavate old mud wallows, slapping the dark nutrient-rich cement on their rough cracked skin. Some late rains have facilitated these ‘bush spas’, but with the dry season on the horizon, these luxuries will soon be disappearing.
Some large bulls in musth have been sweeping through the reserve, their sweet musty smell lingering behind them as they search for females in oestrus.
Always such a privilege to see these animals, and even more so to come across a mother and young calf. With ears that only reach mom’s belly and folds of skin still to grow into, this skittish youngster sticks to his mother like glue. A great story just starting for this family, and one to keep our eyes on.
Fantastic to witness the delight as a large herd of buffalo enjoys the cool fresh water of the Sand River. With calves slipping around in pools, older bulls sitting on the side-lines and both red and yellow-billed oxpecker’s joining in the scene, it’s hard not to be transfixed by the hustle and bustle unfolding. Like rush hour at the station, the Sand River seems to be the place to be. The hum of activity is a refreshing and joyous one to behold.
With two packs of wild dogs dashing around the property, the guides were kept on their toes. Electric energy filled the mornings and evening as the dogs darted through the drainage lines and apple-leaf scrubland, hunting scrub hairs and impala.
Some mating activity was witnessed between the alpha male and female. We hope they choose to den close to their old den-site on the northern side of the Sand River.
A fantastic sighting of a juvenile harrier hawk hanging on the side of a buffalo weaver nest searching for eggs and chicks.
A special sighting of a sectary bird was seen walking through the tall yellow thatching grass in the southern parts of the reserve.
The total bird count for the month of April was 198 (210 in March).
Other special bird sightings include shikra, corn crake, purple roller, acacia pied barbet and red-capped robin-chat.
We are very fortunate to have a den-site close to the lodges. Hidden away in a large termite mound, two tiny black faces peer out one of the den’s dusty deep entrances. With big glassy dark eyes and huge round furry ears, it’s difficult not to be in awe of such precious new life. With curiosity and independence building each day, we’ve had the privilege to view these cubs’ developments first-hand and watch their personalities grow.