There have been some fantastic buffalo bull sightings this month throughout the reserve. These muscular, powerful old bulls never fail to look impressive in the drying grassland of the bushveld.
The Mhangene Pride continues to dominate the sightings as the pride continues to move around the central areas of Singita Sabi Sand. The pride consists of three adult lionesses, two sub-adult lionesses from their previous litter that have been accepted to be able to return to the natal pride. Two of the lionesses have a litter. One lioness has a single cub that is approximately seven months old. The second lioness has three cubs approximately four months old. The Othawa male lion has associated with the lionesses and the only cubs believed to be his are the last three cubs. He has not shown any interest to mate with any of the lionesses, even though they do not have litters. What was interesting this month was that the Othawa male disappeared for a few weeks. It was reported that he was seen far north, far out of his normal range.
The aging Matimba male lions continue to spend a great deal of their time in the west, however they did move closer to the river a few days ago and were notably roaring for some time in the early hours of the morning. What may have caused the interest for the two old boys to start roaring was that the now nomadic Styx Pride had been moving close to their territorial area.
One of the largest groups of elephants was reported moving across the open clearing in view of Castleton. It was reported that the herd consisted of three smaller groups that joined up at the dam and this exceeded well over 100 elephants.
It is that time of the year, where will they den? We have all been waiting patiently to see what will transpire with two prominent packs of wild dogs in the area. As always the wild dogs prove their success in hunting as a pack and often these hunts are viewed whilst in a sighting with them.
For the month of May we viewed 12 new bird species bringing our yearly total to 260 (248 in April). The new birds for the month are: Speckled mousebird, crowned hornbill, yellow-rumped tinkerbird, grey-rumped swallow, brown-throated martin, pied crow and cut-throat finch. The yellow-rumped tinkerbird was particularly special as this has not yet been recorded in the Sabi Sand area.
It has been an incredible month at the spotted hyena den-site. Watching the three young cubs grow and develop charming and playful personalities, learning from their mothers and becoming more and more inquisitive as each day goes on.
One of the most interesting sightings occurred a week ago. The large Nyelethi male leopard was found along the course of the Sand River with not only one impala carcass, but two hoisted carcasses. As an opportunistic predator it would not be unusual to see more than one carcass in a tree. On one occasion a large male leopard had hoisted three different carcasses into a tree. What was unique to this sighting was that Nyelethi left one of the carcasses and abandoned it. With much interest the Hukumuri female leopard crossed the river obviously smelling the rotten hoisted carcass. After consuming some of the carcass she moved back across the river and went to fetch her female cub. In the interim Schotia and her young male cub moved towards the river and coincidently arrived in the same area where the rotting carcass was. It did not take them long to find the carcass and started feeding on it. Later in the afternoon we returned to the area to find two young males in the area – Schotia’s young male cub along with the Msava young male. Growling from another leopard could be heard at the river however, we could not see the predator. Then the female leopard emerged, moving around the tree where the carcasses was hoisted, and a second female leopard was seen a short distance away. Hukumuri and her young female cub had returned to the area to be surprised by other leopards capitalising on the unwanted carcasses! This tallied the leopard count to six different leopards feeding on the remains of one impala carcass.