There is nothing more heart-warming than being handed a hot water bottle along with your take away coffee cup before venturing out on safari. Winter’s golden hues linger in the morning and in the evening. The game drives are longer in the winter months as the cooler conditions are more comfortable to stay out later.
Here’s a Sightings Snapshot for June:
The Mhangene Pride have unfortunately lost another litter of cubs. There has only been one surviving cub in the past three litters born this year. The young female cub continues to keep up with the pride through their movements and has capitalized on carcasses with the pride. The Othawa male has also remained with the Mhangene lionesses. The pride movement has been sporadic, moving from far east to the furthest western area of Sabi Sand.
The Styx Pride have been encountered on a few occasions north of the river. The pride continues to move over vast distances and shows very little sign of settling down in a specific area.
The Sand River has been an oasis for the large herds of elephants that are drawn to the water course during midday. The banks of the river are often adorned with elephant, scattered along the remaining winter greenery.
On few occasions several groups of elephants have grouped up exceeding well over approximately 70 elephants in one large gathering.
Three wild dog packs have been predominantly moving within our surrounding areas! It looks like we are in for a bumper time with some very exciting wild dog sightings.
One of the packs has been revisiting an old den-site and it is evident that they have shown some great interest in the area. In order to allow the pack to settle down and with no clear signs of the pregnant alpha female moving with the pack it would indicate that she has already given birth to a litter. Due to the sensitive nature of the den-site, vehicles will not be visiting the location for a couple of weeks, allowing the pack to establish the site completely undeterred.
This time of year, hyenas will be using excavated holes in abandoned termite mounds as perfect sanctuaries for their cubs. These den-sites are often used by alpha and beta females, which could easily accumulate several cubs of varying ages in one den.
Usually this is a specie that is regularly viewed in the Sabi Sand, however during the last few weeks, the trackers have been working extremely hard to find these elusive predators. Many of the younger leopards are becoming independent from their mothers, as would be the case for the Hukumuri female and the Schotia female. Both the females have been viewed on their own far more in the last few weeks. The Hukumuri female has already been mating with the Nyelethi male.
What has been abundant over the last few weeks has been the movement of wild dogs. With a pack of seven to the west and the larger pack of eleven currently denning north of the river, there has been much wild dog activity. Wild dogs easily intimidate leopards often chasing them up trees as they move through the bush. This maybe a contributing factor as to why the leopards are keeping a low profile.
The image above indicates a clear size difference between the much younger male cub and his mother on the left hand side of the frame. The young male will soon venture off on his own as an independent male that will become nomadic for a few years, before attaining a territory. Unfortunately, female leopards do not relinquish pieces of territory to male offspring – this is generally only done for female cubs. Depending on the amount of male leopards in a given area or territory sizes, the young males will try to avoid detection from older males, thus giving themselves longer periods of time in a natal area. Some young males have been reported to have stayed well over four years in a natal area, still interacting with their mother.
Although there were a lot of birds seen over the month of June we didn’t manage to add any new bird species to our list, which leaves our yearly total at 260.