The late winter winds begin to howl as we move into August and the last dried leaves surrender to the earth.
We observe the trying circumstances as pregnant impala show signs of lost condition due to limited amounts of nutrient vegetation. The seasons are shifting and the temperatures are beginning to rise, spring is soon on its way and we can feel it. Amidst the hues of beige and hazel in a seemingly lifeless wilderness, there is life just waiting to burst into creation. However dull it may appear, there is absolute beauty in every aspect and an excitement for each day to begin. There is never a dull moment. The bush only continues to grace us with her magic and enlightens us all with her sheer magnificence.
Here’s a Sightings Snapshot for August:
Excitement is in the air as we catch our first glimpse of the two new Mhangene pride cubs. It has taken a number of weeks of tracking and investigation, however a little bit of luck helped us to see these gorgeous, fluffy lion cubs. We estimate that they are between two and three months old as their mother has kept them very well hidden between the reeds and palm thickets in the middle of the Sand River for quite some time now. We are looking forward to spending more time watching as they grow and hoping they will become healthy adult lions.
The three Tumbela males continue to stay resident north of the river and have been seen much more frequently. With reports that the Matimba male had chased them off, it seems as though these males are keeping a lower profile until it becomes their time to take over a new territory.
Spending time with elephants may possibly be one of the best experiences one may enjoy in the bush. With low water supply and slowly rising temperatures, we continue to spend time with large herds of elephants moving down toward the river to bathe and quench their thirsts.
It has been a month now and it has been incredible to observe the growth of the Othawa pack puppies who are beginning to move more freely around the den-site. We have been lucky to witness them remaining in the same den without any movement as yet. The adults in the pack often make their way down to the Sand River during the mornings to hunt and will then make their way back to the den to regurgitate and feed the pups. All eleven pups are healthy and well.
Typically, leopards tend to avoid lions due to them being such a tremendous threat to their lives, however that is not the case with Hosana male leopard. We watched as the three Tumbela male lions slept close to their buffalo carcass whilst Hosana male moved in to feed on their carcass. He managed to claim some of the main organs and then attempted to steal some more of the carcass the next day. Unfortunately his second attempt wasn’t as successful with the lions being aware of his movements.
Interesting interactions have been observed between Schotia female, her young daughter and Tavangumi male (her previous litter) where all three leopards have been seen together. The young female shows a lot of confidence moving close to her older brother, vocalising and displaying signs of submission, only for him to get in trouble with the Schotia female for being “too close”.
Hukumuri female and cub continue to thrive and have also been seen more regularly. Although this female tends to be more secretive due to her riverine territory, she truly is a remarkable female to observe.
We had a number of sightings of the female cheetah and her two cubs this month. Although this new mother is expanding her home range with the cubs, she still tends to feel at home in the southern parts of the property.
The bird list for August includes five new bird species, bringing our yearly total to 274 so far – this was our total number for the year of 2019. Special bird species include: Little stint (in breeding plumage), greater painted snipe and marsh owl.