Yet again another month has passed by in the blink of an eye. And boy! What a month it’s been – especially on the cat’s front. We can finally say with confidence that winter is here. Mornings have been fresh and crisp with blankets of mist hanging over our extraordinary piece of paradise.
The late rains this year have definitely played a huge role in the survival of many different creatures from big to small. Even though we always have the ‘Big 5’ in mind, there are smaller things that matter just as much and delight us on our drives.
All the impalas are going through an extremely stressful time at the moment, as they are rutting. They males can easily confuse most people with the snorting sounds appearing from the undergrowth, easily resembling the noise for that of a predator growling. Around November, the females will start to give birth, so all the stress will then fall on them and their babies for fear of predation.
Ntombi, our resident female leopard, still provides our guests with sightings that are out of this world. We have some good news regarding the Queen of the Timbavati! It seems as though she is lactating, so within another seven weeks or so we may be fortunate enough to cross paths with a new member to the leopard population in our area.
After losing her last cub about a year ago she’s given birth in a totally different place than usual, so we are rather excited to see whats going to happen. Funnily enough, she has only ever raised male cubs. Hopefully this time it will be a female cub, which could mean she will stick around longer or even establish a territory next to her mother in about two years or so.
Ntima, the male leopard, seems to get bigger every time we see him. He now owns a territory far on the northern boundary of our traversing area. He has been somewhat scared lately and has been seen patrolling his large territory. We did however see him on one occasion with a warthog kill hoisted under the thick canopy of a Jackal berry tree.
Marula, the female leopard seems to be doing rather well. Especially considering that she lost yet another litter of cubs. I don’t really think her maternal instincts are lacking, but she just had bad luck. We found her mating again which could possibly mean she may be pregnant again soon!
Hopefully she will have better luck this time around. Her territory has been expanding after the demise of Rockfig Junior the female leopard.
Thumbela, the blue eyed female leopard, also surprised us as we crossed paths with her and her two cubs on the way to a kill she made. To ensure the safety of cubs, leopards will often hide their cubs to go and hunt. After the hunt has been successful they well come back to fetch them and lead the cubs to the kill site.
The two Mbiri males are doing very well. They have made countless appearances along with the two Zabanine females this month. They have been stationed around the centre of our property as the females have given birth to two beautiful cubs. No sightings of the bundles of fur as of yet but I’m sure they will start moving around soon enough. The raising of these cubs is vitally important to better the future lion populations. Due to the pressure of younger males always moving in has led to the destruction of our bigger prides of lion. So far so good. So let’s hope everything goes according to plan.
The late rains we received just before winter ensured for some fantastic elephant viewing. Elephants have been moving in with large numbers and massive herd. Herds of about fifty to sixty strong have delighted our guests on game drives.
The large herds of buffalo we used to see have somewhat become a distant memory, but we did however cross paths with a number of smaller herds near our camp. The horrible drought that we suffered through hit our buffalo numbers with full force. It does however look like the larger herds are slowly but surely moving back to our area.
So even though the African wild dogs aren’t denning in our immediate area, sightings have been plentiful as we caught up with them on the hunt. They always seem to surprise you when least expected. Wild dogs are highly endangered so every time the apex predators make their appearance it gets my blood pumping. As they have been denning for the last two months or so, we can’t wait to be introduced to the little pups. At this stage they will be safely tucked under ground level inside a termite mount for safety.
As the bush gets dryer by the day due to the winter period, the vegetation seems to open up more which betters the chances of sighting secretive animals around like this little Bush Baby.
The late sunny mornings have presented ample opportunity to appreciate all the beautiful birds common to our area sunning themselves. Not just the birds but some off the smaller mammals can also be seen warming themselves up in the crisp mornings.
Kings Camp Private Game Reserve would like to thank each and every guest who contributed to the funding of our Rhino notching program. You have made a huge difference to the fight against Rhino poaching. Thank you for trying to preserve our natural heritage!
Until next month,
Field Guide, Neil Coetzer