Another month has past and winter has definitely arrived with some really chilly morning and evening drives. One morning while Warren was taking the kids to school he called us on the radio and informed us that the outside temperature measured by his Toyota Fortuner was 1 degree Celsius. The days have been beautiful and warm. Colours in the guide’s office have really started changing, the grass is golden, the leaves have gone reds and browns, with some trees already bare.
The hyena den on Umlani is still very active and some new individual have been born recently. Another hyena den has been discovered on JayDee but access to the area is very difficult, so we will keep you updated on any new developments.
A few months ago I wrote about a sighting of wild dogs mating, well there is some good and bad news. The good news is that mating was successful, the bad news is that the den selected by the alpha female is in the Klaserie game reserve. We are still seeing a few pack members when out hunting, but sightings are quite short, although still great to witness. Another pangolin was seen, which makes 3 in two months. We have also seen a few honey badgers, which I personally hadn’t seen for a long time. Late in the month we were fortunate to see six cheetah, which is very rare to see in this area.
Cape Buffalo & Elephant
The buffalo herds have been numerous and using the river a lot for water, this has meant that the lions are not far behind. I was lucky enough to witness an attempt by the Machaton pride in broad daylight, it was unsuccessful and the buffalo herd escaped unscathed. There have also been a few sightings of the old “dagga boys” in the dry river beds. They are going to get grumpier as water becomes harder and harder to find as winter sets in.
The elephants have started to use the camp water hole a lot more and treat the guests during lunch to an extra sighting. These huge pachyderms become important to many other animals during this time as they will regularly dig holes in the dry river beds revealing the life giving water below. This water is then used by many other animals that don’t have this digging ability.
Nthombi is still doing an incredible job as a mother, her two cubs have recently been joining her at kill sites and spend a few days stuck up a tree as the impala Nthombi had hoisted drew in way too much attention from a couple of hyenas than she would have wanted. The cubs are still being hidden while mom is away hunting, but the good news is we have sexed them as two males and both are getting very relaxed around the vehicles. The Marula female has been a little scarce this month but has been seen a few times south of our traversing. The Xiviti male in the north was up to his usual tricks and was even seen on many occasions fishing for catfish in the pools of the river bed as it dries up. Umfana seems to have taken up residency north of Hide Dam and was seen on a few occasions on various kills. The Rockfig Jr female seems to have sent her young male cub out on his own as they are not being seen together anymore. This might indicate that she could be pregnant and we might be treated to another set of cubs soon???
The Machaton pride is still doing well and has been venturing further and further away from their old core territory. It is still only the older lioness with the 3 sub adult males. They spent quite a lot of the month on Kings Camp, Masungulo, JayDee and even followed a huge buffalo herd north of the Peru cutline and onto Java and M’Bali. Unfortunately they have been very unsuccessful in their pursuits. We also have some awesome news, the single Machaton lioness that has been spending her time in the south with one young male was seen with CUBS! No photos yet but we will keep you posted. We were woken one morning with two males thought to be the Sohobele male and partner chasing the Machaton pride. The two male spent a few days on the property before heading back into the Klaserie game reserve. They then appeared on a buffalo killed in the south but were quickly chased by the Ross pride males. Late in the month they again pulled down another buffalo on Rockfig property. There have also been tracks of lion cubs seen on Peru, so the Mafikizolo pride could also be on the increase. The Jacaranda pride was also seen numerous times in the north and is looking very well and is now consisting of five males and three females. The Mabande males have been quite scarce but made a few appearances.
Well that all for this month, join us again for next moths updates.
Dean & the Kings Camp guiding team