Greetings hope you all are well and looking forward to your monthly Kings Camp African bush fix. Getting write into it as there is so much to bring you up to speed on. We start with the weather as we are presently in my personal favourite time of the year to be in the bush, autumn. The days have shortened considerably with sunrise around 06:10 am and setting at about 17:30, both of these providing spectacular vistas of the burning sun rising and falling and setting the horizon on fire often accentuated by light cloud cover above and gentle mist in the river valleys below.
The temperatures have dropped with both the morning and evenings cooling off but the days remaining favourably warm. We have received unseasonably late rain and having missed out this summer on our normal rainfall the bush has once again flushed green adding another dimension to the spectacular autumn colours. It however has not been enough to fill the dams and it looks like our animals are in for a long hard winter, good for the predators not so much for the prey.
Moving onto our furry friends, once again this month we have been spoilt not only by the regularity of our sightings but also by some very special sightings that have not only captivated our guests but also our guides and trackers alike.
Starting off with the Ross Pride, they continued to frequent our traversing area although they were still running into the four Machaton Boys at the beginning of the month. This would split the pride and then they would have to spend the next couple of days regrouping.
Trying to escape the pressure the Ross Pride moved consistently South eventually shaking the Machaton Boys who we think moved back west and into Klaserie. It would appear the Ross Pride has also picked up a new behaviour as on two occasions they were found chasing Warthog into their burrows and then proceeding to dig them out, on one occasion being successful. The end of the month we found only five of the seven of them busying digging when enquiring on the other two we were told that they had split following a herd of Buffalo but the hunt had gone wrong and the oldest female was caught by the Buffalo and thrown into the air. The extent of her injuries was not known and they have not been seen since. Let’s hope we find the pride reunited in the following month with only experienced gained.
Staying in the south the White Lions were seen on a couple of occasions providing a once in a lifetime experience to our guests. The larger of the White Females was once again seen mating with a large male. This was last seen in January but things must not have been successful, let’s hope for a better result this time around.
The Lion sightings over the month were consistent and at the end of the month we were treated to something extremely special, the Machaton Female and her four new cubs. We knew of their existence as we had found her consistently returning to the same thickly vegetated area. When she was spotted the previous month with matted hair around the teats we knew the cubs had been born and all that remained was how many and when we would be introduced to her new family. To let you know how special and rare this sighting was, it was in 2010 that I’d last seen as young cubs as these, so a little time has passed since then. Let’s hope the upcoming month provides many more sightings of these little guys.
Sticking with cubs an extremely rare sighting for our traversing area was that of a female Cheetah, if that was not special enough she was found with four very young cubs. I don’t know the details of the sighting as I unfortunately was on leave and when she was found again a week or so later I was in the wrong place. As you can read I’m not bitter about it at all!!
Also while on leave we received news Ntombi killed an Impala in camp next too our house and spent the next few days camped out in Kings Camp with her cub literarily on our veranda. That will teach us to go on leave!
Staying with Leopards, we had a fantastic month spent with a wide variety of our resident spotted friends. Ntombi and her cub have been seen on a few occasions with her little one getting more and more relaxed with our presence and offering some great sightings of this six month cub.
Rockfig Jnr and her cub were also seen on a number of occasions spending a lot of time along the Tsharalumi River further south. Once again it looks like her cub will grow to be one of our superstars as she is super confident and very relaxed with the game vehicles.
Not to be outdone by the ladies the boys also made their presence known with us seeing both Nsongwaan and Ntima on a number of occasions, sometimes together. Both being previous litters of Ntombi and half-brothers to one another, they tolerated one another’s presence.
A notable absence was Marula Female who we saw on only a handful of occasions and it is not sure how many of her cubs are still around. She has chosen to spend a great deal of time on property that we don’t traverse or traverse regularly. Here is hoping we get to see more of her next month.
Switching from cats to dogs we continued to have regular sightings of Wild dog over the month. The Orpen Pack was seen mating so we suspect we’ll lose them shortly as they return to their den site in Kruger. We however hope that like last year one of the packs in the area will choose a property that we traverse to den again this season.
As for the bigger animals, Elephant have made themselves very scarce this month with us finding a herd or two around the reserve but not seeing them in their usual abundance.
Buffalo on the other hand were to be found all around with multiple herds in the area and when they briefly moved on Dagga Boys were still to be found in and about the riverine bush or pumped pans.
While the bigger contenders have kept us busy the general game has more than filled in the gaps and made drives pretty hectic and often run into overtime, from the smallest Dwarf Mongooses to the tallest Giraffe and every mammal in between. Even after dark, usually a quietish time while returning to the lodge, we have picked up many of our nocturnal friends.
So ends another month of great game-viewing and we can only hope it continues into next month. Given the current conditions it is highly probable but that is the beauty of the bush, we never know.