Greetings and salutations hope you all are well. With the onset of a new month it brings with it your bush update from the month that has past. We now find ourselves in the heart of winter with the solstice having passed on the 21st of the month. The colours in the bush at the moment are exquisite and these warm beautiful shades of browns, orange and red are further enhanced by the golden hours of sunrise and sunset. The temperature has been moderate with only a couple of mornings being somewhat chilly. This again has it’s positives as it sets up the valleys with beautiful mist in the mornings and clear, clear skies after dark to marvel at the overwhelming number of stars.
As seems to be a disturbing pattern that is emerging, all the animals seemed to be out and about during my leave period, which given how good it has been while I’ve been here I’d say it sounds almost unbelievable. So going on the stories from the first two weeks during my absence there are a few highlights that I’ll bring you upto speed on. On the Lion front we had the Ross Pride up to their usual, trailing Buffalo. Both Remember and Vicky, surprise, surprise, watched as they orchestrated a hunt and then put it into action, this time unsuccessful but none the less full of the anticipation and excitement of a hunt.The pride missing two of its members, one adult female thought to have been killed by the Machaton Males and a sub adult who was gored by a Buffalo were fairly absent the rest of the month with sporadic sightings of them in varying numbers. I did however see two past members of the pride that have split from their natal group, both females, that now spend the majority of their time in the Klaserie. One of these females is heavily pregnant and it looks like it won’t be long before a new branch of the family tree begins. Sticking on the Lion front another sighting I missed out on was that of two young males who killed a giraffe not far from camp, they were then chased off their kill by the Mbande Male and the Machaton Female who pushed up North to take advantage of a free meal. The two of them have been spending a fair amount of their time very far South on the outskirts of our traversing so not to many sightings of them this month but the four cubs are said to be well and growing fast. In some even better news it was reported that the separated Machaton Female has reunited with her kin, after nearly two years,and been mating with the Mbande Male. We can only hope that this is new beginnings for the once great Machaton Pride and that they will restore themselves as our resident pride. Something I did get to witness was the visit of the Avoca Pride, well eleven members of it, there are said to be fifteen in total. A pride this size is a rarity these days and takes us back to bygone eras of the Kruger Park when this would have been standard. Unfortunately they only stuck around three days and are already said to be back in the far South from where they originate.
The number of different Buffalo herds that we have in our traversing area at the moment could attribute to the varying Lion Prides that we are finding. The poor rains of summer are becoming more evident as we move deeper into winter with many waterholes having dried up and the vegetation not supplying enough nutrients for the herbivores and therefore we finding that the herds are amalgamating around the few areas of good feeding and remaining water.
The herds of Elephant are moving through the areas looking for suitable food and one day they are here and the next are gone. The bull Elephant are a little more reliable in that they are sticking around the Northern area of our traversing where there is a higher percentage of tree foliage.
The Leopards have remained ever reliable and our go to cats, with this month all our super stars being present. A notable return of Marula Female and her young male cub, it however unfortunately looks like she has lost her other cub. Rockfig Jnr and her cub are doing well and they were seen on a number of occasions with kills. Ntombi and her cub had a little scare mid-month when Ntombi acquired a large gash on her flank when she was dispossessed of her kill by a large male Leopard. It looked a lot worse than it was and by the end of the month it had already healed over completely.
Not to be outdone by the ladies the boys also made themselves apparent with Ntsongwaan always being a special sighting. I swear he grows every time I see him.
On the rarer side of sightings there have been sporadic sightings of Wilddog always around dusk North of camp. This has led us to believe that they are denning in the Klaserie and it is hunting parties that we catch before they return home, so sightings are usually very quick and fleeting. Let’s hope when the pack becomes mobile in the upcoming months we have puppies come visit.
General game has been good with sightings around the remaining water yielding large herds of a variety of animals. On the unusual side we have found Giraffe feeding on bone fragments, something they do this time of year to supplement their mineral intake, something that they lack in their usual feed.
The long wait is also over and our Hyena Den is now active with one youngster making its appearance mid-month and helping convert the perception of Hyenas as dirty scavengers to cute, clever creatures and in the process stealing a place in the hearts of many of our guests.
The month was not only filled with unusual sightings on the ground but also in the night sky. As it is we are blessed with an unbelievable canvass of stars every evening but to add to this the planets of Jupiter and Venus competed for attention as they grew closer and closer to one another over the month eventually crossing one another’s paths at the end of the month.
Well that is all from our side, sure there is a story here or there we have omitted but rather than read about it plan a trip to visit us and experience it first-hand. Till next month, cheers Grant.
Ah a couple, not to forget you birders.