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Rangers Report June

By Grant Murphy on July 10, 2016

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After a rather warm summer the wind has finally blown in the cool weather. Scarves, beanies and gloves are back on our shelves. Although we can’t complain too much here in the Lowveld as the temperatures have been refreshingly pleasant after the crisp chill of dawn.

 

 

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We were so excited to find an Aardvark strolling across the road on our way back to camp one early evening. It eventually ducked off into the failing light and disappeared. One really good advantage of winter is that our nocturnal animals that we rarely get to see are coming out a little earlier.

Unbelievably, the very next day we discovered a semi-skittish Leopard in a Cassia tree with a kill. Upon closer inspection of the headless animal’s foot structure when trying to determine what it was I noticed it was in fact an Aardvark. My first thought was, hopefully the one we had seen the previous night wasn’t the last one in the reserve and hanging up in the tree in front of us!

 

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We had just left for our morning drive when we came across a huge herd of buffalo being stalked by the two lionesses of the Ross pride. No time was wasted before they made their move knowing that the light was rapidly becoming less in their favour. They herded the buffalo into an eroded drainage line. The Buffalos, in a state of panic were brutishly shoving each other in their escape. One calf of only a few weeks old was left behind as it struggled to make its way up the bank. Now trapped in the gorge, the lionesses leaped for the calf. At the very last second the mother of the calf and the old bulls stormed to the baby’s aid. The scene was nail biting. However, today it was good news for the Buffalo calf. The others managed to help it out of the trough and get it to safety. Defeated, the lionesses gave up for the day and lay on a nice comfy rhino midden, basking in the morning sun.

 

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One afternoon as the sun started to set the lone lioness of the Machatan pride who had been following a herd of buffalo for three days without making a kill began to crouch low and move briskly through the thick bush with determination and stealth, and I’m sure some hunger pains.

The hunt was on as she had an unsuspecting sub-adult Buffalo in her sights. Before we knew it she launched for the beast and pulled it to the ground with all her might. Exhausted, she lay there strangling it by the throat until it went eerily quiet. As she bit at the skin, you could see the hunger and relief in her eyes. Too weak and out of breath to break the skin, she just lay there for a while.

Once she was finally ready to eat, an opportunistic Hyena skulked around her assessing the situation. She was having none of that! She chased the scavenger away and quickly returned to her kill. We thought all of the excitement was over when suddenly we noticed something else moving around in the darkness. Amazingly it was a large male Leopard, obviously also looking for an easy meal. Although, he took one glance at the large lioness and decided it was not his lucky night.

 

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One of the sub-adult males of the Hercules pride patiently waiting above an Aardvark hole in a termite mound.

 

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The lionesses of the Ross pride having some fun on a cliff face while their injured young male pride member catches his breath at a pool of water in the riverbed.

 

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A Kudu, Steenbok and Giraffe all having a little nibble at a few old bones – something I haven’t ever witnessed with Kudu and Steenbok before.

 

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Playful Ntombi and her boy, Mondsweni, having a little game of tag.

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Mondsweni rolling around in some fresh Rhino dung.

 

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Ntombi then inspecting the dung.

 

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In other news on the leopard front, Rockfig Junior went MIA for the whole month. We were so worried something had happened to the mature leopardess since she is over twelve and in the twilight years of her life, but luckily we just found her again when my tracker, Albert, noticed a drag mark in a riverbed crossing. We followed the tracks and there she was, grooming herself underneath a large Appleleaf where she had hung her recently killed Steenbok.

We were also very shocked to discover that Ntima, one of Ntombi’s boys had killed a newly born giraffe. Unfortunately for him he didn’t put it up into a tree, perhaps being a bit on the heavy side, so that same night it was stolen by a clan of hyenas who gave us a great show as they chased each other around for the scraps.

 

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The Hyena den full of little cubs full of beans.

 

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The Impala rutting season has just come to a close. Luckily for the males they are now spending a little less time on the ladies and more on avoiding getting eaten.

 

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Thank you again to all of you loyal Kings Camp followers. All the best. ‘Til next time.

Vicky

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