What a month! When I compile this report I usually look over my pictures first to refresh my memory as to what we had experienced. Looking at the pictures now I’m not too sure where to begin as it feels like we had the whole year wrapped up into November, from the weather to the flora and fauna associated to it, it literally was all four seasons in the month.
Starting the month off with scorching dry heat our sightings were very much based around water. Morning drives saw a lot more activity with the animals taking advantage of the cooler temperatures, afternoon drives set off in stifling heat and the animals were concentrated along the dry riverbeds and their tributaries seeking shelter, as things cooled off shortly after sunset activity levels rose. In contrast mid-month we received our spring rain in the form of thunderstorms, nothing quite like an electrical storm late afternoon, early evening in the African bush, sheet lightening illuminating the sky shortly followed by the deep dark rumble of thunder emanating from the belly of the towering Cumulus Nimbus clouds. After the rains the bush sprung to life with a flush of emerald green replacing the drab brown dry conditions and along with it came the humidity. We now found the animals spread out a little more as the natural pans had filled with water allowing access into previously harsh environments. The end of the month saw us come full circle with the skies clouding over, temperatures dropping and wind picking up, all reminiscent of winters cold fronts.
Given the variable weather one would have expected sightings to follow suit but they didn’t and we were spoilt to some great sightings this month and some even better animal interactions both big and small. We did not need to travel far for sightings as most afternoons the waterhole in front of camp was frequented by herds of Elephant coming and going during the day while a group of anywhere between 8 to 12 Buffalo Bulls took up residency in the waterhole during the heat of the day. This became interesting when the Elephant would arrive and a showdown would pursue, the result not always going the way of the Elephant.
Staying in camp, Ntsongwaan, our male Leopard also seemed content with taking up residency, killing two Impala on separate occasions in camp and spending the next week around the front of house staff accommodation. On one occasion he was joined by Ntombi’s latest cub, who seemed comfortable in playing the sibling card and sharing on the kill.
Venturing a little further from camp our Lion sightings were good this month with us seeing multiple large male Lions in differing collisions As well as small prides of varying combinations of members. Two highlights, the first being the increased sightings of the Giraffe Farm Pride wherein the two White Lions reside and the second being a visit from the Machaton Pride and Mbande Male. They appear to have lost three of their cubs with only two being present with the pride now. To counter balance the bad news it would appear the second Machaton Female has given birth to her cubs. We are uncertain of the location of the den and how many but as soon as we get a sighting you’ll be the first to know.
Wilddogs were another highlight of the month with two packs running around the area. In the North we have eight that were frequently found on our Western boundary with the Klaserie. Sticking out the rain one afternoon we were fortunate enough to witness them bring down and feed on an Impala. From the South we were visited by the Ngala pack which seems to run thirty strong and all look in great condition.
Ever reliable our Leopards spoilt us once again this month with sightings of Ntombi and her cub, Marula Female, Rockfig Jnr and her cub Nyalethi, Ntsongwaan, Ntima, Ntjukhanwaan, and the ever elusive blue eyed Ntombela, who now seems to be spending most of her time on our Eastern boundary with her two offspring.
The herds were to be found all round our traversing with both Buffalo and Elephant being numerous and you needn’t look far. The general game also seemed to be out in force with large herds of Giraffe, Zebra, Kudu, Nyala and something we don’t often see, Wildebeest. So drives were kept very busy.
With the warmer wetter weather many of our migratory birds have arrived and a favourite of mine, the Woodlands Kingfisher, who’s piercing shrilling call typifies summer can now be heard from dawn to dusk. After dark we have the frogs and crickets taking over to serenade us to sleep. You have to love summer!
Given the great sightings of this month, White Lions, Wilddog, multiple Leopard sightings, Elephants and their many young keeping us entertained with their antics, this month’s highlight still must go to an unlikely candidate, the Hyena. It started with the sightings of a clan collected around Impala Dam and their internal politics.
Settling their differences they then stood together to drive off a large male Lion from his Buffalo kill.
Carrying the confidence of victory they then ventured into foreign clan territory to take on the residents for a steak of a dead Giraffe. This battle ensued for the next three days with both clans being dominant and submissive until the Giraffe was fully consumed when they both seemed to retreat back to the heart of their respective territories happy to have shared the spoils of battle. The fact that there were numerous Vultures and another large male Lion present seemed inconsequential as who wouldn’t give way to close on thirty five fighting Hyena’s.
That brings a wrap to another month and we wait and see what December holds in store for us, another beauty of the bush, you never know what to expect.