Wildlife Report – Febuary 2010

By Patrick O’Brien on March 1, 2010

Wildlife sightings during the month of February have been awesome.

There is just no other way to say it. Lion and leopard sightings were plentiful. Our resident leopardess, Rockfig Jnr and her two cubs were sighted numerous times. Lion sightings were also excellent especially now that the white lions are moving around the camp area most of the time.

Frequent sightings of this pride ensured that most of the guests got to see them. I still believe that most of the staff, and guides don‘t realize the significant importance of theses lions in our area of Timbavati at the

moment. This is history in the making and we are a part of it.Anyway, let‘s start the report with Lions. After all the lion is the King of the bushveld.

The white lion pride known as the Kubasa pride is still in our area three months after they first arrived during December 2009. Several large kills

have ensured that the cubs are healthy and looking good.

Towards the end of the month the pride had a few anxious days. Pressure from male lions from the north and south forced the females to move extensively

to avoid any confrontations.

At the same time the leading female tried to keep the pride as central as possible therefore avoiding contact with the big males. Several small kills were made of which one was a medium sized zebra.
White lion cub
One of our oldest most respected and legendary lionesses of Timbavati died on the 26th of February at Manhattan dam. She was still seen during the morning and appeared to be fine. That same day during the afternoon drive

one of the guides informed us that she sadly passed away. This recessive white gene carrier was at least 18 years old. Warren and I agree that she still had at least another 2-3 years left. She gave us thousands of

sightings. She taught me so much about lion behavior and I will always remember her, as I was one of only 4 guides ever to see her litter of white cubs she had during 2005. Unfortunately they did not survive more than a

few weeks.

I also remember her as a leader, a fighter and one that was always with

her pride during territorial fights. This eagerness to fulfill the leadership role unfortunately meant that she frequently left her cubs unattended for

days and hence her poor parental care track record.

I would like to dedicate this report to her. Farewell my friend we will never forget you.

Voldam pride is back.

One of the most interesting and exciting sightings I had this month was when two of Africa‘s top A-pex predators arrived at the same time at a buffalo carcass. If is believed the buffalo died of old age and I suspect the

hyenas found the carcass first. The lions arrived minutes later. You can only imagine what must have happened when they met………………..
Lions vs. hyenas feeding on the same carcass.
Lions vs. hyenas feeding on the same carcass.
Well, I hate to disappoint you but there was no big fight as predicted. In fact it was very unusual. Have you ever seen lions and hyenas feeding on the same carcass and tolerating each other? Most people would say NEVER! I

have only seen this once before and this was my second time. The two lionesses started feeding on the carcass initially. Within minutes two large female hyenas took a chance and joined the two lionesses. Both parties were reluctant to move and I suppose decided well, as long as you stay on your side of the carcass we will stay on our side. Have a look the images and you will notice one of the lionesses keeping a very close eye on the hyena.
A charging hyena

What more can I say, incredibly beautiful is this stunning spotted cat.

One has to see this animal in real life to appreciate the magnificence and grace of a leopard.

Rockfig Jnr leopardess has made headlines again this month and I predict that she will continue to do so for the next year or so. Her two cubs are well and healthy.

They are still very small and they are extremely relaxed around the vehicles making it a photographers dream. It has been several years since I last had the privilege to photography cubs this small and relaxed around a vehicle.

Surely this must be one of the best places in the world to view this spectacular top predator.

The cubs are extremely playful and it is confirmed that one is male and the other a female. In one specific sighting, one of the cubs was showing a great deal of interest in us and approached without a worry in the world.
Mon and son
Mother and cub

One day during the month, Rockfig jnr was treed by one of the Timbavati male lions. She was forced to climb into a huge Apple leave tree and seek refuge there for several hours. Reluctant to move from the safety of the

tree she would occasionally grunt and growl at the male lion conveying her annoyance.

Keep watching the blog in order to view the progress of her cubs.

On a different note and something that would send most people running for
life. Snakes a very beautiful and large African Rock Python
African Rock Python
Python sebae is a non-venomous python species found in sub-Saharan Africa. With adults reaching lengths of over 6 m (20 ft), this is one of the world’s largest species of snakes. The typical adult length is 4.8 m (16 ft) and

rumors of specimens over 6 m (20 ft) are generally considered reliable, but larger specimens have never been confirmed.
Handing the African Rock Python over to Albert
Albert happy with the day catch
Albert and I were fortune to bump into this 3,2 meter Python. It took some time to secure this large specimen, which turned out to be a male. After teaching Albert how to handle non-venomous snakes, he clearly enjoyed

holding this beautiful and rare snake for his guests to view.

The colour pattern is typically brown, with olive and tan irregular blotching, fading to white on the underside. Typically associated with grassland and savannah habitat, not too far from water (rivers, streams,marshes), sometimes entering the edges of forests. Often occur in or near cane fields.

Opportunistic feeders, and will consume almost any animal they come across and can overpower by constriction. Young pythons eat primarily small rodents, which makes them popular with local farmers for reducing the populations of species harmful to crops, like the cane rat. However,

adults are capable of taking very large prey, including young crocodiles, goats, gazelles, warthogs and even humans making them potentially very dangerous.

Attacks on humans are very uncommon. Although this species can easily kill an adult, there are only a few cases in which the victim. The last known case in which a person was eaten occurred in South Africa in 2002, the

victim being a 10-year-old child.

Conservation status While considered endangered and threatened, this species is listed as a CITES Appendix II species, which puts restrictions on its exportation

around the world. The primary reason for this is because their skin is used in the leather industry, frequently being made into shoes, belts, and purses.

That is all for this month friends. I hope you enjoyed the report.

From all the rangers and trackers of Kings Camp.

Report by Patrick O‘Brien

4 thoughts on “Wildlife Report – Febuary 2010

  1. Patrick, I would have been one of the people running for cover from the snake! Very brave of you and Albert to attempt its handling….

    Would have loved to experience the lions and hyenas feeding together first-hand. Thanks for yur report and bringing back great memories of the time I spent at King’s Camp.


  2. Hi Patrick, thanks for the report and beautiful pics! Of course Rockfig Jnr and her cubs are my most favorite…as I have one of your prints of her prominently gracing our home. Wish I were there to see her playful cubs!

    Stay safe, stay well.

    Kindest regards.


  3. Hi Patrick,

    Wonderful updates! You always manage to capture such unique sightings/events like the lion/hyena shared buffet.

    I have to ask you if there is a name for the lioness who passed? Which pride did she belong to?



  4. Hi Todd.

    Jes you have seen her many times. She was one of the older females from the Manhattan pride. The very light coloured female. I will send you a pic.

    Hope you are well.


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