I am putting this up slightly earlier than usual because I’ll be in the UK during the beginning of the month…
Rain, Rain, Rain!!! The rain started towards the middle of the month and slowly but surely the bush recovers to its full green splendour.
Game viewing remained spectacular through out and we shared some special moments with our guests.
Rockfig Jr. and Tumbela now spend more time apart from each other, but when Mom makes a larger kill she still collects her 1-year-old cub to join in the feast.
Tumbela has now officially during the month killed a young Impala and two steenbok by herself! I‘ve only witnessed young leopards killing larger pray like this at ages of 15-17 months before. This indicates to me that she could potentially live up to her mother and grandmother‘s reputations of being super hunters.
On one of the morning drives Cynet found the two of them close to “Rockfig Koppies” looking at two hyenas that had scavenged their kill. They soon left the area and split their ways, Mom to look for food and Tumbela exploring like young cats should. I followed Tumbela and she soon took us to her Steenbok kill that she must have made about two days before. The carcass wasn‘t open yet and this shows that after she made the kill her mother called her to the one they lost but as leopards do she came back to finish her prize.
Ntombi and her boy were seen on numerous occasions and gave lots of our guests amazing time with leopards. One evening they even showed up for a drink at the waterhole while our guests enjoyed dinner in the dining room.
Xinope-nope, growing into a handsome male was seen frequently on our South and South Eastern traversing. He has made a few successful kills but still has a tendency to locate on his mother‘s kills and steal them away from her. It is quite common for young males to “overstay their welcome” with the mother for up to 5 or 6 months after independence. He will soon stop this and hopefully spend more time looking for a decent territory to stay in.
The big Argyle male made a few welcome appearances in the North. We saw him on kills on two occasions and this always proves worth its while to visit him. More often than not we witness amazing interactions between him and other predators.
One afternoon drive I went north to go see him on an impala kill. We arrived while it was still quite hot but it soon cooled down. He got active and moved east away from his kill to locate on the foetus of the impala female he had killed. While feeding on this some hyenas showed up and chased him into a tree. Another leopard then showed up. This was a young female called Ixongile. She noticed that the big male was not at his kill and climbed into the tree and started feeding. The Hyenas heard this and moved from the male to the female leopard. This gave him a chance to get out and as soon as she and the Hyenas saw him the hyenas chased him away and Ixongile made a run for it. The next morning I got a report that Kuhanya another female found out about this and also got a bite to eat from the same kill.
Three leopard sightings over two days at the same kill… AMAZING!!!
The Machaton pride provided the bulk of our lion sightings this month.
The three lionesses and all four cubs are looking very good and healthy. The little cubs are so undisturbed by the vehicles and often come up and play right next to us. I had a careful look and we can confirm that it looks like three boys and one little girl.
The Timbavati boys were absent for nearly four weeks, but finally showed up towards the end of the month. I got information on them from people further south and they confirmed the boys were mating with lionesses from one of the southern prides. This all beyond our traversing and the informants say they also spent some time with other lioness and cubs from the same pride.
The Mahlatini coalition spent most of their time up North but gave the eastern area much further south of their range, a surprise visit. This could be due to the fact that the “Timbavati boys” were absent for such a long time.
After months of speculations the “Xakubasa” pride finally came back “home”. They arrived with a bang killing a buffalo calf up in the North. They slowly came further South after finishing that kill. Once on Jaydee they managed to kill a Zebra followed by a carcass of a buffalo they found close by. Here we witnessed some amazing interaction between them and a clan of roughly 16 hyenas. Once that carcass was consumed they moved a lot closer to the camp. They had a good rest in the afternoon and I noticed some giraffe feeding just on the other side of the Nhlaralumi riverbed… a perfect set up for the evening hunt I thought. The following morning we located the lions in the riverbed with a adult female giraffe kill!! They are extremely successful and it is so good to have them back in the area.
The “Ross” pride visited briefly at the airstrip, killed a buffalo, finished it in less than 24 hrs and moved back to the Klaserie reserve.
ELEPHANT AND CAPE BUFFALO:
Towards the end of the month we saw less activity of elephant herds but we had some large bulls wandering around in bachelor groups.
The “Super herd” of buffaloes stayed in our traversing for long periods. It‘s always impressive to see the sheer number when they gather around one of the dams to drink.
It was slightly quieter during the month.
“Mtenge-tenge” spent most of his time further east of our traversing. We think that he is possibly on “Honeymoon” with an oestrus female on a neighbouring property.
The “Nhlangula” male spends most of his time in the neighbouring Klaserie reserve, but he showed himself numerous times in our Western traversing.
We were blessed by seeing two packs of Wild dogs during the month. One pack consisted of ten dogs and the other of five males. We had quite a few sightings of the larger pack while the pack of five was only seen twice.
Both packs had some interesting interaction with other creatures, but the most exciting was surely the pack of ten chasing and being chased by Egyptian geese. They pack of five kept them occupied by chasing “Rockfig jr.” and “Tumbela” around at the Fielmetter trough when they had a kill close by. The leopards were too clever though and teased the dogs from the safety of large trees.
Three young female cheetahs frequent the open areas around “Voldam” in our Northern traversing. We saw them a few times in October but they visited only once during November.
Thanks for reading the monthly updates!
We will see each other soon.
Morné and the Kings Camp guiding team.
Report written by, Morné Hamlyn
Photography, Morné Hamlyn