Our first ‘green’ report for the season!
Summer is officially here and that means loads of Little Baby Impalas everywhere! It is Lush, green and absolutely amazing out there. The Rainfall has been good and we hope that what is still coming will be constant and take us through the summer into our winter months with enough water.
In the first half of the month we could clearly see that ‘Ntombi’ & ‘Rockfig Jr’ were both very pregnant.
‘Ntombi’ has spent a large amount of time to the South and West of the camp towards the end of the month and we seem to think that she may have given birth in the Zebenine river bed at a small rocky outcrop. As soon as we know more you will get updated here on the blog!
Ntombi‘s Boy ‘Umfana’ is now fully independent. As a young male leopard he spends a lot of time in his natal grounds, which of course is familiar to him. He is frequently spotted walking in and around the camp and is quite a successful hunter. It is however just a matter of time before a larger male chases him from this area to find his own territory.
‘Rockfig Jr’ did deliver offspring in the Machaton riverbed as this was confirmed by one of our guides, Remember. He only saw the one youngster nursing, but we are not sure how many there are at this point. This area will once again be treated with utter most respect for the first 5-8 weeks after which we will assess the area that she moves them to and then slowly start allowing vehicles one at a time to visit whilst “Mommy” is present. We‘ll keep you updated on any news or progress…
‘Rockfig Jr’ eating baby impala:
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The Old ‘M‘bali’ female up in the North seems to be very nomadic in movement now. She is 14 years old and finds it more difficult to maintain her territory with stronger, younger females around. Sightings are quite sporadic and in areas she used to claim as her territory and beyond.
Other Leopard sightings recorded were of ‘Xinope-nope’ (male in the South), ‘Tumbela’ Female (Rockfig Jr.‘s Daughter), ‘Kuhanya’ female (Mbali‘s daughter in the North), ‘Argyle’ Male (Dominant Male in the North) and ‘Hlakise’ Female‘s boy (+- 17 months old).
There have been some tough times in the month, but we managed very nicely with some diverse sightings towards the end of November.
The ‘Machaton Pride’ was in and out of our traversing over the first two weeks, but sightings improved towards the end as they spent a lot of time on Kings Camp‘s Property. The remaining 7 boys were looking a bit hungry but in good health and spirit otherwise. Kills recorded was early on a young giraffe and later on a kudu and buffalo calf.
The ‘Ross pride’ consisting of 7 lionesses, 4 cubs and 2 males were seen on two occasions on our Western Sector. They usually follow buffalo in from the neighbouring Klaserie Reserve. They are all in very good condition and we hope they will choose to spend more time in our traversing in future.
The 3 ‘Xakubasa’ (White) youngsters were seen three times in the early parts of the month, but then moved back to the far Northern corners of the Klaserie and Umbabat Reserves. They are struggling a bit to hunt without the adult lionesses but are still in fairly good condition.
We also had a sighting of one large, unknown male lion on a buffalo kill. He fed for three days only with some interaction between him and some hyena. We are not sure where he was from of where he has disappeared to again.
ELEPHANT & CAPE BUFFALO
Since the rain started we have had some wonderful sightings of both species. The elephants are loving the fact that there is so much water around and are often seen swimming in the larger bodies of water. Large Buffalo herds were seen very frequently from both the Northern and Southern areas.
Rhino sighting have been good. We were even lucky to see a crash of 3 together. Any rhino sighting are to be cherished as the rhino poaching is still a very big problem in South Africa. Reports have said that there have been 405 Rhino poached this year alone. You can read more about this on the SANPARKS website (http://sanparks.org.za/about/news/default.php?id=1779)
This month I have decided to add some of our Bird sightings as they have been quite special this month.
We saw a Juvenile Bataleur Eagle which will only get its full adult colours when it reaches 6-7 years old but even as youngsters they are quite beautiful.
A Verreaux‘s Eagle-Owl was very accommodating for photos and sat for a good half an hour or so before we eventually left it to carry on sleeping in its tree. These are the largest of the African Owls. Besides their size they are identifiable by their Oval face with a Black boarder and pink eyelids, they also have feather tufts over their ears.
This Yellow Billed Stork was lovely to sit and watch. Even though they are seen quite often it was great to be able to watch it and get photos whilst it was in the water fishing.
This Blacksmith Lapwing was Not at all happy with the Tawny Eagle on this day and we sat watching the Lapwing mobbing the Eagle until the Eagle decided to move on.
We were privileged to be able to witness two male Red Crested Korhaans fighting! Most of our guests get to see these birds as they scurry over the road into thick grass or when they are doing their “Suicide act” (they fly straight up into the air and fall down again to show the females where they are located).
This month there are two things I want to share with you under special sightings.
Wild dogs Sightings were plentiful this month. One that stands out and deserves mention was when a sick buffalo died nearby camp. The buffalo carcass attracted 6 Hyena and 2 Jackals that were sharing the meat. The dogs heard the Hyena‘s excited giggling and went to investigate. When they got there we witnessed some amazing sounds out of all the predators as they engaged in a spectacular standoff.
Another one that deserves mention is when the pack of 13 dogs chased an Impala into the electric fence that is around the camp. Needless to say the Impala was shocked to death and the Dogs had their first “Cooked” meal. They spent the morning around the waterhole which kept the guests well entertained during breakfast.
On a much smaller note we witnessed this bushveld lizard make a kill of its own whilst we were sitting with Rockfig Jr Leopardess eating a Baby Impala. Sometimes the little things attract more attention than the larger ones do.
With that I am going to close this report.
Have a wonderful Christmas Season!
Morné and the Kings Camp guiding team.
Report written by, Morné Hamlyn
Photography by , Morné Hamlyn