WOW…September really produced some memorable sightings!
Africa showed us its entire splendor this month!
It is warming up now, yet still dry. This however entertains with the most amazing sunrises and sunsets Africa has to offer; with the dusty atmosphere the reflecting light of the sun creates the most spectacular colors on the horizon! There has been no sign of rain yet but we still have quite a few active water holes where the animals congregate to quench their thirst.
A new resident bull Hippo moved into “Makulu dam” and was keen to show the intruders his “weapons” if they dared to challenge.
A few members from the resident clan of Spotted Hyenas were also seen cooling down a bit to relieve them of the heat we‘ve been experiencing towards the end of the month. It is not uncommon for the hyenas to lounge around in water to cool down or even to hide their carcasses from the noses and sight of other predators and raptors.
In general sightings were to the better quality I‘ve ever experienced in the Timbavati.
The Leopards showed themselves non stop during the month and we had sightings of no less than 13 different Leopards! Eight of these we consider residents and offspring we see frequently and the other 5 are individuals that are slightly nervous and we see them only once in a while.
“Ntombi” is no stranger to the camp and I‘ve included some pictures I took shortly after leaving on one of the afternoon drives!
Ntombi and her son have been extremely successful with kills in and around the camp. Due to all the attention from the game drives the youngster is now getting more used to and relaxed with the presence of the vehicles.
“Rockfig Jr.” and her remaining 10 month old female cub also provided some exciting sightings!
One of them being when the little girl was left around “Hide dam” for 5-6 days while mommy was hunting. A herd of Cape buffalo came crashing in for a drink and the youngster had no option but to run up the stairs of the hide to stay clear of all the thundering hooves. Once there, curiosity took over and the little one learnt that the open hide is a nice, cool and secure vantage point while waiting for mommy. Since then we always check carefully at the hide to make sure we don‘t surprise each other unexpectedly when stopping for a sundowner.
The young and beautiful “Xinope-nope (Shinope-nope)” male was seen on a few occasions and he is just growing to be such an amazing young male Leopard that could hopefully become dominant in the Southern traversing soon.
The “Argyle” male shared a sighting with the “Mahlatini” male Lions. He played as opportunistic as Leopards can be. Sitting on nearby rocks while the three Lions were feasting on a Buffalo kill he pondered and successfully planned a feast for himself!
It was “simple”. As soon as the three left the carcass to sleep, he would run down, jump onto the kill and gorge himself whilst being very attentive to the movements of the Lions. As soon as one moved he ran back to safety. This carried on for a while and soon the Lions “treed” the Leopard! He was then kept up there by one male sleeping right under the tree whilst the other two guarded close to the kill.
This was truly amazing to see and once again just shows how adaptable and opportunistic a Leopard can be.
The “Mahlatini” males were seen twice. The first sighting as described above and then another of them also on a Buffalo kill. This time they shared with three Lionesses and a young male. We are not completely sure about these Lions but we think they could be members of the old “Jacaranda pride”.
The “Xakubasa” pride visited us twice very briefly. The one sighting we had of them they managed to kill an adult Zebra and fed on it for nearly two days.
The second sighting was close to the camp. As last month the “Timbavati boys” from the South managed to hear some commotion caused between the “Xakubasa pride” and the three young “Schoble males”. The young boys killed a calf out of a Buffalo herd but got chased off by the large Lionesses from the “Xakubasa” pride. This brief ordeal lured the “Timbavati boys” and they chased the pride back North.
The “Timbavati boys” and “Machaton” Lionesses made up most of our Lion sightings and this is largely due to the fact that the one Lioness is hiding four 7-8 week old cubs in the Nhlaralumi riverbed close to “Marco‘s dam”. The little ones got used to the vehicles very quick but we only see them when the adults are present.
CAPE BUFFALO AND ELEPHANT:
Numerous groups of both species made use of the water still available on our traversing area.
Three to four different herds of Cape buffalo moved through various zones of the traversing averaging about 300-400 in a herd! The largest herd is still the “Super Herd” that exceeds 1000 in number!
Herds of 15-80 Elephants were seen frequently and some of them even visited us here by camp at times.
Two packs of Wild dogs were seen during the month. One pack with 10 individuals and the other with 7 dogs.
The pack of 10 were seen most often and provided good opportunities for us to share these rare sightings with our guests. They are the SECOND most endangered predator in Africa after all!
As if we weren‘t spoiled by the dogs we also had five Cheetah sightings! The first three sightings were of three young brothers and the other two of an adult female with a sub-adult.
I recorded six sightings of the rare Yellow-billed oxpecker with the large numbers of Cape buffalo in the area!
The last special sightings were of our two African Wild Cat kittens Masai and Serocco. They are now 4 months old and grow up in the camp to become ambassadors for their specie as they are not seen that often while out on game drives!
Morné and the Kings Camp guiding team.
Report written by, Morné Hamlyn.
Photography by, Morné Hamlyn.