With the football world cup well on its way this month one can not help but feel the vibe of the world cup spilling over into the bush.
The 2010 Soccer World Cup burst into the bush in a flurry of flags and excitement. Game drive vehicles were fitted with the South African flag and guides wore the South African national team jersey in support of our team.
We are proudly South African.
June was rather warm and not as cold as predicted. Most of the trees have turned yellow with a contrast of brown and green tinges. Temperatures have dropped to a low 8 degree Celsius on some morning and we have had to adjust our game drive departure time to 06h30 as it is still dark at 06h00 at the moment. Game sightings have been good especially the lions and the leopard sightings. Elephant sightings have taken a sharp decline during this month and we are not quite sure what the cause was for the low number of elephant sightings. Luckily the large herds of buffalo numbering well over 300 have made welcome returned to our area again and at times we can see 3 different herds on a drive.
The Kubasa pride is doing very well with a number of successful kills under their belt this month. It was no surprise when they killed two kudu females at one time. Feeding lasted several days before they moved closer to the camp to digest the large meal. At one particular sighting, I noticed the lioness of the white cubs taking her cubs of 15 months old into combat with several hyenas. Whether this was intentional to educate the youngsters or merely making a statement to her competition, I was not sure. I would like to believe that it was an educational experience merely making the cubs aware of the competition that they are faced with in their lives ahead.
These lionesses are massive felines and can easily hold their ground against 9 hyenas. I have personally witnessed this. We are so lucky to have this pride in our area of traversing. To see the white cubs as frequently as we do is a bonus and to think that they are the only two white lions in the wild that we know of is hard to comprehend.
The Machattan pride was also sighted several times around the camp and one of the Timbavati males was seen soliciting one of the females. We are not sure if anything will come of this episode but if anything does, it could mean that we will have new lion cubs in the not so distant future. We will keep you posted on any new developments
As with the majority of all our reports we start this one no different to the others with regards to the leopard entry. Rockfig Jnr Leopardess claims this space every time. She is doing fantastic and her two cubs are developing well. They are slowly acquiring the skill of becoming teenage leopards. It is not uncommon to find them playing and exploring on their own while mom is away and we have even seen them stalking other large herbivores like kudu and impala. The joy of youth as they exude confidence. At 6 months old they are already showing the necessary skills of an adult and independent leopard. It always surprises me that such a small animal can develop and learn so quickly the skills necessary to survive in the bush and it is no surprise that at 18 months after being born they become independent animals. Compare this to a lion cub in a pride that has a lot more support and will only show the initiative to hunt at the age of 2-3.
In my personal opinion, I have reached a conclusion after spending hundreds of hours viewing and learning about this animal that leopards are without a doubt the most adaptable, cunning, graceful and beautiful of all large wild cats in the world today.
I have managed to capture these images of Rockfig stalking a herd of impala more than a hundred meters away in the open plain at Kings Camp. Her display of concentration, power and technique was inspiring. As you can see I am addicted to this animal!
Ntombi, another one of my beautiful leopard ladies in the bush is now a proud mom for the first time having given birth to a healthy cub. We have had a few sightings of her cub but it is currently still nervous of the vehicles and we have decided to be very sensitive around her. I am not entirely sure of the sex of the cub but I suspect that it is a female. I still have not been able to capture an image of this little cub but as soon as I do i will post it on the blog.
Elephant sightings have taken a back seat in the last few weeks. During the last 3 weeks they suddenly became very scarce and to think that we have a population of over 13 050 elephants in the Great Kruger National Park. Last years census indicates 623 individuals or five percent more than the 12 427 counted last year. According to Kruger National Parks final report, of the total elephants counted, 1 816 were adult bulls and 11 234 were recorded in breeding herds. The western boundary fence, which separated Kruger from the Associated Private Nature Reserves (APNR), Sabi-Sand Game Reserve (SSGR) and other provincial nature reserves was removed in 1993. The APNR comprises the Timbavati and Klaserie Private Nature Reserves, the Umbabat PNR as well as sections of the Balule and Olifants River North game reserves. Since then elephants have moved freely between the park and these protected areas and have also been counted annually. This means we get to see a lot of elephant in our area of traversing.
Buffalo have also made a return to the Kings Camp area of traversing. These large herds are sometimes seen feeding in front of the camp while we are having breakfast, lunch and dinner.
From all the rangers and trackers of Kings Camp take care and enjoy the world cup.