Welcome to the first of many instalments of our Sabi Sabi “A Week in the Bush…” series. Our aim here is to keep you, our growing community of wildlife enthusiasts, up to date with the goings on around our spectacular piece of paradise. For those of you familiar with our fan page, Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve, you will know that we try to keep our followers as well informed as possible with high profile sightings, but with that being said, not every sighting is going make an appearance on our social media platforms. As we move forward with this series we will try to delve deeper into the interactions and dynamics of our resident cats, as well as to interpret the everyday wildlife interactions we are so blessed to be witness to on such a regular basis. So without further a due, let’s get to it…
“New Beginnings” A perfect metaphor for the first of our “A Week in the Bush…” series. A great capture by Franscois Rosslee of a breath-taking African sunrise here at Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve.
We start off the week with a somewhat rare visitor to Sabi Sabi, the cheetah. These animals, along with the African wild dog, are highly endangered so there was a lot of excitement in the air with the arrival of this handsome looking male. Cheetahs are seen as a ‘plains’ predator, often hunting solo and prefer large open spaces instead of densely wooded areas to do so. They are diurnal hunters, active during daylight hours, and rely on their fantastic speed to catch their quarry as opposed to stealth and strength of the other cats. As a result of their hunting style and preferred choice of habitat, cheetahs leave themselves vulnerable to theft or intimidation by larger animals. Our particular wilderness area is absolutely teaming with a host of other much larger predators, i.e. lions, leopards and hyenas, and competition for resources is fierce and on the predator hierarchy scale, the cheetah sits quite low down, easily being chased off or robbed of a kill. I have even seen them being chased off quite easily by vultures! We have been fortunate enough to spend quite a bit of time with this particular male, having had him bless us with his presence several times this week and even treating us to an impala kill.
Cheetahs love to make use of a vantage point when scanning the bush and this one is no different. Image by Franscois Rosslee
We were so fortunate to witness this amazing predator stalk and kill this unlucky impala right before our eyes! What a lucky sighting… Image by Mike Palmer
The general game being spotted around the reserve has also been a highlight for guests recently with a massive influx of zebra, giraffe and wildebeest in particular. The wildebeest and zebra are both migratory species by nature, constantly moving around in search of good grazing and at the moment it seems our grass is greener. There are many youngsters around too, boosting the ‘cute’ factor by a couple of notches and this is not uncommon for this time of year. The vast majority of antelope species will try to time the birthing season to be around the summer as it is a time of plenty. There is lots of water, food and great cover in which to hide the young during their lying up period, should they have one.
This dazzle of zebra was formed in an attempt to escape the mid-morning heat by congregating in the shade of a small tree. Image by Mike Palmer
A young blue wildebeest moves toward us after quenching its thirst. Image by Mike Palmer
Sightings of elephant and buffalo have also been great all around this week with the elephants featuring quite prominently due to the still-fruiting Marula trees scattered all over our beautiful reserve. The elephant plays a vital role in the seed dispersal of the Marula being one of the few animals to be able to crack open the kernel to expose the seeds/nuts of the fruit and it is believed that passing through the gut of the elephant somehow stimulates germination of the seed. Not to mention the fact that once through the gut of the elephant, the seeds will find themselves conveniently in a lovely pile of compost.
A massive elephant bull relishes on some freshly picked marula fruits. Image by Mike Palmer
A couple of young bulls play while the rest of the herd feeds. Image by Mike Palmer
A big buffalo bull stands guard over ‘his’ waterhole. Image by Mike Palmer
This buffalo attempted to hide from us…he didn’t succeed. Image by Mike Palmer
We end off this week’s segment with a firm favourite the world over, the infamous leopard. The leopards of Sabi Sabi have been incredibly busy this week, from the massive expansion of territory by the Maxabeni male, to kills by Warthog Wallow, Nottens and an unidentified male in the south of the reserve.
Maxabeni has managed to displace both the Sandriver and Mahlathini males in recent months and still seems unsatisfied with the already huge territory he holds. He has been seen very far east and then south of our boundaries in neighbouring properties where he previously had never set a foot onto, but this is typical behaviour of a 5 year old male of his size and power. It should all settle down soon enough although he is a spectacle to watch.
We caught up with the powerful Maxabeni male as he patrolled his boundaries. Image by Mike Palmer
Nottens kills a duiker right in front of our vehicle. Image by Charles Ferrow