It has been another extraordinary week here at Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve and yet again, there has been just so much action that it is becoming increasingly difficult to include everything on the social media platforms. Without further a due, lets get into the week’s highlights.
The Bushbuck is a browsing animal that is found along river courses and often seen in the lodge surrounds enjoying the lush, manicured gardens and taking advantage of the safety it provides from the resident leopards in the area. The animals are relatively shy though due to the fact they are predominantly a solitary animal and it is rare that one is afforded an opportunity to view them at close range for an extended period of time. This individual female was rather relaxed with our presence until a leopard called in the riverbed nearby.
As we near the end of winter it becomes increasingly apparent that the animals are finding it more and more difficult to find good quality food, forcing them to be more resourceful in their search. A bit of a reprieve has befallen some animals though as several tree species have begun to flower, indicating to all that spring is well on its way. One of these trees is the Knobthorn Acacia. A tree that is at present, producing creamy yellow flowers heavily favored by giraffes and birds alike. It is known that around 50% of a giraffe’s diet consists of the leaves of this tree, but a fact that is lesser known is that this animal is the mammalian pollinator of it as well. This occurs due to the gregarious feeding nature of the animal, transferring pollen from one tree to the next while feeding.
The elephant sightings this week have been really amazing and we have been privy to some really special moments. I have included some highlighted images of the various sightings, but there is one sighting that really stood out for me. While approaching a sighting, we observed a lot of elephant sign, particularly in one little area. We continued along to find these elephants sixty metres from the disturbed ground, surrounding a female and a newborn baby! We kept our distance so as not to stress the animals, as it was clear that they were all being overly protective. The youngster was still a bit unsure of its footing. We turned back from where we had come, only to notice that in the disturbed area we had noticed before; the female’s placenta was lying on the floor discarded. From the tracks we could tell how the herd surrounded the female while she gave birth to the calf, protecting her during this vulnerable time. What an amazing experience! Even though we didn’t witness the act, it was clear as to what just occurred hours before and in a way I’m glad we weren’t there. Giving birth must be stressful enough, without us adding to the stress.
There has been an interesting development in the last couple weeks as both the Sandriver and Mahlathini males have been pushing into the territories once occupied by them, and currently by the Maxabeni male. This has led to some fireworks and some upsets. Sandriver pushed right through the western extremity of Maxabeni’s territory and toward the Little Bush female’s den, immediately causing a ruckus and the dispatching of one of her cubs. Thankfully one has escaped the encounter unscathed. The same occurred on the eastern side with Mahlathini also coming close to the Nottins female’s den and we feared he had got to her cub as well, but it was not so. Both Nottins and the cub are well. The only one that seems to have incurred injury in all of this is the Maxabeni male himself at the claws of Mahlathini. He left their encounter with a severely split lip all the way from his nostril! Maxabeni seems little phased by his injury though, and should heal up quickly.
One of the Southern Pride split and a sub-adult male were found in the south of the reserve calling very softly, three other females were further north of them. They were found the following day having killed a waterbuck and in the company of another lioness, but soon moved off again, presumably south over the Sabie River.
The Sand River males came through the reserve shortly after all of this from the east, apparently from walking their territorial boundary or fending off rival males. They soon ventured onward to link up with Floppy Ear and the other two lionesses.
This week saw the first glimpse that we have had of the Wild Dogs and their pups since they were denning southeast of our boundaries. The dogs den in the winter season and seldom move very far from the den in order to hunt. Now that the pups are old enough, they are beginning to roam the full extent of their home range again, which means that we should be seeing a lot more of them as we move into the summer months.
Possibly the highlight of the week for me was a visit from a female cheetah. We found her early in the morning moving through an open area in the centre of the reserve, eventually becoming stationary atop a termite mound to survey the area for prey. It was a real treat to see this girl and be able to spend some really good quality time with her. I do hope that she’ll stick around for a while longer.
Another week has come and gone in what seems like a blink of an eye, but you know the old saying, “Time Flies when you’re having fun.” Until next time…