safari bush sightings
sabi sabi 15 may - 27 may 2010
Winter is now definitely upon us. The last two weeks in May have been tremendously cold with temperatures in the early morning definitely being very close to freezing. The last of the April rains have dried up and the waterholes within the reserve are becoming daily routes for the all the animals around.
The waterhole in front of Selati Camp produced an evening with 45 elephant coming down to drink and wallow, followed by a crash of 9 rhino as well as two 'dagga boys' - old male buffalo, and the very next morning we were awakened by the sound of 400 buffalo stampeding across the open area towards the pan. We could not understand why this was happening, but soon realised that they were trailed by 14 lions. This was quite an amazing day at Selati.
A buffalo herd numbering about 400 spent a lot of time on the reserve towards the end of May and they frequented the open area where the grazing was the best. This provided guests with some very "wow" moments of this huge herd moving through the bushveld.
It also gave the lions ample hunting opportunities through the end of May and on the 21st May we were treated to a spectacle of the Southern Pride, bolstered by the Southern Male, bringing down a fully grown male buffalo right in the middle of the road close to Little Bush Camp. The lions kept everybody entertained for the entire day, feeding and fighting with each other over the buffalo carcass. The next day was quite a surprise for us when we arrived at the carcass to find only one very large male all alone and no sign of the pride. This was definitely not the Southern Pride's male. During the night this male had obviously picked up wind of the kill, had made his move and had chased the entire pride off the carcass. Later, this large male, which I believed to have come from Kruger Park due to his unfamiliarity with the Land Rovers, was joined by a younger male; these two males fed off the buffalo carcass and then moved off. The Southern Pride was found later and seemed to be very shaken up. They were all dispersed into small sub groups. This once again brings to mind that our Southern Male is definitely feeling the pressure from other males all around. He is obviously not advertising his presence or scent marking any more and thus other males from outside his territory are realising that a void is opening up and are looking for a chance to take over.
This will be interesting. These two new Kruger males will have to compete with 3 other males from the Southeast which are also jostling for a position and a takeover. We are all looking forward to seeing what will happen with the lion dynamics in the coming weeks and will keep you updated.
From the leopard side it has been a great two weeks with at least 3 different sightings of the Young Nottons female and her 2 three month old cubs. She was sighted with them on an impala kill very close to Bush Lodge and was on the kill for 2 days which allowed the cubs to get even more accustomed to our vehicles. The two cubs are becoming incredibly inquisitive with the Land Rovers and on two occasions actually began to stalk them and even went under a vehicle to take refuge from the sun. This is great news for both rangers and guests as we will hopefully continue to have these close encounters with the generally elusive cats.
Sightings of both "Sand River" the dominant male leopard in our area, as well as two younger males have been frequent. Also sightings of a young female leopard we call Mbilo and another female from the east were recorded.
Elephants have been abundant again with 4 -5 different herds being seen on every drive as well bulls following them. We have been noticing that a large number of bulls are coming into or are already in musth at the moment, and this could be due to the large amount of females within the area that might be in oestrus or moving towards oestrus.
Rhino have also been plentiful with 12 seen in one sighting and as many as 26 being recorded in one single drive. For sure this is due to the late rains that we had in April that left us with a very late blush of green grass everywhere.
Sightings of servals have also once again increased and the rangers are recording at least 2-3 sightings of these very elusive cats a week. This is phenomenal as normally these beautiful cats are rarely seen and rarely documented. Civets, genets, white-tailed mongoose and African wild cat were also sighted.
Well the end of May turned out to be very exciting and memorable for the people working at and visiting Sabi Sabi and the stars of the show really did provide us with memories that we will never forget.
Until next time