safari bush sightings
sabi sabi 9th - 21st november sightings
Well, the main talking point over this past period must be the huge amount of rain received! 184mm in total! It goes without saying that this will have an enormous environmental impact on the reserve. A large area of the southern Lisbon section of Sabi Sabi was burnt recently in a controlled burn, as part of our habitat management policy. This is done so as to encourage fresh new growth, remove moribund material and reduce the parasite load. The new leaf growth in this area has already reached half a metre. The plains game did not take long to return after the fire and are now frequenting this area more and more.
In the northern areas of our reserve, relatively big herds of wildebeest (along with other species) have shown in the past few months that they intend spending more time here.
Always a good gauge of summer's progress is the impala lambs and woodlands kingfishers. The former are now around every corner and picking up mass quickly. The latter made their first appearance on November 10th and broke their migratory silence soon thereafter. Also with regard to birds, a small group of rare ground hornbills is being seen time and again. Other smaller but fascinating sightings have included a plethora of large raptors, frogs, lizards and other creatures gathering to feast on the emerging termite alates better known as "flying ants".
Aardvark and caracal were also spotted in the last few weeks. This is quite exceptional for this area and they represent the first sightings of their species in recent memory. Servals have allowed us a rare glimpse of them twice in the last while as well.
The Southern Pride continues to dominate the reserve but it appears that we are heading for either a takeover or a split in the resident pride. This is being caused by the marauding Kruger males which have been mating with one of the pride females for the past three weeks. Time will tell how this amorous affair will affect the dynamics of our lion population. The pride meanwhile has kept up their buffalo butchering with two kills recently. 29 lion sightings this period.
The leopard sightings in the last few weeks have been truly exceptional and out of the ordinary. These have included three individuals together on a single kill, a new leopard cub and a threesome of mating leopards. 28 sightings.
The flush of green vegetation has allowed the elephants a change from their winter diet and the more abundant water sources have enabled them to make use of a wider variety of habitats away from the riverine thickets. 40 sightings this period.
Black rhino sightings are becoming somewhat more regular with two sightings within a week. At one of these sightings we watched a mother and calf being harassed by a male white rhino for over an hour - he was obviously confused as to their identity. The white rhino have made many appearances as usual, with up to ten individuals in a group. 40 sightings this period.
Continued harassment by the lions seems to have had no effect on the amount of buffalo seen and up to three herds numbering over a hundred have been spotted in a single day. The lengthening grass stalks are no doubt aiding the buffaloes' feeding as well. 26 sightings this period.
Sabi Sabi again showed that its population of "painted wolves" is flourishing. Evidence of this was the two packs found on the reserve on the same day - one numbering six and the other eight dogs. The latter pack, with a few healthy sub-adults in tow, had been somewhat of a concern as the other pack had failed to breed successfully this year. Good to see all is well with these extremely endangered predators. 7 sightings this period.
Cameron Pearce and Nadia Schoeman