safari bush sightings
sabi sabi 19th december 2009 - 1st january 2010
As we expected, the end of 2009 was a very busy festive season! Many guests came to Sabi Sabi to experience a very different Christmas from that to which they were used, while others came back to revisit the magic and beauty of the bush in full summer bloom.
The children visiting with their families must have been very good during the year, as they were treated to some very special Christmas gifts courtesy of the wildlife at Sabi Sabi! Creatures great and small entertained and transfixed rangers and guests as they were observed in the bountiful African bush.
Guests, twitchers and non-twitchers alike, have been wowed by the bird activity. Southern Carmine Bee-Eaters in abundance, Dwarf Bitterns, Eurasian Hobbys and African Openbills, as well as a myriad of other birds, have been spotted at regular intervals during the last fortnight.
In addition to rare bird species, elusive mammals have also been found during night drives: Honey Badgers patrolling the thickets and drainage lines; a female Serval with a juvenile, patiently listening for the slightest movement of rodents in the long grass; a Large Spotted Genet exploring holes in trees for nesting birds; and last but by no means least, a Pangolin! Little is known about this rare, armour-plated mammal. For many rangers this was their first sighting, with their audible excitement speaking volumes louder than any words as to the rarity of the sighting!
All members of the Big 5 have roamed right across the reserve, and these high profile species produced some unforgettable festive season safari experiences.
Although no actual kills were witnessed in the last 2 weeks, many exhilarating hunting attempts were observed; which for many guests is as much as they would wish to see! The movement of our largest pride has been far and wide across their territory recently, covering well-rehearsed routes between some of their favourite hunting grounds. An Elephant killed in combat in the northern area kept them sustained in the period when they didn't make their own kills.
With over 30 sightings in the last 14 days, the Leopard population at Sabi Sabi has been unstoppable! Warthog, Impala and Wildebeest have all succumbed to the efficiency of these powerhouse predators. One such kill was witnessed while a ranger and his guests were casually observing some Wildebeest grazing, completely unaware of the presence of a young female leopard crouching in the long grass! This resulted in a successful take down of a young Wildebeest in broad daylight! However this was only that start of the excitement, as not 2 minutes later a female Lion and male Hyena arrived from opposite directions in response to the commotion! The whole episode culminated in a Leopard running for her life, a Lioness winning a free meal and a very unhappy, put out Hyena!
Big bulls and breeding herds have been seen dotted around from the north to the south of the reserve. 47 sightings have been recorded in the last 2 weeks, even though the Marula fruits are not yet quite ready for the picking! One magnificent bull in particular has been spending quite a lot of his time on Sabi Sabi, leaving guests in awe of his size. Young calves have been seen charging through the long grasses, their trunks extended above their heads like periscopes - much to the amusement of all!
White Rhino have now established themselves in areas on the reserve where the most palatable short grasses grow. Sections which were previously blackened from the controlled burns are now unrecognisable as such, and are producing some of the best fodder for these bulk grazers. A number of calves are being monitored and seem to be doing very well. Some of the confident young bulls are now adamantly protecting their mothers from the advances of large bulls! The 8-month, post birth, non-mating time is over for many of the female rhinos, thus reinvigorating the 21 day courtship practices of the male iron clad Romeos! 50 separate sighting have reported in the last two weeks!
The old Dagga (Mud in Zulu) Boys have finally been left in peace by the ever-moving breeding herds! All combat between the bulls has ceased and they have now been seen enjoying the spoils of summer; lush long grasses to chew and abundant muddy wallows where they often sit or lie all day, relaxed and chewing the cud! What a life! 23 sighting since the 19th December.
Answering the Christmas wishes of all the rangers, the Wild Dogs have been back! Described as the most efficient and effective mammalian predators in Africa, the Painted Dogs managed to make 4 kills in only a few days! Not bad odds by any standard! The only challenge for the rangers was keeping up with the fast moving animals through the thick summer bush!