Into the new year and a new scenery brought about by the falling rain. The height of the rainfall season was in full force and the vegetation and animal life around us was alive. Migratory birds calling, insects are plentiful, frogs and much more. Not only was it beautiful to witness these species/animals in excellent condition, but to see them in the most striking, vibrant and beautiful habitat with this green dense layer of vegetation is just amazing and its incredible how the Lowveld can change from one extreme to another.
This cycle has been a very interesting one. With such thick vegetation, long grass, denser thickets, people would usually assume that game viewing would be slightly restricted. This has not been the case.
Elephants, and elephants galore. Multiple breeding herds were witnessed daily throughout the reserve. With the presence of females and the potential they could be in estrus meant a rise in the number of elephant bulls around. Such different individuals in terms of size, age, size of tusks, attitude etc. Such interesting species to witness this time of the year.
Not only did we witness a lot of Elephants, but we were lucky to find a couple herds of Cape Buffalo, especially in the Northern section around Selati Camp and areas that are relatively open with good grazing opportunities.
We have also been extremely lucky and treated to a variety of African Wild Dog sightings. The African Wild Dog pups are reaching 6 months of age and are starting to show true characteristics and behavior of the elder pack members.
The Southern Pride have been seen on numerous occasions. Generally spending most of their time in the south, close to Earth Lodge and down to the Sabie River. The reason for this was the return of the Avoca males in the north as they followed and successfully captured multiple Cape Buffalo calves that were within the breeding herds moving through our reserve.
As always, we were treated to some amazing sightings of leopard. The Kigelia female has been seen moving in her territory from Earth Lodge all the way through the Western side of the Northern property known as Thumbela to North of Little Bush Camp. She has been seen mating with the White Dam male for about two to three days. From then on, the White Dam male hasn’t been seen up until he showed up at the sight where his father had stashed two impala kills in a large Marula tree not too far from Selati Camp.
The Maxabeni male has been seen daily. However, with a new male, N’weti, dominating the Eastern side of his territory, this elderly male has had his territory pushed further West.
The Ntsumi female has become just like her late mother, showing all the qualities of a true leopardess. She has been relatively successful in securing many meals in her territory including trying to steal small amounts of meat from a Plains Zebra kill which Spotted Hyenas were feeding on – a very brave move.
The Msuthlu female has also been seen regularly along the Msuthlu River and around Bush Lodge. At one stage she was seen courting with the Maxabeni male, however, this didn’t last long and the next day the two were separated.
The big boy in the South, the Xovonekela male, has been constantly scent marking to secure his territory especially with all the rain we have been experiencing. Early in the cycle, he was too seen mating, however with a different female – the Scotia female.
With all this rain, change in temperature, availability of food and an increase in insects, smaller creatures that we don’t usually see make an appearance and are just as important as those iconic African safari species. I hope you’ve enjoyed this cycle with me, especially at this time of the year and I look forward to seeing what is install for me in the next cycle. Keep following and share the experiences with me, my team and my guests.
Lastly, I leave you with this beautiful young Kudu bull watching the early morning summer sun start to rise from the height of a small termite mound in an open area.