A cycle with change. As we slowly move away from summer, the reserve lately is in the process of its transformation into winter, however still the odd occasional downpour has been experienced but as the months change, it can be felt. Early mornings there’s a crisp cool sensation of a chilly breeze upon your face, this leads into excessively mild to warm daytime temperature with dry heat and late evening the cooling down effect as the sun starts to dip below the horizon to the West, we all know winter is almost here.
After being on leave for two weeks and seeing what I was missing on the reserve when two young sub-adult Cheetah were starting to settle onto the reserve, I knew I had to come back and find them, and this is what we did. After a short tracking exercise, myself and my tracker located these two beautiful Cheetah on top of a termite mound. This scene was short-lived as reports came in that later in the day the young male was attacked by a mature male leopard and was lucky to get away with a few injuries. A few days later the two were still seen together, however, the young female had to leave the male in order to hunt. The male did follow a day or two after once he had cleaned his wounds and was fit to move on.
A pack of African Wild Dog have been seen regularly on both our northern and southern sections of the reserve. My guests and I were lucky to view them on multiple occasions in the later afternoon preparing and attempting to hunt, however, we were not successful in witnessing them complete a full hunt and succeed in securing a meal.
What can I say? A true iconic African safari is not complete until you spend some time with these beautiful mammals. There have been loads of elephant sightings, as some of my guests said, “Are there more impala or more elephant in this reserve?” Elephant bulls in musth, breeding herds with small calves, we have it all. A truly special time of the year.
Now from one iconic species to another, lions. The residential pride whose territory falls into the heart of Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve – the Southern Pride – have been doing quite well despite losing its youngest member some months back. They have been seen moving throughout the reserve, and not just remaining in the South. At one stage, for about one week, they were joined by another young male lion whose age we estimated around 4 – 5 years old. However, that male didn’t stick around too long and went on his way, especially the day when we found him alone trying to remove a female leopard’s hard-earned impala kill she hoisted up a large Weeping Boer-Bean tree. After multiple attempts, he finally succeeded.
Not only has it just been the Southern Pride in terms of lions on the reserve, but we have had multiple sightings of the Avoca males in the northern section.
One of my favourite highlights of the cycle also involved lions and no, not the Southern Pride or Avoca males, but two male lions which I assume possibly could be from the Kruger National Park as they were rather skittish but beautiful specimens. They were found just outside of Earth Lodge one morning resting after what seemed like a few failed attempts to hunt Cape Buffalo who were literally resting 60 meters away.
The Sabi Sand Game Reserve and their leopards… Need I say more. Here is a quick update from my cycle on a few individuals that have formed territories on our reserve.
A newbie to the area, the Hanyile male, is pushing his way deeper and deeper into the dominant male’s territory of the southern section. It’s not long now and I’m sure the Hanyile male will be claiming this territory as his own. However, his father the Xovonekela male has been doing quite well despite his age, he has been successfully hunting some decent size prey and securing the meals which have been lasting him numerous days at a time.
Ntsumi has been relatively busy in the north eastern section of our reserve. During my 6-week cycle, she has been in estrus and seen mating with the N’weti male.
The Msuthlu female has been relatively quiet. Towards the end of my cycle was the first time I saw her. However, it is good to have her back and sightings have been more and more frequent in the last couple of days.
The Scotia female has been doing well. She has been one of the more regular sightings in the south, even to the point where she has been hoisting kills up trees and spending a total of 4 full days on this side of her territory.
The star of the cycle when it comes to leopard, has to be the White Dam male. Just this individual’s pure beauty does it for me. He has been found moving from the western side near Little Bush Camp all the way across to Selati Camp, covering a huge distance of his father’s territory. With that being said, I have had a small opportunity to spend with the great Maxabeni the last few weeks and sadly I do believe with these two young, fit male leopards around, his time here is not going to be long.
The Kigelia female has become a cat I wish to know more about. She has started moving great distances from Selati Camp all the way to deep in southern Lisbon around Earth Lodge. A massive distance for a young female leopard, but its always a pleasure to see her especially this one morning when she decided to watch a beautiful dazzle of Plains Zebra from a large granitic boulder.
Usually I finish most of my cycle highlights with an amazing sunset or a caption, however, this time I’m not going to do that. Instead I’ve attached some of the general species content that have also caught my eye just as much as these iconic species and individuals above. I hope you enjoy…