The arrival of dung beetles is always an exciting sign that the seasons are changing. The dry winter months are giving way to the rainy months of summer, and the first rains that we have been experiencing release the dung beetles into the world from their underground sanctuary. These telecoprids have created a brood ball, which the female will cling to as the male pushes it across the bushveld until a suitable soil is found to bury it, after a single egg is deposited inside.
With that being said, animals are all frequenting the numerous waterholes across the reserve to quench their thirst and cool down.
A grumpy old buffalo bull gives us a serious stare down.
It is always exciting to encounter plains game and we came across this zebra using a termite mound for a better vantage point.
We were fortunate to capture the bejeweled colours of this stunning Lilac-breasted Roller taking flight.
During an evening safari, we managed to see this Spotted Eagle-owl perched up in a Marula tree, no doubt in search of a meal.
Each Giraffe has a unique coat pattern, just like a Zebra’s stripes and a human fingerprint. The pattern is not the only unique feature – the colour of the spots in contrast with the base are also controlled by genetics. However, it has been noted that as they age, individuals may darken, which can be seen in the almost black spots of this older male in comparison to the others around him.
A highlight for many this week – Pangolin! And not just one sighting… These sightings got everyone’s adrenaline pumping as they were viewing one of the rarest and most endangered mammals in Sabi Sabi, and even South Africa.
We couldn’t believe our luck with this second sighting in as many days… We watched as it nibbled on the ants found around a mound, flexing the sharp scales that cover its body, hiding its more vulnerable head. We kept our distance not wanting to disturb it but soon it arched up onto its hind legs, with the characteristic hunched shuffle and scampered off into the tall grass. It just goes to show that you never know what you can find when you take the time to slow down and appreciate all the bush has to offer. It just might lead you to another Pangolin tucked away in the grass!
After a bit of a tracking exercise, we located three of the Styx Pride female lions resting in the early morning sun on the stunning open plains of the reserve. A few days later we found them again and watched as they interacted with each other. A female began to groom herself and roll over one of the other females, a third soon joined in to strengthen their bonds.
The four N’waswishaka male lions had an eventful few days. It seems that this powerful coalition attempted hunting buffalo one evening but being unsuccessful they decided to conserve their energy during the heat of the day to potentially try again.
The next morning, they were found far from the buffalo. We were watching the spectacular African sun rise when we heard lions vocalising in the distance. We quickly drove in the direction of their calls and located these magnificent four males in an open area. The golden light of the early morning shone upon them, as they moved with purpose marking their territory along the way. Suddenly the faint calls of another lion was heard. The four males immediately shot up and ran in that direction, greeting a lone female lion from the Styx Pride. Excitement and a bit of chaos ensued as the males starting fighting. The female soon ran away but the males pursued her, with three of them slowing down and stopping. The fourth male continued following her… they eventually slowed down, and after a short rest began mating – what an incredible sighting.
Towards the end of one of our morning safaris, we were lucky enough to spot the Southern Pride lioness. With such a hot day, she was panting hard and enjoying the shade, occasionally glancing around her. When you are on your own, (even a strong and fit lioness) being alert is vital for survival!
Whilst still at the lodge, we kept on hearing alarm calls in the riverbed throughout the day. As we departed on our afternoon safari we decided to try and find any signs of what was causing all the stress. To our delight we found the Maxabeni male leopard sleeping. We stayed there for a while and as the day started cooling, he soon got up to no doubt search for potential prey.
The handsome N’weti male leopard was making his way through the reserve, where he found a nice shady spot for a good rest and a little grooming. A herd of impala passed by which immediately grabbed his attention. He very quickly repositioned himself, keeping a close eye on the herd.
It was such a treat spending time with Kigelia female leopard and her cub. Resting up in a tree, the little one got rather playful and started attacking mom’s tail, turning the game into a wrestling match. The cub soon gave up and descended the tree to go and rest in the tall grass below.
Safaris continue at back of house. Monkeys alarming, birds calling, we were certain there was a leopard around somewhere! After giving us the run-around for the better half of the morning, Ally finally managed to lay eyes on the leopard who had been causing all the chaos. Our Managing Director, Rod, came around the corner to find the male leopard walking from the ranger’s village, past the wash bay!
Until next time…