A Week in the Bush Vol. 450on Mar 08, 2023
With heavy rain lingering in the afternoon sky and the thick dark clouds hanging low over the African bush, we set out hoping to find some animals before the heavens opened. We made our way around and tried to dodge the big mud wallows that some of the roads have turned into, that's when we found the tracks of a pride of lions in the thick mud. Knowing that the rain was threatening to wash away the tracks we had to work quickly and followed the tracks.
We came onto a big open area and were surprised to see the pride of lions playing around in the tall grass. The younger members were running around playing with each other and clearly trying to stalk one another to practise the fine art of hunting. We watched as they would hide in the tall grass and as soon as another member of the pride would walk past, they would lunge out and grab onto them.
The Styx Pride and young Kambula Breakaways were found not too far from one another over the weekend. The Kambulas, with their bellies full, were looking rather nervous as they were trespassing in a territory that is not theirs. We could only speculate what happened during early morning hours and wondered if the Styx Pride had made a kill and lost it to the Kambula Breakaways. We only saw 6 of the Styx Pride members, thinking that they might have split up while getting away from the Kambula Pride.
With the four young Kambula males growing bigger every day, we are excited to see what they will be capable of in the future.
The two Gijima males covered a huge distance overnight in pursuit of a herd of buffalo moving from the extreme southwest of our reserve and were tracked to the central area close to Bush Lodge.
Contrary to popular belief, male lions are efficient hunters and do not only rely on lionesses for food.
With the earth completely saturated from all the rains, Ntsumi opted to use the dry branches of a large tree to keep dry. The tree offered her good shade while the sun tried to peep through for the first time in days and a great vantage point to lookout for potential prey. While Ntsumi looked well fed, a herd of impala grazing close by caught her attention. We eventually left her still watching the impala waiting patiently for the perfect opportunity to strike.
It has been endless entertainment watching this young leopard grow up. Now approaching one year of age, he shows promise of growing up to be a very powerful character around the southern parts of our reserve, spending more and more time without the care and supervision of his mother.
We had a very special sighting of him as he attempted to hunt impala. He got to within striking distance of the herd, but unfortunately for the inexperienced youngster, he made one wrong move and the impala got scent of him, sounding off the alarm call to warn the rest of the herd. With the element of surprise now gone, he gave up his hunt and started moving in the opposite direction.
He looked extremely disappointed after his failed hunt, walking to a nearby dam where he lay down to groom himself. Even though the hunt was unsuccessful, it was great to see his attempt, and knowing with this failed attempt he will learn what not to do in the future.
A long distance visual high in the branches of a Marula tree silhouetted against the bright grey clouds filled with rain had everyone excited. On closer inspection we found Golonyi with an impala kill. She was not alone, just below lay two hyena waiting for scraps to fall to the ground.
We set out on our final safari for the weekend and heard the call of a female leopard in the distance and rushed towards where the sound came from. Getting there we slowed down and looked in every corner of the bush to try and spot her. We managed to find Kigelia female in a big Marula tree, laying around and every now and then lifting her head to make sure no danger approached her.
It seems like the Tsutsuma female has established her territory not too far away from that of her mothers’ (Kigelia). We have been seeing her a lot lately, and it is wonderful to see how much she has grown.
As it was getting darker, she started getting more active and eventually jumped down from where she was resting. She weaved her way through the bush, nose in the air, searching for anything that she could prey on.
This relaxed squirrel was not stressed by us at all as it was too busy enjoying its Marula fruit nut. With the marulas fruiting, there is an abundance of nuts for them to collect.
While watching a Rock Monitor sticking its head through a hole in a big Knobthorn tree, we almost didn't notice the big male elephant making his way down the road towards us. We sat in awe and even noticed that the Rock Monitor had changed his gaze from us to the elephant. The bull elephant walked towards us, stopping for a brief moment to look at us, and carried on making his way into the unknown.
Crested Barbets are usually found solitary or in pairs. They will feed readily on fruit but when fruit is scarce, Crested Barbets will feed on termites, beetles, grasshoppers, moths and they specialise in eating snails which are smashed on the ground or on rocks to break the shell and expose its contents.
Until next time
Blog by Wendy Claase
Images by Andries Ndlovu, Coenraad Stapelberg, Daniel Greyvenstein, Dieter Lategan, Jason Street, Macs Toich and Ronald Mutero