Tuesday, 5 May 2009

03rd and 04th May – More Big 5 Sightings!

Some unseasonably warm weather has been gracing us the last few days, and made for some very pleasant temperatures throughout the day. The animals made it a bit difficult for us over the last 48 hours, but we were still treated to some good game viewing.
Sunday morning started off with a pack of four hyenas frolicking around Xinatsi dam near camp, some males showing a keen interest in one of the larger females. Andrew also picked up on Sohebele male lion wandering around, still limping quite badly though. After some elephant and waterbuck, I headed towards Mbali dam where the alarm calls of the resident baboon troop alerted us to the presence of danger; the three young nomadic male lions! They were walking near the bank of Mbali dam but luckily came closer to the road before going to settle down at Mbali Bush Braai. Despite not being able to drive off road in that area, we were treated to a good sighting as they settled down right next to the road.

Sunday morning also saw the welcome return of some elephant herds; reports of a large group near Nkombi pan, and then a second smaller herd that we saw not far from the lions feeding on the banks of the Nhlarulumi. Some large bull elephants were also found feeding in the Mopane thickets surrounding Karans Big Dam and Kudu Pan.

Andrew headed down south and managed to see Mangadjane male leopard sleeping near his same impala kill from last night.

In the afternoon, the general game seemed a bit quieter, and there was still no sign of Mbali or Kuhanya up north, and I only saw one of those three lions briefly as they ran into the reeds in the Nhlarulumi River near Mbali Dam. Fortunately the south was a bit busier, and we headed down to see not only the Nhlangula male white rhino feeding in the late afternoon, but we also got to see a fat and motionless Mangadjane! He had for some reason abandoned his kill and walked a few kilometers up to Entrance dam and spent the entire afternoon sleeping on the waters edge. Although it was great to see him, we only spent a few minutes in his company, opting instead to go and see his daughter, Nkateko, who was found a kilometer or so away. Giyani had found her wandering around near Vielmetter camp, and she did provide a better sighting stalking something that only she could see!

Monday morning was a touch cooler, but still a pleasant day. Our attempts at finding any sign of the Sohebele Pride returning failed, as did those of locating any leopards! It was a frustratingly quiet start to the morning, but as the drove progressed, things improved. It started with four large elephants drinking at Lily pan, a skittish buffalo that didn’t hang around long, some giraffe near Nkombi pan and another at Makulu dam (along with some uncharacteristically active hippos!). A large herd of elephants was also located feeding in the mopane’s near Makulu dam, and we then headed back to camp feeling a bit better about the drive!

The afternoon saw yet more elephant bulls, including a group of five large individuals that fed only a few meters from the Land Rover, enjoying the green Mopane trees on Karans and Scholtz.

I was starting to stress about finding leopard this afternoon, as most attempts were not working out. I was heading into an area where some rangers had seen tracks for Mangadjane, but on the way there, I was told that there was a leopard on Vyboom Dam wall, right near our northern boundary, but I didn’t really care, I was desperate! I headed straight over, and arrived just as the young leopard got up and came along the dam wall to where we were parked. I assumed it was one of Argyle Junior’s youngsters, and she looked a bit tentative from a distance. It was only when she declined to jump down the wall and came straight towards us that I realized it was in fact Kuhanya! I had never seen her that far north, but with independence beckoning, I am sure she is just scoping the area. We proceeded to follow her as it got dark and she stalked after some guineafowl. The birds flew into a big leadwood tree, and Kuhanya followed them up, but she soon realized it was a loosing battle and decided to rest for a while before jumping down and wandering off into the darkness!

As we approached camp, some of the resident hyena clan were around the waterhole behind camp, and it ended off what turned out to be a nice day. We just really need some lions tomorrow!


  1. Hi Chad
    Clare here..when would a young lepoard leave it's mother? You say that Kuhanya is nearing independance, would that time be approaching soon? Also, once independant, I know leopards are basically solitary, but do they always stay so or interact with other leopards at times?
    Thanks for this info--I find it really interesting!

  2. Evening Clare

    i also await the time when Kuhanya will become independent from her mom, Mbali. i would imagine that it won't be very long, as Kuhanya is almost 18-months old, and quite independent already. Some mothers break the bond even sooner, but this is the first cub Mbali has raised to independence, and it will be interesting to see when she has decides to chase kuhanya away. The affectionate interactions will stop, although they might still have some contact due to the fact that for several months, Kuhanya will still use the saem territory as her mom. AS the youngster nears sexual maturity, usually after 2-2.5yrs old, she will look to establish her own territory, often adjacent to the mothers territory. What i suspect might happen is that Mbali will move further south to her old territory (under the control of Mangadjane), and Kuhanya will stay to the north (controlled by the Argyle male)...but that is just speculation, we will have to see what happens over the next few months, but i am sure that Mbali will be coming back into oestrus quite soon, and start looking for a male to mate with, and hopefully have some success raising more cubs soon! There are currently 5 sub-adult leopards in the area, and all will be looking for territories in the near future, so there might be some changes around the corner, and hopefully some nice leopards setting up territories around our camp!

    have a great evening


  3. hahaha, im having fun reading these old posts and seeing how my predicitions turned out!

    well mbali did disappear for a while, then ended up far south in her old territory, but is currently spending time around sohebele dam and even further east into karans! kuhanya has also been seen as far east as kudu pan clearing, as well as further north, including in and around motswari camp....two of argyle jnr's independent youngters (shongile and vyboom dam male) are also seen regularly around camp...so the dynamics continue...cant wait to get back and follow their lives!