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Through the reporting period there were daily sightings of elephants, predominantly breeding herds, with one sighting counting as many as 60 elephants. A Member reported being charged by a young bull elephant, serving as a reminder to us to always identify an “escape route” when watching these magic giants. No large buffalo herds ranged on Ingwelala, the buffalos seen were small bachelor groups. Lion sightings were plentiful, including cubs. Leopards were seen most days. An interesting sighting was of two leopards with a kill “cornered” in a tree by wild dogs which were in turn chased away by two hyenas. On another occasion, seven hyenas milled around the tree of a leopard kill.
Wild dogs were seen often, providing excellent photographic and video opportunities for viewers. This included several sightings of kills, and pups feeding at these kills. A Member described the one kill where adult dogs pulled down a steenbok, and then retreated a short distance to stand guard as sentries while the pups ate the steenbok. Fantastic to witness this behaviour.
Game sightings included spotted hyena, side-striped jackal, black-backed jackal, giraffe, zebra, impala, kudu, nyala, bushbuck, Sharpe’s Grysbok, grey duiker, steenbok, warthog, genet, civet, porcupine, honey badger, banded mongoose, dwarf mongoose, vervet monkey, African wild cat, hippo and crocodile.
Birds noted in the sightings register were Martial Eagle, Tawny Eagle, Fish Eagle, Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl, Ground Hornbill, Temminck’s Courser and Green-winged Pytilia. The Yellow-billed Kites have returned for the summer months. .
It was another month of fantastic Big Five sightings. The pride of nine lions were frequently seen, several kills making for excellent game viewing, especially a buffalo kill in the middle of Camp. Social dynamics are always interesting to observe when lions are feeding on a fresh kill. Leopard sightings were plentiful, a mixture of mating leopards, female leopards with cubs, fighting leopards and leopards in trees with kills. Spectacular stuff!
The buffalo in general remain dispersed, the full effect of the recent drought not yet quantified, and the nutritional (winter) bottle neck not yet in full play. There are fewer elephant breeding herds around compared to previous months which is normal for this time of the year.
Wild dogs were seen on two occasions.
Other sightings included spotted hyena, side-striped jackal, giraffe, blue wildebeest, zebra, impala, kudu, nyala, bushbuck, Sharpe’s Grysbok, grey duiker, steenbok, warthog, genet, civet, porcupine, honey badger, banded mongoose, dwarf mongoose, vervet monkey, hippo and crocodile.
Birds recorded were Martial Eagle, Tawny Eagle, Fish Eagle, Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl, Hooded Vulture, White-backed Vulture, Black Stork, Saddle-billed Stork, Ground Hornbill, Temminck’s Courser, Bronze-winged Courser, Brown-headed Parrot and Yellow-breasted Apalis.
Big Five sightings through the month of June were abundant for elephant, leopard and lion. There were several lion kills, one great sighting was lions wounding a buffalo (and losing interest), and chose to kill another buffalo instead, which allowed a large clan of hyenas to immediately move in and kill the wounded buffalo!
The wonders of the bush are truly amazing to witness. On another occasion, the lions spent an entire night chilling around the swimming pool grounds, investigating and sniffing at the human scents left on garden benches and chairs. Two young cubs present seem to enjoy a run on the lawn, using the garden furniture us useful screens from which to ambush one another in play.
The elephant bulls that visit Camp have also shown an interest in all the new plants and shrubs around the Members Area, and “touch wood,” have not inflicted too much damage during these escapades.
A Member collecting a cell phone on charge after dark from the TV lounge had to prolong the collection time as a leopard crossed the gazebo/patio area between all the tables and chairs!
General sightings included giraffe, blue wildebeest, zebra, impala, kudu, nyala, lesser bush baby, genet, civet, warthog, hippo, crocodile and side-striped jackal.
Birds listed were Fish Eagle, Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl, Ground Hornbill, Temminck’s Courser, Brown-headed Parrot and Cut-throat Finch
Big Five sightings have been plentiful, especially elephant, lion and leopard. There remains a deep pool of water in the river bed at Old Farmhouse which is a popular bathing area for elephant breeding herds. These gatherings and activities are always a pleasure to observe.
General sightings included giraffe, zebra, impala, kudu, nyala, spotted hyena, porcupine, honey badger, genet, civet, warthog, hippo and crocodile.
Birds listed were Martial Eagle, African Hawk Eagle, Fish Eagle, Tawny Eagle, Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl, Ground Hornbill, Temminck’s Courser, Red-billed Quelea, Hooded Vulture, White-backed Vulture and Lappet-faced Vulture.
The camp had high occupancy rates throughout April, and it is always pleasing to read through all the wonderful sightings that are posted in the sightings register in Reception.Thank you for taking the time to record these sightings.
Lions were seen almost every day, in various numbers, shapes and sizes. There was an eye witness report of a clash between different aged cubs of two lionesses, where 8-week old cubs of the one lioness tormented and killed a newly born cub of another lioness. When trying to understand or interpret this behaviour it raises more questions than answers. An adult male lion, in pitiful body condition, was euthenased after it sought refuge in Vuka Ingwe. The post mortem confirmed the lion was riddled with TB in its lymph nodes and showed chronic arthritis in the joints. Blood and tissue samples were collected for further analysis, the Vets suspecting too the lion was infected with Feline AIDS.
Other Big Five sightings were also plentiful, with numerous breeding herds of elephants seen, on the hotter days those ranging on Argyle enjoy bathing in the river at Farmhouse. Buffalo and leopards were seen often, with two different pairs of mating leopards a certain highlight (Old Farmhouse and Mansimvula Cutline).
Wild dogs were active along the tar road early mornings, pack sizes varying from 7 – 15.
General game sightings included giraffe, blue wildebeest, zebra, impala, kudu, nyala, grey duiker, steenbok, spotted hyena, spring hare, porcupine, hippo, African wild cat, genet, civet and crocodile. It’s encouraging to see the spring hare numbers are building up rather pleasingly.
Birds listed were Martial Eagle, African Hawk Eagle, Fish Eagle, Tawny Eagle, Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl, Ground Hornbill, Black Stork, Hooded Vulture, Hamerkop, Kori Bustard, Cisticola and even an Osprey seen at Timbavati Crossing.
The annual impala rutting season is in full swing
Game viewing through March continued to be very good. Lions and leopards were seen on most days. Special sightings of the cats included lion cubs at Third Crossing and on Eastern River Road a leopard carrying a new born cub in her mouth.
Elephant herds continue to enjoy bathing in the river at Farmhouse. Surprisingly, there were very few buffalo (breeding) herds seen, assumingly they have dispersed to areas that experienced higher rainfall where the veld will be greener.
General game sightings were giraffe, blue wildebeest, zebra, impala, kudu, nyala, grey duiker, steenbok, hyena, spring hare, porcupine, hippo and crocodile.
The birders noted a great mixed bag of Martial Eagle, Fish Eagle, Tawny Eagle, Greater Striped Cuckoo, Jacobin Cuckoo, Yellow-billed Oxpecker, Temminck’s Courser, Ground Hornbill, Black Stork, Saddle-billed Stork, Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl and White-headed Vulture.
Game viewing through February was excellent with frequent sightings of lions and leopards, with numerous kills.
Despite low camp occupancy and therefore fewer entries into the sightings register, all the Big Five were seen regularly. Wild dogs were more active in the general area, perhaps a bit later than usual for the summer, but none the less they were seen every other day.
General game sightings included blue wildebeest, zebra, impala, kudu, nyala, grey duiker, steenbok, hyena, side-striped jackal, spring hare and porcupine.
The birders noted a great mixed bag of Red-crested Korhaan, Temminck’s Courser, Long-tailed Paradise Whydah, Ground Hornbill, Saddle-billed Stork, Eurasian Golden Oriole, Eurasian Hobby, Verreaux’s Eagle- Owl, and Little Sparrowhawk.
Game viewing was excellent for the reporting period. The bulk of the Big Five sightings were lions, leopards and breeding herds of elephants. There were several lion kills, with the lionesses seen often near Third Crossing on Buffelsbed, protecting their young cubs.
The elephant cow that has a hole in her forehead appeared as usual this summer, when this herd extends its range from the KNP. The trend that the elephant breeding herds are more plentiful on Ingwelala during the summer continues. Leopard sightings were considerably up when compared month on month. Disappointingly, the buffalo numbers dropped off, their dispersal most likely due to the regional improvement of grazing conditions.
Wild dogs were seen along the tar road.
General game sightings reported included impala, kudu, nyala, grey duiker, steenbok, hyena, side-striped jackal, spring hare and porcupine.
Very few birds were noted in the sightings register, but those mentioned were Ground Hornbill, African Spoonbill, Black Stork and White-headed Vulture.
Big Five sightings continued to be excellent with the lions active on buffalo kills and three young cubs seen frequently near Third Crossing on Buffelsbed. Leopard sightings were fewer than anticipated, perhaps a factor of improved concealment with the bush eventually thickening up?
There was only one sighting of wild dogs, which is disappointing as the dogs are usually very active in summer, coinciding with the impala lambing.
General game sightings recorded were hippo, impala, kudu, nyala, bush buck, grey duiker, steenbok, hyena, giraffe, zebra, blue wildebeest, waterbuck, genet, spring hare and honey badger. A crocodile was seen in Camp Dam.
The Birders listed Fish Eagle, Wahlberg’s Eagle, Southern Carmine Bee-eater, European Bee-eater, Ground Hornbill, Levaillant’s Cuckoo, Jacobin Cuckoo, African Pygmy Kingfisher, Spur-winged Goose, African Spoonbill, Black Stork, Marabou Stork, Woolly-necked Stork, Saddle-billed Stork, Bronze-winged Courser, Hadeda and Eurasian Hobby.
General recruitment in the overall impala population is high – estimated at 30% plus, so no ill-effects on the population fecundity following the drought.
General buffalo (body) condition is recovering slowly, to gain body mass, and the fragmented herds (drought effect) are regrouping into their original herd configurations.
There are newly born lion cubs in the northern reaches of Buffelsbed.
There are newly born leopard cubs on Argyle.
Although the veld looks impressively “green” the nutritional value for grazers remains at the lower end. Plenty of monocotyledons and unpalatable pioneer plants are dominating the biomass to stabilise the recent bare soils. This is a natural process and requires no man intervention. A lot more rain is needed to support the palatable grasses out-competing the pioneers.
It was the month of lions for the bulk of Big Five sightings. The lions (mostly nine of them) made several buffalo kills and continued their behaviour of abandoning carcasses part eaten to make a fresh kill. On one occasion, they killed two buffalo near Vuka Ingwe and only fed on the one carcass.
The large buffalo herds seem to fragment during the drought and appears remaining this way until the grass vigour improves. Elephant and leopard sightings were less plentiful than previous months. An elephant calf dependant on its mother got separated from the herd. It was captured in Camp, relocated to the Hoedspruit Endangered Species facility near Kapama, and is reported to be doing very well.
General game sightings were hippo, impala, kudu, nyala, hyena, giraffe, zebra and waterbuck.
Birds noted were Martial Eagle, Ground Hornbill, Levaillant’s Cuckoo, Scarlet-chested Cuckoo, Hooded Vulture, African Pygmy Kingfisher and a rare sighting of an ostrich on Argyle. A pair of Greater Painted-snipes were seen at Third Crossing.
The lack of grazing and browse biomass at the peak of the nutritional “bottle neck” in October caused most animals to move further afield in search of food. This is an advantage in unfenced areas where animals can move great distances in search of the basic requirements of food, water and shelter.
Species that found true hardship were hippo, buffalo, waterbuck and warthog. Thus, the sightings book in Reception was not overly populated with entries of sightings. In terms of the Big Five, leopards were seen frequently, perhaps an indication of them being more mobile and moving around more in search of prey, rendering them more visible? Lions were seen on only three occasions, a huge contrast to frequency of sightings in previous months. There were very few buffalo and elephant sightings, and no rhinos.
General game sightings were hippo, Sharpe’s Grysbok, Impala, Kudu, Nyala, warthog, klipspringer, genet, porcupine, honey badger, civet, hyena, side-striped jackal (lactating) and the less common spring hare.
A single cheetah was seen at Deadwood Pan, always a special sighting on Ingwelala as the habitat is generally a bit dense for their requirements.
Birds noted were Martial Eagle, Wahlberg’s Eagle, Spotted Eagle Owl, Ground Hornbill, African Paradise Flycatcher, Yellow-billed Stork, White-backed Vulture, Hooded Vulture and Yellow-breasted Apalis.
Look out for the Woodlands Kingfisher arriving this month! At the time of writing the cuckoos are becoming increasingly mobile and vocal as they set about courting and looking for host nests to parasitize.
Leopard sightings have been excellent, a young adult female seen frequently in camp and heard calling most nights. She seems to be targeting the guineafowls that roost in the trees in the Workshop, so once again, be vigilant in the Workshop area after working hours when the human presence is less.
Elephant sightings have dropped off, no doubt the drought conditions forcing the animals to disperse and range further for food resources. Large buffalo herds (100 plus) continue to be seen on a regular basis, and attract a lot of attention from the lions as mentioned. 25 hyenas ganged up against 9 lions on a buffalo kill and successfully drove the lions off their kill. The lions having involuntary abandoned their meal tried unsuccessfully to kill another buffalo in the immediate vicinity. Lots of wonderful sightings and interaction between the predators.
Due to all the predator activity, the sightings book was not well represented with the more general game sightings, but thank you to those who mentioned seeing waterbuck, honey badger, zebra, porcupine and hippo. Sadly, one hippo died from a territorial fight at Aloe Ridge.
Wild dogs were seen at Timbavati Crossing, two spring hares on Buffelsbed and a cheetah on Argyle, these are the rare and interesting sightings.
Birds noted were Verreaux’s Eagle Owl, Ground Hornbill, Southern White-faced Owl, Little Sparrowhawk, Yellow-billed Stork and Yellow-billed Oxpecker.
When viewing the content of this Reserve Report, it is clear that game sightings have been very interesting over the past few months. The drought conditions continue to influence game movement and behaviour very strongly, accentuated by the fact that availability of food resources is decreasing exponentially. The larger buffalo herds have fragmented into smaller groups, the lions targeting buffalos, making their kills, feeding briefly before moving on in search of another fresh meal.
A perspective was a personal sighting one evening of four leopards and nine lions at the causeway water. The leopards and lions were all there at the same time, not different individuals coming and going. The leopards were within a 200 metre radius of each other, the lions were bunched together on the eastern bank, lazing around, within spitting distance of the closest leopard.
Lions killed a buffalo outside Bungalow # 39, currently undertaking alterations. For (human) safety reasons Mark Shaw pulled the buffalo carcass into the river. The lions made no effort to unite and re-establish themselves on the kill. The female leopard that was eventually euthanased, scavenged off the carcass during the mid-day.
The elephants were in camp for 28 nights of the month, and on one reconnaissance at first light I counted another 13 bulls on the periphery of camp, in various groupings. No doubt the camp vegetation is like a green oasis to the elephants, some brave enough to bear the shock of the fence, others lingering on the outside hoping for an opportunity to enter.
Entries in the sightings book reflect crocodile, civet, serval, porcupine, honey badger, African wild cat, genet, waterbuck, zebra, blue wildebeest, kudu, bushbuck, giraffe, grey duiker, steenbok, warthog, hyena and hippo.
There was a rare sighting of an aardvark on Serengeti.
One hippo death from natural causes, most likely malnutrition from the drought.
Buffalos continue to lose condition due to the drought, three carcasses reported with no signs of predation as the cause of death.
Birds noted were Pied Barbet, Ground Hornbill, Yellow-billed Stork, Spoonbill and melanistic form Gabar Goshawk.