Chris Mayes summarises the latest sightings:
“September followed on from August with record numbers of shareholders and families visiting the Reserve over the Heritage Day long weekend. Strangely on this occasion the Reception sightings book did not reflect the game viewing of the numbers of people traversing the Reserve. However, sightings did include wild dog and pups, these animals were seen in various locations across the Reserve from Bird Hide through to Timbavati Crossing as well as Main Road Dam.
Leopard sightings were enjoyed across all the properties including a mating pair earlier in the month near Timbavati Crossing. Janet and I were fortunate to witness a young female hunting monkeys in our garden mid-month, a successful hunt on a young monkey concluded with the leopard disappearing into the Workshop with its prize. More action was to follow two nights later as the same female killed an impala in the driveway. Its successful hunt was spoilt by a hyena stealing the kill. Absolutely privileged to witness the spectacle!
Buffalo sightings were enjoyed far and wide with a group of bulls numbering between 9-11 seen on multiple occasions, but mostly along Fence Road.
Lion sightings were mostly enjoyed in the early part of September and more commonly on Buffelsbed, a sighting of two males at Farmhouse crossing as well.
Elephant sighting were numerous, mostly breeding herds with varying numbers in each.
A cheetah was seen near the entrance gate and a caracal on Goedehoop.
Very few birds noted in the sightings register, but mention was made of Ground Hornbill and Wahlberg’s Eagle.”
Game sightings were generous throughout the previous month, especially Big Five sightings where it is particularly pleasing to see an increase in buffalo numbers on Ingwelala. A sighting of 70 plus elephants seen together on Buffelsbed must have been awesome to witness. There were great lion sightings and continued leopard activity in camp. A group of eight elephant bulls continue to break fences and enter camp, many trees have been pushed over these past months. Damage to water pipes, lathe screens and thatch eaves is significant. The current camp fence configuration will require significant change and modification to keep these bulls out. The Board has approved a budget to immediately tackle this project which will entail several trials along the fence to determine a suitable solution for the long term. The mega elephant population is increasing annually so we can expect more and more elephants trying to utilise the camp vegetation.
The same pack of wild dogs have continued to be seen regularly with speculation they have a den close by!
Other general wildlife sightings included giraffe, kudu, zebra, blue wildebeest, nyala, impala, grey duiker, Steenbok, warthog, baboon, vervet monkey, spotted genet, civet, porcupine, white-tailed mongoose and honey badger.
The available grazing remains abundant at this late stage of winter and the numbers of current grazers attests to this.
Birds noted in the sightings register included Dark Chanting Goshawk, Martial Eagle, Verreaux’s Eagle Owl, Ground Hornbill, and Kori Bustard. A pair of Verreaux’s Eagle Owls nesting near the tennis court raised a chick which has now fledged but you can often hear it calling its parents around the immediate area.
Of special interest to the birders was the sighting of a leucistic Cape Turtle Dove.
Chris Mayes summarises the sightings for July:
“Predator sightings were certainly greatly increased. Leopard in particular have been viewed regularly and across all properties in this reporting month. Sightings were had on the airstrip, in camp, on Sibon with a kill, Buffalo Drive on Argyle, Thorpe’s cutline with young, and other areas of Buffelsbed. Lion were viewed in the camp area, on the Manzimvula cutline and others, they have been very vocal early morning which is always special. Breeding herds of buffalo were viewed on Buffelsbed and at Goedehoop Dam. Elephant sightings have been well documented, however one sighting of a herd of 77 animals below Aloe Ridge in late July was one I was fortunate to witness and will be remembered for some time.
A sighting of a cheetah was recorded on the main road as well as wild dog. The dogs were seen in the camp area as well as good sightings on Buffelsbed.
The available grazing remains abundant and the viewing of the bulk grazers in the area attests to this. Zebra sightings were plentiful along with wildebeest, regular sightings of kudu, giraffe, nyala and waterbuck.
The nocturnal species have also been good with reports of civet, genet, honey badger and porcupine. There was one sighting of a white-tailed mongoose as well.”
The birders noted: African Spoonbill and a Kurrichane Button Quail.
A Yellow-billed Kite was seen on 31 July, the first migrant for this summer, or an individual which over-wintered? The first Steppe Buzzard seen on 01 August, perhaps another individual which over-wintered?
Chris Mayes summarises the sightings for June:
“Lion have again been active throughout the month, with the bulk of the sightings recorded on Argyle and Buffelsbed.
Wild dogs were noticeably active during the month, their interactions with hyenas always intriguing to watch. Of particular interest currently is the amount of leopard and lion movement in the camp area. Leopard in particular around the staff housing and Members Area, one particularly large male has been seen in the vicinity of the causeway and his tracks often visible throughout camp. A morning drive through to Motswari Corner brought the unusual sight of the remains of a porcupine in the Sekgobela River, one can only assume it was victim to the resident crocodile in that body of water.
With the available grazing still abundant general game viewing remained good. The herds of zebra, blue wildebeest and the occasional buffalo breeding herds moving through the properties in addition to the giraffe, kudu, nyala, klipspringer, steenbok, and grey duiker. Klipspringer have been viewed in the camp area. There was with good viewing of spring hare on Buffelsbed”.
Chris Mayes summarises the sightings for May:
“Lions were very vocal throughout the month. Sightings were recorded on all the properties as well as obvious signs of males moving within the camp area. Buffalo sightings were plentiful on Buffelsbed and Argyle in particular. I have been fortunate to have seen three separate leopard sightings during the recording month, these were all males, and all were on Argyle. A young leopard has been active in camp, targeting roosting guineafowls at night, especially around the workshop and staff houses. Elephant sightings were plentiful.
Wild dog sightings were limited to the Main Road, only to the west of our properties.
General game sightings were especially good with regular sightings of giraffe, kudu, zebra, nyala, blue wildebeest and of course the impala commenced their annual rut. The various open areas in particular have been taken advantage of for the good late grazing available. A herd of 21 zebra was seen viewed on the Serengeti area north of First Crossing. This is without doubt the largest grouping I have witnessed on Ingwelala.
The pair of Giant Eagle Owls (Verreaux’s) continue to make their presence known in the early evening and early morning. Several stork species continued to enjoy the tasty morsels they could find in the stagnant pools that are drying up.
There were a couple of mornings during the reporting period where hippo spoor was seen in camp, including a sub adult size spoor.”.
Chris Mayes summarises the sightings for April:
"With the sightings book redundant for the immediate future I can only share my own observations over the past month. Wild Dog sightings have been infrequent, but they have been viewed mostly to the west of the Nhlaralumi River. Earlier in the month during my routine morning fence inspection I was privileged to view a pack of 10 wild dogs chasing a male leopard up a leadwood tree to the west of the causeway.
Hippo have also made an appearance in the causeway as well as a group of five buffalo bulls that are frequenting the camp area and surrounds.
Lion have been vocal in the evenings and early mornings, they were seen on two occasions, four lionesses east of Aloe Ridge and eight lionesses on the main road adjacent to Bird Hide.
Elephant have been well documented on the Conservation page, it is worth mentioning, however, several the big tuskers that have been seen on Buffelsbed and Goedehoop, very impressive individuals.
Leopard have been heard, tracks seen, and I was extremely fortunate to witness a mating pair north of Elephant Pan Hide.
General game is good with regular sightings of giraffe, kudu, nyala, steenbok, klipspringer, zebra, blue wildebeest, and the impala have commenced with their annual rut.
Ground hornbills have been very vocal in the early morning as have a pair of Verreaux’s Eagle Owls. For the birders, a group of eight African Spoonbills, two Yellow-billed Storks and a pair of Saddle-billed Storks have taken up temporary residence in the river below the administration centre."
Chris Mayes summarises the sightings for March:
"Having a read through the sightings book it is fairly clear that the Members and visitors to the Reserve are certainly not struggling with big game sightings despite the tall grasses and thick vegetation.
The highlights of the month included mating lion on Buffelsbed, numerous wild dog sightings, buffalo herds, multiple leopard sightings, including mating leopards at Elephant Pan Hide, and the various elephant breeding herds and bulls.
Of particular interest was the recorded sighting of a cheetah on the airstrip.
General wildlife sightings were good, with sightings of waterbuck, hippo, nyala, crocodile, klipspringer, honey badger, giraffe and zebra. There were springhare sightings on both Argyle and Buffelsbed, these were enjoyed amongst others.
For the birders the following species were recorded in the reporting period; Southern Ground Hornbill, Verreaux’s Eagle Owl, Barred Owlet, Scops Owl, Bateleur, Martial Eagle, African Goshawk, White-fronted Bee-eater, Black Breasted Snake Eagle, Gabar Goshawk, Kori Bustard (Goedehoop Dam), Kurrichane Button Quail, Painted Snipe, White-winged Widowbird, Great Spotted Cuckoo, White-headed Vulture, Temminck’s Courser, Ovambo Sparrowhawk, Malachite Kingfisher, European Bee-eater, Golden-breasted Bunting, Cinnamon-breasted Bunting, Wood Sandpiper, Dwarf Bittern, Com Duck, Greenshank, Dabchick and African Reed Warbler.”
Despite the lush and dense bush which makes game viewing and spotting all the more challenging, sightings have continued to be plentiful. Breeding herds of elephant were seen mostly in the southern sections of Argyle. Lion and leopard sightings were again fewer than previous months,
Wild Dog were seen again on 4 different occasions, all sightings were on Buffelsbed and Goedehoop.
General game was good. Sightings of Waterbuck, Hippo, Nyala, Crocodile, Klipspringer, Giraffe and Zebra were enjoyed amongst others.
Birding included Kurrichane Button Quail, Painted Snipe, White winged Widow finch, Great Spotted Cuckoo, White headed Vulture, Temmincks Courser, Ovambo Sparrowhawk, Malachite Kingfisher, Martial Eagle, European Bee-eater, Golden Breasted bunting, Cinnamon breasted Bunting, Wood Sandpiper, Dwarf Bittern, Knob billed duck, Greenshank, Dabchick and African reed Warbler.
Of interest was the sighting of a Golden Pipit to the south of Timbavati crossing by a Motswari guide. This is the 1st recorded sighting in the APNR and only the 24th recorded sighting in Southern Africa, a rare sighting indeed. It has subsequently been viewed again on three different occasions. It is native to North Eastern Africa, specifically Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. Vagrants have been viewed in Oman, Zimbabwe and South Africa.
Despite the bush being so lush and dense, not easy for game spotting, the game sightings have however continued to be plentiful. The buffalos have enjoyed all the surface water and mud wallows. This is an important ritual to help control tick loads. Lion and leopard sightings were fewer when compared to previous months. One large breeding herd of elephants, estimated 50 individuals in the herd, were seen often which is always a special sighting, seeing all the youngsters around, playful and interactive with each other.
Two Eland were seen in the vicinity of Zebra Pan. This is truly a rare sighting, as was the sighting of two ostriches near Wahlberg’s Plains. The two elands moved North West and were last seen on Ndlopfu.
Wild dogs were seen on four occasions.
General sightings included Giraffe, Spotted hyena, Impala, Blue wildebeest, Zebra, Klipspringer, Nyala, Hippo, Baboon, Vervet monkey, Steenbok and Sharpe’s grysbok.
The birding has been superb; Greenspotted Dove, African Scops Owl, Red-billed Woodhoopoe, Saddle-billed Stork, Three-banded Plover, Fish Eagle, Martial Eagle, Tawny Eagle, Bearded Woodpecker, Red-backed Shrike, European Bee eater, Paradise Flycatcher, Double-banded Sandgrouse, Blue Waxbill, Golden-breasted Bunting, Cinnamon-breasted Bunting, Wood Sandpiper, Marsh Sandpiper, Green-backed Heron, Golden-tailed Woodpecker, Giant Kingfisher, Grey Heron, Dwarf Bittern, Long-tailed Paradise Whydah, Dark Chanting Goshawk, Ground Hornbill, African Green Pigeon, Yellow-billed Oxpecker, Little Bee eater, Black-backed Puffback, African Hawk Eagle, Black-headed Oriole, White-backed Vulture, Ruff, White-crested Helmet Shrike, Chinspot Batis, Burchells Starling, Neddicky, Marabou Stork, Openbilled Stork, Southern Carmine Bee eater, Comb Duck, Greenshank, Dabchick, African Hoopoe, Black Stork, Spotted Eagle-Owl, African Reed Warbler, White-bellied Sunbird.
Amur Falcon, Malachite Kingfisher, Woodland Kingfisher, Rufouscheeked Nightjar, Water Thick-knee, Eurasian Golden Oriole, Kori Bustard, and Woolly-necked Stork.
What a month of awesome game sightings! Loads of elephants everywhere, the buffalo herds are returning, and certainly love in the air for mating lions and mating leopards. Several kills were viewing highlights, sported by lions, leopards and wild dogs. A cheetah was spotted along the main Argyle Road. An extremely rare sighting of an aardwolf occurred near Buffelsbed Boma.
General sightings included giraffe, klipspringer, spotted hyena, impala, blue wildebeest and zebra.
The “Birders” were active listing an impressive inventory of Fish Eagle (catching a fish), Martial Eagle, African Hawk Eagle, Amur Falcon, Malachite Kingfisher, Woodland Kingfisher, Rufouscheeked Nightjar, Ground Hornbill, Black Stork, Saddle-billed Stork, African Paradise Flycatcher, Water Thick-knee, Eurasian Golden Oriole, Kori Bustard, Openbilled Stork, Dwarf Bittern and Woolly-necked Stork.
Amongst the Big Five, it was definitely the month for elephant and leopard sightings, plenty of elephant breeding herds encountered and leopards seen almost daily. On one evening drive, three different leopards were seen. There was a pair of mating leopards at Timbavati Crossing. Month on month there were fewer buffalo sightings, the early rains and greening up of the veld perhaps contributing to their wider dispersal? Lion sightings were also fewer month on month.
Eight wild dogs were seen on one occasion, their activities should increase with the new recruit impalas on their way.
General sightings included giraffe, kudu, warthog, spotted hyena, hippo and crocodile.
Thank you for all the bird species noted in the sightings register for the reporting period, Tawny Eagle, Amur Falcon, Pied Kingfisher, Giant Kingfisher, Woodland Kingfisher, Jacobin Cuckoo, Diederick Cuckoo, Klaas’s Cuckoo, Green Woodhoopoe, Little Grebe, Sabota Lark, Orange-breasted Bushshrike, Black-backed Puffback Shrike, Lesser striped Swallow, Three-banded Plover, Common Sandpiper, Red-crested Korhaan, Black-headed Oriole, Southern Black Flycatcher, Fork-tailed Drongo, Magpie Shrike, Fiery-necked Nightjar, Square-tailed Nightjar, Ground Hornbill, Black Stork, Marabou Stork, Yellow-billed Kite and Dusky Lark.
Throughout the reporting period there was considerable lion activity, for a while two different mating pairs were seen regularly. This provides fantastic viewing opportunities as they don’t wonder too far when courting and mating.
Leopard sightings were close to a daily occurrence, at least three sightings were with kills in trees. Mating leopards were seen on the broken dam wall at Timbavati Crossing with some noteworthy video footage taken. A leopard was caught resting in the shade on the timber deck at Argyle Picnic Site, and another leopard resting on the landing of the Argyle Boma Toilet, strangely, nobody needed to use the loo!
Elephant breeding herds have returned in numbers for the summer season, and tried hard to drink Elephant Pan Hide dry, demand almost exceeding the supply. Buffalo herds have also noticeably started to return. Several herds of 50 plus and 100 plus animals were seen throughout the month. This is encouraging to see.
The wild dogs were less active on Ingwelala, only one sighting of a pack of 15, recorded at Mermaid Crossing. Further sightings recorded in the sightings register included kudu, warthog, honey badger, bush baby and African wild cat.
Bird species noted in the sightings register totalled three! Verreaux’s Eagle Owl, Ground Hornbill and Yellow-billed Stork.
There have been numerous and amazing leopard sightings in the preceding month.
Most notable was the viewing of 3 leopard at the Farmhouse Crossing on Argyle. A large male leopard continues to be seen and very active between the Camp area and the Goedehoop Dam. Further sighting were recorded on Buffelsbed, Sibon and mostly on Argyle. There have been regular sightings of three lionesses and two cubs, especially around Aloe Ridge.
In other lion sighting a conflict was witnessed between 4 male Lion on the Manzimvula cutline in early September. This may have resulted in the injured male lion that has been frequenting the northern areas of Sibon and Buffelsbed in recent weeks.
The frequency of elephant sightings remains consistent, even in camp, and likely to continue with this trend until the first rains fall and the surrounding veld greens up. It is good to see more buffalo activity on Ingwelala. There have been several sightings of a large herd both on Ingwelala and off during the past month.
The wild dogs have been very active on all four properties. A different pack with at least 12 pups have been seen often along the tar road near Ndlopfu.
General game sightings recorded in the sightings register included giraffe, zebra, blue wildebeest, kudu, warthog, porcupine and honey badger.
Birds noted in the sightings register were Tawny Eagle, Fish Eagle, African Hawk Eagle, Dark Chanting Goshawk, Pearl-Spotted Owlet, African Scops Owl, African Barred Owlet, Ground Hornbill, Yellow-Billed Stork, Saddle-Billed Stork, Kurrichane Buttonquail and Stierling’s Wren-Warbler.