Leopard Diaries 21st September- 12th October
Salayexe has lost one of her cubs. It appears around the ten month old mark she was found treed by hyenas with only one cub with her so we can only assume the other was killed by hyenas.
The remaining cub is doing well. It seems to be female and just like Salayexe, she is very relaxed. Sal has been keeping her in the Pungwe river bed, not far from the lodge for these three weeks or so and we have had regular sightings of them both.
For three days, Kwatile moved into Sals territory temporarily. She had come into oestrous, found Tingana and followed him. Salayexe picked up on the mating leopards and moved in to defend her territory. It seems there was some confrontation at first but after a day or so the two females settled down.
Salayexe, still having a cub, was pseudo-mating with Tingana whilst Kwatile was mating to conceive. Tingana had his hands full. He would mount one female, then move over to the other and mount her immediately. The Breakaway pride happened to be in the area and herd the mating calls one morning. When we found them, the lionesses had treed all three leopards into one tree. As per usual in these scenarios, the lionesses lost interest and moved off, leaving a gap for the leopards to make their escape.
Xivambalana gave us a great sighting when he killed a bushbuck and took it up a Jackal berry tree. Wobayizo, Thandi's previous youngster appeared on the scene and although almost the same age, he made no attempt to steal the kill from Karula's previous male cub.
We experienced a lion drought of almost two weeks which was ended by the arrival of the Breakaway pride. They moved back into the area over night and killed a female waterbuck in a small clearing just out side Simbambili.
The Breakaways are looking very healthy and one of the lionesses had clear suckle marks. It turns out she gave birth to a litter, the first from any of the Breakaways but unfortunately has already lost the cubs. The reason for her losing them is not clear but it looks as though she was not the only Breakaway female to have been mated.
The older Tsalalas have a new addition to the pride. In the last three weeks we saw BB's single cub for the first time. The older tailless female was on her own with her young cub when we saw her but the rest of the Tsalalas were in the vicinity. The cub is in good condition and seemed very energetic and playful.
Other Sightings Cheetah
Whilst on coffee break one morning on the Northern end of safari airstrip, we noticed some zebra milling about towards the middle of the run way. After we packed up, we made our way towards the zebra for a better sighting and to our delight, there were two cheetahs lying in the open just a short distance away. There was a male and a female, neither of which we recognised, but we believe they were youngsters, possibly even siblings and hadn't separated yet.
Late last month, we experienced a unique interaction between the local pack of wild dogs and a hippo at one of the larger water holes near Simbambili. The dogs were busy hunting and ended up chasing a ram into the water. The impala swam in circles for a while as the dogs patrolled up and down the banks trying to head it off if it tried to escape.
The commotion attracted the attention of a hippo cow from across the dam. The cow moved closer to investigate and even ended up charging out of the water at the dogs. The impala eventually rolled over onto its side, kicked twice and died in the water. The dogs, still trying to avoid the hippo, were daring deeper and deeper into the water after their prey.
The hippo came out and charged at one group of dogs whilst two others went into the water behind the hippo for the impala. The hippo turned and went straight back into the water after the dogs and managed to catch one. The hippo lifted the dog in its jaws but didn't bite, the dog simply fell out of its mouth back into the water and swam to the nearest bank un harmed.
The impala drifted slowly to the bank and eventually the dogs got a hold of it, dragged it out and had their well deserved meal.
The Simbambili team