Leopard Diaries 8 May - 22 May 2012
The adult male leopard,Tingana, has been extending his territory for some time and recently has been seen all over our western traverse area. We hear his characteristically short territorial call from the deck of the lodge while we have coffee in the morning and after setting out on safari with high expectations of finding him close by eventually follow him all the way to Arathusa Safari lodge and only find him later in the morning. The distance he travels and the time in which he covers it is astonishing. As he becomes more accustomed to the vehicles he is becoming the most frequently seen male leopard in the west.
The territorial male leopard, Tyson made a rare appearance last week when we found him on a large impala ram kill close to the Londolozi boundary. We were led to his kill by Salayexe, whose tracks were all over the area, one can only assume that she had her hard earned kill stolen by the former territorial male who once used to dominate the area. It was great to see this impressive male again, although he didn't stay for too long, maybe Tingana had something to do about that as we found his tracks passing through the area the next morning.
Leopards climb trees to get a good vantage point of their surroundings, hoist kills up them to keep the hyenas and other predators at bay, to get away from any dangerous encounter with marauding lions for example or just to get some shade in the foliage. Salayexe however just loves to climb trees. Climbing up a tree is always a lot easier than getting down and in the above picture you can see how agile she needs to be on her way down. Lions can also climb, especially trees like this Marula and often do steal kills away from a leopard but they are extremely vulnerable when trying to get their heavy weight down and can injure themselves seriously, a big risk to take for a meal.
The young break-away Tsalala lions' moved into our area from the south west after a long period away. Being as young as they are (about 3 and a half) they haven't established a defined territory as yet and therefore are traveling great distances to avoid confrontation with other lions but also in search of food. They were apparently seen in Singita not long before we found them at Arathusa Big Dam. We were pleased to have their presence back in the north after some time. They are such beautiful lions especially when they treat us to such wonderful sightings like this one where they stalked a herd of impala, unsuccessfully, before playing around in the open. Their affection for each other is amazing to witness, a true sisterly bond that will keep these lionesses together for the duration of their lives. At three and a half they should start coming into oestrus soon and we have received rumours that they were in fact flirting with the Selati males (Southern pride coalition) in the South West of the Sabi Sand. We are hoping the Majingilane males will catch on and take what's rightfully theirs.
The Styx Pride of lions were also found feeding on a large Kudu they had killed one morning. Even at the age of about 7 months you can see how aggressive lions can be with each other around a carcass. This pride has been spending more and more time in the western sector of our traversing.
The highlight of the week was definitely the wild dogs. Reports that a pack was crossing in from Vuyatela got everyone very excited and when we found the pack of 11 dogs they were busy hunting a herd of impala, after narrowly missing they then headed further west. What's interesting is that no-one could recognise them, a new pack to the area!
A few months ago in leopard diaries we posted a sighting of a new Hyena den site that was found. After the flooding in January that den site was abandoned and we managed to finally find where the clan had established a new den site which is actually a lot closer to the lodge. The large matriarch (pictured above on the left) is not pregnant, just very well fed, and she has one four month old cub (pictured on the right). The similarities of the genitalia of male and female Hyena's at this age makes it very difficult to distinguish, but we have witnessed this cub dominate the adult males around the den site so we are assuming that it is a female who will carry her high status in the clan forward throughout her life.
Young Elephant bulls playing in Simbambili Dam have been a common occurrence of late. We found a nesting pair of Martial Eagles on the property and we should start seeing them bringing food back to their hatchling soon, it will be interesting to see what type of prey they do bring back to the nest. One of the reasons why Martial Eagles are so widely distributed is the fact that their diet varies a lot more than their specialist cousins, the Crowned and Verreaux's Eagles.
The Simbambili team