Leopard Diaries September 2012
Kwatile, a female that roams the South Eastern corner of our traversing, has been very active lately. She kept us entertained by teasing two Hyenas with a little bit of dangling meat she had hoisted in a tree. Hyenas are very patient in this regard. They will hang around a "treed leopard kill" for days, working in shifts. Even if in the end there are only scraps of bone left for the taking.
Salayexe, the proud mother of 2 cubs spent a tremendous amount of time by herself over the past few weeks. It was worrying since her cubs are approaching the time when they could start eating meat. So far she hasn't brought them to any kills that we know of.
During this "alone" time that she spent hunting and fending off other female leopards as well as hyenas, there were 2- 4 days with a few spells of rain, which caused temperatures to fall. Sadly this added to our suspicion of the possibility that one of the cubs may have been killed or died from the wet and cold. The very few times we had the opportunity to see Salayexe with cubs, only one was spotted with her.
This occurrence is quite common in nature where only one cub makes it through to adulthood. In fact, if one cub does make it to adulthood, she would have had a 50% success rate. This is relatively low compared to other species, for example Impala which have a very high birth rate and often lose more than 60 % of their young to predators, weather and drought.
Mvula is probably one of the 5 biggest leopard males in the whole of the Sabi Sands. He is a beautiful male and just by watching him one can see the calmness his maturity gives him. As mentioned before, his territory stretches over most of the Eastern sector of the Northern Sabi Sands. Some believe his territory might be the biggest of all the dominant males in the area. The territory stretches as far as the Western border of the Kruger Park. Big male leopard territories are between 30 km2 (12 sq mi) and 78 km2 (30 sq mi) in the Sabi Sands and surrounding area, but there have been recordings of male territories stretching over 100 km2 (39 sq mi) with some more than 300 km2 (120 sq mi)being prevalent in the Namib region towards the North West of South Africa.
The dominant male, Tingana, made a few kills in less accessible areas, for the game vehicles at least, which gave him a few days of peace as of late he has been constantly harassed by the female leopards wanting to mate with him.
The undisturbed silence didn't last very long. He was walking his usual boundary patrol route when the young female, Moya, found him close to the Londolozi boundary.
After a few days of persistent following, Moya managed to convince Tingana that she was ready to mate. The last morning we tracked the two of them for at least 2 hours and eventually found them on a young Giraffe kill that they caught possibly 20 minutes before they were found.Other Sightings
The Wild dog pack that originated and denned in the Kirkman's property South of Mala-Mala moved into our traversing up in the North of the Sabi Sand. This is a pack consisting of 8 Adults and 6 puppies. The puppies are said to be about 5 months old.
It is at this time that the pups become a real handful always playing and discovering new things along the way.
The adults' work rate is increased as they have to constantly think about getting food for the ravenous pups. A pack of dogs this size will make between 2 and 4 kills per day of medium to small prey. Eg. Impala or Common Duikers
This month closed off with a horrifying but freakishly exciting incident….
….evidently something was killed overnight right in front of Simbambili's reception. The Guides and Trackers quickly put their heads together and the evidence pointed to a clan of Hyenas that had killed a Bushbuck . The evidence can be seen in the above photograph of the Hyena paw print above. Regards,
The Simbambili Team
Photos and text by Pierre Mouton (Fieldguide)