Writing these blogs hopefully gives our readers a great opportunity to catch up and condense the activities of my cycle and find out what their favourite characters are up to. If this is the reason why you read these blogs, then thank you, but I’m afraid that this blog may disappoint you.
This has to be the first cycle highlights blog that does not contain anything about the Southern Pride – quite unbelievable really! It’s one of the things that creates a new energy amongst guides when we see an animal we do not recognise. That uncertainty of a potential change in dynamics – are they here to stay or are we being afforded the privilege of seeing a character we may never see again. These are the joys of a truly wilderness area where animals come and go as they please, in the open spaces they were always intended to flourish in.
We start with the lions, all of which I haven’t seen before in my 4 years since I started at Sabi Sabi. The first was a sighting of a coalition of males I’ve heard a lot of. The Matimba males.
These boys are very impressive and didn’t hang around too long, but it was an honour to see them after their reputation proceeded them.
I was fortunate to have two sightings this cycle of the Mhangeni Breakaway females and the first thing that struck me was how physically impressive these girls are. They certainly have a confidence and an authority about them and judging by the scars they have, I’m sure not afraid to put it on the line.
I was also fortunate to see them on a zebra kill with one of the Matshapiri males who clearly did not want to share and dragged it off to a Red Bushwillow for some privacy, leaving only the scraps for the girls to fight over.
Not a new character, but certainly one we don’t see often, the Tatowa female leopard. She was showing our guests her magnificent stalking techniques but sadly failed in two attempts before deciding to give it a rest for the evening.
Although they certainly are not new characters, we just missed a Spotted Hyena doing something that not very often seen and that was making a kill! Hyenas, contrary to popular belief, are actually very good hunters and just rely on an opportunity which they are very adept at assessing and taking advantage of.
It had just killed an impala ram on an open area, a feat in its self and not surprisingly, was not going to tell any of the other clan members and started to devour it, including a part of the leg and hoof which it swallowed whole, which drew a gasp from my guests.
The young White Dam male is becoming a lot more confident but still regularly relies on his mother for meals despite his independence. Like his father, Maxabeni, he has little fear of hyenas and we had an awesome sighting when he stood his ground against a huge female hyena showing a confidence which will hold him in good stead for the future.
Maxabeni has had to do a lot of walking and scent marking of his territory recently due to the large volumes of rain received this past month. He was found at opposite ends of his territory from one evening to the morning, illustrating his strength in reaffirming his boundaries. He certainly is a showman.
Last but not least is the Little Bush female and her cub who have been rather elusive, but made an appearance towards the end of my cycle. The young female cub is really growing and showing a cheeky nature and always wanting to play fight with her mother.
Just as the recent rains of the summer have brought with it change, a change in environmental conditions – the grass, the trees – it has also brought with it a change in the dynamics amongst the animals – introducing new characters to this wonderful show we call life.