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During the reporting period the camp enjoyed higher than usual occupancy levels, for a longer period, when comparing year on year. This resulted in more eyes and ears on the ground, and plenty of sightings written up in the register. It was certainly the month for cats, lions seen almost every day. Several kills were made, one report of a “text book” kill by a lioness, catching a juvenile warthog which she carried to her cubs. The lions were often in camp, seemingly unperturbed by human activity. There were numerous leopard sightings, some with cubs, some with kills, one kill happened when a hyena arrived, stole the kill and devoured it in half an hour, while the leopard darted in and out feeding off scraps!
Elephant activity increased, month on month, more breeding herds ranging on Ingwelala. The largest herd size numbered 50 – 60. No buffalo to speak of, a single bull seen on three occasions.
Wild dogs were active, two different packs sizing each other up on Buffelsbed in an amazing sighting. One pack had 9 dogs and the other 20, with full on confrontation.
A black mamba was seen swimming in the water at Bird Hide. It swam out to the leadwood stump in the middle, slithered up to reach the Red-billed Buffalo Weaver nests to feed on the chicks.
The scorpions are plentiful this summer, take care to use a torch at night and wear closed shoes.
General game sightings included spotted hyena, giraffe, genet, hippo and crocodile.
The birders had an excellent month, noting Martial Eagle, Tawny Eagle (pale form), Lesser Spotted Eagle, Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl, Pearl-spotted Owlet, African Scops Owl, Lanner Falcon, Red-footed Kestrel, Dark Chanting Goshawk, Ground Hornbill, Black Stork, Saddle-billed Stork, White-backed Night Heron, Levaillant’s Cuckoo, Eurasian Golden Oriole, Cardinal Woodpecker, Spotted Flycatcher, Dusky Lark, Brown-headed Parrot, Painted Snipe, Plum-coloured Starling and Little Bee Eater.
There is a troop of baboons that forage through camp. All food should be kept out of sight to prevent break-ins to bungalows for the food. Due to the dry veld conditions these baboons are spending increasingly more time foraging and roosting in camp.
The vervet monkeys that frequent the car park and swimming pool area have learnt to open cooler boxes and picnic baskets left unattended on vehicles. They do not back away from women and children, so please keep a close eye on small children. Members are requested to double check that all used refuse bags are delivered directly to the Dirt Box, and not left on the tail gates of game viewers in the Reception car park.
December's game sightings blew hot and cold, as it can. There were periods when sightings were plentiful and there were times when sightings were few and far between. In particular elephant and buffalo sightings were infrequent. The absence of any grass sward to speak of, and the recent impact of the drought explains the general absence of buffalo. Lion and leopard sightings were reasonable, with the joy of several cubs been seen for both cat species, and several kills, which always makes for good sightings along with photographic opportunity.
Packs of wild dogs have been active, the largest number in a pack being 18, but mostly a pack of 11 dogs were seen. There was a report of a cheetah seen on Buffelsbed.
Other general game sightings included spotted hyena, giraffe (one herd of 14), impala, kudu, nyala, warthog (several with youngsters), genet, porcupine (several sightings mentioned), honey badger, banded mongoose, baboon, vervet monkey, spring hare, hippo and crocodile.
Due to low occupancy in November, entries into the sightings register were somewhat limited. However, there were lion sightings most days.
An adult male lion that was in a fight some weeks ago remained with the pride, despite his body condition steadily deteriorating before he succumbed. The post mortem revealed under developed lungs, the cause of death pneumonia. No TB present, further samples were taken to test for Rabies. The results will be known in due course.
Leopard sightings were fewer, perhaps the summer leaf foliage on trees favouring more cover for leopards to remain concealed. They do spend their entire existence plotting to not be seen! Buffalo sightings also decreased, with no mention of any large herds ranging on Ingwelala. There were very few elephant sightings.
Wild dog sightings were plentiful, the largest pack numbering 19 in total. The wild dogs are drawn to the annual impala lambing season (mid to late November, the first one seen on 15 November).
There were also reported sightings of spotted hyena, side-striped jackal, giraffe, zebra, impala, kudu, nyala, bushbuck, klipspringer, Sharpe’s grysbok, warthog, genet, porcupine, civet, banded mongoose, baboon and vervet monkey and spring hare.
Birders noted Yellow-billed Kite, Eurasian Golden Oriole and arrival of the Woodlands Kingfisher on 15 November
Game sightings during the previous month were plentiful. Deserving special mention is the steady increase in buffalo sightings, as a bulk grazer their utilisation of the veld is a key factor in maintaining nutrient cycling.
The presence of buffalo could well be the reason why the lions were active on Ingwelala, being seen every other day. A fight between two male lions resulted in one of the males picking up a nasty eye injury. These are natural processes in the course of nature, providing that natural selection takes place. Survival of the fittest, and ensuring the best genes are dominant when breeding takes place.
Leopards were seen most days, several with kills, and inter-predator action reported between leopards and hyenas wrestling over carcasses.
A pack of wild dogs (up to 12) was seen on seven occasions. Further sightings included side-striped jackal, giraffe, impala, kudu, nyala, bushbuck, klipspringer, warthog, genet, porcupine, honey badger, banded mongoose, baboon and vervet monkey. At the main causeway a crocodile was seen feeding on a nyala.
Birders recorded Martial Eagle, African Hawk Eagle, Fish Eagle, Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl, Ground Hornbill, Orange-breasted Bushshrike, White-bellied Sunbird, Marico Sunbird, Little Bea eater and White-backed Vultures.
During the month of September, sightings of elephant which were predominantly breeding herds, were plentiful. A female elephant was seen in one herd with a deformed leg which has impacted on her style of walking, but has not affected her ability to keep up with the herd. Smaller bachelor groups of buffaloes were seen around the camp area. The pride of 7 lions are being seen on a more frequent basis. Leopards were seen on the odd occasion in the second half of September with reports of two of the leopards having acquired wounds on their hind quarters due to territorial fighting.
The adult giraffe that had the natural head injury due to fighting had to be euthanised due to the behaviour of the animal changing as well as losing body condition after the wound could not heal.
Aardvark sightings have been captured during the night, taken on camera traps at different locations throughout the reserve.
The wild dogs have been seen frequently on six different occasions.
Game sightings included spotted hyena, side-striped jackal, black-backed jackal, giraffe, zebra, impala, kudu, nyala, bushbuck, waterbuck, Sharpe’s Grysbok, grey duiker, steenbok, warthog, genet, civet, porcupine, honey badger, banded mongoose, dwarf mongoose and vervet monkey.
Birds noted in the sightings register were the Martial Eagle, Tawny Eagle, Fish Eagle, Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl, Ground Hornbill, Temminck’s Courser, Green-winged Pytilia and Yellow-billed Kites. Wahlberg’s Eagle has returned for the summer and was noted only a few days after the Yellow-billed Kites were spotted.
Through the reporting period there were daily sightings of elephants, predominantly breeding herds, with one sighting counting as many as 60 elephants. A Member reported being charged by a young bull elephant, serving as a reminder to us to always identify an “escape route” when watching these magic giants. No large buffalo herds ranged on Ingwelala, the buffalos seen were small bachelor groups. Lion sightings were plentiful, including cubs. Leopards were seen most days. An interesting sighting was of two leopards with a kill “cornered” in a tree by wild dogs which were in turn chased away by two hyenas. On another occasion, seven hyenas milled around the tree of a leopard kill.
Wild dogs were seen often, providing excellent photographic and video opportunities for viewers. This included several sightings of kills, and pups feeding at these kills. A Member described the one kill where adult dogs pulled down a steenbok, and then retreated a short distance to stand guard as sentries while the pups ate the steenbok. Fantastic to witness this behaviour.
Game sightings included spotted hyena, side-striped jackal, black-backed jackal, giraffe, zebra, impala, kudu, nyala, bushbuck, Sharpe’s Grysbok, grey duiker, steenbok, warthog, genet, civet, porcupine, honey badger, banded mongoose, dwarf mongoose, vervet monkey, African wild cat, hippo and crocodile.
Birds noted in the sightings register were Martial Eagle, Tawny Eagle, Fish Eagle, Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl, Ground Hornbill, Temminck’s Courser and Green-winged Pytilia. The Yellow-billed Kites have returned for the summer months. .
It was another month of fantastic Big Five sightings. The pride of nine lions were frequently seen, several kills making for excellent game viewing, especially a buffalo kill in the middle of Camp. Social dynamics are always interesting to observe when lions are feeding on a fresh kill. Leopard sightings were plentiful, a mixture of mating leopards, female leopards with cubs, fighting leopards and leopards in trees with kills. Spectacular stuff!
The buffalo in general remain dispersed, the full effect of the recent drought not yet quantified, and the nutritional (winter) bottle neck not yet in full play. There are fewer elephant breeding herds around compared to previous months which is normal for this time of the year.
Wild dogs were seen on two occasions.
Other sightings included spotted hyena, side-striped jackal, giraffe, blue wildebeest, zebra, impala, kudu, nyala, bushbuck, Sharpe’s Grysbok, grey duiker, steenbok, warthog, genet, civet, porcupine, honey badger, banded mongoose, dwarf mongoose, vervet monkey, hippo and crocodile.
Birds recorded were Martial Eagle, Tawny Eagle, Fish Eagle, Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl, Hooded Vulture, White-backed Vulture, Black Stork, Saddle-billed Stork, Ground Hornbill, Temminck’s Courser, Bronze-winged Courser, Brown-headed Parrot and Yellow-breasted Apalis.
Big Five sightings through the month of June were abundant for elephant, leopard and lion. There were several lion kills, one great sighting was lions wounding a buffalo (and losing interest), and chose to kill another buffalo instead, which allowed a large clan of hyenas to immediately move in and kill the wounded buffalo!
The wonders of the bush are truly amazing to witness. On another occasion, the lions spent an entire night chilling around the swimming pool grounds, investigating and sniffing at the human scents left on garden benches and chairs. Two young cubs present seem to enjoy a run on the lawn, using the garden furniture us useful screens from which to ambush one another in play.
The elephant bulls that visit Camp have also shown an interest in all the new plants and shrubs around the Members Area, and “touch wood,” have not inflicted too much damage during these escapades.
A Member collecting a cell phone on charge after dark from the TV lounge had to prolong the collection time as a leopard crossed the gazebo/patio area between all the tables and chairs!
General sightings included giraffe, blue wildebeest, zebra, impala, kudu, nyala, lesser bush baby, genet, civet, warthog, hippo, crocodile and side-striped jackal.
Birds listed were Fish Eagle, Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl, Ground Hornbill, Temminck’s Courser, Brown-headed Parrot and Cut-throat Finch
Big Five sightings have been plentiful, especially elephant, lion and leopard. There remains a deep pool of water in the river bed at Old Farmhouse which is a popular bathing area for elephant breeding herds. These gatherings and activities are always a pleasure to observe.
General sightings included giraffe, zebra, impala, kudu, nyala, spotted hyena, porcupine, honey badger, genet, civet, warthog, hippo and crocodile.
Birds listed were Martial Eagle, African Hawk Eagle, Fish Eagle, Tawny Eagle, Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl, Ground Hornbill, Temminck’s Courser, Red-billed Quelea, Hooded Vulture, White-backed Vulture and Lappet-faced Vulture.
The camp had high occupancy rates throughout April, and it is always pleasing to read through all the wonderful sightings that are posted in the sightings register in Reception.Thank you for taking the time to record these sightings.
Lions were seen almost every day, in various numbers, shapes and sizes. There was an eye witness report of a clash between different aged cubs of two lionesses, where 8-week old cubs of the one lioness tormented and killed a newly born cub of another lioness. When trying to understand or interpret this behaviour it raises more questions than answers. An adult male lion, in pitiful body condition, was euthenased after it sought refuge in Vuka Ingwe. The post mortem confirmed the lion was riddled with TB in its lymph nodes and showed chronic arthritis in the joints. Blood and tissue samples were collected for further analysis, the Vets suspecting too the lion was infected with Feline AIDS.
Other Big Five sightings were also plentiful, with numerous breeding herds of elephants seen, on the hotter days those ranging on Argyle enjoy bathing in the river at Farmhouse. Buffalo and leopards were seen often, with two different pairs of mating leopards a certain highlight (Old Farmhouse and Mansimvula Cutline).
Wild dogs were active along the tar road early mornings, pack sizes varying from 7 – 15.
General game sightings included giraffe, blue wildebeest, zebra, impala, kudu, nyala, grey duiker, steenbok, spotted hyena, spring hare, porcupine, hippo, African wild cat, genet, civet and crocodile. It’s encouraging to see the spring hare numbers are building up rather pleasingly.
Birds listed were Martial Eagle, African Hawk Eagle, Fish Eagle, Tawny Eagle, Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl, Ground Hornbill, Black Stork, Hooded Vulture, Hamerkop, Kori Bustard, Cisticola and even an Osprey seen at Timbavati Crossing.
The annual impala rutting season is in full swing
Game viewing through March continued to be very good. Lions and leopards were seen on most days. Special sightings of the cats included lion cubs at Third Crossing and on Eastern River Road a leopard carrying a new born cub in her mouth.
Elephant herds continue to enjoy bathing in the river at Farmhouse. Surprisingly, there were very few buffalo (breeding) herds seen, assumingly they have dispersed to areas that experienced higher rainfall where the veld will be greener.
General game sightings were giraffe, blue wildebeest, zebra, impala, kudu, nyala, grey duiker, steenbok, hyena, spring hare, porcupine, hippo and crocodile.
The birders noted a great mixed bag of Martial Eagle, Fish Eagle, Tawny Eagle, Greater Striped Cuckoo, Jacobin Cuckoo, Yellow-billed Oxpecker, Temminck’s Courser, Ground Hornbill, Black Stork, Saddle-billed Stork, Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl and White-headed Vulture.
Game viewing through February was excellent with frequent sightings of lions and leopards, with numerous kills.
Despite low camp occupancy and therefore fewer entries into the sightings register, all the Big Five were seen regularly. Wild dogs were more active in the general area, perhaps a bit later than usual for the summer, but none the less they were seen every other day.
General game sightings included blue wildebeest, zebra, impala, kudu, nyala, grey duiker, steenbok, hyena, side-striped jackal, spring hare and porcupine.
The birders noted a great mixed bag of Red-crested Korhaan, Temminck’s Courser, Long-tailed Paradise Whydah, Ground Hornbill, Saddle-billed Stork, Eurasian Golden Oriole, Eurasian Hobby, Verreaux’s Eagle- Owl, and Little Sparrowhawk.