September Sightings at a Glance
Welcome to two new Wild Dog puppies!
September was a month for leopards and buffalo, with some incredible sightings.
We had the first of the Spring rains with one small downfall of 30mm which has settled the dust a little bit but not enough to fill the streams yet. The spring season and hot weather has brought some fabulous animals to the Arathusa Waterhole of which our guests have a front row seat.
The sun is rising earlier just after 6am, giving us almost 12 hours of daylight every day. The days are getting warmer and we are expecting a hot summer at Arathusa!
As the grazing areas dry up across the region, we are seeing herds of buffalo moving into our area. Herds of buffalo need to extend their grazing areas quite a bit due to food stress – as the grass dries out at the end of Winter it is less nutritious. We were fortunate to see some of these magnificent herd of big animals!
We had some very special sightings of leopards this month (98 in total), one of them being of a brand new male leopard called Ngovozwane that has just come into the area.
As the leopards are very active and moving around a lot, it is inevitable that there may be some tensions between them as territories overlap.
Xidulu – 19
Xidulu and the Tortoise Pan male have spent quite a lot of time together mating – over 7 days. Xidulu may be having problems falling back into oestrus which is why she has been following Tortoise Pan so much.
Cara – 2
The Cara female mated with Tavangumi which was quite special because this would be her first litter. Cara is the only surviving cub of the 5 litters that Xidulu has had.
Tiyani – 1 sighting individually, and 6 with her cub
Ndzutini – 1 sighting
Sibuye – 0 sightings
Shasha – 0 sightings
Langa – 8 sightings
We had many sightings of Langa: who has been hanging around quite a lot. Sibuye has extended her territory so Langa and Sibuye had a bit of a spat but Langa immediately backed down and moved off.
See the Langa female: https://www.instagram.com/p/CiKfiDBKIIj/
Makhomsava – 2 sightings
Kuchava – 3 sightings individually, and 2 with her cub
Kuchava and her one cub Ntsumi are doing very well. We recently found Ntsumi up in a tree feeding on a kill.
Tlalamba – 5 sightings individually, and 0 with her cub
Maribye – 5 sightings
About this sighting: “The Maribye male leopard has been moving around quite a lot. He and Xidulu had a disagreement when he stole the remains of an nyala kill from her in a tree.”
See Leopard vs Leopard in this incredible video: https://www.instagram.com/p/CicmxqyKJbj/
Tavangumi – 4 sightings
Tortoise pan – 13 sightings
Timbavati Male – 3 sightings
From our guides: “Another special sighting was between the Timbavati male and Maribye sharing a kill. We believe that there wasn’t any violence or aggression between the 2 because none of them have claimed their territory. “
Quarantine Male – 0 sightings
Eyrefield Male – 0 sightings
Luna – 0 sightings
Nkanyi – 1 sighting
Watika – 1 sighting
Molwati – 1 sighting – This is the first time that our guides have seen Molwati in quite some time.
From our guides: “Ngovozwane is Eyrefields brother. Ngovozwane showed up in the Djuma area and Molwati (another male) was vocalising and chasing him off. He was having a spat with the Molwati male which is the dominant male in the eastern section.”
Our local lions did not disappoint us this month, with over 120 different sightings!
Torchwood Pride – 3 sightings
We have been seeing the Torchwood pride more often in the Buffelshoek area.
Nkuhuma Pride – 12 sightings
Talamati Pride – 31 sightings
From our guides: “A surprising thing was the Talamati sub-adult females joined in with the Talamati breakaways, their 5 cubs and the S8 male and were accepted quite well. So we might see a join up here however the only issue is that the 2 young males are sired by Dark Mane and not by S8 so they wouldn’t be welcomed. So they would have to come back together without the young males.”
S8 Male – 17 sightings
Avoca Males – 16 sightings
Kruger male – 2 sightings
Plains camp males – 0 sightings
We had a pack of 4 wild dogs with 2 pups which are the first pups we have seen in over a year so this was a very special moment for these endangered animals.
We have seen a lot of movement from these huge herd animals, as they search for richer grazing and fresh water. We spotted 21 different occasions.
Some of these buffalo have made a few good meals for our lions.
Watch these lions go head to head over a buffalo carcass – no sharing here!
About this moment: “A buffalo was killed by the Dark Mane male lion and the Talamati sub-adults during the night. The Plains Camp male lions stole the kill and were feeding on the buffalo the next day. They got aggressive when one of the Talamati females tried to get a bite of the buffalo.”
Elephants too are feeling the grazing pressure, and they are often around the watering hole area. We spotted 47 different instances of elephant herds in September.
WATCH: Tracker Ishmael Mkanzi talks about elephant behaviour and signalling
The vultures are currently sitting on their eggs, while the Wahlberg Eagles have migrated into the area and have started to build their nests.
Safari is not just about the big animals, but also about the small and mighty insects beneath our feet.
From our guides: “Scorpions are active with the burrowing scorpions crossing the roads at night. We can often see them in our headlights but they are quite shy” The predatory beetles, tiger beetles, is a verocious predators that can chase down prey like small geckos and insects. It is incredible to watch!
Sun spiders or Red Romans are also active now also hunting arachnids that will tackle lizards snakes and scorpions even small rodents. Snakes have started to get active with mambas and cobras crossing the roads as well as puffadders. A few harmless spotted tree snakes and yellow-bellied sand snakes have been seen in the camp which help with rodent control as well as bats – they are our friends!”
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Find out more about the Safari experience at Arathusa Safari Lodge.