October Sightings At A Glance
Some rare leopard sightings, an impressive lion kill and swimming elephants!
The summer rains have arrived at Arathusa, and the dry river beds are slowly coming back to life. The grasses and shrubs are sprouting succulent green growth – much to the delight of our hungry herbivores such as elephant, buffalo and the smaller antelope.
Our two new wild dog pups, first seen in September, are now out of the den and have been spotted playing in the open for the first time. We are thrilled to see the next generation of this endangered species at Arathusa.
With the watering holes filling up, the elephants have found delight in frolicking in the water and the luscious mud! This is always so fun to watch!
Arathusa really is the home of the leopards, who thrilled us with many exciting and rare sightings in October. If you’ve never seen these magnificent cats in the wild, you’re in for a real treat when you join us on a game drive at Arathusa. Our leopards are thriving, healthy and very active and it seems that every day we have a new and exciting leopard story to chat about over dinner.
We had some very exciting leopard sightings this month (84 in total), including a very rare and special sighting of the Molwati male taking out his future competition in his territory.
From our guides: “October has been a very rainy month. Most of the leopards have been very active as they will begin marking their territories now after the rains”
Xidulu – 8 sightings
Xidulu we have been seeing less and less of although she is fine and doing well, she is 2 months pregnant already. She’s occupying her time mostly in Djuma.
Cara – 1 sighting
The last time we saw Cara, she was mating with Tavangumi so she has been pregnant for about a month and a half. She’s been hanging out in Buffelshoek and Manyeleti.
Tiyani – 14 sightings and Laluka – 13 sightings
Tiyani has been leaving her daughter Laluka alone for longer and longer periods.
Laluka made her first kill the other day – and is almost ready to move into full adulthood! She managed to kill a fully grown impala male by herself which was awesome and we were so proud to watch her grow up and become independent.
Ndzutini – 1 sighting
Sibuye – 3 sightings
Shasha – 1 sightings
Langa – 6 sightings
We had lots of different sightings of Langa and our guides are pleased to report that she is doing quite well. She’s still within her mother’s territory, but we’ve had regular sightings of her being in between Djuma and Chitwa.
Makhomsava – 2 sightings
Makhomsava has been coming onto the Arathusa property every now and again. We are not sure of the status but we think she still has one cub. She’s been busy providing sightings for us maybe once or twice a week.
Kuchava – 2 sightings and Ntsumi – 4 sightings
Kuchava is the mother of Ntsumi who is close to 1 years old. We’ve been seeing Ntsumi quite regularly with some marvellous sightings. Her hunting has also been very good, one being her feeding on a duiker kill up in the tree that was situated on a termite mound.
From our guides: “Ntsumi is becoming very defensive over her kills and is showing great signs of independence.”
SEE: Ntsumi feasting on a fresh kill: https://www.instagram.com/p/CjnMdjvqhBl/
Tlalamba – 1 sighting
Tlalamba has been a busy girl on Djuma. She is patrolling high and low and hunting and keeping busy. If you remember her feature article from September, she has been spotting using her signature hunting technique again!
Maribye – 4 sightings
Maribye has showed face now and then but as a young nomadic male, he’s been travelling up and down looking for a place to settle but he doesn’t want to go far from where mom was.
Tavangumi – 3 sightings
Tavangumi has been a legend. We have found him resting on termite mounds and sawing (which is territorial calling and making sure that no other leopards are coming into his space.)
Tortoise pan – 10 sightings
Timbavati Male – 1 sighting
Quarantine Male – 1 sighting
Eyrefield Male – 2 sightings
Luna – 0 sightings
Nkanyi – 1 sighting
Watika – 2 sightings
Xitsalala – 1 sighting
Molwati – 3 sightings
The big sighting of the month was from Molwati male who was found with a hyena cub kill on the 21st of October after previously visiting the other den site and injuring other cubs from the Djuma clan. He has only been seen with 1 carcass and no others, but he definitely injured at least 1 more cub.
It is very common male leopard behaviour to take out competition in his territory. As hyenas often steal a leopard’s kills, he follows his instinct to neutralise this threat.
“…seeing Molwati is very rare because he is not a big fan of people, he is the ghost – so it was awesome to see him..”
We had some good wild dog sightings especially the ones with the 2 new pups. One morning we found them feeding on a scrub hare.
First look at our wild dog pups:
The Ottawa pack came in the other day and provided some awesome sightings of a good chase.
Ranger Brett tells us about this moment: “During our morning drive, we found a pack of wild dogs feeding on a fresh impala kill. With the commotion of them feeding, some opportunistic hyenas were drawn to the sighting and one managed to steal the carcass. The pack of wild dogs were unimpressed and fought back to regain their hard-earned prey.”
See hyenas vs wild dogs https://www.instagram.com/p/CkQoDtRIMZn/
The elephants have been loving the rain, with 52 sightings across the reserve this month. They love to swim when it’s raining. Contrary to popular belief, almost 50% of an elephants diet is made up of grass so they are loving the fresh, green grass that has come in after the rains. Some of the younger elephants are very playful – even if they haven’t learnt how to control their trunks just yet!
As the rains have started to come the grazing has been a lot better, so bigger herds of buffalo are moving in and out. Our rangers counted 31 sightings in October.
We also had a fantastic and unique cheetah sighting where they were on a kill. We found the 2 cheetah brothers close to the Kruger boundary lying down next to an impala kill.
The bird watchers will be delighted to hear that the migratory birds have moved in for the warm summer months. Spotted at Arathusa in October:
– The red chested cuckoo has been calling.
– The African cuckoo which has officially made its way back.
– All the eagles and vultures are all either mating or sitting on eggs with chicks.
– A lot of the European migrants have arrived.
– Some of the barn swallows and roller birds have arrived.
We have saved the best for last – in October our guides counted an amazing 116 sightings!
Torchwood Pride – 10 sightings
We watched as 14 members of the Torchwood pride finished off the remains of a massive wildebeest kill. They have been more active on Buffelshoek. The cubs are starting to defend themselves better over the kills.
Nkuhuma Pride – 15 sightings
The Nkuhumas have split up quite a lot so we haven’t been seeing much of them but we did see them together as a full pride moving through.
Talamati Pride – 41 sightings and S8 Male – 20 sightings
We often see the Talamati pride all together with the S8 male. They are still doing fine with all their healthy cubs.
Avoca Males – 22 sightings
Blondie has disappeared but Mohawk is still around spending a lot of his time with the Nkuhuma pride.
Kruger male – 5 sightings
Plains camp males – 1 sighting
Nkuhuma/Birmingham males – 2 sightings
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