December Sightings At A Glance
Our rangers tracked rare cheetah viewings, some dramatic lion politics and a martial eagle on the hunt!
In the high heat of the summer, the lodge at Arathusa is quiet and peaceful as guests relax by the pool – and our elephant and buffalo guests wallow close by at the watering hole.
Some of us retreat indoors for a luxurious spa treatment to escape the African sun – but it’s at dawn and dusk when the real action takes place! Come with us on a super-safari as we highlight the best animal sightings from the past month:
At the end of 2022, we were delighted with some very rare cheetah sightings. A female cheetah has moved into the Arathusa area with her two cubs, and our rangers were very excited to spend some time with them on four different occasions.
Lions were tracked to 98 different sightings in the month of December, and as with all royal families there was a fair bit of drama to be witnessed!
Nkuhuma Pride – 19 sightings and Black Dam males – 7 sightings
Things were heating up with the Nkuhuma pride in December, when the two Black Dam males moved into their territory. You will remember from November that Mohawk lost his two brothers recently and he is now trying to defend the pride from these interlopers. It remains to be seen if the Black Dam males will stage a coup d’état.
It appears that the Nkuhuma lionesses are keeping the Black Dam males at a distance and protecting their young cubs. Male lions will often kill the cubs of their rivals, so that their offspring can take precedence in the hierarchy.
Talamati Pride – 30 sightings
S8 Male – 19 sightings
Avoca Males – 11 sightings
Imbali Pride – 4 sightings
Torchwood Pride – 5 sightings and Kruger male – 3 sightings
The Kruger male has been seen with the Torchwood pride on a number of occasions. Their territory is on the Eastern and Northern parts of Buffelshoek.
While leopards have a reputation for being elusive and difficult to spot, at Arathusa our leopard population is active and thriving! In December we counted 77 different sightings, and many of our guests were able to capture some truly beautiful photographs.
Tiyani – 5 sightings and Tortoise pan – 8 sightings
The Tortoise pan male has been seen courting (and mating!) with Tiyani, in the area close to the Arathusa Airstrip. Tiyani has been expanding her territory and some think that she is creating space for her daughter Laluka. However, usually it is the cub that will move to the fringes of the mother’s territory.
It is much more likely that Tiyani is staying within range of the Tortoise pan male for some romance. Leopards typically mate a number of times over 3 to 4 days, which may be Tiyani’s main motivation.
Langa – 9 sightings
The Langa female seems to have settled around little Gowrie and Chitwa areas. She has selected a particular jackalberry tree as her headquarters and we have noticed her there with a fresh impala kill.
Kuchava – 2 sightings
Ntsumi – 3 sightings
Tlalamba – 12 sightings
We had some fleeting sightings of Tlalamba. We did have 2 days of sightings when Tlalamba had an impala kill up in a tree.
Maribye – 9 sightings
Maribye has been around scent marking which is very cheeky for a young leopard to do because he hasn’t claimed a territory yet, in fact he is still in his dad’s territory.
Tavangumi – 4 sightings
Timbaviti Male – 4 sightings
Eyrefield Male – 1 sighting
Luna – 1 sighting
Watika – 1 sighting
Ngoboswan – 1 sighting
Hlambela – 3 sightings
Hlambela is a young male leopard who has recently moved onto our property. He has been briefly spotted here and there, but seems to be searching to establish his own territory. For males between 3 and 5 years old, it is common for them to be mostly nomadic.
Birds of prey
On the edges of the dam, our guides have noted some interesting eagle activity. A martial eagle has been seen preying on an Egyptian goose – a medium-sized water bird that is common throughout southern Africa. This should make a juicy meal for the eagle, who also hunt small reptiles, rabbits and other birds.
Due to the summer heat, the elephants have been keeping a low profile. They are usually spotted close to the Arathusa watering hole where they can bathe in the muddy banks.
Summertime grazing is abundant and of a high quality. The buffalo have scattered into smaller herds as they are not covering long distances, but with so many lions close by we can expect frequent kills.