January Sightings At A Glance
We welcome two tiny leopard cubs to Arathusa!
January has brought some precious rain to the Arathusa property, and there are signs of new life everywhere! With fresh bursts of flowers and fruit on the trees, we can see lots of insect activity – which is also attracting some hungry birds.
Elephants are famous for their love of the marula fruit, and we have seen them feasting and enjoying these small, yellow fruit.
We are also delighted to welcome Xidulu’s two young leopard cubs who are under observation until they are a bit older.
Elephant – 98 sightings
The rainy months are a delight for our elephant herds with lots of water and mud for bathing (and playing!). We have seen elephants daily throughout January, and they can usually be found around the Marula trees that are heavy with fruit.
Do you know the marula fruit? This small, fleshy light-yellow fruit looks like an apricot and is a firm favourite of elephants and monkeys. The fruit is harvested and used in South Africa’s famous Amarula cream liqueur, which many visitors will remember fondly from their travels to Arathusa.
One of our favourite elephant sightings of all time also happened in January. A female elephant had just given birth! She was kicking around, and seemed very confused. She then moved off, leaving the calf completely on its own – very atypical behaviour for elephants. The baby was grunting, moaning and calling because it was unable to get to its feet. After about 10 to 15 minutes, the mother returned to her calf, and started loudly vocalising – still confused. We suspect that this was her first calf, and this was obviously quite an overwhelming experience for her. She was trumpeting, running up and down, and not knowing exactly what to do with the new-born…
Leopard – 80 sightings
The beautiful leopards living in the areas around Arathusa continue to delight our guests, with an incredible 80 different sightings recorded in January. While leopards are notorious for being secretive and hard-to-spot, our leopards are thriving and very active during daylight hours.
Xidulu – 11 sightings and Tortoise pan – 18 sightings
Xidulu and her two young cubs are safe and secure at their den site, which at this time is not open for game viewing. Guides from properties in the area will check in on her every few days, but for the mean time, we are allowing them some peace and protection until the cubs are grown a bit more.
As they grow, we will slowly allow one vehicle at a time to visit them for viewing. Too much activity can stress the animals or attract hyenas and possibly put the small cubs at risk.
Tortoise Pan, as the father of these cubs, is active around the den site patrolling for any dangers. He is very alert, as he and Xidulu have lost cubs to other predators in this area before.
We have seen many different leopards throughout the month with our guides spotting Cara (3 sightings), Tiyani (7 sightings), Laluka and Sibuye (2 sightings each), and Makhomsava (4 sightings).
Langa – 8 sightings
Langa has been quite active in the past few weeks. She has been hunting well, with our guides spotting her with two fresh kills – an impala and a baby warthog.
Ntsumie was seen once, with a fresh kill hauled up into a tree which is always very exciting.
Tavangumi (seen twice) has been very active in the Buffelshoek area. He has been seen stalking, roaring and marking his territory.
Some other leopards you may have encountered before were also spotted: Thalamba (3 sightings), Maribye (8 sightings), Eyrefield Male (6 sightings), Watika and Molwati (3 sightings each) and Ngoboswan (2 sightings).
Insects and birds
After some rain this summer, we are seeing increased insect activity. Lots of juicy insects of course, also means lots of hungry birds! The termites of Southern Africa (macrotermes) are entering the flight phase of their growth cycle, and the birds are loving these healthy insect meals.
Some birds of prey such as the Lesser Spotted Eagle and the Steppe Eagle can also be seen feasting on these termites.
We have also spotted some large Emperor Moths in the evenings, that can grow up to 15cm across.
Lion - 120 sightings
The lions of Arathusa were out and about this month, with over 120 sightings of lions in total!
The Torchwood Pride were seen 17 times, mostly around an elephant carcass that they were feeding on. This large elephant bull was killed while fighting with another bull elephant, and while lions do not usually scavenge, this fresh carcass was too good to pass up on.
The Nkuhuma Pride have made a few successful buffalo kills, with our guides seeing them on at least 5 buffalo carcasses.
Talamati Pride – 25 sightings and the S8 Male – 18 sightings
We’ve had some great views of the Talamati pride, which is a family of 3 females, 5 cubs and the S8 male. While we haven’t seen them with many kills, they have been very social and our guests have enjoyed over 20 sightings of them.
Avoca Males – 13 sightings
Kruger male – 9 sightings
Imbali Pride – 7 sightings
Black Dam males – 15 sightings
As we saw in December, the two Black Dam males have been making advances towards the Nkuhuma females and cubs. Mowhawk has been seen actively chasing the males away, and sometimes even distracting them and luring them away from the young cubs.
The tensions between Mowawk and the Black Dam males continue as they tussle for influence and control in the Sabi Sands area.
Buffalo – 28 sightings
The buffalo are very happy with the lush grazing during summertime, but this also means that the herds are often smaller and a bit more reclusive.
Cheetah – 3 sightings
The female cheetah and her two cubs have been seen again in January – what an incredible opportunity. It is rare to see cheetahs on the Arathusa property, so this was a special treat for our conservation team!
Wild dog – 32 sightings
We are always delighted to see these endangered pack animals at Arathusa. Their social structures are fascinating, and it is always interesting to spend time with wild dogs on a game drive, observing and learning their behaviour.
Find out more about the Safari experience at Arathusa Safari Lodge.