February Sightings At A Glance.
Abundant rains have revitalized the land, and we see a very rare pangolin!
February brought plentiful summer rains to the Kruger Park area almost every day. Fresh rains are always welcome by animals, plants, and guests alike, although it can make game viewing a little more challenging.
Trees, shrubs, and grasses are lush and green, growing thick and dense. With plenty of water and grazing, prey animals such as antelope and buffalo will generally stay close to the tree line making it harder for our big cats to hunt out in the open.
The Arathusa property is situated in the Sabi Sands areas, which is noted for its crests and rises where large marula trees grow. Rainwater runs off these crests, forming drainage lines and gulleys across the landscape.
With the rainwater moving across the land (instead of into deep rivers), some areas can become waterlogged at this time of year. It makes for excellent grazing, but the sticky, thick mud can be difficult for some antelope to navigate. Generally, smaller animals will avoid these areas for a while until the mud dries out a bit.
Our water sources such as dams, reservoirs and watering holes are filled to the brim, which will be essential to our animals during the winter months ahead. As we move into Autumn, we are also seeing cooler, darker mornings and shorter daylight hours overall.
Leopard – 51 sightings
As always, the Arathusa leopards gave us an excellent show this month with new-mama Xidulu in the leading role!
Xidula and cub – 12 sightings, Tortoise Pan male – 4 sightings
After the excitement of spotting Xidulu’s den in January, we have been thrilled to meet her two new leopard cubs.
It is sad and natural for a leopard to lose one of her cubs to predators, and it looks like that’s what has happened here. However, the remaining cub looks healthy and is thriving – hopefully with more sightings we will be able to determine the sex of the cub. Tortoise Pan is still patrolling the area, keeping a sharp eye on the young family, and protecting them.
Langa – 10 sightings
Langa remained close by and showed off with some big kills and feasting up in the marula trees. Langa was fortunate to inherit her mother, Sibuye’s, territory when she came of age at about 2 years old. Sibuye left the area, which was a tremendous advantage to Langa who didn’t have to fight to establish her own territory somewhere else.
Occasionally, Sibuye will return to the territory, and then Langa will act subservient and defer to her mother.
Maribye – 3 sightings
This young lad has lots of spirit and cheek – which seems to be working for him so far! He has remained in his father’s territory, which surprisingly hasn’t got Maribye into trouble yet. On one occasion, he even stole Tlalamba’s kill – what a naughty boy!
Other leopard sightings: Tiyani – 2 sightings, Laluka – 1 sighting, Kuchava – 2 sightings, Ntsumie – 3 sightings, Tlalamba – 1 sighting, Tavangumi – 3 sightings, Timbavati Male – 1 sighting, Molwati – 1 sightings , Kupona – 5 sightings, Misava – 1 sightings
Elephant – 89 sightings
Elephants are not hard to miss, and we have seen some nice activity from the herds at Arathusa. As with the other herbivores, the elephants have a veritable all-you-can-eat buffet at this time of the year!
The larger elephants do not have a problem with some of the muddier grazing areas, although our trackers won’t be following them there. While an elephant can make an easy getaway, a game viewing vehicle is more likely to get stuck in the mud!
Pangolin – 1 sighting
Our trackers were delighted to see a shy and rare pangolin on the Arathusa property. A sighting like this only comes around every few years, so we were very excited to see this endangered creature.
The pangolin was found tangled in a fence, and one of the rangers from another lodge helped it to freedom. Another great day protecting our beautiful animals.
Buffalo – 7 sightings
Compared to January (28), we have spotted considerably fewer buffalo at Arathusa. With water and grazing all around, they are spoiled for choice when it comes to where they want to spend their time. We can expect to see more buffalo towards the end of March, which will be excellent for our always-hungry lion prides!
Lion – 67 sightings
Our lions have been sighted many times this month. The family pride groups seem to have settled a bit after the drama and politics of early January. We can look forward to some new lion cubs in the next month or two, which is always a special moment.
Torchwood Pride – 8 sightings
Nkuhuma Pride – 9 sightings
The Nkuhuma pride is a bit fractured at the moment, with not many sightings. Again, the lush vegetation is making it a bit challenging to observe the pride behaviour.
Talamati Pride – 17 sightings, and the S8 male – 12 sightings
The S8 Male and the Talamati pride are staying close together, including 5 cubs. One female appears to be lactating, which indicates that she has a cub that we haven’t seen yet – wonderful news! Our trackers think that she is denning with her cub in the Buffelshoek area. Hopefully the female will bring her cub out soon.
Black Dam males – 8 sightings
After causing a bit of a ruckus in December and January, it now seems as if these two gentlemen have moved on into a neighbouring property.
Other lion sightings: Avoca Males – 4 sightings , Kruger male – 6 sightings, Plains camp males – 1 sighting, Imbali Pride – 2 sightings
Find out more about the Safari experience at Arathusa Safari Lodge.