May Sightings At A Glance.
A special visit from an endangered species is the talk of the lodge
As May draws to a close, it feels as if winter is knocking on the door. Winter is the dry season at Arathusa, which means that grasses and juicy leaves begin to die back. This is excellent for our guests for two reasons – as drinking water becomes harder to find animals will congregate around watering holes and as the grass and shrubs dies back, it is easier to spot big game animals in the thinner bush.
Pangolin - 1 sighting
While not as fierce or as famous as the Big Five, our rangers and guests were delighted to see a very rare pangolin. These mammals are nocturnal and have a small low body with a long tail, giving them a badger-like shape.
Their bodies are covered in hard scales, which protect them from predators. If threatened or attacked, the pangolin will roll into a ball and the scales will lock tight together, almost like a tortoise shell.
From our trackers: “Pangolins tongues can be longer than their bodies and can reach up to 40 to 50 centimeters (16 to 20 inches) in length, depending on the species.
The tongue of a pangolin is attached near the pelvis and the last pair of ribs. It is stored in a sheath within the chest cavity when not in use. When feeding, the pangolin extends its tongue rapidly, allowing it to probe deep into ant and termite mounds, where its primary food source resides. The tongue is covered in sticky saliva, which helps in capturing and pulling insects into the mouth.”
Pangolins are severely endangered due to illegal hunting and deforestation. Our guides, even though they work out in the bush every day, will maybe see a pangolin once every few years!
Leopards - 104 total sightings
Arathusa is a true delight for guests looking to spend some special moments with a leopard in the wild. Leopards are notoriously shy and can be difficult to spot, but our Arathusa leopards are thriving and shining with many sightings every day! Get your cameras ready:
Xidulu – 30 sightings and Tortoise Pan – 19 sightings
Xidulu and her cub are doing well, with the cub (suspected to be a boy) is getting stronger and more confident every day. While we sometimes see Xidulu and the cub on their own, dad Tortoise Pan has been spotted in close vicinity to the den site, keeping an eye out for danger.
Tava Ngumi – 11 sightings
This strong leopard is a dominant male to the north of Arathusa lodge. He is a graceful creature, with beautiful spots in his coat that gives Tava Ngumi a ‘jaguar-like’ appearance.
Learn more about how to identify our leopards over on The Leopards of Arathusa page.
Other leopard sightings:
Langa – 11 sightings, Tiyani – 11 sightings, Laluka – 2 sightings, Sibuye – 2 sightings, Makhomsava – 9 sightings, Ntsumi – 2 sightings, Maribye – 1 sightings, Thalamba – 1 sightings, Timbavati Male – 1 sighting, Watika – 1 sighting, Ngoboswan – 3 sightings
Wild dog – 12 sightings
Wild dogs are an endangered species, and as with all rare and protected species, our trackers feel a special connection with the wild dog packs that visit near Arathusa. Wild dogs are very social animals and are often seen trotting along in large family packs, using the dirt roads to make quick progress through the bush.
Elephant – 81 sightings
These majestic animals are an absolute pleasure to see in the wild! Yes, elephants are enormous and powerful, but they can also be remarkably silent. Some of our guides can tell you stories of being surprised by an elephant who was just going about their day!
Elephants are very reliant on regular drinking water, and they are usually seen near large bodies of water.
Buffalo – 48 sightings
While they can be a little grumpy and not always pleased to see visitors, buffalo are an important part of the Kruger ecosystem. Their grazing and herd movements assist trees and plants with seed dispersal far and wide, and buffalo are an essential food source for our lion prides.
Lion – 102 sightings
We were very pleased to have spotted so many of these powerful and impressive cats! The two main prides Nkuhuma (28 sightings) and Talamati (28 sightings) were seen almost every day, usually around sunrise or sunset when lions are most active.
Ranger Brett captured some moments with a lion cub from the Talamati Pride – click here to view
Other lion sightings: S8 Male – 19 sightings, Avoca Males – 15 sightings, Imbali Pride – 8 sightings, Black Dam male – 6 sightings.
Cheetah – 1 sighting
Cheetahs, like leopards can be very elusive and difficult to spot in the bush. They prefer large open grasslands, while the Kruger landscape around Arathusa is dotted with trees and shrubs. We can expect to see some more cheetahs in the drier winter season.
Find out more about the Safari experience at Arathusa Safari Lodge.