To all who have experienced this beautiful place we call home and to those who are yet to come we wish you all a warm welcome. It is always a privilege to be able to work in a reserve that is over a hundred years old, it boasts such a diversity of fauna and flora where the ebb and flow of sightings changes on a daily basis. Every morning and afternoon a new adventure awaits as we depart on the open vehicle safaris. We had some good rain which filled up a lot of the natural pans and dispersed a lot of the animals, in turn green grass has been shooting up everywhere much to the delight of all the plains game. The female Impala are all heavily pregnant and it’s just a couple of weeks before they start to drop all the new calves, bringing new life into the bush. The rains saw the return of a nice size Buffalo herd which we haven’t seen since last year. We hope this trend continues as these mass herbivores are very important in turning up soil as they move, eating and cutting down the grass which in turn generates new growth. As with all living things in the park each and every species has a specific part in ensuring the eco-system is maintained and the cycle continues from the smallest little insect to the biggest mammal all are just as important as each other. So, it’s always good to appreciate all the lovely things that this diverse system has to show us and to impart that knowledge to others. It has been a good month in terms of sightings and guests and guide alike enjoying every moment.
As we enter the rainy season and water is freely available the animals are free to move and no longer limited by water or the availability thereof. The Lion sightings started off slow this month but we still had very nice sightings all round. The Imbali pride of three Lionesses and the seven sub-adults where seen on a regular basis and its being a privilege to have been able to watch them grow over the last two years. The sub adults are getting bigger every day and are slowly learning the art of hunting however, their skills still need lots of practice and just a glance from the adults tells them to stay in one place while they go out to hunt. As much time and energy is put into a hunt and for a young lion who has not refined the skills yet to jump the gun and ruin the chances is the case all too often. Some of the Hamiltons pride made an appearance along with one of our dominant males and put on a fantastic sound show as they roared announcing to all who would listen that this is their home.
It was difficult this month to track down these elusive masters of camouflage and with the bush starting to thicken and the grass getting longer the guides had to put all their skills and knowledge to use in trying to track them down. We had one sighting of a large male who hadn’t had the chance to take his kill up the tree yet before it was stolen by some Hyenas, he did however mange to sneak back in and reclaim a piece which he hurriedly took up a tree, much to the guests delight at seeing this powerful animal go up a tree as if with no effort at all. Tshidulu the young male around Hamiltons made a couple of appearances but seemed constantly on the move or possibly looking for an area to call his own as he is around two years or maybe a little older at which time the dominant male should start to push him out the area. Our dominant male around Hamiltons was absent most of the month but was seen several times in the last week marking and patrolling his territory.
This beautiful cat is always a special sighting as their territories are extremely large almost twice that of male Lions most times and they remain very elusive and their numbers are estimated to be less than 300 in the entire park. So, when you are lucky enough to see one consider yourself very fortunate. This month we once again where blessed with various sightings of these masters of speed. We saw the two males that we normally see on our south-western boundary patrolling the open plains looking for potential prey. We also found the lone female that we sometimes see in the eastern sector. As well as a lone male on two different occasions and once on a kill of a large male Impala he had manged to catch.
This month was a special month as far as the dogs where concerned we had a sighting of the Hamiltons pack who we have not seen in many months with four new “pups” but already about 5 to 6 months old but never the less it always good news that there are new dogs around and new bloodlines keeping the gene pool strong. They were very curious about the vehicles and even followed some of them as they drove off. We have been spoilt by the Imbali pack and have had amazing sightings of them Hunting at full speed across some open plains Impala running in all directions and the guests not knowing which way to look as the chaos ensued but a spectacular sighting none the less. We also found them just after brining down a big Impala ram and then a clan of Hyenas appeared thinking they might get to steel some, but the dogs quickly showed them how nimble and quick they are and after a short skirmish and some well-placed bites the Hyenas retreated. And the dogs finished off every little morsel of their prize leaving nothing for their rivals.
Elephant and Buffalo
Elephants are in abundance all over and enjoying the fact that all the mud wallows are full and taking full advantage of the cooling effects of them and the fact they can find water in some of the larger pans that have filled up. We have had some lovely big breeding herds with calves of one year and even younger all over the concession. At long last we had one herd of Buffalo return into the area as we have been battling after the crippling drought of the previous year, it was good to see them and hopefully more will start to filter in as we enter the rainy season and all the new grasses sprout up which is of vital importance to these mass herbivores and they in turn are just as important for the regeneration of the grasses as their hooves churn up the ground making it possible for life giving water to penetrate into the soil for regrowth and their dung is the perfect fertilizer putting much needed nutrients back into the soil.
The birdlife on concession is alive and well and even more migrants returning as the summer months start. Lots of the European bee eaters are back as well as most of the Cuckoos we are still waiting for the Woodlands Kingfisher to return as it is the sound that fills the air in the coming months as they all out to compete for mates. So, as we get further into summer the air will be alive with song from all the beautiful birds.
The concession is changing from brown hues to lush green and as the summer rains start new life will abound everywhere and the bush will come alive with lots of new life…
“May the call of the African Fish Eagle ring out through the savannas and may the roar of the lion vibrate through your soul….”
THE GUIDES OF THE MLUWATI CONCESSION.