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This was another memorable month on the 10 000 hectare concession in the world renowned Kruger National Park. The bush has started to turn into lovely autumn colours and thinning out just a bit. The mornings are getting cooler and letting us know that winter is on the way. We had some fantastic sightings this month and guests have been treated to a wonderful safari experience in this vast wilderness. Many super African safari memories will be taken home and shared with friends and families.

The big cats kept us very busy this month with lots of different sightings all over concession and being the sneaky cats they are sometimes remaining hidden. Our Imbali females and their seven cubs where seen regularly and the four male cubs are getting quite large even though they are only one year old. The good genes passed on by their fathers mean that they are lot bigger than their female siblings. The two Dominant male lions were seen patrolling to the south of the concession and they have been very vocal, letting everybody know that they are the protectors of this territory.

This elusive spotted cat is on everyone’s bucket list of must see animals when doing a safari in Africa. They can be really difficult to find but on some days they allow the guides and guests to get a glimpse into their secretive lives. These cats like all animals have no concept of time, so sometimes we fail to understand how it can take them 45 mins to cover one meter while stalking some potential prey but this is how focused they are when hunting. It is this patience and focus which insures the chance of a successful hunt. One of the dominant male leopards that live on the concession was found enjoying a meal consisting of a large Baboon. Leopard like hunting baboons and even monkeys but they are hard to catch as they always have sentinels keeping a look out for predators. Baboons also have canines that are larger than that of a Leopard so it can happen that an inexperienced Leopard comes off second best. This large male leopard is obviously very skilled at hunting baboons and much to the amazement of the guest as he had dragged his kill high up into a Jackalberry tree. A young rival male has starting moving closer to this dominant male’s territory and we anticipate some interesting interaction between these two beautiful beasts in the near future.

Being one of the most endangered carnivores on the continent these masters of speed proved hard to find this month but we had a couple of super sightings of these elusive cat. Cheetahs have massive home ranges sometimes up to 80 square kilometres which adds to the reason why they are not often seen. We had a new male on the concession who is not totally relaxed with the presence of the vehicles as yet and is possibly still establishing his own territory but seems to coming into his own.

Wild Dogs
As we get closer to the annual breeding time in June the Dogs are starting to look for suitable den sights. We are hoping that they den on the concession which will be good news for us as they remain a lot more central to the area where the pups will remain around the den. On average they spend four months at the den before they start to move around with the rest of the pack. It’s also a time when alpha males or females leave one pack and join another thereby insuring the genetics of the species remain strong and there are different genes in the new pups for the new breeding season. So we wait and see where they will decide to make there den site with eager anticipation for the first sighting of the new pups.

Elephant and Buffalo
Elephants have been active all over the concession and we are seeing nice big breeding herds again and lots of bulls in musth looking for females who are ready to mate. However the guides are always more alert when encountering these bulls as they experience increased levels of testosterone that makes them more aggressive. This is a completely natural process and plays a role in establishing dominance in elephant bull society. Occasionally this aggression can be directed toward other animals or vehicles that get too close, so giving them a lot of space is the best way to observe these beautiful giants.

The birdlife on the concession is settling down after a frenzy of breeding and nesting this summer. Migratory birds are preparing for their annual travels to the warmer parts of Africa or back to Europe. There is still many permanent residents on the concession and the vultures will be nesting soon. We have had a lot of sightings of the endangered Southern Ground Hornbill with some young from the previous season trying to keep up with the hunting skills of the adults as they patrol the savannah eating almost anything that crosses their path. Swarms of hundreds, if not thousands of Red billed Qualia have been spotted in the abundant grasslands. Kurrichane Buttonquails and Common Quails are also currently abundant in the grasslands, trying to raise their tiny chicks before winter arrives.

The concession is beautiful in its autumn colours and lots of different hews of browns and beige as we await those chilli winter mornings with the promise of an exciting new safari adventure. We look forward to the sunny winter days and evenings around the fire where the day’s adventures can conclude under the African starry skies.

Hope to see you all soon here with us on the Mluwati Concession – till then

“May the call of the African Fish Eagle ring out through the savannas and may the roar of the lion vibrate through your soul….”