The fresh smell of dampening soil reaches us and reminds us of how important life-giving water is at this time of the year. Our summer thundershowers are late again this year, water is scarce the sightings around the lodges are still breath taking with Leopard, Lion, Elephant and Hyena to name but a few. In the distance smoke is seen a call from Richard with the unwelcome news of an uncontrolled fire it is what we here in Kruger all dread. Backburns burn with a deep Orange glow late into the night with smouldering logs smoking throughout the following day. Lightening, thunder strong wind the orange glow is back but then the welcome drops of water begin to fall and the dreaded orange glow subsides. Small green shoots of grass begin growing in the parched earth awoken by the moisture which filters down into the dryness…

Lions

Two male lions are found on morning game drive around Hamilton’s Tented Camp, our older guides start with constant chatting on the radio then the names come through of these two magnificent cats. Madala and Blondie guides are overjoyed to see the two males healthy and back in the area that earned them the names Mluwati Males. Unfortunately, they did not hang around for long only a couple of days and then no sign of them. A few days later Blondie is found but on his own, it seems Madala has found himself a couple of females from the Hamilton’s Pride to keep him busy. Guides find a female lioness in the riverbed at Hamilton’s, slowly they make their way into the sighting can it be……. it is two tiny little cubs not but a couple of weeks old. Imbali pride females have been seen on a couple of occasions around Hoyo Hoyo waterhole – two females are definitely showing signs of being pregnant.

Leopard

Crackling on the radio is heard – “any mobile stations copy?” there is a female and male Ingwe (leopard) at Hoyo Hoyo mati (waterhole) vehicles start responding to the sighting Hamilton’s, cut lines and Imbali – it has been a while since even the guides have seen Leopard. Wabayisa is still be found around all three camps looking for females and often heard calling late into the night. Its 04h00 we are awakened by the “sawing” call of a male Leopard, a flurry the guides rush out towards Imbali to find Wabayisa at the waterhole. Our GM received a call from the Housekeepers who are doing turndowns at Room 9 at Imbali, a leopard has been spotted, when Johan arrives there, he is greeted by a 4 month old cub who is using the protection of the camp while his mother is away. We never saw him again after this, Nkhanye is still looking good and around Hamilton’s Tented Camp.

Cheetah

Some nice sightings of Cheetah through the month most of the sightings however have been off the concession. A female was found moving around through the wedding plains block to the west of Imbali Safari Lodge. We presume it was the same female which we found on a kill a few days later further South close to Hamilton’s Borehole. We are definitely appreciative of the sightings which we are having of these amazing carnivores no matter how many we have in a month each one is worth it.

Wild Dogs

Amazing sightings of Wild Dogs the pack with no Collars at the moment numbers 26 dogs including 15 adolescents and 11 Adults have been seen around Hoyo Hoyo Safari Lodge waterhole often throughout the month they seem to enjoy the flat open areas there which have provided them with plenty of successful hunts. Our Executive Chef called us afternoon just before sunset to say that there were two dogs who had just killed an impala right by the gate to the staff village. It was incredible to watch – the dogs had used the fence to trap the impala female. Due to the darkness which was approaching quickly at this point the 2 dogs ate their fill before taking the unborn foal and running away with it. The rest of the carcass was taken shortly after by the hyenas.

Elephant and Buffalo

Ever the bully, no is even worse the elephants dominate the water holes and patches of water. A male buffalo was killed close to Tent 1 at Hamilton’s due to him drinking water from one of the holes which had been dug there by the elephants. Upon the elephant return a tussle broke out and the buffalo was speared by a tusk seems that the tusk puncture a lung which resulted in him dying. The bush on some parts of the concession, especially the areas where there are well worn paths down to water, has been demolished. Areas which were once overgrown with Spike Thorn and Tamboti have not been opened up. Sad though how many huge trees we have lost through the dry season and all for a simple branch or a single root.

Birds

Every morning one wakes to the sound of the Ground Hornbills as they constantly communicate with each other while moving through the bush feeding. European bee eaters are back and can be seen flying around in large flocks while feeding. Cuckoos are arriving back slowly, a lot of the migratory birds we are still waiting for though and they may arrive back later than expected if we do not receive some good rains.

The African bush in all its splendour is true food for the soul….

“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