This is the first instalment of our monthly Rangers Review, a blog that highlights a few major events and our rangers’ favourite sightings from the month. This is the kick-off edition and we hope to document each notable occasion with a portfolio of images and video where possible. Below are a few of our highlights and happenings for the month of Feb.
- Witnessing an older male leopard killing a younger male; and then eating the lifeless body. A clear sign of territory control.
- The sighting of a mega-pride of lions on the outskirts of our traverse on two occasions. Initially we believed them to be the Western Pride but have since confirmed it’s the River Pride. The youngsters were on a buffalo kill and were clearly displaying all the bravado that youth brings.
- Seeing an increase in the presence of the two Mbiri males and the two Ross Pride lionesses.
- Abundant leopard sightings, that have been on the increase from the end of last year. A few of the leopards spotted include Cleo marking her territory, the Sunset female and her cub; and an unknown male.
- Death of the Ross Pride Breakaway lionesses, and subsequent sightings of the hyenas ripping apart one of the carcasses.
- Chade’s highlight of a sighting was a male leopard slowly moving into new territory, and clearly starting to scent mark and take over.
- Increase in wild dog sightings with pack of 6, a pack of 14 and a pack of 25 dogs.
Observations : The rangers have said that the leopard sightings are definitely on the increase, but ranger Chade said it’s also because of their expert tracking skills that they’re able to locate the leopards. The Sunset cub and female are slowly moving into the turf around camps, and we expect to see plenty more of these two. The Mbiri males have been mating with the Ross Pride lionesses and we’re bound to see more of this happy foursome.
Chacma Bush Camp
- Managed to watch a pride of lions and its youngsters prey on an innocent barn owl.
- The bloats of hippo also started to make their presence known, and have been moving around a lot.
- Increase in buffalo herds coming to the waterhole in front of camp – the elephant numbers drinking from the waterhole at camp remain the same.
- Ranger Calvin mentioned that they’ve spotted the Maseke male lions (6 of them), a female with 3 cubs, 5 males with one female, and then another female with 4 cubs.
Observations : With the increased sightings in terms of lion prides, there has been a clear shift in the dynamics in the reserve. It is now time to work together with the other lodges to begin the naming convention of these many lions.
Umkumbe Safari Lodge
- Sighting of the Birmingham male coming close to the vehicle – this is not the first time we’ve enjoyed up close and personal sightings of this powerful lion.
- Dudley Riverbank female’s cub and then Little Bush’s cub, Natumi providing plenty of viewings for guests.
- Ranger Geoffrey Haslam said that his highlight has been spotting the “posing leopards”, with a particular focus being on Natumi and Mxabene.
- An unusual sighting of an unknown leopard with its cub during the night game drive.
- Ranger Jade Dobrowski’s highlight was that of a young elephant calf born without a tail. And a sighting of a cheetah on a kill was certainly a unique cat sighting for Jade given that the majority of Umkumbe’s cat sightings are dominated by lions and leopards!
Observations : There haven’t been any significant observations, but the sightings of leopard cubs appear to be on the increase. New leopards are making their mark and exploring territories. Always a good thing !