Monday, December 6, 2010

Rangers Newsletter

We are moving into the holiday season and it is hard to believe that 2010 is almost over! It is also the rainy season (finally) and the rains the last few weeks have transformed the landscape from the combination of dry brush and burned areas that we were seeing up until the beginning of November, into a vibrant green quilt of lush vegetation. This in turn has triggered the Impala lambing season – giving the local predators ample opportunity to feed.
Almost all the migratory bird species have returned to the reserve and the sounds of the various cuckoos and the woodland kingfishers provide the soundtrack to the beautiful sunny days.
As always, the bush has provided plenty of highlights over the past few weeks – especially now the grass is green and many of the grazers have increased in numbers, in fact the big buffalo herd spent most of the last week of November close to the lodge.
There have been plenty of elephant herds in the area feeding on all the new growth. Although elephants do not have a particular birthing season there is usually a peak in the summer months and there are now quite a few small calves to be seen in the herds.
Small herds of zebra have been found on he new grass in most of the areas that burned during the dry season, these numbers will start to dwindle as the grass gets longer so we are making the most of the sightings whilst we can!
The pack of painted hunting dogs (African wild dogs) was in and out of the area, down to 7 individuals now , only 1 of the original 8 pups is still alive. This high pup mortality is one of the reasons these beautiful predators are so rare.
The 2 male cheetah were seen regularly, the male with the fat bottom lip "Makhumisa" was seen most often and was seen feeding on kills a couple of times as well (one of which he had to leave to the vultures)
Leopards are always a favourite, both for the guests and the staff, and there was no shortage of sightings in the recent weeks:
Xikavi female leopard seems to have fallen for the young male, Xinzele, and she was seen on a couple of separate occasions trying to seduce him. Xinzele so far has resisted her advances probably because, despite his large size, he is still very young and unsure of what exactly is required of him in such a situation!
Hlab'nkunzi female leopard killed an impala under the power lines that mark the boundary of Idube and Dulini properties where she brought her two 10 month old cubs to feed. This sighting became interesting early on the second morning of the sighting when she took offence to Rob's camera and jumped off the kill to pitch a snarling hissing fit at the door of the vehicle. this goes to show that even our most relaxed leopards can have an off day and we should never take any of the wildlife here for granted! Watch what happened HERE
She was seen again in the afternoon of the same day and had returned to her normal nonchalant disposition! The two youngsters were often seen apart from their mother and are still learning to perfect their hunting skills, one afternoon drive saw them chasing banded mongoose, eventually catching and killing one. See one of the cubs with the mongoose HERE
Metsi female leopard and her cubs are seen more regularly now and the cubs are much more relaxed than they were to start with, especially when there is a kill around. The family was seen on a couple of kills and seem to be doing very well.
Mabirri and her daughter have finally separated but as yet neither have moved up towards the central territory vacated by Makubela earlier in the year. Both these female leopards are successful hunters and it seems that the younger of the two is also good at hoisting her kills out of reach of hyenas - something she did not learn from her mother!
An unidentified leopard - a young male - was found on the southern portion of Idube property. He hid from the approaching vehicle inside a termite mound the first couple of times he was seen and was later seen hurrying away from the same position. His tracks led us to Mabirri one morning and there had obviously been some animosity between the two as she was nursing a nasty gash in one of her back legs.
The other male leopards - Tegwaan, Kashane and Mashiabanj have all been spotted recently too, both Tegwaan and Kashane have been spending time on Idube property and with Xindlevhana also coming onto Idube on occasion (we think it was him who killed a nyala close to the laundry and dragged it all the way down into the Makubela donga close to the boundary) this new male has his work cut out for him...
The lion population can often be a disappointment – spending most of their time sleeping – but this last few weeks they have been the stars of the show!
The 4 Mapogo male lions killed a big bull buffalo north of the river there was plenty of interaction between these four big lions and also one instance of them roaring whilst surrounding the vehicle – Brilliant! The kill was finished in under 48 hours. See them roaring at this kill HERE
The Ximunghwe pride had a kudu kill at the same time and two of the new cubs ( 1 male + 1 female) were out in the open providing lots of entertainment. One of the Mapogo joined them to finish off the scraps after leaving the buffalo kill.
The Ottawa lions also caught a buffalo north of the river and were joined by one of the Mapogo - this sighting coincided with a large amount of rainfall! The male (Makulu) left during the rain and was seen the next morning with the Ximunghwe lionesses.
The Ximunghwe pride also killed a young giraffe and the cubs were brought out to this kill too, there was also a wildebeest kill for the pride and the cubs were there too, Mapogo male Mr. T, notorious for killing cubs (even those sired by other Mapogo) joined the pride at the wildebeest kill and the cubs were not seen the next day – the tracks suggest that their mother moved them elsewhere but at the time of writing I am unsure of exactly what may have happened to them...
The Mapogo lions were back in action after a few days of patrolling – they killed a young hippo! This kill was out in an open clearing so there were some great photo opportunities!
It seems that the hippo had tried to take refuge in a small waterhole but it was too shallow and the lions dragged him out again... View the video of them feeding HERE

The Ottawa lions were found pushing their boundaries to the limit when they turned up in the South of the reserve, usually a place we would expect to find the Ximunghwe pride! The pride came across the large herd of buffalo that morning and, after a few half-hearted attempts to chase them, retired to some shade close to Marula Dam and just watched the herd's movements throughout the day.
Returning to the area in the afternoon we found both the lions and the buffalo in the same place they had been left earlier, the lions were watching the buffalo as they moved down to the dam to drink. Suddenly something spooked the buffalo herd and they all started running straight past where the lions were waiting... Bang the lions had themselves a buffalo calf! All this took place in front of both the Idube game drives! As we watched the pride start to open up their prey, the herd returned. Charging into the lions the buffalo herd scattered the pride and we saw that the calf was still alive! The lions did not give up and returned to their prize, prompting another charge from the herd, this time the calf got up and ran with the adults with the lions in hot pursuit! This scene repeated itself a few times until the herd ran through the dam – the calf was slowed by it's injuries and left too far behind the rest and the lions eventually got their meal. All in all an awesome sighting and a good point to end this update on! View the video HERE

Until next time!

Best wishes,
Rob the Ranger

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Update From The Bush

Welcome to our (not so) regular blog update!
The rains the last few weeks have transformed the landscape from the combination of dry brush and burned areas into a vibrant green quilt of lush vegetation triggering the Impala lambing season. The sweet new grass is perfect for the grazers and most of the bushes and trees have new leaves for the browsers to feed on, greater concentrations of the herbivores attracts more predator activity so the sightings around Idube have been phenomenal (no change there then)!
With the surrounding bush having recovered the animals that frequent the lodge grounds have not had to rely on the lawn for sustenance and that too is back to its glorious summer state - the warthogs and nyalas are still around just not eating as much of the lawn as before. Our frequent nocturnal elephant raids have also stopped now the food is readily available elsewhere.
Special sightings out on drive have included:

  • The 4 Mapogo male lions with a buffalo kill north of the river - plenty of interaction between these four big lions and also one instance of them roaring whilst surrounding the vehicle - Brilliant!
  • The Ottawa lions also caught a buffalo north of the river and were joined by one of the Mapogo - this sighting coincided with a large amount of rainfall...
  • The Ximunghwe pride had a kudu kill and two of the new cubs - 1 male + 1 female - were out in the open providing lots of entertainment.
  • The Ximunghwes also killed a young giraffe and the cubs were brought out again.
  • The pack of painted hunting dogs (African wild dogs) was in and out of the area, down to 7 individuals now , only 1 of the 8 pups is still alive. This high pup mortality is one of the reasons these beautiful predators are so rare.
  • The 2 male cheetah were seen regularly, the male with the fat bottom lip "Makhumisa" was seen most often and was seen feeding on kills a couple of times as well.
  • Hlab'nkunzi female leopard killed an impala under the power lines that mark the boundary of Idube and Dulini properties where she brought her two 10 month old cubs to feed. This sighting became interesting early on the second morning of the sighting when she took offence to Rob's camera and jumped off the kill to pitch a snarling hissing fit at the door of the vehicle. this goes to show that even our most relaxed leopards can have an off day and we should never take any of the wildlife here for granted!
  • Xikavi female leopard seems to have fallen for the young male, Xinzele, and she was seen on a couple of separate occasions trying to seduce him. Xinzele so far has resisted her advances probably because, despite his large size, he is still very young and unsure of what exactly is required of him in such a situation!
  • Metsi female leopard and her cubs are seen more regularly now and the cubs are much more relaxed than they were to start with.
  • Mabirri and her daughter have finally separated but as yet neither have moved up towards the central territory vacated by Makubela earlier in the year. Both these female leopards are succesful hunters and it seems that the younger of the two is also good at hoisting her kills out of reach of hyenas - something she did not learn from her mother!
  • The other male leopards - Tegwaan, Kashane and Mashiabanj have all been spotted recently too.
  • An unidentified leopard - a young male - was found on the southern portion of Idube property. He hid from the approaching vehicle inside a termite mound the first couple of times he was seen and was later seen hurrying away from the same position. His tracks led us to Mabirri one morning and there had obviously been some animosity between the two as she was nursing a nasty gash in one of her back legs.
  • The big buffalo herd has not been seen much since the fires, now the grass is green it is likely that they will return, the small bachelor groups are still encountered regularly along the river (where the lions keep picking them off, one by one!)
  • Elephants are widespread across the area, more so now with all the new growth. One herd chased Hlab'nkunzi and cubs off a kill as they passed through the area. This behaviour is common as elephants have a strong dislike for all predators - more so when they can smell blood.

There has been plenty more happenings and as and when we can we will keep you all updated...

Best wishes

The Idube Team

Monday, October 11, 2010

Western Sector Leopard ID Kit (Current)

Western Sector Leopard ID Kit



Relaxed, seen over most of the southern parts of the Western sector

Spots: 2:2

Born: Dec 2001

Mother: Makwela

Father: Wallingford Male

Litter-mates: Ravenscourt (Sindile) and Tsonga Females

Young: Metsi b. Oct 2006, Female b. Mar 2009

Mabirri Cub 2009

Spots: 3:4

Born: April 2009

Mother: Mabirri

Father: Possibly Tulamanzi


Relaxed, mostly seen in SW areas of the Western sector

Spots: 4:2

Born: Oct 2006

Mother: Mabirri

Father: Possibly Kinky Tail

Young: Currently has a litter of 2 cubs b. May 2010


Territorial on Singita, P.5, Exeter South and Idube North

Spots: 2:3 when younger, now looks more like 3:3 (larger spot on right cheek separated)

Born: Dec 2001

Mother: Makwela

Father: Wallingford

Litter-mates: Mabirri and Tsonga Females

Young: Ravenscourt/Ximobonyane Male b. Mar 2006

Xinzele Male b. Nov 2007

Young male b. April/May 2009 (were 2 one d. June 2010)


Relaxed, taken over her mother's territory, seen all over the central Western sector

Spots: 3:2

Born: May 2006

Mother: Makwela

Father: Wallingford Male

Hlab'nkunzi's Cubs 2010

Spots: 1) 3:3 2) 3:3 with a 2:1 spot between the whisker line

Born: Jan 2010

Mother: Hlab'nkunzi

Father: Tegwaan


Relaxed - Has recently been pushed more into Ottawa by the Ravenscourt female

Spots: 3:4

Born: Nov 1998

Mother: Tavangumi

Father: Prob. Mbombi

Young: Makubela Female and Tegwaan Male b. Dec 2003

Xikavi and Nchila Females b. Sep/Oct 2005

Blue Eyed Female b. Nov 2008

Blue Eyed Female

Seen mostly north of the Sand river on Exeter

Spots: 3:3

Born: Nov/Dec 2008

Mother: Shangwa

Father: Xindlevhana


Relaxed, seen on Exeter, Inyati, Dulini and Idube

Spots: 3:3

Born: Sep 2005

Mother: Shangwa

Father: Ottawa

Littermates: Nchila Female

Tai Dam

Semi-relaxed, seen infrequently in the northern area

Spots: 1:1

Born: 1993

Parents: Unknown

Young: Female (Kloof) b. 2007, Male b.2009

Dam 3

Often very shy, seldom seen, often confused with Hippo Dam

Spots: 3:3

Born: Unknown

Mother: Possibly Hippo Dam

Father: Probably Wallingford

Hippo Dam

Shy, seldom seen, often confused with Dam 3, seen on Inyati property

Spots: ?:3

Born: 199?

Parents: Unknown

Young: Possibly the mother of Treetops Male and Dam3 Female, Recently confirmed as themother of a young female b.late 2009

Young Female (Hippo Dam Daughter)

Spots: 3:4

Born: Late 2009

Mother: Hippo Dam

Father: Tegwaan



Relaxed, dominant over most of the central and northern parts of the western sector

Spots: 3:3 (with two distinct spots between the whisker line on the left cheek)

Born: Dec 2003

Mother: Shangwa

Father: Wallingford

Littermates: Makubela Female

Kashane (Lisbon)Male

Relaxed. Mostly seen on Savanna and Idube, tail has a distinct wave in it. Moved onto Sabi Sabi (Lisbon property) after independence, moved north to Castleton and Savanna in 2009

Spots: 3:3

Born: 2005

Mother: Kapen Female of Mala Mala

Father: Hlaruini Male


Relaxed. Has been moving around the river between Exeter, Ottawa and Singita since becoming independent of his mother mid 2009. He is often seen with his mother and her new litter

Spots: 3:3

Born: Nov 2007

Mother: Ravenscourt

Father: Possibly Xindlevhana or Ottawa


Skittish but relaxed at night. Big older male with a chunk missing from his right ear, seen

since 2007 on Idube and Exeter, May have been referred to as the Robson male at some point

Spots: 3:3

Origins as yet unconfirmed

Mashiabanj Male

Has been seen often in the West since November 2009
Was first called Mombosa Male

Spots: 3:4

Born: Jan 2008

Mother: Kikelezi/Xidulu female of Mala Mala/Londolozi

Father: Camp Pan Male

Son Of Ravenscourt

Seen with his mother and older brother (Xinzele) on visits to the west

Spots: 4:3

Born: Around April/May 2009

Mother: Ravenscourt/Sindile

Father: Xindlevhana

Littermates: Male 3:3 spot pattern, Died June 2010

Son Of Tai Dam

Still dependant, seen in NW mostly

Spots: 1:1 (2 spots between whisker line each side)

Born: Mid – Late 2009

Mother: Tai Dam

Father: Tegwaan

Photos: JF Poudron, R Brightman, L Pearson, R Vamplew

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Month That Was...

Hello everybody, again apologies for the lack of a blog last week due to internet problems, this week we have for you the newsletter for the month of September:

As we move into October the temperature rises and the chance of rain increases, with this we should see an increase in the numbers of migratory birds as the insect life increases in accordance with the warm moist conditions. The rain should bring welcome relief to the landscape that is showing the first flushes of spring but needs some water to sustain this new growth. The impala lambing season is fast approaching, but this is also dependant on the rainfall – good rains mean that we may see the first few lambs as early as the end of this month, dry conditions could delay the season until as late as December.

The warmer conditions mean we have already changed to our summertime schedule – morning drive departing at 5:30AM and afternoon drive at 4:30PM, this means that our guests can relax during the heat of the day.

The past month has provided plenty of excitement during the game activities – both during drives and the walks.

The morning nature walks usually involve a leisurely stroll in the wilderness learning about tracks, droppings, plants and insects but recently they have been characterized by encounters with more substantial creatures. The warmer days mean animals are coming to water more often and Scotia dam is a focal point for the fauna around the lodge, this means that walks to the dam have come across:
Elephants bathing and swimming on a regular basis
Sparring bull elephants
Lions relaxing on more than one occasion
Giraffe coming down to drink
Hippo in the dam, often giving warning displays
Large numbers of general game – waterbuck, impala, wildebeest, nyala etc
One morning there was a big male lion from the Mapogo coalition that caused a herd of swimming elephants to panic and stampede from the water (luckily away from the walking party)

Predator activity around the lodge seems to have increased, with regular sightings of large carnivores – Lion, leopard and African hunting dog were all seen in the lodge grounds and Hyena tracks were spotted on an almost daily basis. The dogs caught a duiker in front of the lodge one morning before chasing impala through the premises, Hyena caught a nyala in the staff area one night and just this morning the lions caught a Nyala outside room 4 whilst the guests were out on drive, none of this is a worry as the predators mostly use the lodge during times of little human activity - they do their best to avoid us.

Out on drive there was also plenty of excitement, starting right at the beginning of the month when the Ottawa lion pride brought down a buffalo north of the river. The buffalo did note take kindly to being attacked and fought back fiercely, mortally wounding the old half ear lioness in the process. The rest of the pride continued the fight ignoring their fallen relative, eventually killing the buffalo. The wounded female retired to the cover of a nearby bush and later died. The rest of the pride fed well and moved on, a week later they showed that the loss of the old lioness had not affected them badly as the brought down another big buffalo south of the river. Later in the month we received a report from our neighbours that they had made another buffalo kill, hopefully the pride can continue to be this successful and stay strong.
Buffalo did not fare so well as the Mapogo male lions also were hungry this month! The older male brought down a young buffalo where he fad until one of the other coalition members came and replaced him, later in the month 2 of the males brought down a huge old bull buffalo which evidently stumbled upon the pair sleeping. Eventually the 2 males were joined by a lioness from the Tsalala pride 9the one with no tail) and one of the sub adult females of the same pride also arrived some time later. Reportedly the Tsalalas had come across the Ottawa pride and a fight had erupted, scattering the Tsalalas, which is probably the reason that only two of the pride members were present.
The Ximunghwe pride was also regularly seen, some of the lionesses were mating with individual males from the Mapogo coalition but two of them were often seen alone, it was hoped the two single lionesses had split to give birth. This turned out to be the case as both den sites were located and there at least 4 new cubs between the two females.

The leopard population has also been providing great sightings –
Mabirri’s youngster caught and at a guinea fowl next to the vehicle early in the month and she was seen with her mother on other kills quite regularly. At one point it seemed that she was going to be pushed away by Mabirri after thy had been seen being aggressive towards one another, Mabirri was also seen following the trail of the Kashane male one morning and we thought that perhaps she was ready to mate, all this turned out to be wrong and mother and daughter were seen together frequently after all this occurred.
Metsi female has been bringing her cubs out more frequently and we are finally getting to see the two of them quite closely, before long they will be as relaxed as Hlab’nkunzi’s youngsters.
The two Hlab’nkunzi youngsters were seen regularly both with the mother and without, they ate well throughout the month and we were lucky enough to be able to watch them attempting their first kill – a young bushbuck. Hlab’nkunzi herself caught the bushbuck but let it go, still alive in front of the youngsters. The inexperienced young leopards tried hard but could not get it right and I think the poor bushbuck just gave up and died of shock in the end. We also saw some attempts to stalk by the young leopards, the most successful attempt was on a nyala bull – one cub got very close before being seen. Less successful, but more amusing, were the attempts to stalk rhino and giraffe!
Also seen were the regular male leopards – Kashane, Tegwaan, Mashiabanj, Xinzele and surprisingly a sighting of a relaxed Xindlevhana, other females seen included Ravenscourt, Xikavi, Dam 3 (pregnant), Hippo Dam and daughter and Shangwa’s daughter.

The African wild dogs were seen regularly, unfortunately one of the pups was abandoned during the month bringing the total number down to 9, we did see them hunting and feeding regularly, apart from the hunts around the lodge mentioned earlier, averaging a kill per day. During the time that the pack was in the area they also managed to harass the male lion known as Makulu Mapogo, chase 2 leopards up a tree (Hippo dam and daughter) and chase rhino around!

2 different male cheetah were seen regularly and they also fed well and were seen mostly sleeping off big meals, one of them did complete a successful chase in front of us a couple of mornings ago, catching a young steenbok.

Rhino have been plentiful all over the traversing area with a large concentration around Ebony dam, just to the north of the lodge.

Elephants were plentiful as usual and some quite big herds were seen along the Sand River during the month. There have also been some massive bulls around the area but no big tuskers at the moment.

Hippo have been seen out of the water frequently recently - not a surprise at night but more unusual in the day. The hippo with the battle scars is still healing well and it is he who has been seen out of the water in daylight most often.

Large-spotted genets have been found often in the evenings on the burned areas as well as the white-tailed mongoose. Lesser bushbaby have also been spotted regularly, including one which seemed to be teasing a leopard (Mabirri’s daughter) by leaping from tree to tree above her and calling, just out of reach!

There was much more than this going on, as usual these are just a few of the many wonderful sightings that we have had here.
Until next time,
Best wishes
Rob The Ranger

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Week(s) That (Were).....

We start firstly with an apology for our lack of updates the past few weeks, this post will be a recap of the major points since the last post, and from here we can get back to the weekly updates.
The biggest talking point has to be the fire that swept over the property at the end of August clearing out the majority of the tangled dead undergrowth. A very large area was burned, right up to the lodge grounds, that whole area is now turning green and the grazing animals are appearing in numbers. The first rains of the season are not far away and when they arrive the nutrients from the ash will soak into the soil and help the regrowth. With the majority of Idube property burnt this new growth is concentrating the herbivores around the loge, this in turn brings the predators and just this week we have seen leopard, lion and hyena in the lodge grounds, the hyena actually made a kill close to the staff rooms this morning!
The new buildings are progressing rapidly, the structure is basically complete, the doors and windows are in place and the wooden decks are progressing well, plunge pools are being built by each chalet.
The problem of elephants coming into the lodge grounds seems to have stopped with a combination of new fencing, the fire and the arrival of spring it seems the eles are content to find food elsewhere for now.
The game drives have been fantastic, as always, and the main updates are as follows:
  • The older Ottawa lioness with the half-ear was killed by a buffalo whilst assisting the pride in making the kill, the pride has not been too badly affected by the loss and less than a week later brought down another buffalo. The sub-adults in the pride are accomplished hunters and the group should not go hungry, the other adult female is the mother of the younger cubs so her presence should guide the group well in the future. (Remember the Ximunghwe pride was reduced to one lioness and some youngsters a couple of years ago and they are a strong pride now).
  • The 4 Mapogos have spent most of their time in the western sector, between the Ximunghwe pride and the Ottawa pride, most recently MrT and Snip-tail have been mating with two Ximungwe lionesses
  • The Ximunghwe pride lost the last two cubs, most likely to the claws of MrT, since then 2 of the lionesses have split from the group - hopefully to give birth! Any cuybs born now would fall under the protection of MrT as he is now fully reintegrated into the Coalition
  • Buffalo have not been faring too well as the lions have taken down at least 4 adults and one youngster in the last few weeks.
  • Metsi female leopard and her cubs have been seen more regularly, the cubs are still shy but tolerate the vehicles at a kill
  • Hlab'nkunzi female leopard and her two cubs have been a regular sight and despite reports of one of the cubs being killed, all three leopards were seen at a kill recently.
  • Hlab'nkunzi herself seems to have had an altercation with Metsi and was last seen with injuries to the head and neck, it seems they were just flesh wounds and she should recover easily
  • Mabirri female leopard and her cub have been spending less time together and we may have seen the last kill they share last week. After the impala kill was finished the next time we saw the two together it looked as if Mabirri was chasing the Daughter away. Soon afterwards Mabirri was seen following the trail of the Kashane male leopard - this probably means she is looking to mate soon.
  • Mabirri's cub has been making her own kills fairly regularly and should cope well with independence, one sign that she is still young is the fact that she was very intent on catching a bush-baby the other night - fun to watch but very frustrating for the young leopard as she found the agility of the small primate surprising!
  • Xikavi Female leopard was seen throwing herself at the Xinzele male, he was looking most confused as at only 3 years old he is a bit young for all that attention. The next day he was seen alone, it seems Xikavi had gone in search of a male who knew what to do...
  • Tegwaan male leopard has been increasing his patrolling area and managed to cover the majority of the Western sector in 24 hours - moving from the south western corner up to the north western corner and ending inside Idube which is on the center of the Eastern boundary!
  • A fairly relaxed young female leopard has been seen frequently on the northern banks of the Sand river, her mother runs of at first sign of a vehicle so we have no positive ID as yet, she is the daughter of either Hippo Dam or Dam 3 depending on which one was mating with Tegwaan last month....
  • Kashane Male leopard has been seen often on Idube and Savanna properties and has taken a liking to warthog meat - he killed one in the South and then another one in the wetland at the back of the lodge only a few days later.
  • Two male cheetah have been seen regularly, all over the traversing area. At one point the two crossed through the same area only a few hundred meters apart, in opposite directions but neither one noticed the other.
  • The pack of 10 painted hunting dogs were seen regularly and hunted extremely successfully during the time thy were in our traversing area - they killed at least onca a day, sometimes twice, the pups are already 2/3 of the size of the adults and if they continue to eat as well as they have been will be as big as the parents by the end of the year!
  • Despite the spike in rhino poaching in the country this year our rhino population is unaffected and are seen regularly, here in the Sands the constant presence of the counter-poaching teams and the number of rangers out on drive keeps the animals safe from poachers.
  • The elephants have been extremely happy with the arrival of spring and all the extra nutrients appearing, this does mean that the herds are spread out throughout the area and not concentrated around the water sources anymore, we still see them regularly, we just have to track a bit harder!

There was obviously a lot more going on than the points mentioned above, these are just the highlights- next week we will give you a thorough update on the sightings we see between now and then!

Best wishes,

The Idube Team

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The week that was....(5)

After the elephant activity around the lodge last week, our maintenance staff are busy upgrading the electric fence around the lodge at the moment, it looks good and hopefully will put an end to the midnight raids by the bulls. the new buildings are coming on well, the windows are in and the roof tiles are almost complete, it should not be too many more weeks before we can open them to the public!

Our owners, Louis and Marilyn Marais, came up to visit this week with family. For them it was as much a holiday as it was a check up on the building progress.

There was not too much animal activity inside the lodge this week other than the usual warthogs (making a mess of the lawn), nyala and squirrels. There was a visit by a big hippo, feeding by the breakfast deck, during the day and we had a mating lion pair move through the staff quarters one morning. there were also lions roaring close to the lodge on Wednesday night.

During drives we had the usual high quality sightings, these included:

  • Lions (Snip-Tail/Dreadlocked Mapogo and short-tail Ximunghwe lioness) mating just to the south of the lodge (the same pair that came through the staff area later in the day). This after Mapogo MrT had been mating with the same lioness last week

  • Mabirri female leopard and daughter with an impala kill, they were joined by the Metsi female leopard (also Mabirri's Daughter) and there was some animosity between the three. By Tuesday night Metsi had left and we saw MrT arrive and steal the kill scattering the two leopards to the tops of the nearby marula trees

  • The Metsi female leopard returned to her cubs on top of one of the granite hills and we got our first good look at the new youngsters, by now approx three months old - it was a view through binoculars and powerful zooms so not good for pictures or Id's

  • The Ximunghwe pride's remaining cubs were safely under the watchful eye of their mother and the Makulu Mapogo male for most of the week.

  • Hlabnkunzi female leopard was seen regularly trying to get food for her two cubs which we also saw regularly. She seems to have had little success in the hunting stakes although we saw her trying a couple of times

  • The Ottawa lion pride were seen regularly. On Thursday they killed a nyala bull which upset a nearby elephant herd, we arrived to scenes of chaos as the lions were trying to eat and the eles were chasing them off!
  • The Tai Dam female leopard was seen up in the north, it seems she had made a kill and was looking to find her son and take him back there. Whilst we watched she gave the full range of vocalisations right next to us. Later in the drive whilst we were having drinks we heard her calling again.
  • The four Mapogo male lions had some disagreements about who would get to mate with the various Ximunghwe lionesses, one such disagreement saw MrT and the male with the bite marks on the back were so engrossed in one another's movements that the lioness got up and left them to it, both males roared to see if she would reply and when she did they decided she was too far and made up before going to sleep...
  • Xikavi female leopard had an impala kill that we watched her feed on down in a steep drainage line, by morning she had lost it to hyenas
  • There was a small breeding herd of buffalo in the area for a day or two, they were harassed by the Ximunghwe females and some of the Mapogo, judging by the tracks. No kill was made though.

The bout of flu that was going around the staff seems to have passed which made the week even better, Andries has returned from leave to take over from rob which means that the videos taken out in the bush will be appearing on the Internet soon -enjoy!

Until next week

Best Wishes,

The Idube Team

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Week That Was....(4)

The lodge has been under siege from elephants this week which can bee seen as both a good and a bad thing. It was great for sightings, especially for walks, with eles swimming in Schotia dam most days. It was bad for the lemon tree behind the kitchen which was almost destroyed by one of the midnight elephant raids one night!

The lodge was also graced by a visit from the Kashane (Lisbon) male leopard who came to drink at Shidulu dam during breakfast one morning and then retired to the shade of a nearby bush for the rest of the day.

A small amount of controlled burning was done on the north eastern corner of the property with a larger burn planed for this week, weather permitting.

The highlights of the weeks drives are as follows:

  • The male cheetah with the under bite crossed onto Idube and killed an impala to the south of the lodge, he fed on the kill throughout the day before abandoning it to the vultures the next morning. He was seen for a couple of days before crossing back to the east.

  • All four of the Mapogo male lions were seen together at the airstrip before splitting off in different directions again.

  • The Mapogo known as MrT unfortunately got hold of one of the remaining Ximunghwe pride cubs, there are only 2 left now, he was later seen mating with one of the Ximunghwe lionesses close to the western boundary

  • The Shangwa female leopard was seen north of the river, she seemed to have been in a big fight and was sporting many battle scars, later in the week the Ravenscourt female was seen also showing battle scars so it seems that the two had a confrontation over territory.

  • Hlabnkunzi female leopard and her two cubs were seen regularly, the highlight being seeing all three leopards feeding off an impala carcass at the same time, a very unusal sighting as leopards usually feed in turn.

  • Tegwaan male leopard joined the Hlabnkunzi family at the same impala carcass later on before all four leopards were disturbed by the Ottawa lion pride sometime overnight, the morning after Tegwaan and one of the cubs were up a tree with the lions beneath whilst Hlabnkunzi and the other cub were found a bit further away. Eventually mother and both cubs were reunited and the lions moved off.

  • The Ottawa lions were seen before the above sighting all over the northern part of our traversing area, this after they finished the big kudu bull the killed last Sunday

  • After losing one of the cubs the Ximungwe lionesses split up and two of them moved north with the remaining cubs an Makulu Mapogo in tow.

  • The Tai Dam female leopard was spotted up in the Northwest corner, she was with her son, a leopard that we had not seen for a long time and had thought perhaps was dead, the pair were moving with a purpose and eventually led us to a bushbuck kill close to the northern boundary in the Kloof river, the next day they had both moved on.

  • Mabirri female leopard and her cub were spotted pushing their boundaries north into Idube again, the cub was left for a few days on our property as mum went off hunting, this is great news as the youngster gets closer to independence. the unoccupied territory around Idube can only remain vacant for so long...

  • The female rhino with the long horn and her family were regular visitors to the northern part of Idube as were at least 6 other rhino making the ebony dam area the best spot for rhino viewing in the area!

So all in all it was another awesome week, the only downside was the bit of flu going around the staff!

Until next week,

Best wishes,

The Idube Team

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Week That Was....(3)

This past week has been an exciting one here at Idube, the guest numbers have been high - people and animals! there were a couple of nocturnal visits from a big elephant bull who found a way to bypass the electric fence system (by opening the gate!) and this kept us busy, both trying to persuade him to leave and cleaning up the debris. There were often hippo tracks found through the lodge grounds in the morning but luckily nobody came face to face with the animal itself. Lions came through the lodge more than once - first the Tsalala pride of 9 animals on the way to the giraffe carcass, then a Ximunghwe lioness chasing the resident Nyala past room 5 before the morning walk and now as I write this the 5 sub-adult females of the Tsalala pride are at the hide at Shadulu dam, by our dining area!
Ranger Promise and his tracker Elliot returned from a break to relieve Andries and Titus, great sightings awaited out on drive....
  • This week saw a total of 18 different leopards recorded: Tegwaan male and Hippo Dam female (mating); Xikavi female, Xindlevhana male and Mashiabanj male together with a kill!; Ravenscourt female, Xinzele male (her son) and Ravenscourt young male (her younger son) together with a Nyala kill; Mabirri and Daughter with an impala kill, Hlabnkunzi and 2 cubs with an impala kill; Dam 3 youngster running into the river; a new shy female in the south and most importantly the first confirmation of Metsi female's litter - 2 approx 9wk old cubs found with mum at a duiker kill, very shy though. I will try to upload our Western sector ID kit in the coming days so you can get an idea of who is who! For now check out the facebook page Sabi Sand Leopard Identification for pictures
  • The Tsalala pride killed a wildebeest just south of the lodge.
  • The four Mapogo male lions finally made their way to the giraffe carcass just north of the lodge where they were joined by the Tsalala pride, there was some agression and confusion between the lions as the younger members of Tsalala had not seen their fathers for a long time, it all ended well with Makulu Mapogo and two of the older lionesses finishing off the last scraps before leaving the carcass to the vultures
  • The Ximungwhe lionesses who have lost their cubs were back in oestrus and two of them were seen mating with the Mapogo males during the week.
  • Big herds of elephants were widespread in the area, as were rhinos.
  • Buffalo bulls were spotted in small groups in many places across the traversing area and it was a lot easier to find them this week!
  • The Ottawa lion pride returned from the east and this morning killed a huge kudu bull just on the northern edge of Idube property
  • A Ximungwe lioness killed a young waterbuck close to the lodge and was chased off by one of the Mapogo males, she was the lioness who ended up chasing the Nyala in the lodge later the same day!
  • Some of the leopard interactions in that first list of sightings were unusual: Xindlevhana male and Mashiabanj male did not fight or even growl at one another, there was more interaction between them and Xikavi - who made the kill. the Ravenscourt family continue to amaze, Xinzele is almost 3 years old but continues to be welcomed by his mother and younger brother, something that I cannot remember having happened in any other leopard family on record!

There were also some eventful morning nature walks, an activity that we usually point out as not being about the larger animals Despite this elephants, hippo and lions were encountered on more than one occasion!

Look out for the next update, this time next week,

Stay well,


The Idube Team

Monday, August 2, 2010

July Newsletter

July Newsletter

Winter hit us hard this year, but amazingly did not last too long, invariably though, by saying this, I am cursing us, and we are sure to feel the full wrath of icy winds over the coming few days. Those that have visited us in winter before, can attest to the fact that there are marked temperature changes between the hours that the sun is above the horizon, and when it is below the horizon. Winter abated to a degree from the middle of the month, but knowing that August is now upon us, we have not been too rushed to pack away the fleeces, jackets, gloves and beanies. Daily temperatures averaged well into the mid twenties, and the sun provided an extra bit of comfort on the days that the temperatures were a little lower. Herein lies the advantage of our winters, clear blue sky, with a bright sun overhead. Drives are still going out at 06:30 in the mornings, and those that may still be planning a visit over the next month and a half or so are well advised to bring the winter warmers along as essential companions out on the open vehicles during drive times.
Early July saw the end of the Soccer World Cup, and what a pleasure to have had a few Spanish guests at the lodge a few days after the famous victory. Congratulations to the Spanish team and country for your sportsmanship, and ultimately becoming deserved victors of this World Championship. The tournament had us running around at the lodge, and occupancy levels only started dropping nearer the end of the month, once the Tournament specific travellers started returning home to their various countries. Luckily I can report that we are again busy, and to compliment this the drives have been just as eventful and busy.
The vegetation is now starting to resemble a true winter landscape, as the green colour fades from the plants, and are replaced by the brown and tan textures of desiccated grass and leaves. The risk of runaway fires becomes a head ache to the staff as we are constantly on the lookout for any puff of smoke that may indicate the start of a fire. To combat the destructive possibilities of an encounter with such a natural disaster, we have a burning regime whereby we try to rotate burning different blocks each year, to prevent the fuel load (Dead grass and Leaves), from building up to dangerous levels. This is done, because of numerous reasons, too many to mention here, annually. We have already burnt one small area close to the lodge itself, and this should act as a natural fire break, preventing any damage to the lodge, should a runaway fire be encountered. We will be burning 2 more areas of the reserve over the coming weeks in compliance with our yearly burning schedule.
The lodge though, is still looking beautiful, bathed in the emerald greens from the evergreen trees and lawns that are privileged enough to be watered regularly. This is also done with guest comfort in mind, as the dust would become overbearing were we to leave the grass to die in the lodge. August sees the arrival of the winds, this due to shifting high and low pressure cells over the Indian and Atlantic oceans, that occur with the changing seasons.
Rob will be able to give you a detailed run down of the animal activities that were witnessed out on drive this month. I will just touch on a few notable points, to keep you interested, and entice you into opening up his newsletter and reading about many of our phenomenal sightings.
The month started on a sad note, with the death of a legendary leopard female here at Idube, namely the Makubela female, who had spent the better part of 6 years using a core territory based around the lodge. She was, as could have been read from last month’s letters, injured in a fight with a much larger male leopard, from which she did not recover. We have over the last month though not had a shortage of leopard activity around the lodge, and it seems that we will soon be seeing regular confrontations between 2 males that are being seen more frequently around the lodge, both of whom are staking claims to the prime area around the Lodge.
With an ever growing young female ( Mambirri’s Daughter) in the south, we are all hoping that she can come and fill the vacuum left at present, by the absence of Makubela. There is also always the Young blue eyed daughter of Shangwa that has been independent for about 4 months now that could also fill the void. Only time will tell when and by which leopard the vacant territory will be filled.
Elephants have been seen more and more around the lodge premises, as they come to 1 of the 2 large water points on opposite sides of the lodge. They have made their presence known, rather unpopularly, by breaking into the lodge to get access to the succulent green vegetation within the boundaries.
There was also a dead giraffe encountered just north of the lodge this month. Wait, am I saying too much, I should probably leave some news for Rob. What I will say though is that at least 2 leopards, 3 Male Lions, 12 Hyaenas, and 2 Porcupines were seen feeding here, we managed to get some phenomenal pictures and video footage of them, and posted them to the newly created online updating centres.
Technology, Blogs, Facebook groups, and Twitter were the buzz words around the office this month. Not the usual, lions, leopards, zebras and giraffes, although there were plenty of them to be seen.
I must admit, being a Bush Person, the new challenge of currently getting up to speed with all the online advertising and updating, that we are attempting to streamline, has posed more of a challenge than initially expected. Make no mistake, I am not totally in the dark, but without the help of Rob, we would still be struggling to get pages registered, let alone being able to post updates at will at various times during the day. What am I on you may be asking yourselves?
Well, we have taken the tech leap, and have registered and opened Fan/Group pages on both Facebook and Twitter. Added to this, Weekly blog updates will be loaded onto our newly created blogspot.
Personally, the time that I spent away from the western sector of the Sabi Sand Wildtuin, before returning in February this year, was frustrating from the perspective of wanting to know what was happening to the different individual animals seen on a regular basis out on drives. Hours was spent trolling around the different websites of various lodges to try and get an idea of what was happening. We have thus started the above mentioned pages, to give regular updates, that those of you, who may want to follow the animal antics, can, and further to this, we will be posting general updates from the lodge and the reserve as well. I know reading about new buildings isn’t quite as exciting as reading about a Lion Kill, but this all contributes equally to the lodge and its operation, and we want to be able to share all Idube news with you at any time. Updates will include written posts, photographs, and video footage. For a full experience we thus now have many options for you to follow: is our Facebook page, please join us to get your daily bush dose. This page is linked with our Twitter account: and all posted updates will thus also be visible here. Our blog spot can be found at
Rob has for a while now been a regular poster on Youtube and Facebook, and his posts which include updated video footage captured out on Idube drives with guests can be accessed at and
I have also started a new blog, which will feature Images taken over the past few years of working in this area, and new ones that I have captured since February. I will be posting features such as daily events, game drive happenings, and lodge specific updates on a regular basis. This can be found at

Please join our pages, we are sure they will only enhance your experiences that you have had, and are still to have at our little paradise. We look forward to making your acquaintance on the net, before personally, when you come and visit us.
Rudi Hulshof and the Idube Private Game Reserve Team

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Week That Was.... (2)

The past week at Idube has seen the return of Managers Rudi and Melinda from leave - just in time for stock take! We also had a visit from new extended Idube family in Kobus, Magda's boyfriend, who came all the way from Namibia to see what the lodge is all about (and to visit his lady!).
The winter burning season is upon us and since Rudi's return the block around the lodge has already been burnt and plans are underfoot for some larger block burns in the coming week. Fire is important for the regeneration of the bush and areas need to burn every couple of years to prevent the dead combustible material building up to dangerous levels and also to give new growth space to flourish.
There was not as much animal activity around the lodge this week with the elephants having moved on to other areas of the property. The usual nyala and warthog families were around along with the tree squirrels, plated rock lizards and the boomslang (tree snake) who lives in the tree outside the office. There were also nighttime sightings of a male leopard and hyena up around the staff quarters.

The sightings out on drive were phenomenal as always and included:

  • The four Mapogo male lions and the Ottawa pride finishing off their buffalo from last week
  • One of the Mapogo (MrT) mating with a Ximunghwe lioness for a few days before being displaced by his older brother with the snipped tail tuft.
  • The males split up and were roaring to locate one another giving us all a magnificent experience!
  • Hlabnkunzi female leopard and her cubs with a bushbuck kill and later in the week a duiker kill. The cubs were also seen alone chasing birds around a fallen tree.
  • Hlabnkunzi was also seen pushing into the vacant territory Makubela left meaning she may move closer to the lodge soon.
  • Mabirri female leopard and her youngster were seen interacting with hyena at an impala kill.
  • The Ximunghwe lion pride killed a wildebeest at Marula dam to the south of the lodge, their cubs were there at the kill, reports of four youngsters seen outside of game drive times were not confirmed as only three were seen during drive.
  • A large male giraffe somehow died and was found being fed upon by Xindlevhana male leopard. Another, younger, male was seen in the vicinity - possibly the young son of the Ravenscourt female. Xindlevhana is usually very shy but we were able to get some good views of him at this sighting. He is truly a huge animal and there is a possibility that he may have surprised the giraffe as it was sitting ruminating and managed to kill it himself! We will probably never know what actually happened but the ecologists and vets did come to take tissue and blood samples from the carcass to check for disease.
  • There was plenty of hyena activity at the giraffe carcass in the early mornings with many vultures waiting their turn in the surrounding trees.
  • Xikavi female leopard was seen with a bushbuck kill, she also had a run in with the Ravenscourt female a day later.
  • There were many rhino sightings and the female with the huge front horn was seen regularly.
  • Some very large elephant herds moved through the area, some with tiny (compared to the adults) babies.
  • Buffalo were harder to find but there was a wonderful sighting of 15 old bulls moving through the bush one morning
  • This morning the week was concluded with the first sighting of the Tsalala lion pride for nearly 2 years, the pride crossed in just to the south of our access road. It was the first sighting we have had of the youngsters and also the first time we had seen the older lioness with no tail known to some as 'BB'

There will be another update next week,

Take care

The Idube Team

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The week that was....

It has been a fantastic week here at Idube, our guests have had fantastic sightings out on the drives and there was even some exciting animal activity inside the lodge as well. Regular wildlife seen on the lodge grounds are nyala, warthog, vervet monkey and the nocturnal genet and this week they were joined by hyena (seen on the lawn during dinner), leopard (the Lisbon male, seen from shadulu dam hide and later in the staff quarters) and elephant (herds around the lodge most days and one big bull who ended up on the lawn at dinner time after unhooking the gate and letting himself in!).
The sightings on the drives were fantastic, leopard and lion were seen daily as were rhino and elephant, there were regular buffalo sightings, some great interactions with hippos (both in and out of the water), zebra giraffe, hyena, wildebeest, waterbuck, kudu, duiker, impala, bushbuck, nyala, warthog and steenbok were all seen regularly too. There were sightings of a male cheetah and the wild dog pack also came through the area to compliment all the wonderful bird life that was also seen.

Amongst those sightings were highlights such as:

  • The Hlabnkunzi female leopard and her two six month old cubs with an impala kill hoisted high in a tree with two hyenas below them hoping that some of the meat would fall for them.
  • A great sighting of the oldest member of the Mapogo coalition (known as Makulu meaning Big) roaring and three other coalition members replying far in the distance.
  • The wild dog pack running through the north and catching a baby grey duiker and polishing it of in under 10 minutes.
  • The Ottawa lion pride trying their luck hunting a hippo, this ended up with one of the young males riding on the hippo's back until it dived into the river wit the rest of the pride following close behind. unfortunately nobody saw much as it was dark and it all happened too fast to react!
  • Two of the Mapogo male lions (Makulu and MrT) following the scent of Mabirri female leopard, stalking to within a couple of metres of where she was lying, unaware of their intentions, before missing her completely and giving her a chance to escape up a tree! The other point of interest in this sighting was how worried MrT became when he got separated from the older male, zig-zagging up and down and giving contact calls after only a minute of the two losing sight of one another, eventually he started roaring (an unusual occurrence in the heat of the day) and Makulu replied enabling them to locate each other again. It seems MrT is still having some safety fears after the fight with the new coalition up in the northern Sabi Sand where he was badly mauled and his brother killed.
  • The five Ximunghwe lionesses were seen frequently and there were concerns about their cubs which had not been seen for a while. the pride went across our eastern boundary and on their return on female left the group and fetched three cubs, it does seem that the older cubs have perished, a sad ending for the little one nicknamed Supercub...
  • The week's sightings finished up with four of the Mapogo together with the Ottawa lion pride on a buffalo kill to the north of the causeway across the Sand river at Inyati It was pleasing to see the two Ottawa cubs happy and full in the presence of the returning coalition member MrT after concerns that he does not have a bond with the younger lions in the area after being away so long.

Look out for another update this time next week!

Best Wishes

The Idube Team

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Welcome To Our Blog!

Hello Everybody,
Welcome to the Idube Blog where we hope to keep everybody up to date with the happenings in our beautiful reserve. We hope to keep you updated with sightings reports and some pictures on a regular basis.
Hope you Enjoy it!
The Idube Team