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