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