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...
The Idube Team