Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Latest Rangers News

April is holiday season over most of the world and we are preparing for a busy month at the lodge, the bush is also busy as the rutting season starts to get into full swing, we are already hearing the throaty roars of the impala rams as they proclaim their territories. Many of the migratory birds started to head back north during March but the ones who remained were rewarded with heavy rains at the end of the month and a new flush of food, these remaining migrants may now wait until later this month before starting their journey.

Rain is still forecast for the first part of April, which means the dams should be full enough to provide water for the dry winter months ahead.

The wildlife sightings over the last few weeks have been amazing (as usual) giving us more insights into the different relationships and interactions that occur in the bush.

The elephant population in the area started to move away as the last few Marula fruits were consumed. The late rains towards the end of the month meant that many of the plant species put out an extra last growth spurt and this resulted in large numbers of elephants returning to the area to feast on all the new shoots and grass that was available. Beautiful sights of large herds (with many small babies) on the open clearings were suddenly being reported all over the traversing area.

The lion population is still doing well with all three of the big Mapogo males reunited again. The males have been spending most of their time with one or more of the Ximunghwe pride, still showing great interest in the females without cubs and mating when the opportunity arose. In-between the courtship the males did spend some time together close to the lodge and their roars were often heard all through the night.

Interestingly there were also roars heard from other lions on occasion, some from the North East, and some from directly East of Idube, on one such occasion the Mapogo heard the calls and proceeded to head in the opposite direction!

By the end of the month, two of the males were sharing a young giraffe kill with the Ximunghwe pride whilst the third was occupied with a lioness – the courting pair was not far from the others but their minds were not on the food at all!

The Ximunghwe pride has continued to do well with the four oldest cubs being seen regularly. The cubs have been accepted by all three of the Mapogo so should continue to do well. The four younger cubs have not been seen since the mother moved the den at the end of last month - this in itself is not a worry, but reports of the lioness thought to be the mother flirting with one of the males and showing little sign of having suckled the cubs, may mean there are some grounds for concern. If we look back at last year some of you may remember that one of the lionesses was thought to have lost her litter of four cubs to hyena, yet a month later three turned up looking very healthy – the same may happen with this new litter too, we can only wait and see what happens.

The giraffe kill mentioned earlier saw the four older cubs joining the pride to feed, often being allowed to feed at the carcass with the big males.

The Ottawa pride was seen on a number of occasions in their preferred range north of the river, they are all looking very strong and healthy.

The leopards of the area have been busy and the arrival of a new relaxed male in the south was a highlight for those that follow the animals closely. The new male was identified as the Bushlodge/Balabas male from the southern Sabi Sands – born in November 2007 to the Warthog Wallow female. We do not expect him to stay in the area for long with all the other male leopard activity, but he is a good size and may be able to establish himself more to the south west of the area – neither Kashane nor Xinzele venture down there that often.

There were some romantic couplings during the month too, Xinzele was again seen with the Dam 3 female (she was sporting quite a nasty gash on her back leg), although the report was that it was the Hippo Dam female, both these females are fairly shy and are often confused with one another.

There was also a report that Mashiabanj was seen far in the north with the blue eyed female (Shangwa’s daughter), nice to know that they are both doing well in that less traversed area up there.

Hlab’nkunzi, who up until recently had been a great mother, sadly managed to lose her second cub to Xinzele recently. Having made a kill at the far reaches of her range, close to the western boundary, she left to fetch the youngster. Xinzele was in the area scent marking and calling, he came across the unattended kill and started to feed. Hlab’nkunzi returned to the area, walking past many of the areas that Xinzele had marked, she arrived at the carcass with the youngster as Xinzele was having a drink a short distance away. Xinzele returned to find mother and youngster on site and proceeded to chase the cub, catching her with a couple of swipes of his paw. The cub managed to evade serious injury and escaped up a tree. Hlab’nkunzi tried her best to distract the male but she was unsuccessful, the cub was killed soon after and the next day Xinzele was found feeding on the carcass. At the age that the youngster was, she probably would have been left alone by the male if he had come across her alone. Unfortunately by being with her mother she was seen as a dependant, sired by a rival male, and was killed to ensure that Hlab’nkunzi comes back into oestrus faster so that Xinzele can sire his own cubs. We all hope that he does so soon and stays dominant for long enough that they grow up.

Metsi and her two sons continue to do well, the two boys are the same size as their mother now, and it is often hard to tell who is who in the long grass!

The Xindlevhana male was also seen – he was having a slight confrontation with Xinzele, nothing came of it and they both went their separate ways. The Kashane male was seen frequently around Idube too.

Other leopards seen included the Xikavi female; the Ravenscourt female, who has new cubs across our eastern boundary, and the Tlangisa female who is thriving in the vacant area left by the death of her mother.

The cheetah sightings were limited to the older male ‘Makumisa’ who was seen regularly in the south, the coalition of three males has moved out of the area and we hope to see them again soon.

The wild dog pack was seen with both females looking heavily pregnant, they were spending a lot of time looking for suitable den sites and hopefully they will settle in one spot soon.

Buffalo were a regular sight; the big herd is currently split in two and are around on a regular basis. The “dagga boy” bull buffalo are also seen all over the area regularly.

Zebra and giraffe are still around in small groups, often on the clearings in front of the lodge.

The next month promises many more great sightings, you can get regular updates on what is happening on our facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/idubelodge and out twitter feed: http://twitter.com/idube_lodge

Until next time,

Best wishes,

Rob The Ranger

Monday, April 4, 2011

Updated Western Sector Leopard ID Kit 2011


(Updated April 2011)




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: 2 Males (3:3 + 3:4) Born May 2010


Territorial on Singita Has been seen recently on P.5, Exeter South and Idube North

Spots: 2:3

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)

  New litter late 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

Young: 1st litter (2f) killed by Xinzele early 2011




Relaxed, Territory mainly along the river between Ottawa, Exeter and Singita

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

Young Female


Spots: 3:4

Born: Late 2009

Mother: Either Hippo Dam or Dam3 as both are confused with one another

Father: Tegwaan



Kashane (Lisbon)Male

Relaxed. Mostly seen on Savanna, 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. Seems to have taken over most of Tegwaans territory south of the river

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.

Spots: 3:3

Origins as yet unconfirmed

Mashiabanj Male

Has been seen often in the West since November 2009, now mostly north of the river Was first called Mombosa Male

Spots: 3:4

Born: Jan 2008

Mother: Kikelezi/Xidulu female of Mala Mala/Londolozi

Father: Camp Pan Male

Metsi 3:3 Son

Still dependant

Spots: 3:3 (1:1 between whisker line)

Born: May 2010

Mother: Metsi

Father: Tegwaan

Metsi 3:4 Son

Still dependant

Spots: 3:4 (1 spot between left whisker line)

Born: May 2010

Mother: Metsi

Father: Tegwaan

Bushlodge/Balabas Male

Moved into western sector from Sabi Sabi in March 2011

Spots: 2:4

Born: Nov 2007

Mother: Warthog Wallow Female

Son Of Tai Dam


Not seen since independence but could still be in NW corner

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

Born: Mid – Late 2009

Mother: Tai Dam

Father: Tegwaan

Photos By: JF Poudron; L Pearson; R Vamplew; R Brightman