Rangers Report: Wild Dog kill attracts hyena and leopard, Mapogo male lion appears and the Nyaleti male leopard has a second kill in one week.
Notten’s female leopard departed the impala kill south of Notten’s camp.
Wild Dogs on Marula, Main, in front of Camp and with a bushbuck kill on Spector.
Elephant herd at Vovovo dam.
Buffalo herd north of Weeping Plains.
Grumpy male rhino with a female and calf north of the buffalo herd.
Two Kruger male lions on Ngulube Loop.
Southern pride south of Shaws Gate.
Nyaleti male leopard with a Kudu kill north east of Swela’s Drift.
Limping Southern pride female with her two small cubs in the drainage line off Xigodo.
Notten’s female leopard around Xivati BB missed a herd of Kudu.
Nyaleti young male leopard south of Southern Arm Machangaan and west of Ngungunyane with a Bushbuck kill.
Mandla bottom end of Fort.
Notten’s female north west of camp.
One Wild Dog on Manjets.
Mapogo male lion south of Fever Tree Dam.
Game Drive Story:
The Notten’s female had finished with the impala kill. She had been lucky and managed to gain this kill inadvertently from the attempted Wild Dog hunt. Her and her two cubs had disappeared into the closest drainage line. All of them had had a good feed. The story continues.
We were in for a surprise. One morning while we were getting ready for the morning drive on the deck, we watched four Wild Dogs appear out of the blue and hang around for a short while in a large open area in front of camp. They disappeared out of sight. We all rushed into the vehicles to try relocate the pack. They had disappeared. After about half an hour we managed to find these jet fueled creatures. They had located a large male bushbuck. Having ran out of choices he decided to fight for his life. He stabbed at the Wild Dogs with his dagger like horns but this was futile. The Dogs are extremely agile and while the Bushbuck was defending his front the other Dogs quickly managed to bring him down from behind.
Wild Dogs will kill quickly and eat quickly. It may not be very pretty but it is all over with lightning speed. There were four dogs with the kill and a large male Bushbuck is a sizable kill for four dogs. They got stuck in. In about thirty minutes the four of them could not eat any more. They had left one at a time to head back to the den and obviously regurgitate meat for the baby sitters and the pups.
Just after half an hour passed and the Dogs had all returned back to the den. Earlier though, we had heard something that had sounded like one of the Dogs chasing a leopard up a tree. We could hear the growl of the leopard and the sound of a leopard climbing a tree but could not see anything. We were very busy with viewing the kill.
A hyena had already been chased off the scene by the dogs but with the dogs vacating the area the hyena slowly and hesitantly came closer. When the coast was clear he was overjoyed with the kill he found. And for free. This joy was short lived with the return of two Wild Dogs. They immediately attacked the lone hyena. The Dogs are only slightly built and hyenas are built like a brick house. The Dogs have speed, coupled with lightning reflexes. On top of this they have a large mouth full of teeth with a very powerful bite. The poor hyena was outnumbered and out matched. The dogs chased him and repetitively bit the hyenas behind, which I’m sure is very unpleasant. The hyena eventually managed to get his back into a bush and face the dogs; they left him alone and returned for some more eating.
Things then got even more interesting. Out of the bushes came the Notten’s female leopard. We now had two Wild Dogs, one hyena and a leopard all trying to get something to eat. The leopard walked around in some cover and weighed up her options. After about an hour she managed to steal the left over kill when the dogs had left again and hoisted it into a tree. This is the second time she had gained from a Wild Dog kill in less than a week. She is learning. We were all left in awe of what we had witnessed. A very rare sighting with many twists and turns.
The Kruger male lions were together for a few days until they separated, patrolling their territories. The smaller of the two managed to find the pride but the limping one was still alone. Last night we got to see the Southern pride with the one large male only shortly until we could no longer follow them. They are all doing just fine. The Southern pride female was with her two small cubs in a thickly covered drainage line.
The Nyaleti young male leopard paid us a surprise visit; he was discovered with a half eaten young Kudu kill. We visited him for three days, still around his kill. There was a large rock he would sit and lye on when we visited him, looking very proud of himself. He is becoming a large and powerful male leopard. A hyena was always present. We also managed to time our arrival with this leopard becoming active and got to witness him climbing the tree twice to have some more to eat. The second time he maneuvered the kill all over the tree with the hyena wishing for any scraps to fall down but no luck.
A lovely herd of elephants with one tiny calf entertained us yesterday morning; with them were two bulls, one very large one had a fresh cut close to his tusk, no doubt a tussle with another large bull elephant. He was showing signs of being in full musth but was very relaxed with our presence. They headed to a nearby water hole and had a long drink, the very large male making a slurping noise with his trunk as he sucked up water. The herd also seemed very relaxed with a bull in musth.
Young male leopard Mandla is around the area of camp for the last few days. We followed him as he was hunting impala close to White Dam. Eventually he went tearing off into the dark after one of them but we never managed to relocate him again. He must have missed it. The next morning he was located again and we got to see this character last night. He was sleeping like a rock, something I cannot remember witnessing before for very long. I have seen him have a five minute snooze; however he is usually a very active leopard indeed. He slept so deeply he eventually let out a few snores. It was a little amusing.
Yesterday morning we headed up the hill to see if the Notten’s female had brought her two cubs to the Bushbuck kill she had acquired from the Wild Dogs in the end. No kill no cubs and no leopard. But why? Did she drop it from the tree? After viewing Mandla last night with a fat belly I’m sure he must have stolen the kill from his own mother. Inadvertently he had also placed pressure on his own half sibling in doing so.
At the same time Mandla was having a monumental cat nap the Nyaleti young male had brought down a female Bushbuck. Only last week he finished an almost fully grown female Kudu kill. He seems to be a very efficient hunter. I would place his age at around four years old now. When he arrived we thought he was a bit bigger than Mandla but in the last year he has gained some serious weight and is quite a bit bigger now. We relocated the kill this morning in thick bush on the edge of a dry river bed. He had hoisted it high into a large Jackal berry tree with a perfect horizontal large branch with a perfectly shaped branch in which to wedge the kill and eat standing up. We got there as the sun had just stretched through the tree and covered the leopard with a warm yellow glow. It was a magical sighting in a large tree on the banks of a dry river bed.
We saw two hyenas in the same sighting. Down the road we saw just one Wild Dog who disappeared soon afterwards. He has somehow been separated from the pack; he headed into thick cover at speed, speeds a large vehicle cannot keep up with in thick bush. It was great to see him though and I hope he finds the pack.
An elephant herd followed, with a male rhino down the road. Off to what we thought was one of the Kruger male lions. On arrival we realized it was not a Kruger male but one of the legendary Mapogo male lions, alone. He looked quite sad and a little nervous of the vehicle. These guys have run out of luck and have nowhere to go anymore. Being alone, he is vulnerable. If the two Kruger males discover him alone he will be in a world of trouble. We all wondered if the arrival of the Mapogo would pose a threat to the Kruger males but after seeing the Mapogo male this morning he looks as if he has given up and is simply biding his time in the Kruger male’s territory. At least here the Kruger males seem to be ignoring them for now. They have already had an interaction before, one which the Kruger males came out victorious. The Southern four young males who eventually dethroned the Mapogo would be much more adamant in finding them should they return north.
The Skukuza pride had been seen in Lion Sands, which will add new dynamics in the area. Time will tell. What is evident is that the Mapogo males are lost souls and when we view the Kruger males, they look confident and powerful, even the limpy male.
Winter often brings new sightings as the Sand and Sabi rivers respectively, attract animals from far and wide, what next.
All and all a very good week of game viewing, the guests staying with us for this week got very lucky indeed.