Wildlife diary: 1 – 15 October 2010
The month of November kicked off with a bang, treating us to sightings of four male cheetahs and a pack of seven wild dogs on the same day!
We found the cheetahs early in the morning in a large open area. The visuals were great, and even though they were fast asleep it was fantastic to see four of the few cheetahs that still roam the Greater Kruger Region. At last count there were only 190 cheetahs left in the region, so seeing four at once was pretty good going.
The afternoon was for the wild dogs!
We found a pack of seven just around the corner from the lodge. Wild dogs are well-known for their speed and stamina, and true to their reputation they quickly covered a vast distance in a very short amount of time.
Wild dogs are the most endangered carnivore in Africa, which makes even the briefest sighting of them a special occasion. But because they traverse such large areas, finding them is never easy.
As always, we were treated to many leopard sightings in the past two weeks. Although there was one in particular that stood out for us. Shadow – one of our female leopards – finally made a couple of appearances with her two little cubs. Viewing of the youngsters is still somewhat restricted, as we follow a very specific protocol when it comes to cubs.
Being mindful while cubs are still young is exactly the reason we enjoy such magnificent leopard viewing at Arathusa.
Over the next couple of weeks, as the cubs grow older and become more accustomed to vehicles, we will slowly increase viewing of these adorable little guys.
The 7th of November saw the beginning of the impala lambing season. Watching hoards of baby impalas frolicking about never fails to put a smile on the faces of guests and rangers alike. Impalas generally give birth at around the same time every year. Doing so ensures the survival of most of the lambs, as the predators take full advantage of this time of year.
The lion prides in our area all took turns at putting in an appearance, which meant we saw most of them at least once during the past two weeks.
Some unfortunate news came in the beginning of the month, when the four dominant males managed to catch and kill a young male from another pride that frequents our area. Although it is sad, it’s also a necessary way for the lions to keep their numbers from growing too big. If they didn’t do this they would soon be left with an empty pantry.
The elephants proved more difficult to find than usual. This was due to the fact that they’d moved south to the Sand River, where water and food is abundant at the moment. Hopefully in the coming weeks – with more rain and the bush flourishing – they will return to drink and feast in our area.
Rhino viewing has been exceptionally good lately, with sightings on an almost daily basis of these formidable beasts. They’ve been quite relaxed with one another lately, with no known fights between the territorial males. They all seem happy and content to just fill up on the fresh green grass that sprouted up after the first rains.
Our only wish now is that the rains continue on a more frequent basis, in order to fill up all the waterholes in the area. In a matter of weeks we watched the landscape transform itself from dull and arid, into a flourishing ecosystem with lush green plants and full water holes.
Greetings from the bush.
Andre & Chris , Ryan & Debeer , Phil & Rifos , John & Roy