The first week of November was nothing short of extreme from a heat point of view. By 8am the sun was already beating down on the African landscape, by which point most of the animals were heading into the shade to seek some respite from the heat. The mercury remained constant around the 40°C mark, although this didn’t stop guests from venturing out to enjoy Mashatu’s majestic wildlife.
For a long while the mother leopard and her three cubs were the Mashatu favourites. We still see them on an almost daily basis, and they invariably steal the hearts of everyone who encounters them. Our current stars are facing some stiff competition however, as there’s now a cheetah mom with five gorgeous little ones to share the limelight with. Yes that’s right, five! We see the six cheetahs fairly regularly, although not nearly as often as the leopard family. The cubs are still a bit wary and skittish of the vehicles, but hopefully their mother’s relaxed attitude will show them that there is nothing to be afraid of. On Tuesday we found the six feeding on freshly killed impala ewe, which made for some spectacular photographic opportunities!
Sadly, an old elephant cow died of natural causes. But as the circle of life dictates, death of one inevitably provides life for another. In this case some Spotted hyenas and Black-backed jackal. The elephant died near Hammerkop Crossing, along the Majale River, and we counted up to 17 hyenas in and around the massive carcass each day. With pockets of water nearby, the hyenas would simply feast to the point of bursting and then lie down in the cool water to digest their meal. The interaction between, and vocalization from, these super predators never ceases to amaze guests.
General game viewing has been excellent, with large herds of wildebeest, zebra and giraffe scattered across the landscape. The rain over the last couple of weeks has resulted in numerous pools of water dotted all over the place. Warthogs in particular, make the most of them by rolling enthusiastically in the mud. This not only cools them down, but also has the added benefit of removing external parasites from their skin. The mud acts as a natural ‘sun block’ as well. Nature at its best!
Birding is just about in full flight now. The cacophony of sounds that fill the morning air is definitely an earful. Cuckoos, kingfishers and many more migrant species are arriving back, making this an ideal time for bird lovers to visit.
See you out there,