Summer is rapidly approaching, with the average daily temperatures sitting around 13-32ºC. Most vegetation is showing signs of blossoming, and the air is filled with a rich aroma of scents and smells.
There were five eland kills made during the month, and all of them by lions. The leopards were responsible for five of the seven impala kills, while a Spotted hyena and cheetah took care of the other two. Of the two warthog kills, lions made one and Spotted hyena another.
Elephant sightings could not have been better this month. Although we mostly saw these majestic animals along the riverine areas, it was the sightings at waterholes in the Majale River which were really mind blowing. It’s always such a treat to watch the ellies bathing, drinking, and just playing in the remaining pockets of water, as they seek respite from the midday heat.
Leopard sightings were also very good during September, with various individuals being spotted. The female and her trio of seven month old cubs remain the star attraction however, hanging mostly around the Central area between Baboons Bedroom, Figree Crossing and Grahams’ Tree. The sub-adult male from this female’s previous litter also spends the majority of his time in the same general region. He has quickly grown into a spectacular leopard to follow and enjoy, let’s hope the three youngsters grow up to have the same relaxed temperament towards our vehicles as their older brother.
Lion sightings weren’t bad either, coming in at an impressive 83%. We saw the Central pride on numerous occasions, and enjoyed one particularly outstanding sighting of Matswane, our adult male lion, bringing down a fully grown eland all by himself. The pride of six down in Mashatu’s south-western region also showed themselves on a few occasions. The three males – now around four years old – are fast becoming serious contenders for Matswane, who is currently dominant in the Central area. In the beginning of the year the three chanced their luck by trying to move into his sought after territory, although they were quickly dealt with by this still very dominant male. Now these brothers are just biding their time, growing stronger and more confident by the day. No doubt they will one day be referred to as the Central coalition.
Cheetah sightings were up by 27% from August. This is largely due to the mother with one cub being seen regularly throughout the month. The three males that normally move together weren’t around as much. We did hear reports of them on our eastern borders, although this could not be confirmed.
Not to be outdone, general game viewing was equally spectacular. Birding is becoming more and more interesting as well, especially now that the migrant species are slowly making their way back home. The aardwolf den close to Main Camp is once again active, so sightings of these rare and elusive carnivores are becoming more frequent. A hippo was recorded by one of the camera traps set near the Limpopo River. These large herbivores are most often found in the water during the day, although they regularly come onto land to graze.
We end the report on a high note, as the ‘missing’ pack of Wild dogs appears to be slowing making its way back onto Mashatu. After finally tracking the pack down and deploying a satellite radio collar on the alpha female, we’re now able to keep tabs on this normally hard to find bunch. The pack, which consists of four adults and five 4-5 month old pups, is based on the south-western section of the reserve.
PLEASE NOTE: This blog is still in it’s infancy stages so the Sightings maps, Predator maps and CyberDiary Archives aren’t up and running just yet. The Pete’s Pond is live however, so make sure to wander over there and see what the animals are up to.