Field Guide Update by MattJuly, 31, 2014
Safari Field Guide Update
The last few months have dashed by in a flurry of excitement, although, you need to be forewarned this story is not an easy story to read.
It is however, part of the bush and it adds to the drama of it all as we realize that in the bush the penalty for pure misfortune often is death. So to start off, it appears that the Selati’s are now gone. The four became three and then the Majingilanes arrived.
For two weeks this reserve was in an uproar as on separate nights the Majingilanes teamed up against individual Selati’s, the one was really badly wounded and another was killed by the Jingies, these battles happened at night and it happened close to the camp and all night long we heard the giant cats fight it out. The other two left via Londolozi and the last update I had was that they were around the Manyeleti a few weeks back.
This new coalition then moved into the area and they were looking for the Prides. Initially the males found the female from the Othawa Pride who doesn’t have any cubs, she mated with these males for almost two weeks, before they realized that they were barking up the wrong tree! This time had given the two prides a head start, the Xhimungwe’s have been hiding from male lions for years when they have cubs, and the Othawa’s had not, and it shows. The Majingilanes then proceeded to hunt the cubs from both prides. This is natural selection at work, it is common practice for new male lions moving into an area to kill off the cubs, it is called infanticide.
One fateful afternoon we happened upon a fresh Kudu kill that the one female had killed. She was lying up in the afternoon sunlight in the sand of one of the many drainage lines that run about the lodge. Initially we knew she had a kill because she was full and covered in blood and we could smell it, it is an acrid smell when the lions spill the stomach and its contents, it catches you by surprise and is not at all pleasant, and it wasn’t pleasant. We found the kill and also by surprise four cubs that had been displaced from the Pride and we had feared the worst. They had gorged themselves on a huge male kudu, not much was left apart from a partially chewed ribcage and a clean beautiful set of horns. We had left that evening thinking that this was there bit of luck, but we were wrong… dead wrong. The next morning two cubs were dead in the same spot and the other two were missing. Jury is still out on who killed the cubs but the manner in which they were left suggests like it was lions. This poor Othawa’s Pride has lost in total 6 cubs with only one male and one female sub-adult left. Should these two perish as well this will give the Xhimungwe’s a chance as the Jingies will spend quality time with the Othawa’s.
The Xhimungwe’s are down to five sub-adults 4 females and a male. The cubs are almost indiscernible from their mother in the Xhimungwe’s. Their tactic seems to be eat impala’s every day, nothing too big to keep us rooted to one spot for too long, and turn away from the roars at night.
So while the lions have been warring across the property in their battles of life. Secretly tucked away in a cold damp entanglement of the roots of an eroded Jackelberry is two sets of eyes, one brown and one blue. They stair curiously at these strange, new flashing, noisy green bush things. Tlangisa on the other hand has other plans and unceremoniously lifts and carries one halfway to the game viewer, then proceeded to walk away. The shyness evaporated quickly and the cubs have been seen frolicking in the undergrowth of all the various drainage lines in the North.
One sighting in particular that stood out, was a perfectly temperate afternoon safari. The sun had a particularly golden hue that afternoon and we arrived at Tlangisa on a kill, she had been found in the morning and that meant we had the whole afternoon with her and the youngsters.
The cubs and their mom went out of their way to perform, from stalking each other, to better tree climbing skills, we had it all and Tlangisa was the instigator she was as playful as ever. At some point into their games she left the cubs to feed, while they frolicked below her. While feeding, something caught in her peripheral vision and her head darted to her left. Coming up the road gave everyone watching the chills, a hyena following the scent of the carcass arrived and a half a cough and the cubs skeltered for safety both choosing thin trees to climb.
Dewane has made a full recovery and is no longer even limping, we saw him a few days back at sunset on the river just strolling into the sunset for us. Nyeleti too is doing well and we often see him with Xhikave as they mate. Hlaba Nkunzi’s cubs are dead it happened across the boundary of our sector.
I’m really enjoying this time of year here, the herds are coming through to drink at the river and the temperature is just delightful. Even though it is so dry there are still flowers about and plenty of trees are flowering now like the Knob-Thorn.
And that is about that as far as what is happening here.