The big question being discussed in the Rangers Room at the moment is the fate of the Mashaba female’s cub.
The last evidence we have is trail-cam footage of it being carried out of a den by the Senegal Bush male; behaviour we’ve never encountered here before and we can’t find anybody who has heard of it anywhere else. Male leoaprds don’t carry cubs unless they’ve just killed them, and this was the second time in a week the male leopard had been seen picking the cub up gently and carrying it like its mother would.
A recent kill near camp was visited by no less than 5 different leopards over a 24hr period, and one of them was the Mashaba female herself. In the sighting it certainly looked like she had suckle marks; strong evidence that the cub is alive and well. This, however, is something we’ll only be able to confirm when we actually lay eyes on the tiny leopard again.
Hopefully next Friday we’ll have something more concrete for you.
In the meantime, enjoy the Week in Pictures…
We are waiting to find out if the Mashaba female is still looking after a cub. She has been seen a few times now but we have not been able to follow her back to a den. Hopefully next week we will have some answers.
Unusually dark and gloomy weather for this time of the year makes for an impressive backdrop as a giraffe strolls across an open clearing.
Mother and calf stand side by side sharing a drink. This calf has not yet grown its tusks, indicating that it is still under three years of age. They are only fully weaned after four years, thus it is still probably quite new to using its trunk to suck up water to drink. This explains why it soon became distracted by a bird along the water’s edge.
A large hyena looks up from where it was feasting on an impala carcass. There were probably 12-15 other hyenas at the scene, but this one monopolised the feeding, meaning she was most likely the alpha female.
Ranger Sean Zeederberg gets down low to capture the rising sun over the Sand River at Finfoot Crossing.
A crested barbet flushed out from a bush as we drove by, then settled on a dead tree trunk. It paused just long enough for us to take a good look at how striking its colours really are. Although common, we often overlook these little beauties.
A small flock of guineafowl take turns launching over a small channel in the Sand River on their way up to roost in the overhanging Matumi trees.
A large kudu bull, his maturity evidenced by his thick neck, wanders over a crest. A shot like this of a kudu in the open is hard to come by as they are usually a species that prefers denser areas.
The mighty feet and toes of an elephant. Although the tracks of an elephant are rounded, when one takes a closer look at the feet, one can see the individual toenails. The massive weight of elephants has resulted in the development of huge, padded feet that expand with each step. This helps spread the weight evenly, more so than if they had individual digits like we do.
Our second time to this spot and our third star mission in three months. We scored the perfect evening with not a breath of wind and a clear sky. Our aim was to try and get a star reflection in this pool in the Manyelethi Riverbed before it dries up. The reflection didn’t work quite as planned, however we soon realised that the boulders themselves were quite an attractive foreground.
The Othawa male looks up towards where a hooded vulture had landed in the marula tree above him. The Mhangeni pride had brought down a zebra the night before and the vultures were hanging around to see if they could sneak any scraps. they were disappointed, as the lions moved off during the evening and the hyenas finished what was left.
The airstrip has been an amazing place to view giraffes recently, and the fact that we are usually passing it around dawn and dusk means the light is usually fantastic. This morning saw a number of females walking across, but we only arrived just as the last one in line crossed over.
The cub of the Piccadilly female is still shy. We haven’t seen much of it of late, having concentrated our efforts around the Mashaba female’s much younger cub, but mother and (insert sex here; I haven’t actually looked to see if it’s male or female) were seen this morning on the same outcrop the female has been using as a den for a couple of months now.
We are seeing a lot more giraffe on the reserve of late for reasons unknown. This journey of three wandered across the open grassland crests of the north and photographing them from a distance gave a different perspective where they can be seen in the context of their environment.
From not having seen the Mashaba female in some time, this last week gave us three great sightings of her. She was found resting with a kill in a tree but we suspect that she might have robbed the kill from the Ximungwe female who was also in the same sighting.
The Ximungwe female was found drinking at a prominent waterhole after having left the Mashaba female with her kill. The Ximungwe female is the daughter of the Mashaba female so they would have recognised each other but they stayed far apart and we didn’t see any signs of aggression between the two.