This months Leopard Mountain Game Lodge rangers report is brought to us by Chase, Adam & Ivor, and is action packed with some exciting sightings.
Another great month for us in the heart of Zululand. Great weather complemented with exciting bush happenings. A few scorching days, broken up by a bit of rain, have kept us all in full summer mode, always ready for a shift in conditions and subtle changes in animal behaviour.
After many hours of track and sign searching we have had good luck with the most elusive cat of the bush and the word that’s on the tip of everyone’s tongue, Leopard. Two tomcats graced us with their presence on separate occasions and a female casually crossed the road in front of the vehicle in pure daylight before slipping off effortlessly through a densely vegetated drainage area.
One of the male Leopards put on a 15 minute show for our rangers and guests as he slinked past the vehicle and scent marked metres away, golden rosette-filled coat glistening in the spotlight, and continued to patrol down the road allowing the vehicle to join him along the way. As far as beautiful creatures go, Leopard definitely tops our list this month.
We have also been completely entertained by a pack of 14 Wild Dog whose hunting strategies, playful bonding and curious nature have brought them in close proximity to the lodge. We watched as they chased Impala and Nyala in front of some of the rooms and gathered in the parking lot to regroup and bond before shooting off back on the hunt.
We consider ourselves lucky to be in an area that supports this unique species. For a critically endangered animal to be seen so often and in such good shape as they keep up their name of being Africa’s most successful predator, we can only imagine a positive future for the 500 Wild Dogs left in the wild.
As far as big and bulky herbivores go, we have had some wonderful moments. An Elephant bull in full musth kept us at bay as he fought his high levels of testosterone, letting out the occasional trumpet and ear flap in between breaking branches and walking through small trees using them as giant back scratchers.
At 5 tons it’s no wonder all the antelope, Warthogs and birdlife scattered from his path as he grumpily moved through the bush. On the other hand, it was lovely to see so many White Rhino grazing in a fully relaxed mood – coming close enough to us to intrigue us with every detail as they munched away at the luscious grass. To be in the vicinity of such a huge animal in its natural environment is quite an experience and a moment I’m sure our guests will not forget.
As far as special and interesting sightings go, there is one that stands out above the rest. It’s no secret that a Boomslang is a snake to be feared both by humans and animals alike, but who does the Boomslang fear? A small bird fell victim to the snake but as it was trying to swallow its prey we saw the brave efforts of a Blackbacked Puffback to expel the snake from the area. The Puffback displayed full mobbing behaviour, resting on branches close to the snake and dive bombing it from every angle.
The force and accuracy of the bird’s attacks were simply astonishing, mainly flying in from behind the Boomslang and aiming its beak right for the eyes, the determined little bird made contact time and time again. Eventually unable to swallow the food and at risk of going blind, the serpent opted to drop out of the tree onto the ground and slither into a thick bush in an effort to escape. Sometimes dynamite certainly comes in small packages! It’s events like this that keep us amazed and waiting for the next bit of excitement around the corner.
Our rare bird sighting of the month caused quite a stir, a Black Coucal that was seen on drive. This is undoubtedly one of the harder species to spot in the area and no doubt a special one to add to the list.
That’s it for now –until next month everyone, sala kahle (stay well)!