Umlani Captured in Photos- November 2017
"Every creature was designed to serve a purpose. Learn from animals for they are there to teach you the way of life. There is a wealth of knowledge that is openly accessible in nature. Our ancestors knew this and embraced the natural cures found in the bosoms of the earth. Their classroom was nature. They studied the lessons to be learned from animals. Much of human behavior can be explained by watching the wild beasts around us. They are constantly teaching us things about ourselves and the way of the universe, but most people are too blind to watch and listen.” - Suzy Kassem
The month of November has been simply amazing, with a fair amount of rain, dams are full and the bush is lush and green, and with those factors playing in our favor this has meant that animal sightings have been numerous especially when it comes to our big cats. However all the other inhabitants from elephants to woodland doormice have put on a show for guests and guides alike. Enjoy this months highlights captured in photos.
We have been fortunate to have numerous lion sightings this month, the lone Sumatra male has been making his presence known in the absence of the Mbirri males who have been spending most of their time in the north west with the Ross pride females. Most nights we can hear the big male roaring close to camp serenading our guests to sleep. He has been seen spending time with the Hercules pride and even bonding with the Hercules young male rather than chasing him off which is interesting behavior perhaps we will see him with a new coalition partner.
The Hercules pride made a couple of appearances, on one occasion they had killed a buffalo cow and we got to see them feeding on it until the hyenas stole it from them. Sadly it seems like the young male that was injured did not make it as he hasn't been seen for some time now, but with the Sumatra male hanging around with the pride hopefully we will see some cubs soon and the pride can grow a bit.
The two old Ross breakaway lionesses have been quite far north of their usual hangouts and we have seen them a few times, they are really showing their age now but are still able to be successful hunters and make regular kills, although they are aged they remain legends of the Timbavati.
We found a huge black maned male lion a couple of mornings ago in the company of the Giraffe pride, after a bit of investigating we discovered that it is a male lion known as the Black dam male from a neighboring reserve that recently dropped its fences with the Timbavati and he seems to have now laid claim to the Giraffe pride females as he was seen mating with them. Hopefully we get to see more of him as he is a majestic looking male lion and its always impressive to see such a large individual.
When it comes to leopards the star of the show recently has been Nthombi, there was news that she had a cub, however sadly it looks like the little one did not survive probably due to the high number of hyena in the area or perhaps a male leopard, but whatever the reason it is sad, but Nthombi hasn't let the loss get to her and has graced our game drives with her presence more often than not.
Marula has been uncharacteristically absent this month, with us only seeing her once, she did look heavily pregnant so perhaps she is denning somewhere out of our traversing area and time will tell if this is in fact the case. Lets hope so and if she does have cubs lets hope she is able to raise them this time.
We found a new face on our traversing area, in the form of an elderly female leopard known as the White rock female, probably due to her age she has been pushed out of her territory which used to be to the west of us and she is now leading a nomadic life moving far and wide staying under the radar of other territorial leopards.
Thumbela showed herself one afternoon, we haven't seen her that much over the last few months so it was good to catch up with her and see that she is doing well, there has been reports that she has a subadult cub although we didn't get to see the two of them together its a good sign that our leopard population is on the increase.
Marulas son was seen once, not to far from camp resting on the bank of the Nhlaralumi river, although not often seen he has relaxed a fair amount around the vehicles and is really filling out and becoming a big male.
Nstogwaan also made a trip up north from his usual southern haunts, he is truly a magnificent leopard being one of the larger males that we see.
There has been an unknown young male leopard hanging around and he has been seen a few times now, we not sure where he has come from but he is very relaxed around vehicles and seems to love having his photo taken.
We have been very lucky with wild dog sightings this month and on one particular occasion were treated to an absolutely incredible sighting of the dogs defending a kill against a lone hyena. This is the kind of thing you see on the wildlife documentaries so to see it in person is truly special.
We still have a number of hyena dens around that seem to constantly be pumping out baby hyenas, keeping their numbers up at an all time high. However we still can't get enough of how cute the youngsters are, and its always special to witness tender moments around the dens often up close and personal as the curious youngsters investigate the vehicles.
Elephant sightings have been at an all time high this month, with us having several large herds moving through the area, as well as all the bulls that associate themselves with the herds. Being water dependent animals some of the best sightings of elephants are when they around the waterholes.
There has been plenty of buffalo around, with the large herds returning to the area and the usual groups of bulls at their local waterholes wallowing around as they do to escape the intense heat that summer brings.
GENERAL GAME AND BIRDS:
In summer the bush really comes alive when it comes to bird life and general game viewing, new vegetation attract the grazers and browsers from far and wide and migratory birds make their long trips to spend the warm months of the year here, November was no exception and we enjoyed a whole host of the smaller yet equally interesting bushveld inhabitants.
That wraps up Novembers edition of the monthly highlights, we hope you enjoyed the feast of photos. From everyone here at Umlani Bushcamp we wish you all a very joyful festive season, a merry christmas and a happy new year. Until next month...
Photographed by: Oliver Lane
Written by: Greg McCall-Peat