Weekly sightings of the MalaMala Seven 23 February – 1 March 2014
Number of leopard sightings: 20
Number of elephant sightings: 28
Number of buffalo sightings: 24
Number of wild dog sightings: 0
Number of cheetah sightings: 0
Number of rhino sightings: 0
What’s that funny face and smirk all about? It is something which most of us have seen before since it’s actually not all that uncommon to observe in most domestic house cats. You’ve possibly seen the expression, the one which is followed by an intense sniffing session. This upward lip curling and exposing of the front teeth and gums is a behaviour which is practiced by carnivores big and small, and even hoofed animals, and is generally a means of testing and analysing different scents. Scents can be checked for any number of reasons but are predominantly used to determine sexualcondition or to investigate a newcomer within a territory.
Huge python makes an impressive catch
Early one morning we headed out on game drive and found fresh leopard tracks not too far from the lodge. We followed them but were unfortunately not successful in finding the leopard and decided to continue in a northerly direction. Towards the end of our drive we decided to head back to the area where we found the leopard tracks earlier that morning, and much to our surprise saw a few vultures perched in a dead leadwood tree, in that same spot. This got us very excited hoping that we might find the leopard with a kill. Little did we know what was waiting for us!
These photos were taken by guest Amay Barros)
The Southern African python is listed as vulnerable in the latest South African Red Data Book and may not be killed or captured. Unfortunately, to this day both its skin and fat are still used in traditional medicine.
Studies of animal behaviour show that many species have a hierarchical structure and use an array of body language in order to survive and have the best possible mating opportunities. In Cape buffalo behaviour the most experienced females are known as pathfinders. These females are responsible for taking the herd to the most beneficial grazing and waterpoints in the breeding herd’s home range, which changes throughout summer and winter. As the pathfinders follow the rain to nutrient-rich grazing they contribute to the health of the grasses due to trampling and seed dispersion caught between the hooves of these dark beasts.
Older bulls post mating, as well as bulls in prime mating condition, sometimes leave the females in summer. Post mating bulls often depart permanently, while males in prime mating condition leave the breeding herd periodically to reach better grazing, which results in higher testosterone because of increased nitrogen levels in the highly nutritious grass. This type of grass grows along the Xhikelengane drainage and up along the Mozambique border. Lone ‘dagga’ boys (‘dagga’ means muddy) or bachelor herds of up to 30 can meet in these areas – and this is sometimes where they meet their final fate by way of lions.
The tracks took us to the drainage area and there we found these buffalo bulls – one completely smothered in thick black mud and another battle-scarred and belligerent, both taking a moment out of their grazing regime to stare us down.
The concession is flourishing with amazing birdlife at the moment. Below are just a few photographs:
(Campethera abingoni). These two photographs show how different feeding habits require different beak adaptations. Although both are insectivores, the manner in which they feed is extremely different, the bee-eater pictured left is an insect eating bird catching most of its prey in flight and the woodpecker uses its strong robust beak for tunnelling away for food under the bark of the trees.
They take off vertically then fly in the specific direction towards water.
The male red-crested korhaan (Lophotis ruficrista) is most famous for his kamikaze display which he does to impress any potential mates in an area.
He starts by calling, as in the picture, to get the attention of any females. After a while, when he’s sure she is looking, he flies vertically into the sky and once he reaches about the height of a giraffe he tucks in his wings and comes barrelling down towards the ground! At the last possible moment he will open his wings and softly land on the ground.
Apparently the idea is that the male who can open his wings closest to the ground is the strongest, bravest and most genetically impressive and therefore ought to be chosen by the female as their mate…another member of their own species.
Jumping spiders are the only spiders known to respond to their own image in a mirror, taking up a threat posture as they would on encountering
We bring you ten of the best pictures as experienced through the eye (and lens) of ranger Jonathan Short, all taken on safari at MalaMala over recent months.
Which is your favourite?
One of the most popular features of our website is the monthly Wildlife Reports, penned by Singita’s field guides and including many of their incredible photos from twice-daily game drives with guests. These journals cover recent wildlife sightings, seasonal changes in the local flora, birding highlights and stunning landscape shots from all five regions in which Singita has lodges and camps. Here is a selection of photos from some recent entries for you to enjoy:
Elephants in the Kruger National Park must be some of the most dynamic landscapers to this environment and a safari would simply not be complete without seeing one of these colossal giants strutting its stuff. These giants move prodigious distances over a large home range area rather than marking and protecting a territory, – and this makes sightings of them unpredictable and erratic. Over the past month we had an extraordinary total of 89 sightings, with at least two sightings per day. Even with the huge number of elephants scattered throughout the park and with years of research, theories and estimates on these mythical beasts, so much is still unknown about the species.
The Nyaleti male had made his way up the bank of the river and appeared in front of us. He casually walked along the bank until he reached a couple of big boulders. Instead of walking around them, he promptly hopped from boulder to boulder all the way across the river to the other side. (Watch the video – http://youtu.be/jMxeZEZGjdQ) We followed him slowly for about five minutes before a herd of impala struck his interest. We stopped and watched from a distance as he stalked the herd.