Hello from the amazing Mluwati concession a place we have the privilege of calling home and sharing all the beauty with our guests. February was a fantastic month for all on the concession and the bush has come to life after even more rains. Everywhere one looks there is life, butterflies of various colours and bright yellow hibiscus flowers all in full bloom. One can hardly believe that all this has happened in the space of two months but it is wonderful to see the transformation in the bush and that all the grass and trees have recovered since the drought and there will be sufficient water everywhere during the dry months later in the year. Which in turn will deliver some amazing game viewing.
Lion sightings have been a bit up and down this month and same as last month we have been cut off from various areas due to rivers flowing and tributaries cutting off some roads here and there. That said we had some good sightings and we had good news as last year the older Hamiltons cubs looked in very bad shape with the drought making it difficult for the mothers to move them around and find food. We didn’t see them for quite some time but eventually we did and the cubs are alive and healthy. Our two resident males have been spending a lot of time on the southern boundary of the concession and seen mating with two different females which we think are the other Hamiltons females who didn’t have cubs last year. So, we will wait and see if we get some new life in about three months time and so far the males are making sure no other males are coming to claim their territory. And we hope they continue to do so and keep our Lionesses and their off spring safe.
Leopards as we know are elusive and secretive creatures and with grass being almost 4 feet tall our guides have had to use all their skills to locate these secretive creatures. We did find a new female with two cubs who we haven’t seen before so we are limiting the amount of vehicles when she is seen to get her relaxed and ensure that no pressure is put on them this in turn will ensure better sightings in the future and is standard procedure for all reserves, it’s also good that we are getting new bloodlines in the area. Our resident male around Hamiltons was seen a couple of times and the wound he had on his side as we reported last month is healing nicely. The female we call Nkanye and her cub have also been spotted on a regular basis and are doing well.
As with last month we had another bumper month when it came to this highly endangered carnivore. With a total of around only 300 in the entire national park and sometimes one can go months without seeing one. We had various sightings of Cheetah this month including a group of 4 which we haven’t seen before on our southern boundary patrolling some open plains on the lookout for some potential prey. The guests at Imbali got a front row seat one morning when a female attempted to catch a bushbuck right in front of the dining area almost being successful but the Bushbuck was too agile then she spent a good three hours relaxing in full view of the deck much to the delight of all the guests. We also saw another female around the Hamiltons area and she looks to be pregnant as well so only time will tell if we are going to be lucky enough to have some little ones around soon.
This month was a little quite as far as the Wild dogs go but I say that as we have been spoilt in the previous months with regular sightings of the three different packs we sometimes see. Also it is coming up to that time of year when they will start to look for den sights and there will be some changes in the makeup of the packs as alpha males or females sometimes split off into other packs to ensure the survival of their species so the gene pool remains strong. We had two different sightings of the Imbali pack this month and as usual it was a very mobile affair as they are constantly on the hunt and with the grass being so long these clever canids make use of the roads to cover ground a lot quicker dashing into the bush along the way to try and flush out potential prey. We are hoping the pack decides to den close by or even better on the concession this year so we will wait and see.
Elephant and Buffalo
Elephants have been seen all over the concession and we are seeing nice big breeding herds again as they take advantage of all the nutrient rich vegetation that has sprung up everywhere after the rains. Lots of the big bull Elephants are in musth and are giving the guides a reminder of who is in charge as when they are walking in the road you have no choice but to be patient and wait till they decide to go off in another direction. The Buffalo are proving difficult to find some days and this is also due to the availability of water and food everywhere and we speculate that during the drought lots of the bigger herds split up due to the lack of grazing and are now slowly coming back together so we are seeing nice groups of around 30 to 50 but none of the really big herds that sometimes move through the area which sometimes number in the hundreds.
The birdlife on concession is totally mind blowing at the moment with lots of species spotted that are normally not seen this far up in the park such as Fan tailed Widow which one person who has lived here for over 15 years has never seen in this area as well as various Whydas and other Widow species this is because of the amount of grass that has seeded attracting species that would normally not be here. Also we have had lots of different Storks , Ducks and Teals all around the different natural pans and water holes making it a perfect spot for sundowners and catching up on ones bird list.
The concession is looking amazing and full of life with an abundance of food and water about we cannot wait to share this with our guests and when the seasons change and the grass dies down a bit we are going to be spoilt in terms of sightings as we will have plenty of water for the dry season so it is going to be a superb year and full of excitement for guests and guides alike.
Hope to see you all soon here with us on the Mluwati Concession – till then