The winter months in the Kruger National Park could be very rewarding if you are willing to get up early. Facing the chilly mornings is a small price to pay for finding the big cats still active in the early morning hours. The grass cover is fairly low at the moment and more game species are moving closer to the last remaining water holes and the rivers. Jock has exclusive usage of over 25km of the Biyamiti River that holds good water through the river months. A late afternoon drive along and through this river, is an experience as large herds of elephant, rhino, giraffe and numerous antelope species use the river to drink.
View the full sightings gallery here
Over the last month there has been interesting developments concerning the three prides in and around the immediate area of our concession. One of the male lions of the Mlambane coalition was seen mating with one of the Jock pride females over a five day period at the beginning of this month. The Jock pride has been left without a pride male as pressure from the four Mlambane males from the south started increasing being alone he had no other choice but to leave as the saying goes “He who runs away lives to fight another day”. The Biyamiti Weir pride has 3 new born cubs.
We have been seeing an increasing amount of leopards on our drives and have even had a leopard kill a bushbuck just outside our Main lodge meters from the gate. The leopard had treed its kill in time to avoid three spotted hyena from stealing it. There has also been a very relaxed leopard seen repeatedly on the R114 just north of James pan. She was seen around that area for a few days in and around a few rocky outcrops on both sides of the road she seemed to pay no attention to the vehicles that congregated to admire her at times just walking by as if they weren’t even there. The Jock male has been sighted on numerous occasions along the access road and on the Concession. Ranger Edgar also found a female with 2 cubs on the road to Mpondo dam.
We have had a dagga boy old male buffalo in the riverbed between main and little Jock for a few days and have encountered him on foot from a safe distance with our guests on our walks in the bush. He seemed to favour a spot in the dense reeds just close to a deep pool of water that has remained after the dry months. Large herds of buffalo are seen around the main rivers.
Elephant have increased in our concession not straying to far from the Biyamiti River which still yields large amounts of water just under the sandy riverbed which they have been digging for in place along the river road stretch of the Biyamiti. There have been numerous breeding herds and male elephant seen almost daily in our concession.
We have had a number of white rhino sightings in our concession they seem so prolific in our area this may be due to the quality of the veld in the concession at this time when food is sparse. We have an abundance of Red Grass which remains very high in protein and palatability even when the grass becomes dry during the dry winter months. Secondly there are numerous pools of water remaining after the rainy season in the Biyamiti river which provides them with water on a daily basis as they are differ from there black rhino cousins in that they require water daily.
We have had a few sightings this month one that stands out was a bull sighted and found by ranger Lyle on the 114 junction Jock Road he was so relaxed that we were able to follow him only 20 meters behind while he ambled down the road. He showed no signs of been agitated by the spotlights as it was just after dark when he was seen.
There have been few sightings of them seen at this time of year but there has been a mother and her calf that has taken up residence in the Biyamiti River in one of the remaining pools along river road. She has been rather shy and when approached only sticks her nostrils out to breathe not exposing much more than that of herself. This is due to the very small pool of water that she finds herself in and therefore feels very insecure not to mention that she has a little one too.
We have also had a few sporadic sightings of cheetah in the surrounding area of our concession. Ranger Lazarus found a cheetah with three juvenile cubs and on another occasion he found a male on a termite mound which is rather typical behaviour of cheetah. So considering that there is roughly only about one cheetah to every 45 square kilometres which means you are more likely to see leopard than cheetah in the Kruger Park we have not done too bad. A special thanks to Lazarus on both these occasions for spotting these sleek beauties!
Both packs of wild dogs have been seen hunting in the area but we’ve not managed to locate the den site as yet. The pups should be around 6 weeks old.
We have had so many of the small and rather shy animals sighted over the past month these are as follows a pair of African Wild Cat, African Civet, Porcupine, Water mongoose, Aardvark to name but a few. These creatures are normally sighted on the night drives.
Have a look at the gallery of sightings here