Cyberdiary – 19 June 2012

Wild Dog Pups, by Pieter van Wyk

Wild Dog Pups, by Pieter van Wyk

It’s been another bitter-sweet week here at MalaMala. But mostly sweet! The leopards have been active, and we share some space and time with the Airstrip male leopard and his arduous fan. Only bones remain on the young elephant’s carcass, and the predators have moved on to other targets. The most unusual of the week’s sightings had something to do with a dog in flight…. You’ll have to read on to learn more.

Digi-fans, here are the numbers:

*Rhino sightings currently unavailable.

Have a look at the Wildlife Sightings Maps for a more detailed look at what was seen where.

Happy Virtual Safari folks!

Giraffe in the Sand River, by Pieter van Wyk

Giraffe in the Sand River, by Pieter van Wyk

The young elephant bull mentioned in last week’s diary, which had an unfortunate end to its life, provided some alert hyenas and one leopard with an eight-day-long feast. And in so doing, facilitated great interactions between the predators, and great sightings for guests. As the carcass cleared, the sated diners moved off and made way for the vultures to finish up the job.

At one point the West Street male leopard seemed tired of competing with the hyena, and tried in vain to hoist a portion of the elephant’s leg into a nearby tree. This proved to be an overly ambitious exercise. The limb was far too heavy, and there wasn’t a suitable tree in the vicinity which would have supported the weight of both the cat and his meaty catch.

A stand-off between the West Street male and at least six hyenas saw the leopard running for the hills. He lay at a safe distance and slept while the scavengers fed.

Ostrich, by Pieter van Wyk

Ostrich, by Pieter van Wyk

The West Street male did well to execute a bushbuck kill a few days later, which he stashed in a large Jackalberry Tree near his namesake, The West Street Bridge. He had hoisted his meal into the very highest branches of the tree, and it was a marvel to view him feeding so far off the ground. Perhaps time to coin the phrase “Leopard’s Eye View”? The reason for his mighty effort was revealed shortly after when we discovered the entire Eyrefield pride of lions resting in the Sand River in close proximity.

It is likely that the lions were drawn to the area by the smell of the leopard’s rotting bushbuck kill. Having finished feeding on their giraffe carcass at the Old Airstrip, they were clearly in search of a new target, a fact not missed by the leopard. Although it is uncommon that lions climb trees, we were all reminded of their ability to do so a few months ago when a lioness from the same Eyrefield pride scaled a tree to steal a kill from the Tamboti female.

Eyrefield Lion Cub on Giraffe Kill, by Pieter van Wyk

Eyrefield Lion Cub on Giraffe Kill, by Pieter van Wyk

Eyrefield Lion Cub on Giraffe Kill, by Pieter van Wyk

Eyrefield Lion Cub on Giraffe Kill, by Pieter van Wyk

The most recently independent daughter of the Kikilezi female leopard continues to astound us with her antics. Again this week, we found her in hot pursuit of the Airstrip male, drawing on every wily charm to entice him to mate with her. As we have seen in the past, he was showing no interest whatsoever and continued to be hostile toward her. We believe that she will need to establish herself as a territorial female before The Airstrip male will change his outlook. But for now, “he’s just not that into her”.

One chilly morning found the Airstrip male around the same area as the Kikilezi female’s den. Mother was in the vicinity, as was as her daughter! The latter was given a firm reminder that she is not welcome in her mother’s territory as the Kikilezi female growled, snarled and even chased her with aggression.

Just two days later we found this daughter of the Kikilezi female again. And low and behold, once again she was trailing after a male leopard. At first glance we assumed it was the West Street male (an assumption by virtue of the location in which the cats were found, around the fallen West Street Bridge). Upon further inspection, we found that it was in fact the Airstrip male, who by now must have been thoroughly fed up with being trailed. He chased his enthusiastic pursuer with more aggressive purpose than we have seen to date, and she wisely ended up climbing into a tree, high off the ground, for safety. So desperate was she to mate that she was even willing to follow him across the water channel of the Sand River. ‘Bunny Boiler’, perhaps?

Airstrip Male Leopard in Flight, by Pieter van Wyk

Airstrip Male Leopard in Flight, by Pieter van Wyk

Sadly, not all of the last seven days is happy. It is with a heavy heart that we can assume that one of the Kikilezi female’s young cubs is dead. Our sightings of this female throughout the week have only been with one of the cubs. We are unsure what could have caused the other’s death, and certainly hope that our assumption is untrue, but time is not on the baby’s side and we almost certain that it has succumbed to nature’s harsh and unforgiving hand.

There was more drama at the den site of the Cape Hunting Dogs on western Charleston. One of the tiny puppies was whipped out of this world in a most bizarre manner when it was taken out by a Tawny eagle! To date we have counted at least six young pups at the den. They are very cute, but extremely vulnerable at this age. They are cautious to venture too far from their burrow, but they are starting to become increasingly curious of the Land Rovers. It is a real treat when they bravely wonder over to inspect the beastly bulk of a vehicle. The den continues to provide us with excellent viewing of these animals, and we expect more of the same in the coming weeks.

Cape Hunting Dog Pups, by Pieter van Wyk

Cape Hunting Dog Pups, by Pieter van Wyk

Until next time,

The MalaMala Ranger Team.

Click here to download the CyberDiary in PDF format.

PLEASE NOTE: Animals on MalaMala are named after their territories. This means that a) only the predators have been given names and b) we only know the animals according to the names we have given them, as they are based on the territories within MalaMala’s boundaries.

6 thoughts on “Cyberdiary – 19 June 2012

  1. Great diary and great review. As usual. Thanks for keeping us up to date with the animal happenings at MalaMala

  2. Thanks so very much…it’s always a treat to read & have the ‘cyber safaris’
    Thanks for your time & effort you put into them.
    🙂

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