Weekly sightings of the MalaMala Seven: 11-17 November 2012

Cub of the Kikilezi female

Cub of the Kikilezi female

It was an interesting week of lion viewing with our less often seen lions prides stealing the show. The Styx pride was only seen on one occasion early during the week, where they were found at Mlowathi Dam with the young cubs stashed in the Mlowathi River further upstream. The Fourways pride was seen on three occasions! They ventured as far south and west as Styx Rocks, which is an area where we have not seen them for almost 18 months. They had been drawn into the area by a large herd of buffalo that was moving through. The Charleston pride also had a good week and we saw them twice. It was great to see the Selati pride, which is well known as it is such a huge pride. Any sightings of this pride are savoured since they do not spend too much time on our property. Fourteen members of the pride were seen close to Trollips Camp, and they seem to be in good condition.

The two cheetah brothers were seen on two occasions. The rainy season is a period of feast for predators as they are able to pick off the many young antelopes that have recently been born. On this instance, the cheetah were found with a wildebeest calf that they had freshly killed. The cheetah consumed their catch and moved off, only to be found in the same spot two days after!

The Kikilezi female and her cub were once again seen with an impala kill. The mother is operating within a small core of her territory, which is expected of any leopard with a young cub. We have been seeing this pair consistently over the last few months and they have provided us with excellent sightings. Read our latest blog to find out more about the sighting. The Kikilezi female is also leopard next in line to be featured. Watch this space!

There was an interesting development in dynamics of the male leopards. The two males in question are the Gowrie male and Airstrip male. Until now, we are unaware of these males crossing each others’ paths. This was always bound to change, since their territories overlap to quite a large degree. The place of the interaction took place around the open plains of the Mlowathi River system, a central traversing area for the Airstrip male and almost the only area in which we view the Gowrie male. We arrived to find the males aggressively parading around one another, exchanging growls and plenty of hissing. There was no physical confrontation that we saw, but both were sporting some superficial gashes that would suggest otherwise. The Airstrip male was looking the worse off, with a piece of his ear dangling. We left the pair as they ‘jogged’ westwards through some bush that we could not navigate. Interactions like these often serve the purpose of establishing a common boundary, and vicious battles will only result when the leopards are evenly matched. We are unsure of the outcome of the meeting of the two, but we would guess that the Gowrie male is going to be more cautious of coming any further south of where he met the Airstrip male.

We were extremely pleased to have a confirmed sighting of the Charleston male, twin brother to the Airstrip male. It was more than just the ordinary sighting as well! We found him in the company of an unknown female around the Flat Rocks in the Sand River, which is in southern Charleston. It was not long before the leopards mated, and as is custom, we were able to see this more than once! The opportunity to see leopards mating is a rare one, and is always a special event to witness. The pair will remain together as long as the female is in oestrus, and they will mate on average every ten minutes – an aggressive mating ritual with almost deafening sounds! When we found the pair two days later, and they were still ‘at it’ in a nearby area. We are still working to establish the identity of the female leopard involved.

Here are the sightings for the week ending Saturday 17 November:

*Rhino sightings are currently unavailable.

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