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Highlights of the week

April 22nd. ‘Winter madness’ seems to setting in early this year as we had 3 lion/buffalo kills today! With pans and dams drying up herds of buffalo are moving into MalaMala more frequently as they make a beeline for the Sand River. 5 lion sightings: the 2 Fourways lioness took a good 30mins to bring down a buffalo cow this evening in what was a titanic struggle in eastern Flockfield- all four cubs were present and in the midst of the action. The 2 Matshapiri males and the Eyrefield pride killed a buffalo just south of West Street and only a few hundred meters away from where the Marthly pride had a buffalo kill of their own. A male and a female lion were viewed at Clarendon and 2 lionesses from the Styx pride were found east of Mlowathi Dam. 2 leopards: the Nontshameni female is on an impala kill near Wild Dog Rocks and the aptly named Tslebe Rocks male was on Tslebe Rocks road. 4 herds of buffalo were viewed as well as many elephant sightings.

April 21st. 3 lion sightings: the 2 Matshapiri males and the Eyrefield pride provided us with an amazing sighting as they went after a hippo in the Sand River just south of West Street Bridge- an ordeal that went on for hours. The Marthly pride watched some of the action from the bridge itself before moving off northwards. An unidentified male lion was being chased around by a herd of buffalo at Clarendon. Leopards: the DOKF 2:2 was in a marula tree on Tslebe Rocks road. 2 herds of buffalo were viewed as well as many elephant sightings including some huge bulls.

April 20th. 3 lion sightings: the Eyrefield pride have been joined by the 2 Matshapiri males on their large kudu bull kill in the Sand River south of West Street- 2 small crocodiles and lots of vultures were present as well. The Matshapiri lioness was found about a kilometer away- she was roaring frequently as the sun set. The Charleston males are still feeding of their sub adult buffalo kill in the south. Leopards: the DOKF 2:2 was near Mlowathi Dam. A herd of buffalo as well as 2 ostriches were viewed in Clarendon Open Area. Many elephants were viewed.

April 19th. 2 lion sightings: the Eyrefield lionesses brought down a large kudu bull in the Sand River south of West Street around midday and the afternoon viewing was a photographers dream! The carcass was in the middle of the watercourse with all four cubs splashing about. The Charleston males killed a sub adult buffalo in the south. 2 leopards: the Tamboti and the Island female were in close close proximity and both just south of Main Camp- the Island female moved eastwards making inroads into the Kikilezi female and the DOKF 3:3’s territory. The Tamboti female had a run in with a hyena. Many elephants and buffalo bulls were viewed today. For all the birders out there: a very rare (possibly first) sighting of a pale-winged starling on MalaMala!

April 18th. 4 lion sightings: 5 members of the Marthly pride followed a herd of buffalo all the way to the windmill in eastern Flockfield. The Eyrefield pride and their cubs were in the Sand River south of Rattray’s Camp. 1 male lion (nkahuma) spent the whole day in front of Main Camp and was chased around by a herd of elephants. 3 young males (Talamati) were on top of a buffalo bull in Charleston but it got away. 6 leopards: the Bicycle Crossing male was seen on Track South of Charleston North- he was not well fed thus answering our questions about how last night’s ordeal ended. The Airstrip male was hunting nyala along the Matshapiri River. The Tslebe Rocks male was at Mlowathi Dam. The DOKF 2:2 was south of his position. The Tamboti female had a vervet monkey kill just south of the Eyrefield pride. 2 large herds of buffalo were viewed as well as many elephant sightings.

April 17th. Game viewing out of the top drawer today! 5 lion sightings: 1 male (nkahuma) and 1 unidentified female were viewed at Clarendon Dam with the remains of a buffalo kill- they were relentlessly harassed by 12 hyenas that eventually chased the 2 lions off into the Kruger National Park. The Marthly pride ran in several times on a large herd of buffalo near Matshapiri Open Area. The Eyrefield pride were part of a spectacularly picturesque sighting- all 7 lions were on the eastern bank of the Sand River south of West Street at sunset and they were in the company of at least 100 elephants- the elephants ended up chasing the lions eastwards. The 2 Matshapiri males were a few hundred meters south Eyrefield pride and they eventually met up after sunset. 3 young male lions (Talamati) were playing in the Sand River at Charlseton North Crossing. Leopards: the Bicycle Crossing male was involved in a ‘once in a lifetime’ sighting when he set his sights on a newborn rhino calf- the ordeal went on for 2 hours with the cow, calf and leopard 2 meters apart the whole time- the leopard did catch that the calf and had it pinned down at a stage before the calf’s mother came charging in and almost impaled the leopard. The DOKF 2:2 is still feeding off her impala kill from last night. An unidentified male was also viewed. There were countless elephant sightings. We discovered a ground hornbill nest. 2 ostriches were seen at Clarendon and a large spotted genet came close to killing a python before it realizing the snake was just a bit too big. MalaMala madness!

April 16th. 3 lion sightings: the darker maned Matshapiri male was at Styx Waterhole. 5 members of the Marthy pride were hunting zebra and giraffe in front of Main Camp. The Eyrefield pride and their 4 cubs were near Princess Alice’s Pans. 5 leopards: the DOKF 2:2 brought down a large impala ram in spectacular fashion this evening- both impala and leopard did a full mid air summersault on impact. The Airstrip male caught a scrub hare. The Island female was just both of Main Camp. The Tamboti female was also viewed and we suspect that she may be pregnant- note in the video how ‘swollen’ the area above her stomach is. A large herd of buffalo was found in eastern Flockfield. Many herds of elephants were seen.

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