HI, and welcome to my blog! I am a field guide in a private game reserve in South Africa and below you will find stories and pictures of my amazing job!

May 8, 2011

The Boys are Back in Town

        The last week or so have been action packed with regards to the ever changing lion dynamics on Sabi Sabi.  The catalyst?  The return of a large herd of buffalo…aka the buffet!  Their arrival brought with them the five young males of our pride, following this mobile food source back to their birth place.  Since they were chased out by the new dominant male about 4 months ago, they have only been seen once or twice.  We were all very excited to see them on a buffalo kill close to Selati Lodge the other day.  It is very satisfying to know that the lions that we watched grow up are still doing well and surviving on their own.  They are still maturing but are well on their way to being a formidable coalition.  Whether they will remain once the buffalo herd moves on remains to be seen.

A buffalo calf momentarily separated from the 300 plus herd that flooded through Sabi Sabi last week

One of the 5 young males responsible for a female buffalo kill last week. 

        The last couple of times we saw our new generation of cubs, only 3 were seen from the initial 9.  With a survival rate of only about 10% we assumed the worse but a few days after the sighting of the boys, we were lucky enough to find not 3, but 9 cubs together again!  It looks as if another female has recently popped and restocked the numbers after the loss of the oldest 2 last month.  However, on a downside, their father was last seen many kilometers north of Sabi Sabi territory; far enough for us to assume that he will not be returning; and without his protection, these cubs’ chances of survival are almost non existent.

2 of the newest young additions to the southern pride

A rare sighting of the females from a neighbouring pride in Mala Mala.  Perhaps drawn here by the scent of the buffalo herd

        Elephant sighting continue to be good, with lots of big old bulls ambling their way through our reserve.  No doubt following the previous influx of females that we saw recently.  Many of them are still in musth (a state of heightened testosterone) and caution is advised when approaching these bush landscapers.  The late rains have continued to provide us with grey skies, making photography difficult, but just their presence is often enough to convey their power.

        Other highlights of the past week or so included a large herd of zebra frolicking around a termite mound covered in feathered chloris grass.  The light on the grass gave the whole scene a very ethereal look and I was lucky enough to catch a youngster stretching his legs! 

        An univited guest had to be captured and relocated from reception - a baboon spider had wondered through possibly looking for somewhere to relapse into a state of torpour during the winter period.  Though not a danger to us, they are quite capable of breaking the skin and inflicting a painful bite.