Xinzele Male on last evening drive
When we left the lodge at 5:45am, the sun had not yet risen above the horizon. When it did rise, it rose a giant red orb, and was so beautiful we had to stop and watch a while.
We found a herd of buffalo, and decent sized one for this time of year, as they were relaxing near a dam. Something very special was waiting at this herd! A calf had just been born. The poor thing could still not stand properly, and was struggling to find the mothers teat.
Newborn with umbilical cord.
The milk froth can be seen around the calfs mouth as it finally find the teat.
In the Sabi Sands western sector, cheetah are few and far between. There is one particular male who passes through every couple of days, but as the bush is not open in nature, he doesn't linger for too long. On the plus side, looking for him is easier than expected, as he generally has a very predictable path. There are a few clearings in the sector, and he tends to move along these, one to the next, and along the fire break that is on the fence line. He has gone so far as to have a favorite termite mound on which he sits. The two Australian guests with us, Rob and Vicki, were very keen to see a Cheetah, so with that in mind we set off to drive the open areas.
We had just arrived at the termite mound where we encountered a huge elephant bull in Musth (a breeding state when they become very aggressive). On the far side of the clearings we could see two Rhino slowly waking up. Then we received the radio call- a female leopard, Tlangisa, was barely a kilometer away. We obviously abandoned mission to get a glimpse of this beautiful cat. I have very fond memories of my only other sighting of her. She was a few months old and had been left alone in a tree while her mother was out hunting. We spent a delightful hour or so watching her play in the highest branches, and eventually come down to stare at us in curiosity. I was obviously very excited to see her again, and see what she has grown into! Quite a change from the little cub in the tree!
Tlangisa now, around 2 years old, March 2011
Tlangisa in August 2009
Sometimes in the Sands there are morning when everything moves so quickly, as if the whole of nature has come out to play. This was one of them. We had been with Tlangisa for only a few minutes when someone radioed to say they had found the Cheetah not 600 meters from where we had been examining the clearings! As soon as someone was able to move into the leopard sighting, we were off to see the Cheetah.
After such a busy morning there is only one way to celebrate- Coffee, Hot Chocolate and Amarula! We stopped on some rocks and sat chatting and drinking enjoying the early morning sunshine on our backs.
Our Ranger Craig, at drinks break.