Game viewing at its best at Umlani Bushcamp
The month of September was a fruitful one for game viewing at Umlani Bushcamp. The drier weather this winter has brought about many great sightings. As a result of the game seeking out the few remaining waterholes, there has been a hive of activity around these spots. The dry bushveld leaves little coverage for the animals to conceal their whereabouts, therefore there have been ample sightings while the rangers traverse the open plains. Greg McCall-Peat looks back on the month of September, highlighting some incredible moments captured whilst out on game drives in his latest blog post.
Lion sightings have been incredible, by far the best in years. The Zebenine pride has been seen almost everyday. The two cubs are thriving and getting bigger with each viewing.
With most of their time spent in the South with the Myambula pride, the Mbiri males have only been seen a couple of times this month. However guests were fortunate enough to see a giraffe kill that was taken over by the Myambula pride. It wasn’t far from camp so access to the site was fairly easy. They spent time drinking from the waterhole directly in front of camp, with the sighting being amplified by the entrance of the females who joined shortly after the males arrived.
The Mbiris didn’t stick around for long, and soon made their way back to the south. They stayed away for quite some time. Finally, after a long wait, guests were awoken by the distinctive sound of a lion's roar. After a quick dash to head out on drive, the Mbiri males were located just outside of camp. It was a welcome sighting to start the day.
The Ross pride lionesses were seen a few times over the month. First on a kudu kill that appeared to have been taken off a leopard, then resting out in the open one morning with the Black dam male. This large male originated from a reserve in the west and has recently been seen mating with the Ross females. Hopefully we will see some new cubs soon, helping the pride expand in numbers again.
The leopards have been keeping out of sight lately with all the lion activity in the area. Needless to say there have been some great sightings this past month. Looking heavily pregnant, the Marula female has been seen on a few occasions. It appears she is either searching for a prime location to den, or has found one and already given birth. Should it be the latter, it could explain the infrequent sightings. She would then be wondering in search of food for herself in between her feeding sessions with the cubs.
Mazinyo male gave guests a great sighting earlier this month. He was successful in killing an impala and then stashing it high in a tree for safe keeping. Guests watched as he slowly ate his way through the kill whilst a single hyena waited patiently below for any scraps of meat or bone that happened to fall to the ground. The highlight though was without a doubt finally getting to see Nthombi's newest cub.
It’s believed the cub is female which will hopefully mean she will remain in the area when she gains her own independence. If this is the case she may very well take over her mother's territory. Two further memorable sightings of Nthombi and her cub were had followed by one of Nthombi out on the hunt. As you can see, she definitely outshone all the other leopard sightings this month.
The limited watering holes due to the dry winter have resulted in the elephants assembling around the few that remain. This has led to daily viewings of these beautiful animals. When out on drive there was barely a corner we couldn’t turn without bumping into them.
As with the elephants, the buffalo have been congregating around the remaining watering holes in the area. With the need to drink on a regular basis the large herds were frequently spotted. These are truly spectacular sightings, with the large numbers stirring up the dusty terrain, creating a lingering cloud around them. It’s quite something to witness.
Fortunately for Umlani guests, a pack of wild dogs chose to den right next to camp on a neighbouring property. This has led to regular viewings of these endangered animals. They would typically be on the move constantly, however the den has kept them fairly local for some time. Sadly it appears this won’t be for much longer. The pups have recently reached the age when a den is no more a necessity. This has seen them wandering off a bit, exploring the area with the pack. One afternoon saw the pack on a recent impala kill where the pups were seen eagerly devouring the kill. Seeing such a large number of wild dogs in the same vicinity is something quite impressive when it comes to game viewing.
Overall the general sightings this past month have been superb. Large numbers of giraffes have been a regular as well as some great bird sightings. One particularly impressive sighting was of two Kori bustards, this is not a common occurrence so guests were very fortunate. Following from this was a brief glimpse of a small baby hyena whose den is located within close vicinity to camp.
All in all it was a fantastic month for guests at Umlani Bushcamp. One can only expect even more in the months ahead with all the recent births in the area. Some very exciting times to come.