Umlani Bushcamp – August 2012

Yet again there has been some exciting times at Umlani! It is always fascinating to witness the dynamics among the animals – not only with the changing season but also between themselves – in particular the territorial animals – and especially the lions.


At the end of the July blog I was talking about the single Machaton cub that had become separated from the pride during the trespassing of two new male lions. Now it seems he has decided to remain alone for the time being as he has been close to his natal pride on a  few occasions and we all naturally assumed that he would link up again – but he didn’t! He actually drank out of our waterhole and swimming pool in camp while his pride members were less than a kilometer away – and they never met up as far as we can tell. He is still roaming alone – but clearly fending for himself successfully as he is looking in great condition. In the meantime the two males are clearly looking for a pride takeover. The Machatons have not totally split with the old female and younger lioness with two cubs on and around Umlani property, while the other lioness with two cubs has gone way up north. The future is not looking great for this group. As for the two males – they have started to assert themselves and are currently mating with a Ross pride female – we don’t know what has happened to the Ross males but suspect that they have been intimidated by the new males and scarpered!

On the subject of the Ross pride – one lioness had given birth to two cubs about two months ago. As always the odds are stacked against any cubs reaching sexual maturity with greater odds stacked against a white cub. However with a strong pride we had high hopes for this cub! Sadly during one hunt this female received a bad kick from a giraffe that broke her jaw. As she couldn’t eat she starved to death and as a consequence her cubs also starved to death. If they had been introduced to the other pride members and were a little older there would have been a chance that they would have been adopted – but they had not been introduced!


Umlani is also a great place for people to discover a lot about themselves – a spiritual place if you wish – which can have a huge impact on some guests especially those leading frenetic lives in this high tech, over communicating world!

One such guest was so impressed with the change in himself that he went and had a tattoo! Pictures attached! The staff went white when I suggested that we should all have this tattoo!

Also on a happy note the hyenas are proving to be a popular draw on Umlani – to such an extent that I have had to put measures in place to try and minimize the environmental impact of so many vehicles! The cubs are growing very fast and losing their black appearance with their distinctive spots as befits their name now very obvious. They are also growing in curiosity – again see the attached picture!

Another notable incident occurred about an hour after the drives had left camp with the guests in the afternoon. Going back to the house a movement caught my eye – a female leopard with a monitor lizard less than 10 metres from my room!


After radioing the drives, the best approach turned out to be getting out of the vehicle on the other side of the house and walking through my bedroom! A great and memorable sighting – that is the leopard not my bedroom ;0)

Returning to the lions for a moment we have had a lot of communication sounds around camp – partly from the mating nomadic males with the Ross females. Hot off the press was a nasty fight between the Ross females and some of the Giraffe pride females – with the white lioness from the Giraffe pride getting stuck in the middle! She escaped without injury – amazingly – but we all feel that there will be more interaction and violence in the future

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As well as all this excitement of course the bush is even drier – with that comes the heavier  use of the Umlani waterhole – perfect for our guests relaxing on the deck just watching to see what arrives. We have five giraffe that turn up every afternoon, as well as the usual general game. Elephants also like to drop by before continuing to Marco’s dam. No day would be complete without a visit from the buffalo – that invariably spend the night in camp – great game guessing where the buffalo are as our guests make their way to their rooms!  Fortunately the buffalo are noisy feeders and breathers – so all our guests remain safe and can enjoy these noises safely in their rooms!

The knobthorns are now blooming and the first swifts and martins have arrived – Spring is on its way!