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Feature Blog
seasonal updates

Autumn has been an incredible spectacle, witnessing the seamless transition from summer to the vibrant hues of fall, filled with remarkable sightings, while winter beckons a different rhythm of life in the bush.

We’ve once again marvelled at the patterns of the common migrants, from the Wahlberg’s eagle to woodland kingfishers, beaters, European rollers, and more, all returning to their habitats. As smaller seasonal waterholes dried up, larger mammals dispersed in search of sustenance, enriching the game viewing experience as anticipated. Our encounters with predator-prey dynamics have been particularly thrilling, from leopard kills to wild dog hunts and lion pursuits of larger prey. Termites have been industrious in rebuilding their mounds, attracting birds like Barbets and hornbills to feed. Autumn truly unfolded in all its splendour, captivating us at every turn.

With June and July heralding colder temperatures and a shift in daylight, our safari schedules will adapt accordingly. Anticipating improved cat sightings, we’ll adjust our game drive times to capitalise on their increased activity during the cooler mornings and afternoons. Larger herbivores like elephants and rhinos, as well as buffalos, will continue to migrate longer distances in search of water to drink, as we are expecting a great water loss this winter. Smaller dams are going to be totally dried out, and only the bigger dams will manage to keep water for the duration of the season until the next rain.

As the foliage thins, our field of vision expands during safaris, facilitating easier game viewing. There will be an interesting animal distribution in response to a light effect during the morning and afternoon. Most antelope and cats that favour their sun-bask during these periods are likely to choose the higher grounds to catch light as it comes out. In the early hours, most animals will be concentrated on the east-facing slopes and shift to the west- facing terrain in the afternoons. Winter is great if you’re not one for bugs and flies; however, spiders and other insects continue to decorate our environment with their beautiful webs.

The territorial dynamics among big cats have shifted, with dominant males expanding their ranges and sub-adults exploring new areas. We saw Khambule coalitions extending their territories further north, pushing the Black Dam males further northward. These Khambule males will soon be the greatest local coalition! The Dominant Ndzhenga males have also been intruding on our territories from the south, making everybody wobble off their centre zones. Mbali sub-adults have been occupying the northern sector, as well as Talamati breakaway (Tiyelele) Pride roaming the north-western part of our Reserve. Nkuhuma pride still remains our centre of focus, and we hope to see them interact with one of the lead males and probably start forming a pride. We just discovered some news from Tlalamba female leopard that she has newly born cubs! Xidulu and her only son, Nhenhe, are also doing great; our guests had a great sighting of them killing a fully-gown impala ram—an epic sighing! Kuchava is also showing signs of a heavy pregnancy; we are hoping for her to give birth soon!

Local wildlife will embark on seasonal migrations in search of greener pastures while hippos relocate to remaining water sources. As grasses recede, sub-dominant cats will return to open areas for safety, and the abundance of short grass will attract species like cheetahs. Bird migrations may be scarce, but drying ponds will become gathering spots for stalks and other birdlife.

Winter nights offer a celestial spectacle, and we already have seen beautiful, clear skies at night with incredible visibility of the common constellations! The Southern Cross is clearly visible on the south western part of the sky, while Orion and Taurus are visible from the western skies in the early evenings, slowly heading down to the horizons as Scorpion arises from the eastern sky. Gemini, Cancer, Leo, and Leo minor in the northern sky are also clearly visible. The magical Arcturus star is glistening from the north-eastern sky, while Sirius diagonally anchors the south-western sky on the neck of Canis Major. Venus, on the other hand, is currently seen in the morning sky, appearing on the eastern horizons.

It’s officially time to start packing beanies and switching on the heated seats as this winter promises chilly temperatures and thrilling wildlife encounters, with one thing certain: it’s bound to be wild.


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