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Ulusaba safari news: Our latest update

Last month I had the privilege of taking out a few drives with students from the local communities. We picked the students up at Dumphries gate and took them on a game drive of the Ulusaba property.

There were nice sightings of the lion pride, breeding herds of elephants and many different antelope species. Even though the kids were all from the communities that boarder the Sabi Sands for most of them this was their first safari experience. They enjoyed seeing the wildlife that resides in their backyard and kept me on my toes with lots of questions.

As we drove through the bush looking for the different animals we also observed birds, flowers and insects. We were even lucky enough to see a kill, a Southern Black Flycatcher taking out a grasshopper! We spent some time with a raft of hippo in one of the dams and stopped for a snack along the Sand River. It was great to see how interested the students were in the wildlife and I will be looking forward to the next drive.

Since coming back from a two week leave I've noticed a few changes around Ulusaba. When I left it was still very hot and now it is clear that the winter dry season is well on its way. This has actually been quite nice on game drives, although it is a little chilly in the mornings, the bush is starting to thin out. I
've had a few nice sightings of grey duikers, steenbok, nyala and more kudu than I'd seen in my first 3 months here. There have also been more sightings of some of the rare nocturnal creatures lately including genets and pangolin. I was fortunate to spend ten minutes watching a honey badger hunting a troop of banded mongoose, with no success that we saw. It was a great sighting but my camerawork failed me and I didn't get a picture. I was much quicker on the trigger when we bumped into a white-tailed mongoose not five minutes later.

We had a great sighting of a female leopard and her year and a half old male cub with an impala kill. They hosted the carcass up a tree to finish it as four hyena moved in below and waited for scraps to fall. It was comical to watch the young male trying to move through the tree while keeping the impala's head balanced, it seemed sure that we would drop it at any moment, but he managed to hang on. The pack of wild dogs also came back into the Western Sector this past week. The pack came running across the eastern boundary, chasing impala as they typically do. By the time my vehicle caught up with them they had already finished one meal and a few blood stains on their coats were the only evidence left of their success.
We watched them run in the open grass of an airstrip and had the pleasure of finding them the next morning, lying up north of the Madje Mbhirhi River. Lion activity is still unpredictable as the four Selati males continue to claim their territory. The Othawa and Ximungwe prides are still determined to hide from them, although one female began to call them the other night. She then changed her mind and gave them the slip as the males scattered trying to find her. It will be interesting to watch the lion dynamics begin to settle, and to observe some of the smaller creatures that have been so well hidden through the summer, as we move into the heart of the winter season.

Until next time,

Dan Kehmna