We can’t believe another month has already flown by! On 21 June, we passed the winter solstice, so the days are slowly starting to get longer. But winter is still in full force, and early mornings and evenings have been quite chilly. Not to be deterred, we’ve had another great month of wildlife viewing.
The majority of the lion sightings have been of the two lionesses with four cubs. They were seen a few times on zebra kills, which seem to be their favourite prey. The bold, youngest cub continues to explore close to the vehicles and often the mother comes to fetch him.
She’s also seen disciplining the other older, bigger cubs for bullying him. The cubs are growing quickly, and are healthy and strong. The big male lions are active around the entire reserve, patrolling and scent marking. When we see them, they are usually together with the females and cubs.
Elephants have been seen in the part of the reserve near Mountain Lodge. Combined herds of up to 60 elephants were sometimes scattered all across the valley – a spectacular sight. Quite often, elephant and rhino were seen together.
As the bush dries out, the animals are moving closer to the water sources. The elephants have now moved out of the valley, going further north on the reserve. They usually make their way to the river during the middle of the day to have a refreshing drink and swim.
We have exciting news about the cheetahs… From the southern part of Marakele National Park, they have made their way back to Marataba! They are often seen at KD Plains and along the fence line close to the main gate. We’ve also recently released one of the new cheetahs from the boma.
Both buffalo and leopard were seen a handful of times during the month. There are plenty of giraffe out on the plains, where the umbrella thorn acacias are one of the main food sources of these browsers. General game – giraffe, zebra, warthog, antelope – abounds, especially around the watering holes.
We’ve also had a few special night sightings of an aardwolf that comes out to feed on termites. The bat-eared foxes are seen more and more, too. We also came across African wildcat, honey badger, Cape clawless otter, civet, and bushpig. Marataba is well known for sightings of the lesser-seen, smaller creatures, and June didn’t disappoint!
Words and photos by: Darryn Murray