Whereas there’s a lot to see at Mashatu Recreation Reserve, it’s maybe the excessive variety of massive cat sightings which astound and delight our guests essentially the most.
Most likely essentially the most wanted of the massive cats are leopards, and it’s not uncommon to have greater than two leopard sightings on a sport drive. With two giant rivers, the Majale and the Matebole operating via Mashatu, we’ve kilometers of Riverine habitat. Dotted alongside the riverbanks are giant mashatu, leadwood and fig timber – all excellent habitat for leopards to laze their days away. The swimming pools of water within the rivers entice quite a few sport species to drink, and it’s this mix that makes our leopard inhabitants thrive. Just lately, our guides seen that one leopard seemed to be lactating. Realizing her habits properly, they explored her favorite den websites which she used with earlier litters, and earlier than lengthy they heard the unmistakable name of cubs from the opening of a fallen-down tree. After that it was a ready sport, and some weeks later we have been delighted when she allowed her two lovable younger cubs to return out of the den. This allowed us to view them for the primary time – all the time observing at a secure distance, and never disrupting them in any manner. This leopard is well-known amongst the guides and really relaxed round autos, one thing she’s going to move on to her cubs. From that day onwards, they’ve given us many alternatives to view them. She has since moved them to a brand new den (with a automobile in tow displaying her full belief within the autos) the place the cubs are thriving. She’s a wonderful hunter and can absolutely move these expertise on to her cubs as they become older.
We’ve beforehand written concerning the two feminine lionesses who’ve damaged all of the textbook guidelines of lion behaviour. These two sisters have caught collectively for years, having chased their mom and aunt out of the world. They’ve efficiently raised greater than six litters, all the time evicting them from about one yr of age. This yr for the primary time, they’ve allowed one other feminine to affix them. We imagine it to be certainly one of their daughters from a earlier litter. One factor they’ve all the time performed which is typical of lions, is synchronize the beginning of their cubs. On this case having them a month aside; a litter of three and a litter of two. The brand new feminine additionally had a single cub, however sadly this cub did survive. We suspect it was her first cub, and she’s going to study a lot from the older two females over the subsequent few months about efficiently elevating lion cubs.
As with the leopard cubs, our guides used their data of the lions within the space to seek out the den, by repeatedly visiting their favorite den websites till ultimately they have been noticed. Since then, we’ve had common sightings of them enjoying and being curious, all a part of studying to be a profitable lion within the wild.
The smallest of the massive cats are cheetahs, and it’s well-known that Mashatu has a wholesome cheetah inhabitants. One feminine cheetah nevertheless, has been incessantly sighted this yr along with her 5 sub-adult cubs – an unimaginable feat to boost 5 cubs efficiently. They’ve reached the age the place they’ve began to assist mother with the hunt, however nonetheless have a lot to study as their impatience generally spoils the hunt. The group is made up of 4 males and 1 feminine. The feminine has learnt the artwork of circling round and chasing the prey straight in the direction of her mom. The teachings proceed, and earlier than lengthy they may transfer off on their very own. The boys will almost definitely keep collectively in a coalition with the feminine going solo in the way in which that cheetahs do.
Welcome to Mashatu massive cats of the longer term. Chances are you’ll be small and cute now, however you’re the subsequent technology of Mashatu’s massive cats, who will enthrall guests to Mashatu as they observe you residing wild and free, the way in which nature meant.
By Janet Kleyn