Update on Xidulu by Jamie Sangster

Xidulu taking a nap several hundred meters from the lodge

Ranger Jamie Sangster shares his and his guests’ encounter with magnificent Xidulu…

‘We’ve had some nice sightings of our resident female leopard on the property recently. She was found south of our lodge heading towards the western side of our chalets. Initially we thought she might visit the camp while the guests were out on drive as she has done before, however she decided to drop into the drainage line leading from our dam outflow and followed it downstream looking for impala, bushbuck, duiker and nyala that are prevalent in the riverine edge.

We followed her weaving in and out from bank to bank until we reached a dried up pan, just before a
river crossing that marks the confluence for this stream and the larger seasonal Marakeng. Here she
stopped and picked up what a first glance seemed to look like a bone shaped like a neck or spine
vertebrae – most probably left lying around by mischievous hyena.  She then trotted off with her treat and found a shady spot to chew on it before swallowing it whole!

That afternoon we found her again, after some snaking around the Marakeng, in a crossing further upstream the Marakeng called Broken Dam. She had found a decent Tamboti thicket to rest up in with a nice breeze flowing through, but put her head up as we arrived as if to question us “oh hello it’s you guys again, back for more?!” We stayed quietly with her, while we chatted about her background some.

All the while she was grooming herself until I had given her a good intro, at which time she promptly played along by deciding it was time for an afternoon stroll. She seemed not to be entirely satisfied with her morning’s work, as she soon set about rustling around through several tangles of undergrowth associated with pushed or fallen over trees. Exactly the kinds of places scrub hares use for hiding away in self-constructed forms (simple depressions made in the ground) – looked like she had developed a new found fondness for hare…

Her attention soon turned to a pile of buffalo dung, which seemed like a good way to distract herself from unsuccessful expeditions in the undergrowth for rabbits. She rolled around in it enthusiastically, stopping ever so ofter to sniff the aroma wafting up from the dung! Predators are known for rolling in animal dung and herbs from time to time to presumably conceal their own tell-tale scent. But she decided to take things one step further, she lapped up mouthfuls in between rolling and sniffing almost as if it was connoisseur grade and far too good to waste!

🐾 Xidulu on a termite mound

At this time, more game drives were interested and we handed her over on a termite mound scanning
the area ahead. Before we closed down for the evening we heard she had caught not only one but two  more scrub hares! Perhaps it was lazy hunting for hot weather or maybe just easy pickings for a leopard that seems to be progressing nicely through pregnancy. Whatever the case, we can’t wait for our favourite female to have her first cubs because we are convinced they are going to be awesome if they have half the temperament their mother has…”

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