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Guide Sightings Report Peak Season June - November 2014

shanti treejango 2014


leopard sightings peak season 2014

SHANTI was the most popular leopard among guides and guests, with 160 sightings between June and November 2014, following in the footsteps of her famous mother MJ. Shanti is MJ’s only cub from her fourth litter and was born in March 2013 in the Okonjima Nature Reserve. A year later, mother and daughter were seen apart more and more frequently. As a result, Shanti was collared in April 2014. Back then, at only 13 months old, Shanti had reached a weight of 32 kg, which equalled the weight of her 14 year old mother. Ever since then, Shanti (which means quiet, peace and tranquility in Sanskrit and is described as an 'unusual woman with a distinct personality') has roamed the ranges of the Okonjima Nature Reserve by herself and has become the favourite of the Okonjima guides. Her home range overlaps with that of her mother, as well as with Mafana’s, who is believed to be her sire. It extends over the mountain ranges in the western part of the reserve down to the southern Okonjima Dam valley.

Read more about MJ & SHANTI:
MJ legendary cat in the Okonjima Nature Reserve.

retains his status as Okonjima’s most sighted male leopard. He was found mating with Isaskia as well as with Electra and has also been observed with Mafuta on a couple of occasions. Nkosi is the sire of Electra’s second litter, which sadly didn’t survive longer than three months.

ELECTRA has been causing quite a stir during these past few months of Okonjima’s peak season. After being seen mating with Nkosi in April and May and then leaving her familiar territory and disappearing into the Omboroko Mountains in mid-August, Team AfriCat assumed that she was giving birth to her second litter and seeking protection in the mountains. It was only in September when she was spotted again . . . and to our surprise, mating with our largest, male leopard, Madiba. This incident led us to exclude the idea that Electra was nursing her second litter, since there is no available data about female leopard mating activity while being accompanied by dependent cubs. Contrary to everything we have ever seen, heard or read before, Electra was found a few days later with two little cubs of approximately two months old. But again – as with her last litter – luck was not on her side. On 3 November her first cub disappeared (reminding us of last years’ disappearing cub) and her second cub was killed a few weeks later by Madiba. Between the disappearance of the first cub and the death of the second cub, Electra was observed mating with Nkosi, which made her behaviour even odder. Post-mortem analyses of the second cub revealed unusual liver lacerations suggesting starvation and malnutrition. All her cubs from the first, as well as the second litter, appeared to be underweight. This raised suspicions that Electra wasn’t able to produce enough milk to nourish her cubs sufficiently within the first few weeks of their lives, and that metabolic problems, rather than abandonment or mis-mothering, were the source of the cubs’ malnutrition.
Read more about Electra:
Electra a first time mother.

MJ the grand lady among Okonjima’s leopards, was spotted 108 times and, at 14, is one of the most popular leopards of the Okonjima Nature Reserve and has been monitored by the Hanssen family since she was about 4 weeks old. After she and her cub Shanti went their separate ways in April 2014, she was found mating with Mafana during the following months. In November, she left her familiar territory in the south-western part of the reserve and was spotted mating with Madiba in the eastern part of the reserve. Occasionally she is found reunited with Shanti when they share a meal. In the course of AfriCat’s annual health check in July, MJ’s collar was replaced and her general health condition checked. Because of her advanced age, special attention was given to the condition of her teeth. Her weight, at 32 kg, has been constant during the past two years.

Read more about MJ and SHANTI:
MJ legendary cat in the Okonjima Nature Reserve.

MAFANA was collared in 2006 for the first time. Ever since then, his collar has been regularly checked, and replaced when necessary. In 2013 his collar malfunctioned and he was seen only occasionally during that time. Because Mafana had been darted several times in the past, we had difficulties catching him in one of our box traps to re-collar him, but in July 2014 we tricked him by spraying the inside of the box with urine of a female leopard . . . and it worked – better than expected. The following night Mafana walked straight into the box and gave us the opportunity to provide him with a new collar. Since then he has been followed regularly. Mafana was darted again in August because he was seen limping severely, but no external injuries were found and his condition improved significantly within the next days.

ISASKIA is one our female leopards that is still seen rather irregularly. Her elusive nature, as well as her preference for thick bush, make it difficult to keep track of her. In August and September, Isaskia was seen regularly with Nkosi, close to the Villa area and outside her usual territory. Isaskia’s collar works on a six-hour-on – six-hour-off basis, which makes locating her rather difficult at times. We thus intend to replace her collar soon.

BWANA & ISHARA - the siblings of MJ’s third litter share a territory in the southern part of the reserve. Both leopards are only seen rarely by the Okonjima guides as well as Team AfriCat. Bwana, who was only seen six times within six months, is known to occasionally mock-charge the Okonjima cruisers – giving guides and guests a regular fright. However he seems to not have any bad intensions – it’s just who he is! More than ever before, we can confirm that each leopard has a different spot-pattern and a different character, unique to themselves. His sister Ishara, is more relaxed with vehicles, but her preference for dense bush often prevents a good sighting of her. She was once seen mating with Madiba in the beginning of October. If the mating was successful, Ishara might give birth to her first litter at the beginning of next year.
Bwana and Ishara 



Team AfriCat collared and re-collared six leopards between June and November 2014. Among them were individuals that had already been collared in the past, as well as new individuals that had only been sighted occasionally on trail and live cameras.

MAFUTA, Electra’s mother, was re-collared in August this year after her previous collar stopped working over a year ago. Mafuta is relatively shy and timid around vehicles and usually withdraws immediately when approached too closely. However, she was spotted 25 times after her collaring in August, accompanied by two cubs of approximately 6–8 months. We think this is her third litter (first litter: 2008, second litter: 2011).

LILA, a young female of approximately two years of age, was collared in July for the first time. Similar to Mafuta, it is difficult to catch sight of her as she is still nervous and uncomfortable around vehicles. Home range analyses revealed that she prefers the areas around Serenjima, but regular movements towards the north and east have also been observed.

MADIBA Okonjima’s new king. Madiba, named after and in honour of the most admired African leader, Mr Nelson Mandela, was finally collared in September, after months of brief sightings and occasional appearances on trail cameras. With a weight of 76 kg and a body length of 120 cm, Madiba is officially the biggest collared cat ever recorded in the history of Okonjima, equalling a male leopard caught during the first leopard research project carried out on Okonjima between 1997 and 1999. Madiba roams the 2 000 ha lodge area as well as the 20 000 ha Okonjima Nature Reserve and his collar gives us the opportunity to monitor his movements regularly.

JO JO (AKA: Jo Jo Farque- named in honour of our AfriCat UK, Chairman – David Farquharson’s wife) - first appeared in 2013 and has only been seen occasionally ever since. In July, Team AfriCat was finally able to collar her. She is the heaviest female in the Okonjima Nature Reserve at 48 kg and is easily recognizable by a deep cut in her left ear. Unfortunately, Jo Jo has only been seen a couple of times since her collaring. When found, she is generally quite relaxed around people, but her prime habitat includes dense shrub and bush, which makes it difficult to follow her. In November she was spotted by one of our Okonjima guides, with a two-month old cub. Who knows – maybe we will get to see her more regularly.

leopard home range peak season 2014


leopard electras first litter
Electra's first litter
leopard jango peak season 2014
leopard jango peak season 2014
leopard jojo peak season 2014
Jo Jo
leopard lila peak season 2014
shanti showing aggression towards mj
Shanti showing aggression towards MJ
shanting pouncing
Shanti pouncing.
shanti jumping
shanti sitting



cheetah sightings peak season 2014The infamous siblings COCO, SPUD AND BONES were tracked by the Okonjima guides an incredible 236 times during June and November.

Coco and Spud came to AfriCat at the age of three months. The two cubs had been kept as pets and because of their inadequate diet, both suffered from severe calcium deficiency, resulting in bone fractures. After recovering they were transferred into a larger enclosure and were united with Bones who came to AfriCat as an orphaned cub after his mother had been shot. In 2010 the trio was released into the Okonjima Nature Reserve together with Frankie, Hammer and Tongs, who sadly have all been killed by leopards and spotted hyenas over the past years. Coco, Spud and Bones held their ground and became successful hunters, and our Okonjima guests are able to witness their success story up close, every day.
Read more about the infamous 'Siblings': 
The Siblings - Coco, her brother Spud and their leader Bones.

SPIRIT, Dizzy’s last surviving cub of her first litter. Spirit was left by her mother at only 13 months and has had to hunt and survive on her own ever since. She quickly became one of the guides’ favorites and is tracked regularly. She overcame little obstacles like minor injuries and thorn wounds above her eye and grew into a beautiful, self-sustaining young cheetah. She seems to enjoy company every now and then: she met up with Dizzy for a couple of days in June and shared a meal with Needle and Pins, and was found with Penta in August and October, close to the perimeter fence on the eastern side of the reserve.
Dizzy a story about a rehabilitated cheetah mother.

Even though PENTA isn’t shy or nervous around people and vehicles, she was only spotted 37 times during Okonjima’s busy peak season. Due to the fact that she is always on the move, it is sometimes difficult to keep track of her. She often moves in the remote, north-eastern part of the Park in thick, dense bush, which makes tracking difficult and time consuming for the guides. In July, Penta escaped through one of the 'river-swimmers' and roamed to about 20 km west of the Okonjima Nature Reserve. With the help of the gyrocopter we were able to locate Penta’s exact location and bring her back home after a long and exhausting trip. Because Penta’s collar was showing the first signs of technical failure, and to avoid complete malfunction, we re-collared her in September.
More about Penta:
The quandary of rescue and release.

and her sister Needle became an inseparable duo after the loss of their three siblings and the abandonment by their mother Penta in March 2014. From the beginning they seemed to struggle to make their own kills, and from time to time we had to help them out to keep their energy levels up. For some reason they preferred staying close to the perimeter fence on the eastern boundary of the Okonjima Nature Reserve where little prey is available. After the tragic death of her sister Needle who was attacked by a leopard or hyena in August 2014, Pins was forced to lead a solitary life. Suddenly being on her own without her sister’s support, we were worried that she would not be able to hold her ground out in the wild. It was always her sister, Needle who was the confident and feisty one. Without her dominant sister, Pins was only seen 19 times by the Okonjima guides. She has always been a little nervous around humans and even in the presence of her sister, remained mainly in the background. Today she still withdraws quickly if approached too closely.
Read More Pins:
Penta, Pins and Needle.

cheetah home range peak season 2014


cheetah1 peak season2014
cheetah2 peak season2014
coco bones cheetah peak season 2014
Coco and Bones
coco bones cheetah peak season 2014
Coco and Bones
dizzy kudu kill okonjima dam
Dizzy on a kudu kill at Okonjima Dam
pins peak season 2014


Wild Dogs and Hyenas

wild dog sightings peak season 2014REX, RICKY AND RAINE, our three wild dogs, were sighted 92 times by the Okonjima guides between June 1 and November 30, 2014 in the 20 000 ha Nature Reserve. The trio is always on the move and covers wide distances every day despite Rex’s impairment (he has only three legs). Lately it seems the dogs have made a habit of chasing leopards around and have been seen forcing the leopards to seek protection in the nearest available tree. Ricky was re-collared in June and is the only one of the trio that is equipped with a collar.

The next big challenge for the dogs will be the attempt to unite them with our wild dog pups Jogi, Messi and Robin, who are currently resident at the AfriCat Carnivore Care Centre. This project will be tackled sometime next year and will hopefully result in a successful integration of the pups into the existing pack.
Read More About RICKY, REX & RAINE: The Wild Dogs Part 1.

Spotted Hyena
was sighted 52 times during the Okonjima’s peak season 2014 (the most sightings of all the spotted hyena). He was mostly found sleeping during the day, although he is a regular visitor to our baited trail cameras during the night.

In November 2014 we were able to collar two more brown hyenas – ED AND BANZAAI. This will hopefully allow us to learn more about these elusive animals (3 in total collared) and give the Okonjima guests the opportunity to be part of a unique, tracking experience.

PREY BASE June - November 2014 

preybase new oryx


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