A YEAR AT NAMBITI HILLS

Lodge
At Nambiti Hills, we have had an eventful year. We have seen many new faces, who’ve arrived as Guests, and have left as family.

We have had tremendous rains, seeing our river banks burst; as well as a fire, which saw the entire community on the Reserve come together in an effort to protect it.

There was snow on the Drakensberg Mountains in November, which made for unusually icy Game Drives in the summertime.

Baby Lion

Our two male lion cubs have grown into adolescents, their manes coming into fruition – the battle for supremacy against their dominant black mane fathers, approaching any day now. We lost a lioness close to our hearts, Tswalu, and felt a deep sense of grief especially because she had birthed new lion cubs.

Houdini, the only remaining cheetah of 12 on the Reserve, has survived another year. This calculated cat evading attack by larger lions and leopards.

Cheetah South Africa

BFE the elephant has maintained his dominant bull status, despite his age of 61 years.
At the lodge, our new pool deck has seen many a cocktail shared, in the warm glow of African afternoons, while our Restaurant has been a place of indulgence, with the addition of incredibly enthusiastic new Chefs.

We have seen many heart-warming proposals, romantic escapes, and breath-taking weddings which all of our staff have had great pleasure being a part of.

Nambiti Hills Celebration

We’ve seen birthdays, anniversaries and countless celebrations – but what we would really like to celebrate, as our year comes to a close … is you.

Thank you for being a part of our journey this year.

THE MOST SUCCESSFUL BREEDERS OF THE WILD

Young Impala
It’s a special time on the Reserve that all the Guides look forward to.

Those who have become accustomed to the slight seasonal changes in our ecosystem know that November 15th is a significant date.

If you’re on Safari at Nambiti Hills, you’ll notice that the rains have brought with them, new lush greenery. With the abundance of food readily available, now is the time that you will see hundreds of nurseries with young, suckling herbivores.

Rainy Season

As they are preyed upon by many predators on the Reserve, herbivores tend to give birth at the same time, to ensure a higher survival rate for individual babies.

Wildebeest, warthog, impala and the like, are clouding up the air with the smell of new-borns.
This is no coincidence. In fact, this is just one of many ways impala ensure their survival.

With an estimated number of over 2 million impala in Africa, they are one of the most successfully bred animals in the African wild.

The rut (breeding season) begins in May, over 3 to 4 weeks, usually taking place between two full moons.

In the Southern Hemisphere, this is toward the end of autumn, and most importantly, the end of the rainy season which provides lots of nutrition for expectant mothers.
After a gestation period of 6 to 7 months, the majority of females in the herd will begin to give birth within quick succession of one another.

baby impala

Birthing usually happens at midday, in broad daylight, to protect the female from predators at night.

Once labour pains begin, a female will isolate herself from the herd in a shaded thicket, as she is vulnerable, and does not wish to threaten the safety of the other antelope.

The timing of the birth also takes place during predator’s least active time of hunting.
Straight after, the female impala will lick her calf, cleaning off the “birthed” smell to make sure it will not draw the attention of lion or other nearby threats.

The birthing of such high volumes of calves within such a short period of time, ensures that at least half of the calves born will survive.

Being a highly favoured prey, the mother and calf bond is not strong within impala – parting happens all too often – and after a suckling season of about 6 months, female calves remain behind in the nurseries, while males will move on to join bachelor herds, and the process starts again.

Impala at Nambiti Hills

SPECIAL SIGHTING OF AN ILLUSIVE CAT

Serval Cat

At Nambiti Hills, we regularly see many special sightings with our Guests.

Whether it’s Houdini, making a kill in the early hours of the evening, the birth of a flock of baby ostrich or two bull elephants playfully pushing each other down a hill.

There are so many exciting events on a daily basis that it’s hard to pick out the best.

Sometimes, our Guides get excited about certain sightings, and with their range of Game Viewing, they really are the experts.
Recently at Nambiti Hills, we have seen a particularly illusive cat in our midst. The Serval Cat.

This creature usually slips by in the night, going unseen for months at a time due to its size and diurnal habits.

Usually, the place to see this cat is on the grassland hunting for birds – but even if you go out in search of a Serval, you’re unlikely to find it.

Serval Cat

When you do spot one in the wild, they are wonderful to watch. They have a curious and shy nature with many quirks to their personality.

They can jump incredibly high, up to 2 metres, making them the highest jumpers of all the cats in the kingdom.

Preying on smaller birds, their hunting habits are humorous too, because they use their paws to “slap” down birds, stunning them before making them into a meal.

If you’ve been lucky enough to see some of our beautiful serval cats on a Game Drive, send your pictures or stories to marketing@nambitihills.com so we can share it with the Nambiti Hills Family.

new life at Nambiti

Courtesy of Tatenda Chitambwa

Courtesy of Tatenda Chitambwa

At Nambiti Hills, we have been witness to a special treat on recent Game Drives – the birth of brand new baby hippos.

This stub-nosed bundle of wrinkly cuteness was born toward the end of July. The birth of this calf in particular, has been wonderful to see because its mother lost a baby to an encounter with a bull last year. Male hippos are notoriously aggressive, especially toward babies if they are unsure of their parentage.

She has been keeping a keen eye on her calf, always positioning herself between the new born and the dominant male of the group, to make sure that the calf is safe at all times.

The babies have been surprisingly curious and bold – making their way up to the Game Vehicles.

This has been a photographer’s dream, with ample photo opportunities presented to Guests and Guides alike.

We hope to see this little one grow big and strong, and will keep you updated.

If you have any pictures or stories you’d like to share with the Nambiti Hills Family, please send them to marketing@nambitihills.com

A TRIBUTE TO TSWALU: THE LOSS OF A LIONESS

Tswalu the Lioness

Tswalu the Lioness

On the Reserve, we see many animals come and go.
Whether it’s a breeding elephant herd roaming on the hills in the distance for a day or two, or birds sitting on the deck, flying to and fro.
Wildlife on the Reserve move as they please.

Some of the animals find their way into our hearts, gaining nicknames along the way. You’ll know the ones – Houdini, the elusive cheetah, BFE the large, one-tusked bull elephant…

While others are nameless, their faces, habits and mannerisms are unique. Every Guide and Guest who comes into contact with them can tell you a story. This is why the loss of any significant animal brings grief to all those who knew them.

Recently, our Guides experienced a tremendous loss. Tswalu, one of our beautiful lionesses, passed away from unknown reasons. We believe she may have come into conflict with another lioness on the Reserve, or a herd of buffalo.

In nature, every change is an opportunity for the growth of something new – although we are saddened by the death of such a beautiful creature, this gives opportunity for shy, less aggressive leopards to enter her territory and thrive.

For those who were lucky enough to see Tswalu, she will live on in our memories, and through the cubs she left behind, on the Nambiti Big 5 Reserve, for us to marvel at.

If you have any memories or photos of Tswalu that you’d like to share, please send them to marketing@nambitihills.com