It’s peculiar, for the amount of times that lions mate, it is quite a rare sight to actually catch them in the act. However lions do not mate at any specific time of the year and are not always that easy to find. Singita Kruger National Park is lion country and during my guiding career I have been fortunate to have some fantastic opportunities to see these guys in action. A pair of mating lions is an interesting affair, which involves a fair deal of aggression, acrobatics, persistence and astonishing vocals all thrown into one performance.
On this particular day we found one of the young males from the Southern pride showing keen interest in a young female. It’s often quite easy to observe sexual behavior in lions and if one is patient, the reward is well worth the wait. Mating is initiated by both male and female, but seemingly more often by the female who is full of energy during her oestrus. We sat with the animals for some time before the female gestured to the male and presented herself to him.
Most lionesses will have reproduced by the time they are four years of age. This was still a young female and possibly her first intermit experience with the opposite sex. As with other cats, the male lion’s penis has fine barbs, which point backwards. Upon withdrawal, the barbs rake the walls of the female’s vagina, which may cause ovulation but obvious pain. After he mounted her we watched in awe as she clearly voiced her discomfort, lashing out at the male with snarls of displeasure.
This aggressive response from the female is all part of the act and a mating bout, which could last several days. They will copulate twenty to forty times a day each lasting about 20 seconds at a time. They may even go without eating during their time together.
We located the couple over the next few days, with the male keeping a close eye on his four brothers, making sure they knew this young female belonged to him and that it was going to be his genes that were passed on successfully. If mating failed, the lioness will come into oestrus again in 16 days and possibly another lion will be successful, however I feel in this case this male managed to seal the deal as he gave quite a performance.
We hope you’ll follow James Suter as he blogs from Singita’s private game reserves across Africa – tracking the natural rhythms of the wild.
While driving through the Northern parts of the Lebombo concession, a guide calls in over the radio that he has just located two lionesses. Both the animals were lactating as their mamary glands were enlarged. This got me really excited and I knew if we was patient and spent some time with these animals we stood a good chance of being introduced to her cubs.
As we gained visual of the two cats, they separated and I decided to stick with the one that was heading staight toward a large drainage line, a perfect area for her to hide her youngsters. She was walking with purpose and the excitement levels started to build amongst us in the vehicle. We followed her for about thirty minutes keeping our distance, being careful not to disturb her. She eventually lead us through a drainage line toward a dense thicket protected by large amoured thorns. Switching off the vehicle, all in silence, heads cocked in anticipation, we listened. Time passed as we sat under the cover of a large sigamore fig waiting, and eager to find out if this was the very place this lioness had chosen to hide her cubs. To our amazement we heard a faint cry coming from deep withing the inaccessible brush, a sound that could only be produced by a lion cub.
We approached cautiously towards the thicket and finally gained visual of two tiny cubs, no more than three weeks old. It was such a build up to such an incredible reward. What was so astonishing to me was how relaxed the mother was with the presence of the vehicle, showing no sign of aggression. The cubs grew inquisitive and eventually approached within a meter of the vehicle constantly calling, seeking their mother’s approval. These cubs were very young and had not yet been introduced to the rest of the pride. What an incredible moment it was.
We discussed how vital it was for the cubs to have a safe haven and that during the hiding period they were at great risk. But these cubs were very well hidden and stood a good chance of survival. I felt privilaged to have been aquainted with these tiny creatures and grateful to their mother for tolorating our presence.
Keep up with our weekly blog series as James Suter takes us on a journey through the African bushveld, bringing the wild closer.
As a young boy I prided myself in being able to identify most of the bird species found in South Africa. This passion never disappeared and by the age of twenty-one I decided I was going to become a Game Ranger. I caught the “bush bug”.
Ever since then James Suter has been living and breathing exhilarating experiences in the wilds of Africa – for many years as a Singita Field Guide, connecting guests to safari in a real and authentic way – allowing them to savour moments in the wilderness, and be transformed by the power of those moments. We are thrilled to introduce James Suter as he brings safari to life in Singita’s upcoming new blog and social media series. Be inspired by heart-pounding photography, video and stories, as James walks through the bush tracking wildlife, and rambles along rugged terrain in a Land Rover tapping into a daily discovery and experience of the Singita reserves and wilderness.
Follow him on Facebook and right here on Singita’s blog.
On a day when love and care are celebrated across the globe, we thought we would share a few photographs that portray what is on our minds and hearts this year as we fiercely continue to protect and promote the bio-diversity of the land in our care.
In days gone by, unspoilt wilderness on earth was found in abundance – but today it is rare, vulnerable and fragile and thus we at Singita work actively on a multitude of projects to protect these rapidly diminishing areas. Singita is the custodian of over 500,000 acres of some of the most spectacular and diverse habitat in Africa. It is our intention to protect and maintain this land and its wildlife in their original state.
Furthermore we assist the people who live on the outskirts of the Reserves to understand the intrinsic value of these pristine areas and experience the benefits of preserving the land. This is facilitated through partnerships with our neighboring rural populations on specific initiatives that produce tangible results.
(Photographs of wildlife by Singita guest – Araquem Alcantara)
Singita employs 1,100 people to care for our special Singita guests and over 500,000 acres of wilderness spread across four beautiful regions within Africa – in addition to retaining some of the continent’s best experts on ecological matters.
Ten different lodge and camp experiences in four iconic destinations in Africa, make up the Singita portfolio. Due to its low impact, high–value approach, Singita provides the opportunity to experience diminishing, fragile wilderness areas in near exclusivity. Travelers can rest assured that their presence will be instrumental in enhancing the wellbeing of the area – and for future generations.
We couldn’t deliver the guest experience that we deliver without the exceptional people in our team.
So as each guest soaks in the splendour of the surrounding landscape, rich with wildlife at any of our lodges, we hope they will catch a glimpse of what we love, and the passion we have, to protect the people, landscapes and wildlife that we care about. Follow the Singita blog to stay in tune with the community and conservation projects that we manage; also product updates and special offerings.
And Happy Valentine’s Day…
Another spectacular few days of wildlife sightings at Singita Ebony and Boulders Lodges. Follow the story in pictures provided by Field Guide, Dylan Brandt.
Mapogo male lions following the Ximungwe pride of 4 youngsters and 4 females.
The Marthly male leopard. A massive male leopard that controls a large portion, north of the Sand River. Lovely pose as he looks over the tall grass at impala in the distance.
Ravenscourt female after feeding from a young nyala kill.
This image is again of the Ravenscourt female, looking and sniffing curious smells under a large fallen Marula tree in a river bed.
The Ravenscourt female leopard – catching her in mid-yawn.
Wild dog pack running through the Sand River in a hurried attempt to cross, avoiding any crocodiles that might be close by.
Follow regional wildlife reports from our Field Guides, posted monthly on Singita’s website.
If you have been following the story of the cheetah cubs at Singita Pamushana, you will be thrilled to see the latest photography. For the full update take a look at the lastest Guides’ Diary on Singita’s website.
Controlling poaching in the Sabi Sand Reserve is one of the Singita environmental team’s prime responsibilities. World Rhino Day on the 22nd of September provided a valuable opportunity for staff at Singita to build awareness of the devastation that is caused by poaching which is slowly reducing the world population of rhino on a daily basis. To date this year in South Africa alone, a count of 290 rhinos have been poached – we take those statistics very seriously.
On the 22nd the team at Singita Sabi Sand put their full efforts behind supporting World Rhino Day – starting the day with the Guides and Trackers sporting red caps, branded with the World Rhino Day logo. Guests soon donned red caps for game drives to show their support. For the more energetic, twelve Singita staff took part in a cycling event – the ‘Ride for Rhinos’ 25 kilometre challenge through the Sabi Sand Reserve and into the local communities – with the goal to raise awareness of the misconception around rhino horn usage for medicinal purposes. Not only was it a fun and engaging activity in the community but it also helped to generate generous funding to be channeled directly to a rhino fund.
A sweet ending to the day – even the cupcakes at tea-time helped to nudge conversations toward the future of rhinos. Thanks to guests and staff for their enthusiasm and support for a day of awareness, well-celebrated.
To find out more about Singita’s conservation efforts, read about significant projects on Singita’s website.
Eighty kilometres of gruelling single track cycling every day across dusty, rugged terrain through South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana, clocking up 300 kilometres over 4 days – we asked General Manager of Singita Sabi Sand what compels him to undergo this test of endurance year after year.
Actually there are a few good reasons why Jason Trollip keeps coming back for more. Amongst them are the incredible scenery, great wildlife and caring community spirit created by this event. However Jason tells us that the overriding goal is to raise funds for Children in the Wilderness and that’s really what tugs at his heart strings.
Children in the Wilderness is a non-profit environmental and life skills educational programme. Their vision is something that Singita can relate to and stand behind.
Jason – “The sense of achievement at the end of 4 days is incredible and experiencing 300 kilometres of some of the best areas that Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa have to offer is just sensational.
You have to at all times remember that the whole event is to raise money for environmental awareness – it’s a great cause, and knowing we are helping young people and conservation by having so much fun, made it a perfect 5 days away!”
Jason Trollip, General Manager, Singita Sabi Sand. Jason is now in his 9th year at Singita, beginning at Singita Kruger National Park and then most recently managing Singita Sabi Sand properties. No stranger to the Lowveld area, Jason grew up here, and prior to his management roles he was a field guide for 7 years – that totals 15 years in the bush. With a keen interest in birding, we look forward to seeing some of his sightings captured on camera.