Category Archives: Wildlife

Field Guide Favourites: Moving Target

October 11, 2013 - Experience,Sabi Sand,Safari,Wildlife

Continuing our series of favourite photographs from our field guides, Dylan Brandt from Singita Sabi Sand gives us some helpful hints on how to capture unusual photos like this one:

Leopard by Dylan Brandt

Low light can pose a number of challenges to any photographer but it is also the best time of day to get shots that exaggerate movement. When we first spotted this young male leopard, he was mostly concealed by the thick bushes that were camouflaging him. He kept to the relative safety of the undergrowth for a long time before making his move. When he did so, dusk had fallen and it was almost dark, so there was little benefit of using a high shutter speed. Changing to a slow shutter and panning the camera while firing off a series of shots in quick succession increases your chance of getting a clear image. The trick is to have the head of your subject steady and in focus while the rest of the body has a blurred movement to it. The subtle lighting and blurred elements will add mood, while the wild animals do the rest.

Keep an eye on the blog for more special photographs from our field guides and explore the archive for previous posts in this series. Our Facebook page is also updated regularly by the guides themselves with their latest pictures from the bush.  

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Field Guide Favourites: Captivated

October 04, 2013 - Experience,Kruger National Park,Wildlife

Singita Field Guide, Ross Couper, is an experienced member of the team at Singita Kruger National Park and a keen wildlife photographer. As part of our series of favourite photos from our game rangers in the bush, Ross shares the story of how he happened to cross paths with this stunning leopardess:

Captivated by Ross Couper

My guests departed early for their next destination and, as it promised to be a beautiful day, I decided to head out into the bush on my own to see what was out there. I grabbed my camera and headed east for approximately thirty minutes, before I turned a corner and happened upon this beautiful female leopard. None of the other guides had started their morning game drive and I was the only vehicle out in the bush. Realising that the leopard was on a territorial patrol, I reversed further down the road in order to give her enough space to walk towards me. I angled my vehicle on a low slope, knowing that she was bound to come over and the photograph would look like I was on ground level with the leopard. It’s not often that you can capture such a beautiful subject in pristine winter’s light on eye level. What made the encounter even more special is that this particular female leopard is approximately 18 years of age; well over the average life span of most leopards in the wild. She has undoubtably been in several thousand photographs and as she gracefully walked past my vehicle, it was evident that her beauty was not defined by age.

This photograph was taken with a Nikon D3s using a 600mm F4 lens. To see more wonderful shots of the flora and fauna surrounding the lodges, you can catch up on the monthly Wildlife Reports from all of Singita’s lodges and camps.

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Field Guide Favourites: Submerged

September 17, 2013 - Kruger National Park,Singita Lebombo Lodge,Wildlife

Ross Couper is a field guide at Singita Kruger National Park, whose love for animals and the African bush makes him a keen wildlife photographer. Here he shares a stunning shot of one of the continent’s most fascinating and dangerous mammals – the hippopotamus:

Submerged copyright Ross Couper | Singita Kruger National Park

The N’wanetsi River flows directly below Singita Lebombo Lodge, which makes the lodge the perfect spot from which to scan for hippos and crocodiles in the water. Some mornings, guests will see the hippos move closer to the man-made weir that allows passage across the river. Originally used by travellers to the Mozambique border post, now it allows for a close and eye-level encounter with one of the most deadly creatures on earth and by far one of the most interesting.

The magical early morning light is fleeting but casts a spell over everything it touches, making for some spectacular photographic opportunities. This particular morning, I waited patiently as the hippos moved under the water, waiting for them to surface briefly for air. Luckily, one appeared in a pool of golden light and every painstaking minute spent focusing through the viewfinder was rewarded.

This photograph was taken with a Nikon D3s using a 600mm F4 lens. You can see more of Ross’ great photos in our Wildlife Reports, where field guides from all of Singita’s lodges and camps keep monthly game-spotting journals.

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A Tribute to the Ravenscourt Female: December 2001 – June 2013

September 10, 2013 - Conservation,Experience,Sabi Sand,Singita Boulders Lodge,Singita Ebony Lodge,Wildlife

Lady Ravenscourt | Singita Sabi Sand

It is with great sadness that I write this tribute to the Ravenscourt female leopard, as, for me, she is and always will be synonymous with Singita Sabi Sand.

My primary motivation for wanting to become a field guide in the Sabi Sand was to gain an insight into the traditionally secretive and private lives of leopards and the Ravenscourt female gave me more of an insight into her life than I ever could have wished for.

Lady Ravenscourt | Singita Sabi Sand

Although once the topic of much debate, photographic evidence now shows that the Ravenscourt female was born in December 2001 to the Makwela female. In her latter years, she could be identified by the 3 notches in her right ear as well as her 2:3 spot pattern (the ratio indicates the number of spots on the left and right hand side of its snout).

Lady Ravenscourt | Singita Sabi Sand

My interaction with her began during my first experience at Singita in 2009, during which time she was exhibiting an unusual behavioural phenomenon of simultaneously raising a new litter of cubs and still feeding and tolerating the presence of the Xindzele male from her previous litter. This meant that it was not all unusual to see four different leopards together, lounging in a marula tree, during a visit to Singita Sabi Sand. This surprised me and only further fuelled my desire to find out as much as possible about these beautiful animals.

Lady Ravenscourt | Singita Sabi Sand

From the day I started the guide training course in January 2010, I was enchanted by this leopardess. As a guide I was always quick to discourage guests from anthropomorphizing and would remind them that our goal is to watch these animals in their natural environments without getting too attached to any individuals. Unfortunately, while I managed to do this for the most part, I developed a soft spot for this particular female leopard. I suppose this can be expected when one is spending close on eight hours a day either tracking or viewing a particular animal.

Lady Ravenscourt | Singita Sabi Sand

In this case, it was exacerbated by the fact that Singita Ebony Lodge and Singita Boulders Lodge, as well as the staff village, were situated in the middle of her territory. This meant that I had many more interactions with the Ravenscourt female than any other leopard at Singita. It seemed as if she wanted to let us know that this was still her territory as she would stroll through the staff village or lodge with her rasping territorial call carrying into the night. Often I would wake up to this call, part the curtain in my room, and see her walking along the corridor outside my window. With this kind of interaction, it is almost impossible not to become attached to an animal.

Lady Ravenscourt | Singita Sabi Sand

Most animals seem to shy away from human activity, but she seemed to be unperturbed and even seemed to be more comfortable around the lodges. This was epitomized by the fact that she gave birth to three litters of cubs in the immediate vicinity of the lodges. Whilst this can be partly be attributed to the dense vegetation on the banks of the Sand River being particularly suitable for leopard den sites, I feel that she may have decided that the human habitation would discourage other predators that may pose a threat to her cubs.

Lady Ravenscourt | Singita Sabi Sand

For the two years I spent at Singita, I felt a part of her life and she was most definitely a part of mine. The first time I saw leopards mating was when she was mating with the Kashane male in the Ximobanyane riverbed. My first ever glimpse of leopard cubs was when her three cubs cautiously crept out of a rocky crevice in the Millennium koppies to nurse from her. She was the first leopard I ever followed on a hunt. Whilst often unsuccessful, it was a fantastic experience to eventually witness her catch and feed upon a vervet monkey. She was the first leopard I ever bumped into on foot and I also spent many hours with the trackers following her spoor. If there was ever a stable sighting, I would often go out on my own, in between game drives, and sit with her and her offspring, hoping to glean something new. In fact, my last few hours at Singita were spent sitting alone with her and her two cubs as they fed on an impala on top of the Boulders koppies.

Lady Ravenscourt | Singita Sabi Sand

These are just a few of the many memories I have of her, memories that I’ll treasure for many years to come.

I often questioned her maternal skills given the statistics. All in all, she gave birth to six litters comprising 14 cubs, of which only four males have survived to maturity (Xmobanyane male of ’06, Xindzele male of ’07, West Street male of ’09 and the current Ravenscourt young male of ’12). In the end, however, she proved me wrong by paying the ultimate price in order to protect her near independent cub from a rogue male leopard. To me, this illustrates just how difficult life is for a female leopard and despite her 29% success rate in raising cubs, she was clearly an extremely dedicated mother.

I am so grateful for the two years I got to spend watching and following the Ravenscourt female and her offspring; she made such a difference in my life as I know she did in the lives of many rangers, trackers and guests at Singita.

Lady Ravenscourt | Singita Sabi Sand

© Photos copyright James Crookes 

Field guide James Crookes worked at Singita Sabi Sand for a number of years and has always had a passion for these elusive cats. He says: “I chose to work in the Sabi Sand Reserve based on its reputation for amazing leopard viewing, arguably the best in the world. Not one to usually have checklists, I must admit that I did have one regarding leopards. My goal was to see a leopard kill, leopards mating and leopard cubs. These experiences have been nothing short of amazing and I will always cherish the memories I have of these times at Singita.”

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Field Guide Favourites: Baby Elephant

September 05, 2013 - Experience,Sabi Sand,Singita Boulders Lodge,Singita Ebony Lodge,Wildlife

Second in our series of our field guides’ favourite wildlife photographs is this delightful snap of a baby elephant by Marlon du Toit at Singita Sabi Sand. The Sabi Sand is a privately owned game reserve adjacent to Kruger National Park, and together the two areas make up some of South Africa’s most incredible and pristine land.

Marlon du Toit | Baby elephant

“All babies are simply adorable and well worth spending time with. Little elephants have great personalities and make for stunning images. This one had huge ears and this unique pose works very well, and the soft light compliments the skin texture.”

Subscribe to the blog to make sure you don’t miss the next installment in this wonderful photography series and get more from our field guides by reading our monthly Wildlife Reports.

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Field Guide Favourites: Rays of Light

August 29, 2013 - Sabi Sand,Singita Boulders Lodge,Singita Ebony Lodge,Wildlife

Singita’s field guides are required to have a number of skills; the powers of observation, knowledge of various bird calls and animal spoor, good awareness of their surroundings and a passion for the African bush among them. Some of them also happen to be talented photographers and are responsible for many of the wildlife shots you see on this blog.

We will be showcasing some of their favourite photos over the next few weeks, with some words from the field guides themselves about the moment they captured through the lens. First we have Dylan Brandt from Singita Sabi Sand, a regular contributor to our blog and Facebook page:

Rays of Light copyright Dylan Brandt

Light has a wonderful way of creating mood. All it takes is a keen eye and a little patience and the rest will unfold in front of you. We had been following the roars of lion for an hour before we found two lionesses lying on the edge of a barely driven, two-track dirt road. The lionesses started moving and roaring only to attract a coalition of males nearby. It was a misty overcast morning, cool and damp with the sun nowhere to be seen. We spent an hour enjoying the pride hoping for a break in the clouds to cast a bit of sunlight for a quick image or two.

Male lions have a habit of snoozing the day away and opportunities for unusual photographs are few and far between. We were fortunate however to have a wonderful ray of sunlight beam through a thick canopy to light up the head of one of the adults. The rest of the image contrasted in shade made for a great chance to capitalise on light.

A keen eye, a little patience and the rest will unfold in front of you.

Keep an eye on the blog for more special photographs from our field guides and catch up on our monthly Wildlife Reports for more.

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Highlights from our Wildlife Reports

August 20, 2013 - Africa,Experience,Kruger National Park,Lamai,Sabi Sand,Singita Pamushana Lodge,Wildlife

Every month, field guides from the five regions in which Singita has lodges and camps, send us first-hand reports from the bushveld. These delightful wildlife journals describe the recent animal activities, unusual game-spotting, local birdlife  and seasonal shifts in the landscape, accompanied by spectacular photographs. Here is a selection of snaps from some recent diaries for you to enjoy:

Singita Kruger National Park

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Over the last month we had a total of 29 leopard sightings, but what was impressive was not the number of sightings, but rather the quality of sightings that we experienced. One sighting that stands out in particular of the Sticky Thorn female and her two cubs was when they were feeding off an African rock python that she had caught and hoisted into a large leadwood tree. It made for outstanding viewing!

Report by Nick du Plessis. Photos by Nick du Plessis and Ross Couper.
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Kruger National Park Wildlife Report July 2013

Singita Sabi Sand

sss

After months of huge anticipation and many attempts at getting a glimpse at these young cubs, the day finally arrived, and boy did I soak in all the goodness! To see eight little bundles of lion fluff bounding towards your vehicle across the white beach-like sand of the aptly named Sand River is an absolute dream come true. These lion cubs remained well hidden within the thickets along the banks of the river for many weeks, a useful method of protecting them, especially in the absence of their mothers. We would get a glimpse of a cub every now and then, but to see all of them right there in the open was incredible.

Report and photos by Marlon du Toit.
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Sabi Sand Wildlife Report July 2013

Singita Pamushana

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We were watching a small bachelor group of elephants when we noticed one of the bulls had a most impressive set of tusks. He was not a big elephant but his ivory was magnificent. He seemed to know that he needed to be cautious and made a hopeless and very funny attempt to hide behind a bush. As we were watching him a large shadow loomed to our right. A much larger bull with small tusks came to act as a buffer and make sure we meant no harm to him or his ‘brother’.

Report and photos by Jenny Hishin.
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Pamushana Wildlife Report July 2013

Singita Grumeti

sgr

The arrival of The Great Migration on the 1st of June kicked off what would prove to be a very exciting month for viewing wildlife at Singita Grumeti. On the first day, thousands of wildebeest began arriving from the southeast, making their way north and west. They surrounded Faru Faru Lodge and the Nyati plains, and after about ten days were spread across nearly all of Singita Grumeti, from Faru Faru Lodge in the east, to the central Sasakwa plains below Sasakwa Lodge, and all the way west past Sabora Tented Camp. They milled about grazing for about four or five days and then they began to move, forming never ending lines heading back east again and then north through Ikorongo.

Report and photos by Ryan Schmitt and Lizzie Hamrick. This photo by Saitoti Ole Kuwai.
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Grumeti Wildlife Report June 2013

Singita Lamai

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The rains have held off this month, giving the area a chance to dry up a bit and colours to change. This, combined with a hot easterly wind, has turned the palette from all shades of green to burnt amber, ochre and dark browns with just a pale under-shading of green to remind us of what was, and what is, to come. The plains east of us have been exceptionally productive over the month, with regular sightings of elephants, buffalos, rhinos, lions and plains game. Hyenas pass the heat of the day lying in the little pools of water in the now almost dry drainage lines, and cheetahs stalk the plains on their long legs, cubs in tow, as they search for something to chase down and eat.

Report and photos by Lee Bennett.
See more wildlife reports from Singita Lamai.

Visit the Wildlife Reports section on our website to catch up on more recent reports, and keep in touch with us by subscribing to our newsletter using the box on the right.

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Guest Photos from 2013: Tony Goldman

August 07, 2013 - Africa,Experience,Singita Boulders Lodge,Wildlife

Earlier this year we shared some beautiful guest photos from international travellers who visited Singita last year. Jeff Thompson (Atlanta, Georgia), Mary Robbins (Lynn, Massachusetts) and Stephen Saugestad (Vancouver, Canada) all shared their spectacular photographs with our readers and offered an inside look at their unique safari experience with Singita.

Continuing on that theme, we have kindly been sent some lovely photographs from Tony Goldman from Tampa, Florida, who visited Singita Boulders Lodge with his wife in February. We were especially impressed with his beautiful shots of the local birdlife and here are the highlights. We hope you enjoy these lovely pictures and we encourage you to share your own photographs of Singita with us by visiting our Facebook page or getting in touch on the website.

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© All photographs copyright Anthony Goldman 2013

Follow our monthly Wildlife Reports from our lodges and camps in Tanzania, South Africa and Zimbabwe for more amazing animal photographs.

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Unexpected Visitors at Singita Sabora Tented Camp

July 26, 2013 - Accommodation,Africa,Experience,Singita Grumeti,Wildlife

The Great Migration at Singita Sabora Tented Camp

The Great Migration at Singita Sabora Tented Camp

One of the wonderful benefits of being in the path of the annual migration through the Serengeti is getting to observe this natural phenomenon at close range. This was especially true for our guests at Singita Sabora Tented Camp in Singita Grumeti a few weeks ago, when the herds of zebra and wildebeest joined them for lunch! These unexpected visitors were photographed by lodge manager, Wilson Owino, grazing quietly on the doorstep of the intimate, 1920s-style explorer’s camp. These beautiful shots illustrate the truly immersive safari experience at Singita, with the added thrill of knowing there isn’t much separating the comfort inside from the elements and wildlife outside.

The Great Migration at Singita Sabora Tented Camp

The Great Migration at Singita Sabora Tented Camp

The Great Migration at Singita Sabora Tented Camp

The Great Migration at Singita Sabora Tented Camp

The Great Migration at Singita Sabora Tented Camp

The Great Migration at Singita Sabora Tented Camp

The Great Migration at Singita Sabora Tented Camp

The Great Migration at Singita Sabora Tented Camp

We’ve been covering this year’s migration in a series of blog posts (read part one, part two and part three) and also tracking the animals’ movements in our monthly Wildlife Reports.

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Unique Safaris: See the Serengeti on Horseback

July 16, 2013 - Africa,Experience,Singita Explore,Singita Faru Faru Lodge,Singita Grumeti,Singita Sasakwa Lodge,Wildlife

Horseback safari at Singita Grumeti

For equestrian enthusiasts, there must be no more thrilling adventure than experiencing the great wildebeest migration on horseback. With this year’s event now in full swing, the stables at Singita Sasakwa Lodge have been extremely busy preparing our horses for daily outrides with guests to witness the influx of animals. These rides are completely tailored to guests’ needs and skill level, usually lasting several hours. In addition to the herds of plains game, it is not uncommon to spot giraffe, eland, buffalo, zebra and elephant on these rides.

Horseback safari at Singita Grumeti

For the more experienced riders, our tailored Equestrian Safaris combine long rides exploring remote areas of Grumeti Reserves with wonderfully relaxing afternoons. The exclusivity of the concession means that your experience is sure to be unique and private; just you, your magnificent horse, expert guide and the enchanting Serengeti all around you.

Horseback safari at Singita Grumeti

Horseback safari at Singita Grumeti

Moving on horseback allows you to penetrate herds of zebra and giraffe, travelling among them as if part of the group. Combine Singita Explore with a stay at one of our permanent lodges, Sasakwa or Faru Faru, to gain the ultimate Serengeti horseback experience. Singita Explore is the perfect base for days of remote exploration and a truly immersive bush adventure, while the luxury of Sasakwa and Faru Faru offer the heights of style and relaxation.

Horseback safari at Singita Grumeti

The pace is moderate with the opportunity for faster paced canters in places, and a choice of English, Western or South African trail saddles. The magnificent herd, mainly comprising Thoroughbreds and Boerperds from South Africa, Kenya and Zimbabwe, have been carefully selected for their temperament and range between 15.1 and 16.3 hands in height.

Horseback safari at Singita Grumeti

The equestrian manager and guide will be happy to discuss any further horse riding related details; please e-mail enquires@singita.com or visit our website for more.

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