Tag Archives: field guides

The Story of Saitoti Ole Kuwai

June 27, 2014 - Experience,People of Singita,Singita Grumeti

Saitoti Ole Kuwai - Field guide at Singita Grumeti, Tanzania

If you have been an avid reader of our blog and monthly Wildlife Reports, then the name Saitoti Ole Kuwai won’t be new to you. He is a regular contributor to the bush ranger diaries from Singita Grumeti, where he works as a field guide, and his photographs often feature in our Highlights posts.

Zebra at Singita Grumeti, Tanzania

Saitoti Ole Kuwai - Field guide at Singita Grumeti, Tanzania

Saitoti is a proud Masai and grew up in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area of Tanzania, where he took his first steps towards his future profession by learning how to track animals from other tribesmen. He was inspired to follow a career in wildlife conservation after seeing the effects of poaching first hand, and pursued his formal training before joining Singita in 2005.

Saitoti Ole Kuwai - Field guide at Singita Grumeti, Tanzania

Leopard at Singita Grumeti, Tanzania

He describes his work in the Serengeti as “an honour and a big privilege” and is completely dedicated to the protection and conservation of African wildlife for future generations. “My day starts in the dark; I always wake up at 4 o’clock. It’s early in the morning but you can still hear things like hyena and jackal calling and that tells me that the bush is awake.”

Cheetah at Singita Grumeti, Tanzania

To Saitoti, game drives are like fishing, where the vast plains are an endless sea and you never know what you’re going to catch. He says: “What’s needed for you is the passion, the passion to wait.”

Saitoti Ole Kuwai - Field guide at Singita Grumeti, Tanzania

“I love to tell guests about the traditions, culture, customs and lifestyle of my tribe. The best thing about my job is being involved in ensuring the health and growth of the area’s wildlife. Living in close harmony with animals is important because through them we learn so much.” Watch the video to learn more about this dedicated conservationist:

This is the second in our #singitastories series, introducing you to some of Singita’s team members. We previously featured Time Mutema, a field guide at Singita Pamsushana Lodge in Zimbabwe. Browse our Vimeo channel for more about the people of Singita, interesting wildlife sightings and to see the inspiration behind all our lodges and camps.

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Highlights from our Guides’ Diaries

March 13, 2013 - Africa,Experience,Kruger National Park,Lamai,Safari,Singita Grumeti,Singita Pamushana Lodge,Wildlife

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Did you know that our team of expert field guides write a monthly wildlife journal that chronicles the fauna and flora surrounding each lodge? High summer in Africa is a particularly fascinating time to document the local wildlife. Here are a few photographs from the most recent Guides’ Diaries from Singita Kruger National Park, Singita Lamai, Singita Grumeti and Singita Pamushana Lodge.

Carmine bee-eater

The southern carmine bee-eater (Merops nubicoides) occurs across sub-equatorial Africa, ranging from KwaZulu-Natal and Namibia to Gabon, eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo and Kenya. This species is a richly coloured, striking bird, predominantly carmine in colouration (hence the name). They are highly sociable, gathering in large flocks, in or out of breeding season. Unperturbed by the light rain, they continue to move in a large flock as they hunt small insects within the lower areas of the floodplain. This was a sight that we followed for a few hours, mesmerised by their acrobatic displays.

by Ross Couper (Singita Kruger National Park). Read the full Guides’ Diary.

Giraffes

I’ve never seen as many giraffe about as there are at the moment. It’s possible that with all the rain and resulting thick vegetation they’ve moved to the few open areas where they can see, from their high vantage, any approaching danger. Giraffe are hunted by lions so it’s best that they avoid any ambush attacks.

By Jenny Hishin (Singita Pamushana Lodge). Read the full Guides’ Diary.

Zebra

It is interesting to note that despite all the theories as to why zebra are striped, there is one that seems to be most valid; it’s as a defence mechanism against flies, especially the stinging types, like tsetse and horseflies. Flies are attracted to horizontally polarized light. Zebra stripes are predominantly vertical and, when they lower their heads to feed or drink, this effect is reinforced. It appears that this assists them in avoiding the bites and diseases associated with tsetse and horseflies, in that the flies do not see vertically polarized light.

By Lee Bennett (Singita Lamai). Read the full Guides’ Diary.

Cheetah

Our cheetah sightings have been climbing recently and January was the best so far – sixty different cheetah sightings, and most of them consisting of more than one animal! The usual suspects on the property have become more and more comfortable with the vehicles and are less afraid to be seen. Then there are multiple newcomers who continue to sporadically show up. They include two additional brothers and a few single females. All of the newcomers are still quite skittish.

By Ryan Schmitt and Lizzie Hamrick (Singita Grumeti). Read the full Guides’ Diary.

Our Guide’s Diaries are published on a monthly basis from our lodges in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Tanzania. You can read all of them here.

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Highlights from our Guides’ Diaries

December 04, 2012 - Experience,Kruger National Park,Safari,Singita Grumeti,Singita Pamushana Lodge,Wildlife

The monthly wildlife journals penned by our field guides are always such a special treat! At this time of year, with summer approaching, the fauna and flora surrounding the lodges is especially abundant and breathtaking. We hope you enjoy these beautiful photos taken from October’s Guides’ Diaries.

Ammocharis coranica

With the phenomenal rainfall over the last few weeks, the grey and brown colours of winter have been replaced by the new flush of green that has sprouted up everywhere. The concession is in full bloom and it looks incredible. The bush transforms into new life and revitalises itself from seemingly dead plant material to flourishing green life. The light rainfall has also spurred the bloom of several wild flowers. This ground lily (Ammocharis coranica) grows in open grasslands and flowers from October to February.

by Ross Couper (Singita Kruger National Park). Read the full Guides’ Diary.

Shishangaan lion cubs

We got our first look at the newest members of the Shishangaan lion pride! While watching several other pride members feasting on a buffalo carcass, we spotted a restless lioness rolling from one side to the other on her back. On closer inspection, we saw three small fur balls that had been nursing from her peering back at us from between the blades of grass.

Upon returning later in the afternoon, we saw that the buffalo carcass was completely devoured with only a few morsels remaining. The mother of the three cubs was seen feeding on the last of the meat, and the cubs seemed fascinated with the carcass. Even at this young age you could see their instinct kicking in as they fought amongst themselves for the small soft scraps that were left.

by Ross Couper (Singita Kruger National Park). Read the full Guides’ Diary.

Scrub hare

We flushed this scrub hare from its daytime resting place in a patch of grass on the side of the road where it flattened and froze in defence. It didn’t so much as twitch a whisker while relying on its superb camouflage to keep it hidden in the surrounding scrub. Scrub hares live in savanna woodland and mixed grass habitat.

By Jenny Hishin (Singita Pamushana Lodge). Read the full Guides’ Diary.

Cheetah cub

We’ve been following the progress of two female cheetah cubs since they were born 14 months ago and I’m thrilled to report that they are still doing well. It’s been so interesting to watch their characters develop. One is a real tomboy – inquisitive, daring and a bit of a bully – while the other female is more timid, cautious and shy. If all goes well, these two cheetah cubs should reach independence in the next few months. Let’s hope they choose to stay on our abundant wildlife reserve.

By Jenny Hishin (Singita Pamushana Lodge). Read the full Guides’ Diary.

Wildebeest invasion

In the latter part of September we saw large groups of wildebeest filing into Ikorongo. This was just a preview of what was to be experienced throughout the month. Tens of thousands of the incessantly restless animals spent the entire month moving onto the property, invading the plains of the western corridor once more.

By Ryan Schmitt (Singita Grumeti). Read the full Guides’ Diary.

Lion

With the well-stocked wildlife buffet located on the Sasakwa plains, it wasn’t surprising that the Nyasirori lions found it unnecessary to move at all from the vicinity of Sasakwa Dam and its surrounds. It hasn’t been difficult to find lions lurking on the plains. While sipping coffee or tea from Sasakwa’s sprawling patios, all you need do is glance around the area with a pair of binoculars and you are bound to find the pale belly of a lion basking back at you.

By Ryan Schmitt (Singita Grumeti). Read the full Guides’ Diary.

Elephants

The elephant herds that frequented Sasakwa hill in September moved back down onto the plains and surrounding woodlands once again. On more than a few occasions groups of over 100 elephants were seen, and Sasakwa Dam still seemed to delight them on their visits. After a quick drink in the afternoon to top up their reserves, it seemed the best thing to do was for every mammoth to take the weight off its feet by getting into the water and have a jolly good time cavorting, splashing and spraying!

By Ryan Schmitt (Singita Grumeti). Read the full Guides’ Diary.

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Chocolate and Walnuts

October 01, 2012 - Cuisine,Safari

When on safari at Singita Pamushana, your day is spent in a multitude of ways:  early morning and sunset game drives interspersed with bird-watching, swims, long and restful naps, meeting locals in the neighbouring communities, learning about star constellations in the night skies, boat cruises, exploring age-old rock art sites, and finding out more about the protection of pristine wilderness on the reserve.

One of our favourite safari rituals is that time of the day when the game ranger finds a perfect spot during the morning drive and sets up for a leg-stretch and coffee break.  The cold mist of the early morning has lifted, the sun’s warmth encourages layers of sweaters and pullovers to peel away, and the view at the spot is incredible while you stand right in the heart of African wilderness.

Coffee is French-pressed right in front of you, mugs of hot chocolate are blended, and tea-bags dipped to make a steamy brew.  One of the best parts is the luscious treat that is unpacked from tin camping containers – something surprising every day and perfect for dipping into a hot beverage.  Crunchies, biscotti, rusks…but we don’t want to spoil all of the surprises!

Here’s one of our all-time favourites – and we truly had to bribe Peter for this special recipe.  Enjoy!  (Peter Liese heads up the star kitchen team at Singita Pamushana Lodge – we can’t wait to hear more from him.)

Double Chocolate Walnut Biscotti

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour

½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1tsp baking powder

1tsp salt

6 tbsps. unsalted butter, softened

1 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1 cup walnuts chopped

¾ cup semi-sweetened chocolate chips

1 tbsps. confectioners’ sugar

Putting it all together:

Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350F. Butter and flour a large baking sheet, knocking off excess flour.

Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a bowl. Beat together butter and granulated sugar for 30 seconds. Add eggs and beat until well combined. Stir in flour mixture; dough will be stiff. Stir in walnuts and chocolate chips. Halve dough. With floured hands form dough into 2 slightly flattened 12-by-2inch logs on baking sheet, about 3 inches apart. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar.

Bake logs until slightly firm to the touch about 35 minutes (leave oven on).

Transfer logs to a cutting board and with a serrated knife, cut diagonally into ¾ inch slices. Arrange biscotti cut sides down on baking sheet. Bake until crisp, about 10 minutes. Transfer to racks to cool.

The biscotti keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.

Happy baking from Singita Pamushana Lodge!

Singita Pamushana Lodge is situated in the Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve, 124 000 acres of wilderness in the southern corner of Zimbabwe, bordering the Gonarezhou National Park. It is a spectacularly diverse and beautiful piece of Africa, boasting geological diversity, habitat variability and a wide variety of plant and animal species. Home to one of the highest concentrations of the endangered black rhino as well as fourteen species of eagle, the area is known for its magical sandstone outcrops, mopane forests, and majestic baobab trees.

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Tremendous Battles

February 06, 2012 - Sabi Sand,Safari,Wildlife

There are few battles more tremendous than elephant bulls in conflict.  This image shows two such giants battling over the right to mate. With so many breeding herds in the area, females in estrous, and so many musth bulls in close proximity to one another, conflicts like these are inevitable. When their tusks first clashed together, at the initial impact, it sounded more like that of rifle fire than ivory connecting. The contest was short lived and the winner chased the defeated bull several hundred meters before returning to the nearby breeding herd.

What Singita Field Guides encounter every day.  Account by Dylan Brandt at Singita Sabi Sand.  For more exciting encounters follow our Guides’ Diaries posted on Singita’s website every month.

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Wildlife – the News in Pictures

January 16, 2012 - Conservation,Sabi Sand,Safari,Wildlife

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.

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Family Reunion

October 18, 2011 - Kruger National Park,Wildlife

If you’ve been following news from Singita Field Guides, then you’ll remember the Xinkelengane female leopard at Singita Kruger National Park.  She has provided a multitude of gorgeous photo opportunities in the past.  But now it seems her maturing offspring are taking over the reins in the territory.

This beautiful young leopard (above) has taken over the reins from her mother it seems. Sadly, her mother, the much loved and well known Xinkelengane female has been missing for almost three months now. We are not sure where she is and we continue looking for any signs of her. In the meantime the leopard pictured, has been leaving her scent along all of the prominent landmarks within her mother’s old territory. This is vital for establishing a territory. She is still a young cat, barely 18 months of age and her territorial behavior is very early. It is perhaps brought on by the absence of a dominant female (her missing mother) and as leopards are very opportunistic she may be using the chance to make her presence known before another female claims this abundant piece of real estate.

The two cubs are still seen together from time to time. Independently they are doing very well. Both are hunting successfully and kill prey up to the size of adult male impala and young waterbuck. A recent get-together resulted in them spending the night together feeding on a carcass, and they separated again by mid-morning. The young male, pictured below to the right feels more pressure in terms of territory. His father, the Shingwenyana male, is still very active in this region. Fortunately for the young male his father has not reacted aggressively towards him allowing him to stay in this space. We even witnessed recently as this young boy watched his father mate with another female. There was no aggressive behavior from his father suggesting a strong bond between the two.

Only time will tell where these young leopards will finally set up their own territories. We hope we don’t lose track of them into the massive Kruger National Park as they have become much loved by the guides.

Singita Kruger leopard update provided by Marlon du Toit, Guide, Singita Kruger National Park.  To follow what happens to these young leopards, stay in touch with our monthly Guides’ Diaries on Singita’s website.

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Wildlife – the News in Pictures

August 22, 2011 - Sabi Sand,Wildlife

Again it has been an action-packed month of great game sightings at Singita Sabi Sand.

“To share these wonderful moments with people who have a similar interest in and love of nature is for me the most rewarding aspect of my job. To immerse oneself into a world that holds such majesty and evokes such wonder in an unscripted and unexpected manner is what safari is all about.”  Dylan Brandt – Field Guide, Singita Sabi Sand.

The Singita Sabi Sand Guides’ Diary is compiled by James Crookes, Guide, Singita Sabi Sand.  For more astounding photography and wildlife updates read the full Guides’ Diary on Singita’s website.

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