I was fortunate enough to have a number of different leopard sightings during my stay at Singita Grumeti. Most of these encounters were brief and had taken place in the lush vegetation along the Grumeti River, where the shy cats are easily able to camouflage themselves.
One morning during our visit, I was delighted to hear that a large male leopard had been located in the south western parts of the concession; just a stone’s throw from Singita Sabora Tented Camp. This region is known for its vast, open plains and I hoped to have a sighting of the handsome cat within such a unique habitat.
As we approached the area where the leopard had last been seen, we were quickly able to identify the characteristic figure of the large cat while he lay resting in an isolated acacia tree. We approached slowly, making sure not to scare the animal away but he seemed more comfortable than most of the leopards in the reserve who offered us just fleeting glimpses of their spotted hide. This healthy male appeared completely relaxed as he sat guarding a warthog that he had killed and dragged up into the tree, away from other opportunistic predators.
I was amazed at the scene of this massive cat perched in a rather small tree in the middle of the Serengeti. After observing him for some time, we noticed a large burrow directly beneath the acacia, which appeared to be active, as indicated by the presence of flies around the entrance. It became clear that this burrow belonged to the unfortunate warthog that was now neatly placed in the upper branches of the tree, a victim of the leopard’s hunting skill and experience.
James Suter is an expert Field Guide and talented photographer who is exploring Singita Grumeti in Tanzania and reporting on the wildlife he finds there. You can read more of James’ journey with Singita through Southern Africa on the blog.
I’ve recently arrived back home from a remarkable trip exploring the unspoilt terrain of Singita Sabi Sand. Home to three Singita lodges in 18,000 hectares, the reserve’s stretches of grassland are punctuated by groves of Acacia and Marula trees. The trip was extremely successful as the concession was teeming with game and we witnessed some incredible sightings.
Each day I captured as much of what I was seeing from the lens of my camera so I could share it with all of you. Heading out early every morning offered prime time for wildlife viewing as it was still cool and the majority of animals were still active. This is always my recommendation as early mornings present the most beautiful sunrises and life begins to stir as another day starts in the African bush – the odd cry of a lone hyena and the cackle of francolins signaling that the dawn chorus has begun.
Once the heat of the middle day has started to lift and ebb away, late afternoons are also a perfect time for exploration. Between mornings and late afternoons, trekking on foot through the bush or ambling across the grasslands in a Land Rover, just with my camera and radio, I marveled at the memorable moments I experienced. I was able to tick off the Big Five with relative ease. The Singita Sabi Sand concession has plenty to offer and the sightings of high profile animals are unmatched. The majority of the game in this area is relatively habituated to the vehicles and this allows one to get up close and personal to a lot of these animals and have the opportunity to view them in their natural environment. If you are cautious, the game vehicles do not disturb them, and you are able to spend time with these animals without altering their behavior in any way.
I also spent a lot of time on foot as this activity really allows one to connect with the environment and appreciate the smaller unique treats the bush has to offer. Without the sound of the vehicle, you allow yourself to hear any noises that may give away the presence of an animal.
Being in the wild heightens the senses in a different way than is normally experienced back at home. It brings a sense of well-being. Stay connected with the photographic journals that will be posted over the next few weeks. I hope to share as much as possible with you – and hopefully inspire you to plan a bush experience soon.
James Suter – trekking across the Singita reserves in Africa.
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.
A magnificent week of wildlife sightings at Singita Sabi Sand. Dylan Brandt, Singita Field Guide, shares some of his close encounters from the past few days.
Ravenscourt female leopard.
Perfectly posed – the Ravenscourt female leopard.
Relaxed state of mind – Mapogo male.
Two of the Othawa pride females – in good company.
For regular wildlife updates, don’t forget to refer to our monthly Guides’ Diaries posted on Singita’s website. Also, if you would like to receive Singita’s blog posts in your email box, subscribe to our blog via email.
The Xirombe lion pride – Singita Kruger National Park
Xinkelengane female leopard
A remarkable week of game viewing at Singita Kruger this week. Behind the lens is Singita Guide, Marlon du Toit, who loves every minute of his day introducing the wilderness to guests at Singita Lebombo and Sweni Lodges.
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.
The dam on the plains in front of Singita Sasakwa Lodge was a hive of activity before the rains started in earnest. Animals trek for miles to reach the waterhole, which is one of the few that offers a good field of view. In particular there have been huge herds of zebra coming in to drink, often wading deep into the water. From around 09h00 through to 17h00 it is always busy. Sometimes there are smaller herds of impala joining the zebra and often the Butamtam lion pride is found positioned close to the waterhole in the hopes of making a kill.
This striking black and white photography was taken by Lee Bennett, Head Guide at Singita Grumeti Reserves. To follow wildlife updates from Grumeti Reserves, refer to the monthly Guides’ Diaries posted on Singita’s website.
Written by Marlon du Toit, Singita Guide, Singita Kruger National Park
Elephant, Cape buffalo, White Rhino and Hippo are plentiful on the concession. There are two prominent water sources within the concession during the dry season: the Nwanetsi River system and Gudzane Dam. As the last remaining water holes dry up west of the concession, animals are forced to move east in order to quench their thirst.
Elephants can trek amazing distances in pursuit of water. They prefer to drink at least once a day and will cover up to or more than 12km in a single journey. We have a large resident hippo population. As the water evaporates under the heat and the pressure mounts, some sections of the river can house more than eighty hippos. This is not ideal for them as they are territorial animals that do not like to share, but they have no choice. Battles between dominant male hippos are a common sight.
To read more of this month’s safari updates from Singita Guides, click here for recently published journal entries. Also for up-to-date, out-of-this-world photography of the daily happenings at Singita Game Reserves, follow us on Facebook.
Singita Explore (mobile tented camp set up on the plains of the Singita Grumeti Reserves), through the eyes of James Suter and Marlon du Toit (Safari Brothers), professional guides at Singita Kruger National Park. A life-changing adventure!
(Photography by James and Marlon)
Game drives in the Grumeti concession differ from those in South Africa, and Marlon and I took some time before we realised this. Every time we head out onto the plains and our guide stops, we immediately grab our binoculars and start scanning the landscape. As we start spotting animals, which one always does every time one looks around, we start calling out the names of the different species.
This is really exciting as not only are a lot of these species new to us but the abundance of life is astounding. We managed to tick off many new species of birds, Aardwolf, and saw lions climbing trees, which we are told is a very common habit of the Butamtam pride.
Once again the wealth of game including massive herds of eland, topi, zebra, giraffe and elephants blew us away. One of the most enjoyable moments for me was getting out of the vehicle and watching the sun set over the Serengeti amongst hundreds of animals.
Keep up with stunning photography on the Singita Facebook page…more to come.
To book Singita Explore, please take a look at our introductory offer available through 15 December 2011.
Tanzania is one incredible place! The vast spaces and dramatic settings absolutely blew our minds. The excitement levels grew as we flew over the Serengeti; we looked out of the small aeroplane and we could see the herds starting to make their way slowly NW towards the Singita Grumeti concession.
Our Singita Explore tented camp was set up in one of the more remote parts of the concession, giving one a feeling of freedom and genesis. On our arrival we were greeted by the notoriously friendly Swahili staff and greeting “Jambo!”. We tried to get our heads around the fact that we were in the middle of the Serengeti, with endless grasslands dotted with the familiar acacia species. Not only were we in this surreal place but also our accommodation was a tent fit for a king.
Although back-to-basics and in true camping-style, the tents are equipped with anything and everything one’s heart could desire; luxurious camp cots, hot showers and comfortable lounging wear and furniture. All is prepared within seconds upon request. The experience is hard to put into words; embraced by absolute luxury, yet at the same time feeling what it might have felt like to be the first people to set foot in Africa – exploring the unexplored.
I will never forget this experience – to feel so close to nature amongst herds of zebra, impala and giraffe; going to sleep with them and waking up with them. This is an experience that is truly life-changing – not just an opportunity to explore this amazing part of Africa but an opportunity to explore one’s self.
Written by James Suter, Guide from Singita Kruger National Park
James Suter and Marlon du Toit (AKA the Safari Brothers) are both professional guides and work in the heart of the Kruger National Park at Singita’s Lebombo and Sweni Lodges. This week they went up to experience Singita Explore in Tanzania and are now documenting the adventure through their eyes; the eyes of the Safari Brothers. Follow the entire adventure on Singita’s Facebook page.
You’ll be in awe of their astounding photography.