The African bush never fails to surprise; a sentiment we observed from a small stagnant pool along the N’wanetsi River. It was a routine drive that turned out to be one of my most memorable. With the rains still to arrive, the majority of game concentrated around the few small pools along the river. This sets the scene, as opportunists make the most of the abundance of prey around this precious source of life.
We had often seen the lion prides along this particular stretch of the river as it holds water throughout the year, and during the dry season is often the only area where animals can quench their thirst. But what we didn’t expect to see was what transpired next. A massive sixteen-foot crocodile ambushed a herd of unsuspecting zebra which were drinking at the water’s edge. As the dust settled, we witnessed a young zebra being wrenched into the water by his front right leg and dragged into the middle of the pool.
The zebra put up a valiant fight and wrestled with the crocodile; biting, kicking and frantically trying to free itself from the crocodile’s crushing grip. The crocodile conserved it’s energy, applying five thousand pounds of pressure to the zebra’s leg with no intention of letting go. Eventually the zebra started to tire, it’s head dropped and it seemed to rapidly lose condition in the baking heat. The zebra dug deep and with one final effort managed to free itself. The crocodile loosened it’s hold and the zebra seized the opportunity to make a dash for the bank. It hoisted itself out of the water, but it was then when we realized the extent of the damage caused by the crocodile’s powerful jaws.
The zebra was fatally injured and now out of the water and exposed to the heat, it was in real danger being both exhausted and dehydrated. To our relief the animal eventually rolled back into the water and surrended itself to the crocodile. It was a tough ordeal to observe but this is how life in the African bush unfolds and the death of this one animal brought life for many others.
Keep up with James Suter as he brings the wild ever closer with his weekly Singita blog series.
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.
As the sun was setting this image was captured in the more central parts of Singita’s private concession in the Kruger National Park. In the past, Singita Kruger National Park has not been regarded as a concession that produces abundant cheetah sightings. Well that’s all changed! This month alone we have had over 10 different sightings – all of them unbelievable in their own way. This female and her three cubs have realized the benefits of the abundance of general game in the concession and both her and the cubs are in a very healthy condition. We will watch with interest as they continue to grace us with their presence.
By James Suter, Guide at Singita Kruger National Park. Follow our monthly Guides’ Diaries for more enthralling updates about the diverse wildlife at each of the Singita game reserves.
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.
(Photography by James Suter)
Singita Guide, James Suter, knows the terrain of Singita’s 15 000 hectare, private concession in the Kruger National Park, like the back of his hand. Not only does James specialise in uncovering the world of the African wild for our Singita guests but he regularly contributes to monthly issues of our Guides’ Diary.
Below is an excerpt from the upcoming December Diary from Singita Kruger National Park – the entire journal is co-written by Marlon du Toit and James Suter.
Battle of the Beasts (by James Suter)
The competition among different species is huge; in this case a lioness with a zebra kill attracted the ever-opportunistic hyena as well as scavengers from above, all three species competing for the same food source. The lioness was accompanied by three young cubs and defended her kill with valour.
I always enjoy the interaction between different species, especially predators. It is a humbling sight watching these beasts fight for survival on a daily basis.
To follow our Guides’ Diaries, they are published monthly on our website – read more.