Dumbana Pools is a well-known pool situated along the N’wanetsi River in Singita’s private concession in the Kruger National Park, and treasured by all the animals that inhabit the area. It’s a refuge for hippos throughout the year and a source of life for the animals during the dry and unforgiving winters.
While driving in the area along a track that runs parallel with the river, I noticed a great deal of elephant tracks heading down towards the pool. Turning the vehicle off, I heard a great deal of commotion ahead of us in the water. At this time of the year during the colder months, many of the elephants spend the majority of their time seeking refuge in the Lebombo Mountains feeding on many of the evergreen shrubs and trees. They do however make the daily journey towards the N’wanetsi River to fill up on water, which they are so dependent on. We were in the right place at the right time and the wind seemed to be in our favour. The decision was made to take a closer look on foot.
I knew this was going to be one of those incredible moments. With my heart beating at a slightly abnormal pace, I left the comfort of the vehicle and headed quietly to the bank of the river. I knew immediately that this was a massive herd of elephants, as the numbers of the tracks together with the noise coming from the usually tranquil pools were clear giveaways.
As we approached the river and got our first visual of the pools, I was astounded to see the sheer size of the herd. The hippos looked on in despair as these animals made sure that this was going to be a day-out to remember and had turned the body of water into a playground. We watched as the youngsters played, always under the careful watch of the females and they all quenched their thirst, consuming hundreds of liters of water and cooling themselves in the heat of the day. We gained such pleasure watching the herd indulge in this precious resource and the excitement experienced by the youngsters, the trials and tribulations of living in the bush were all forgotten in this moment.
Finally the matriarch decided it was time to attend to more important matters as they were now hydrated and so it was time to head east towards the mountains. A quick decision was made, and we decided to hold our ground and stay put – as we were completely sheltered and still had the blessing of the wind in our favour; we were close but they would not detect us.
The sounds were tremendous as the herd of around fifty elephant crashed through the water towards the riverbank, leaving the hippos in peace and the pool with a little less water. Exiting the water, their next move was to make use of the abundance of red earth, with their trunks they tossed it over themselves, and soon they disappeared into the mountains in an almost mystical illusion.
Keep following the James Suter blog series as James explores Singita’s private concession in the Kruger National Park, tracking wildlife through a daily expedition of adrenalin.
While driving north along the Mozambique border in the Singita Kruger concession, I suddenly slammed on the brakes as my tracker raised his hand and gestured to his ear. We switched off the vehicle and listened in anticipation.
We made our way towards the position of where the calls were coming from and brought the Land Rover to a standstill. I explained to the guests that we were going to leave the vehicle in order to locate whatever had disturbed the herd of impala, which we could now see from our location.
The alarming continued, but after scanning for tracks and checking the entire area we came up with absolutely nothing. We decided to continue with the detective work and eventually stumbled across an incredible sight. To my tracker’s horror it was something that he would rather not have seen. As fearless as he is he did not enjoy the sight of large snakes. A charging lion would be more acceptable. This particular time of year was lambing season and we could now understand why the impala were so distressed.
A Sothern African rock python had managed to get hold of a young impala and was in the process of asphyxiating it. It had a firm grip on the animal’s leg and the lamb stood no chance. It was difficult to digest such a tragic end to this impala, but for us it did not detract from what was an incredible sighting.
We were very careful not to disturb the snake as it had clearly fought so courageously for its food source that would sustain it through the summer.
Track wildlife with James Suter across over half a million acres of Singita reserves. Don’t miss incredible sightings captured on video.
Even within the comfort of a vehicle, a lion is one intimidating animal. At Singita we often have close encounters with these beasts as most individuals are fairly relaxed with the Land Rovers. They are unusually lackadaisical animals spending most of the day resting and we often forget the power these massive cats possess.
On this particular occasion, while some of the Mountain pride females were coming into season, the scene was far from lethargic. The two brothers who generally are more than tolerant towards each other were out to prove a point and brotherly love was put aside for the time being. This was serious business. The possibility to mate is every male lion’s ambition. Some are successful and some unfortunately don’t make the grade.
It was an exciting moment and tension was thick in the air as the two males sized one another up. It was inevitable what was going to follow and before we knew it the larger lion hurtled towards his brother. The vehicle seemed to vibrate as the two collided, with snarls and more hostility and tenacity than any I’ve ever witnessed.
The battle had begun and the victor would reserve the right to claim his female.
(Blog series by James Suter.)
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.