This is always an interesting time to be in the Kruger National Park, as it is a transitional period. The phenomenal thunderstorms that have rolled in have washed the dull colours of winter away, and refreshed the canvas with a lush carpet of green. Here and there between the green you can’t help but notice the vibrant blossoming flowers that have been spurred to bloom. One of these is the Scadoxus lily – these bright red fireworks are certainly one of the most unmistakable and striking wild flowers that can be found in the lowveld. This is a lily well known for its toxicity, hence the bright aposematic colouration. It was often used in the past for many traditional medicines to cure many ailments – including mental illness, colds and skin infections. The juice of the bulb is also commonly used further north in Africa as an arrow poison, which takes only minutes to be effective.
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Kruger National Park Wildlife Report October 2013
- Average minimum 16.0°C (60.8°F)
- Average maximum 28.6°C (83.5°F)
- Minimum recorded 10.0°C (50.0°F)
- Maximum recorded 40.0°C (104.0°F)
- For the period: 48.5 mm
- For the year to date: 464.0 mm
The news of the month is that the first rains have arrived, and even better news is that the forecasted weather patterns predict that we could receive more consistent rain over the next few months, rather than the ‘once-off deluge’ of last year. As part of a team-building exercise, and because all staff are ambassadors for conservation, those who work in the lodge were invited for a game drive – and what a game drive it turned out to be! One of our chefs returned with photos and stories of rock art that is so significant to see in its own context, tracks of various animals in the dust, buffaloes, zebras, giraffes, waterbuck, hippos, elephants, and a sighting of the young female leopard who features in the ‘Cats and dogs’ story this month. On this occasion the staff spotted her cautiously walking through a relatively open area. Seconds later two golden bullets bore down on her – this time it was two male cheetahs who had seen her and given chase. She shimmied up a tree to outwit them, and stayed safely out of reach – even though the brothers ‘pretended’ to walk away nonchalantly in an effort to entice her down. Thank goodness this leopard is such a skilled climber – as you will see in the story that follows on page 12.
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Pamushana Wildlife Report October 2013
- Average minimum 18,0˚C (64,4˚F)
- Average maximum 31,2˚C (88,1˚F)
- Minimum recorded 12,7˚C (54,8˚F)
- Maximum recorded 39,1˚C (102,3˚F)
- For the period: 15,4 mm
- For the year to date: 387,4 mm
If you’d like to see plentiful wildlife sightings and different species interacting on your safari, call a Singita Reservations Consultant right now and board the first plane bound for Africa! The bushveld is achingly dry, and while this doesn’t fit with a conventional view of beauty, it has a spartan allure all its own. While driving through a mopane woodland with their copper-gold leaves drifting down in front of their sooty black-grey bark you can see that it is exactly this vegetation and time of year that a leopard’s rosetted coat has evolved to in order to provide near-perfect concealment. The game is concentrated around the shallow water holes, and if you spend a good couple of hours at any of these you’ll see species that tolerate each other drinking together, while others seemingly wait their turn on the peripheries. Elephants can be the playground bullies barging in and hogging all the space unsharingly, while many predators bide their time nearby, waiting for plains game to take a life-sustaining or life-ending drink.
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Pamushana Wildlife Report September 2013
- Average minimum 17,2°C (62,9°F)
- Average maximum 32,7°C (90,8°F)
- Minimum recorded 11,8°C (53,2°F)
- Maximum recorded 42,3°C (108,1°F)
- For the period: 17,4 mm
- For the year to date: 372,0 mm
August 2013 was a month of contrasts, from very hot dry days to cold wet evenings. After sustained high intensity grazing from the large herbivores, and in particular the wildebeest migration in June and July, rains in the last ten days were most welcome. Wildlife flocked onto the new green grasses, especially on the previously burnt areas. The two photos that follow were both taken on 21 August by Section Ranger, Grant Burden. From a conservation perspective, August is an important month because of the annual wildlife census, held each year between the 20th and 28th .The leopard-print helicopter and “ace pilot” are normally stationed at Sasakwa for approximately two weeks carrying out patrols and the census. During the census the helicopter is equipped with two extensions or measuring polls jutting out at ninety degrees from both sides.
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Grumeti Wildlife Report August 2013
- Average minimum 33.4°C (92.1°F)
- Average maximum 14.8 °C (58.6°F)
- Average wind speed 0.9 mps
- Sasakwa 45.0 mm
- Sabora 38.1 mm
- Faru Faru 57.5 mm
- Samaki 40.0 mm
- Risiriba 50.0 mm
It’s been a month of thrilling sightings, newborns and close encounters. First of all I want to tell you about the arrival of 17 wild dogs on our reserve. Seven adults and ten playful pups were seen at one of the pans. Guests enjoyed a thrilling afternoon watching the pack chasing elephants, wildebeest and hyenas! The season for wild dog denning has just finished and we suspect that this pack has arrived on our property via the south, from Gonarezhou National Park. We fervently hope they’ll make this their home for a while, and I’ll be sure to keep you updated with photos and stories if they do. Also vying for number one top sighting slot were the witnessed birth of a baby giraffe and the arrival of a baby boy black rhino. Weighing in at only 40 kg, and looking like a cartoon character, there can be few things more adorable than a rhino calf. (I do realise that I tend to say this about all young animals – but that’s just how it is!) Photos to follow next month, so please stay tuned…
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Pamushana Wildlife Report August 2013
- Average minimum 15,4˚C (59,7˚F)
- Average maximum 28,5˚C (83,3˚F)
- Minimum recorded 11,0˚C (51,8˚F)
- Maximum recorded 35,9˚C (96,6˚F)
- For the period: 0 mm
- For the year to date: 354,6 mm)
It’s been another great month of sightings – some fleeting, some enduring, but never guaranteed. Visuals that we can promise are the priceless time-honoured paintings that adorn some of the sandstone cave walls on Singita Pamushana’s Malilangwe Reserve. Malilangwe has had a long history of human occupation, from the early hunter-gatherers to the more recent agro-pastoralists. Each of these groups has left behind evidence of their presence and preservation of the San rock art and other sites of cultural interest is a conservation priority. In addition, Kambako Living Museum of Bushcraft has been set up on the border of the reserve to preserve the vanishing bushcraft skills of the local Shangaan people. A must for all guests is a visit to Kambako. You’re invited to glimpse the past and marvel at human ingenuity as this fascinating community takes you through their age-old solutions of hunting, forging spear heads, making fire, preparing food, crafting pottery and so much more…
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Pamushana Wildlife Report June 2013
- Average minimum 11,6°C (52,8°F)
- Average maximum 26,8°C (80,2°F)
- Minimum recorded 08,7°C (47,6°F)
- Maximum recorded 32,7°C (90,8°F)
- For the period: 0.2 mm
- For the year to date: 354 mm
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. The bulk of the herds were gone by the 20th, although we still had plenty of stragglers moving through for the entirety of the month. After Ikorongo we expect them to pass through the Lobo area of the Serengeti, and then to the Kogatende and Lamai areas where Singita’s Mara River Tented Camp is located, with a front row view of the wildebeest crossing the crocodile-infested Mara River.
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Grumeti Wildlife Report June 2013
- Average minimum 32.8˚C (91.01˚F)
- Average maximum 12.0˚C (54.68˚F)
- Minimum recorded 0.0˚C (0.0˚F)
- Maximum recorded 0.0˚C (0.0˚F)
- Sasakwa 0.0
- Sabora 0.0
- Faru Faru 0.0
- Samaki 0.0
- Risiriba 26
Seven days, seven different leopards
We have all been in awe of how the densities of large predators thrive in a well-balanced ecosystem, as they do within the Sabi Sand. It’s a deluge of varying opinions and scientific facts with a lot of speculation and estimates, which after a glass or two of wine around a campfire, usually results in an answer that everyone agrees on… well sort of. Ultimately it comes down to survival and the key to it all is the word ‘balance’. Managed areas like the Sabi Sand are conserved environments that have been constantly evaluated by researchers, ecologists, zoologists and guides for several years, to understand how the environment has thrived to be so successful, and also how predators have coped with each other.
Applying the basic conservation principles and having leaders with a focus on conservation and rehabilitation, is the key to a sustainable environment. This should not only be a focus within the reserve but on the periphery as well. Understanding the needs of the local surrounding communities and assisting them forms a strong link to preservation of the wildlife within the reserve.
The remnants of open grassland that were created during active subsistence farming within the area, pumping water to dams and having the Sand River flow through the reserve have all created varying biomes for the diversity of species. All of these combining factors are just a few reasons that contribute to the balanced predator densities.
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Sabi Sand Wildlife Report May 2013
- Average minimum 11.6˚C (59,3˚F)
- Average maximum 27.0˚C (81,1˚F)
- Minimum recorded 8.0˚C (53,6˚F)
- Maximum recorded 32.0˚C (91,4˚F)
- For the period: 0 mm
- For the year to date: 926 mm
Cheetahs are best known for their antics in vast open spaces like the Masai Mara and Serengeti. The large grasslands there create ideal habitat for the world’s fastest land mammal, as they chase down prey at speeds in excess of 100 km/h. That said, we have cheetahs in the Sabi Sand Wildtuin that have made this not-so-open habitat their home. The family of three pictured here joined us about two months ago, after an absence of cheetah cubs for almost five years. Singita’s most southern areas are open grassland, suitable for this family to settle and thrive. Large herds of impala often gather on the plains, giving great opportunity for the speed queen to stretch her long legs. She has had to adapt the classic hunting technique, and with several observations we have noticed that she stalks much closer to her prey than cheetah in East Africa do. She often hunts more like a leopard, in that she uses the available cover to stalk within 20 meters, or closer. A single male cheetah has also made this area his home. He is a large and strong male and has gone unrivaled for almost a year. With the arrival of the female, mating prospects have started looking a whole lot better. The only problem for now is that she has two dependent cubs. The female will not allow him to court her whilst her cubs are still around, and this should still be the case for another eight months.
Male cheetahs are not as aggressive towards foreign cubs as their larger feline relatives. Lions and leopards often kill cubs fathered by any rival male. Male cheetahs have been observed to threaten cubs and show their dislike towards their presence, as can be seen pictured below. However, there are cases of male cheetahs actually killing cubs in order to gain access to the female cheetah a few weeks later. Only time will tell what will happen with these particular ones. From what we have witnessed, thus far, his disapproval of them is obvious in that he often spits or strikes at them in typical cheetah fashion. The female will intervene if things get too heated, and he usually retreats. The cubs are in great health and have always walked away from these interactions, unscathed.
Download full wildlife report here: Singita Sabi Sand Wildlife Report April 2013
- Average minimum 15.2˚C (59.3˚F)
- Average maximum 27.3˚C (81.1˚F)
- Minimum recorded 12.0˚C (53.6˚F)
- Maximum recorded 33.0˚C (91.4˚F)
- For the month 92 mm
- For the year to date 926.0 mm
My closer inspection of the photograph that follows revealed three different bird species surrounding the white rhino, which was grazing peacefully on the low grass in evidence this month. The black bird on the rhino’s withers is a fork-tailed drongo (Dicurus adsimilis). It’s waiting for the rhino to disturb insects in the grass, as it walks along, and then it’ll swoop down and catch them. The yellow-billed oxpecker (Buphagus africanus) is caught in the act of drinking blood directly from the scratch on the rhino’s side, and the little blue bird in the corner, a greater blue-eared starling (Lamprotornis chalybaeus), has already achieved success from using the rhino as its hunting machine, by catching an insect trying to flee the rhino’s tread.
I can’t recall seeing an oxpecker on the ground – they’re always perched on an animal, branch or in flight. This one used the buffalo as a base to inch its way down to the water’s edge to have a sip.
From these two photographs it’s not hard to see why many people confuse the African (Cape) buffalo (Syncerus caffer) with the Asian domestic water buffalo that has the rather delightful scientific name of Bubalus bubalis. African buffalo love to wallow, but are not closely related to water buffalo.
When it comes to wallowing, hippos take the cake! These three were chilling in the shallows of the Chiredzi River. They spend about 16 hours in the water and then emerge at dusk, to graze.
Download the full journal here: Singita Pamushana Wildlife Journal April 2013
- Average minimum 16.3˚C (61.3˚F)
- Average maximum 28.7˚C (83.6˚F)
- Minimum recorded 13.1˚C (55.5˚F)
- Maximum recorded 34.4˚C (93.9˚F)
- For the month 41.2 mm
- For the year to date 352.4 mm