Spots and stripes Article and photos by Nick du Plessis
Leopards are well known for their adaptability, it is the social dynamic that arguably makes them the most successful and hence, widespread, of the large cats in Africa. What we mean by ‘adaptability’ is not only the different habitats they thrive in, but also the prey they hunt and the variety of that prey. Most species tend to ‘specialize,’ but what happens if the prey they concentrate on runs out or learns to evade them? Leopards have been recorded to prey on everything from birds, eggs, lizards and even fish if necessary, and have the capability of bringing down medium size antelopes if the chance exists. But for the first time in my career I saw a large male leopard feeding on a zebra foal. This is unique and just highlights the opportunistic nature of the animal. Why it’s unique is because zebras are renowned for fighting back – they will kick, bite, chop at and even stamp the predator if they need to, and leopards, being as solitary as they are, are notorious for never picking a fight they know they won’t win. If they do and get injured, they don’t have the safety net of a pride or clan to fall back on for survival.
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Kruger National Park Wildlife Report March 2015
- Average minimum 18.9°C (66°F)
- Average maximum 33.0°C (91.4°F)
- Minimum recorded 10.0°C (50°F)
- Maximum recorded 37.0°C (98.6°F)
- For the period: 2 mm
- For the year to date: 81.95 mm
We expected this March to be much like years’ past. Occupancies tend to drop slightly. Wildlife sightings are steady and there is a nice amount of general game. The first few showers of the long rains arrive, bringing cooler temperatures, a release from the heat of January and February. The views across the plains are a beautiful sight as patches of rain clouds mix with large spaces of clear blue skies across the Serengeti.
Overall, March at Singita Grumeti is peaceful and serene.
Mayhem. Incredible. Surprising. Spectacular. In March 2015 we were all thrown for a loop, and not just at Singita Grumeti. The entire Serengeti Community was left scratching their heads.
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Grumeti Wildlife Report March 2015
- Average minimum 32.8 °C
- Average maximum 18.5 °C
- Average wind speed 0.5 m/s
- Sasakwa 24.8 mm
- Sabora 45 mm
- Faru Faru 16 mm
- Samaki 16 mm
- Risiriba 32 mm
I have chosen to type this article out in the field, sitting in the tracker’s seat of my Land Rover, parked in one of my favourite parts of Singita Sabi Sand. Why not? After all, I feel that I can be far more creative while out in the fresh air and sunshine, with the pleasant aromas of elephants and dry grass wafting past my nostrils, than I could ever hope to be, cooped up in an office! Zebras watch me inquisitively, while rollers and drongos swoop down to hawk insects that are flushed by a couple of warthogs grazing nearby.
After several consecutive seasons of high or above average rainfall, we are now in a situation where at the end of March, we have a season total of only around 340 mm (less than 14 inches) of rain. The average summer rainfall is in excess of 650 mm (26 inches).
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Sabi Sand Wildlife Report March 2015
- Average minimum 17.3˚C (63.1˚F)
- Average maximum 35.2˚C (95.3˚F)
- Minimum recorded 11˚C (51.8˚F)
- Maximum recorded 40˚C (104˚F)
- For the month: 5 mm
- For the year to date: 340 mm
This month’s highlights were 70 elephants marching along to a pan, accompanied by three white rhinos and two buffalo bulls. We were delighted to see the pack of wild dogs on the property again – on one occasion they were resting in the shade of the riverbed, being obstructed from drinking by two buffalo bulls. The young dogs enjoyed playing and calling while the buffalo seemed belligerent at best. Later in the month we had a thrilling sighting of a buffalo calf being hunted and killed by two lionesses and a lion. Less conspicuous was a young male leopard that we glimpsed at the airstrip when we where looking for two cheetah brothers that had been seen there that morning. Rounding off the ‘Magnificent 7′ highlights were three white rhinos that plodded along calmly grazing to within four metres of a guest-transfixed safari vehicle. Just as magnificent was watching a herd of rare Lichtenstein hartebeest and sable nibbling the drying out grasses.
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Pamushana Wildlife Report March 2015
- Average minimum: 21,6°C (70,8°F)
- Average maximum 33,6°C (92,4°F)
- Minimum recorded 16,9°C (62,4°F)
- Maximum recorded 38,7°C (101,6°F)
- For the month: 7 mm
- For the year to date: 121,5 mm
For the 2nd year in a row, February in Lamai was characterized by good general game in the area. Zebra, topi, eland, buffalo and gazelle were common out on the plains. The perfect mix of rain and sunshine made for great grazing.
Eternal enemies relived
Violent interactions take place daily in wildlife areas between different species, mostly between predators and prey. From time to time we get to witness exchanges between predators. Of these, lion and hyena battles have to be one of the most impressive shows.
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Lamai Wildlife Report Feb 2015
The ever growing ‘mega pride’ Article and photos by Nick du Plessis
It is sometimes quite difficult to decide what to write about in a monthly journal, there are normally a couple of particularly interesting events to choose from which may have happened or been developing over some time. But this month was an absolute ‘no-brainer’ as the sightings and regularity of the Shishangaan pride has never been more dependable. Guests have enjoyed a total of 63 lion sightings this month, most of which have been of the Shishangaan pride. It has been incredible, especially since there were a couple of months recently where they were keeping a very low profile and we were heavily reliant on the Mountain pride in the north.
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Kruger National Park Wildlife Report February 2015
- Average minimum 20°C (68°F)
- Average maximum 32°C (89.6°F)
- Minimum recorded 17°C (62.6°F)
- Maximum recorded 37°C (98.6°F)
- For the period: 38.5 mm)
- For the year to date: 72 mm)
February was marked by a larger than expected amount of rain. Hard and heavy evening downpours took place two or three times a week, cooling down the temperature in one of the typically warmest months of the year. The Nyati Plains was the place to be as hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of topi and zebra spread across the expanse for kilometres, with small pockets of eland and gazelle dotted amongst them. The 32-strong Butamtam Pride of lions was also quick to figure out that this was where the food was and they made the Nyati area their home, dispersed among different locations in their respective immediate family groups.
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Grumeti Wildlife Report February 2015
- Average minimum 32.1 °C
- Average maximum 17.6 °C/li>
- Average wind speed .26 m/s
- Sasakwa 122.6 mm
- Sabora 74.5 mm
- Faru Faru 65 mm
- Samaki 33 mm
- Risiriba 152 mm
We are fortunate enough to have a small garden where we live behind the lodge, and in the garden we have a bird bath which we ensure is full daily. This bird bath is a hive of activity at different times of the day. At any time of day we get birds coming to drink and bathe and either the family of vervet monkeys or a female Nyala and her young come to drink. Every day is different and sometimes the times change too. On this particular day I noticed a female Ashy flycatcher swoop down into the water, which was pretty low as it had been a busy morning at the bird bath. She looked around to scan for any danger that may be present, had a quick dip herself and then all of a sudden she was joined by three young flycatchers. What a treat to see three young flycatchers as this particular species is parasitized by Cuckoos, in particular Klaas’s cuckoo.
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Sabi Sand Wildlife Report February 2015
- Average minimum 20.8˚C (69.4˚F)
- Average maximum 36.6˚C (97.8˚F)
- Minimum recorded 14˚C (57.2˚F)
- Maximum recorded 41˚C (105.80˚F)
- For the month : 40 mm
- For the year to date: 335 mm
The Bush Telegraph reports the following highlights for February: A breeding herd of about 40 elephants entertained guests with their antics, while a lone elephant bull was seen swimming at Nduna Dam. Over 600 buffaloes blocked the horizon as they slowly made their way towards water. A couple of black rhinos were spotted – there was no missing the one that mock charged the game viewer and only stopped about three metres from the new vehicle! White rhino sightings were far more prolific – especially when a crash of seven gathered at a popular waterhole and drank, while one little calf suckled from its mother. Leopards were true to their nature by being elusive, but the sighting of the month went to a young male perched high in a tree, then climbing down and making a dash for cover into thick bush.
Download the full wildlife report here: SP Wildlife Report Feb 2015
- Average minimum 23,3°C (73,9°F)
- Average maximum 33,6°C (92,4°F)
- Minimum recorded 17,5°C (63,5°F)
- Maximum recorded 36,8°C (98,2°F)
- For the month: 5,5 mm
- For the year to date: 114,5 mm
The short rains of November and December tapered at Singita Grumeti at the beginning of January. The grass, which was sufficiently watered, grew under the sun’s heat and by the middle of the month the concession was covered in long grass. Long grass will continue to dominate the landscape here until the migration passes through Singita Grumeti in about five months’ time. The first month of the year was definitely a month of new beginnings as new members were added to our wildlife family.
The Butamtam Pride keeps growing (see our November 2014 Report) and we spotted more new pride members at the beginning of January. One of the older pride lionesses, aptly named “Scar” by our team, due to the prominent scar on her front right shoulder, was seen this month with four cubs that are about six weeks old.
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Grumeti Wildlife report January 2015
- Average maximum 29.9 °C
- Average minimum 17.2 °C
- Average wind speed 0.2 m/s
- Sasakwa 41.1 mm
- Sabora 15.0 mm
- Faru Faru 20.2 mm
- Samaki 66.0 mm
- Risiriba 86.0 mm