Seasonal changes Article by Ross Couper.
After living in the bush for several years, you start to see the subtlest of seasonal changes in the vegetation. I am always waiting in anticipation to see the metamorphoses as it engulfs the bush with a blanket of change and, if you look closely, you will notice that the changes are very evident when pointed out. These small details are often included in the game drives but are brought to the fore during the guided walking safaris. Yesterday I parked my safari vehicle in the shade, waiting for it to be filled with fuel, and when I returned an hour later it was filled with dried leaves. This was an indication that autumn was advancing. The endless bird calls in summer are always a clear indication of the summer season. As the season progressed through the rainy months, a few summer residents still fed on the last of the abundance of insects before their long return to North Africa or Europe. This week it was difficult to hear a woodland kingfisher call. We have seen a few of them but they’re a lot less abundant than they were and they are not calling as a territorial display anymore.
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Sabi Sand Wildlife Report March 2014
- Average minimum 17.6˚C (63.68˚F)
- Average maximum 28.4˚C (83.1˚F)
- Minimum recorded 8.0˚C (46.4˚F)
- Maximum recorded 34.8˚C (94.64˚F)
- For the period: 308 mm
- For the year to date: 847 mm
Cheetah Article by Enos Mngomezulu
The word ‘cheetah’ is derived from the Hindi word ‘chita’ meaning ‘spotted one’. The Singita concession has a good habitat for these elegant animals. They prefer to live in open grasslands, savannahs, dense vegetation and sometimes even in mountainous terrain. The openness of the grasslands and semi-desert areas better accommodate their style of hunting, which is running as opposed to stalking and pouncing. The best areas for viewing cheetahs here are Kori Clearing, which is a vast open area where we often see a large Kori bustard; around Golf Course Clearing which is another open area with short grass that resembles a golf course; Cassia Open Area which is an open area named after the sjambok pod tree – Cassia abbreviata; the N4 (named after the busiest highway in South Africa) is an open area near Gudzane Dam which, in winter, has clearly defined game trails to the water.
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Kruger National Park Wildlife Report March 2014
- Average minimum 20.5°C (68.9°F)
- Average maximum 32°C (89.6°F)
- Minimum recorded 17°C (62.6°F)
- Maximum recorded 35°C (95°F)
- For the period: 92.5 mm
- For the year to date: 247 mm
It happened on 21 March after a 13-year absence. A downpour of 51 mm in two hours made our full-to-thebrim dam spill its contents in the early afternoon. There was much excitement and celebration after all the will-it or-won’t-it anticipation, and to see the cascade of white water fill the Nyamasikana riverbed below filled our hearts with awe and gratitude. This little fellow looked very grateful that I didn’t tread on him – I’d been following in the footsteps – literally of one of our scouts as we tracked a black rhino, and as I was about to place my foot down in the disturbed soil I saw this smiley face peering at me. Contrary to popular belief many frogs and toads don’t live in and around permanent water. Some complete their entire lifecycle on land, while others migrate long distances to reach water during the breeding season. Those that live in suitable soil make burrows and construct tunnels by digging backwards into the soil. Another astonishing fact is that toads can live for 40 years!
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Pamushana Wildlife Report March 2014
- Average minimum 21,4°C (70,5°F)
- Average maximum 31,2°C (88,1°F)
- Minimum recorded 18,7°C (65,6°F)
- Maximum recorded 35,2°C (95,3°F)
- For the period: 113,0 mm
- For the year to date: 471,0 mm
The kingdom of fungi
I can’t help it, so here goes: A mushroom walks into a bar and orders a drink. The barman says, “Sorry, we don’t serve mushrooms.” The mushroom replies, “Hey! What do you mean – I’m a fun guy!” But seriously, what is the difference between mushrooms and fungI? The simple answer is that mushrooms are the reproductive organs of certain types of fungi. Fungi, just like plants and animals, own a kingdom of classification all on their own. They are organisms such as moulds, mushrooms and yeasts that are totally different from plants and animals. In fact, they are a little closer on the scale to animals than plants because they don’t depend on photosynthesis to make their own food, and have to get their nourishment from other sources.
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Pamushana Wildlife Report February 2014
- Average minimum 21,5°C (70,7°F)
- Average maximum 30,5°C (86,9°F)
- Minimum recorded 19,0°C (66,2°F)
- Maximum recorded 34,1°C (93,3°F)
- For the period: 126,0 mm
- For the year to date: 358,0 mm
Don’t be surprised on your journey from the airstrip to Mara River Tented Camp if you see a herd of elephants on the way. There is a group of resident bulls who spend most of their time along the banks of the Mara River and are often seen from the road about a half a kilometre from camp. The migration left the Lamai area at the end of November last year, so I was surprised when guide Adas Anthony showed me photos he took in January of wildebeest cows and their brand new calves, including one that had just been born mere minutes before he approached the sighting. Curious to know the reason for this unusual occurrence, I began asking him many questions. Had some of the migration still not passed through? Was there a break-away herd making their way south later than usual? Did the mothers stay behind because they knew they were going to have calves earlier?
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Lamai Wildlife Report January 2014
January began with the usual large amounts of rain as the short rains continued into their last days, followed by lots of sunshine. The net result was a very beautiful green landscape at Singita Grumeti for the second half of the month with the grasses growing higher and higher, and for the first time in close to six months we did not have any migratory wildebeest herds in the area to mow it down. The lush long grass will be a mainstay with us, most likely until the return of the wildebeest sometime in June or July.
About six months to a year after the split of the Butamtam Pride, another of our local prides was showing
signs of a permanent division. The Nyasirori Pride had separated into two groups in the last four months. Three of the lionesses had cubs in the last quarter of 2013, and therefore the guides assumed it was a temporary split. Lionesses will spend a lot of time away from their pride from the time they are about to give birth until the cubs are about eight weeks old. When the cubs reach this coming of age, their mother will introduce them to the pride.
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Grumeti Wildlife Report January 2014
- Average maximum 33.7 °C
- Average minimum 16.2 °C
- Average wind speed 0.3 m/s
- Sasakwa 60.6 mm
- Sabora 36.5 mm
- Faru Faru 51 mm
- Samaki 321.5 mm
- Risiriba 183.0 mm
The best time to come on safari is… Article by Dylan Brandt
Right now! The Sabi Sand Wildtuin is a special piece of land perfectly placed for exceptional game viewing all year round. One often hears that the best time to come on safari is in the winter. The bush will be dry so spotting animals will be easier, true. There is perennial water on the property where elsewhere water is scarce and the animals are drawn to these parts, true. But what about summer and the ‘wetter’ season? To the west of the Sabi Sand Wildtuin lies the Drakensburg mountain range and it is this mountain range and the moist air blown over the warm Mozambique current off shore that creates an oasis below. When this moist air hits the mountain the air rises and condenses to form clouds, these clouds now full of moisture fall east of the mountains and release rain throughout the lowveld where we are, leaving much of the highveld a semi desert.
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Sabi Sand Wildlife Report January 2014
- Average minimum 18.0˚C (64.4˚F)
- Average maximum 30.0˚C (86.0˚F)
- Minimum recorded 12.0˚C (53.6˚F)
- Maximum recorded 39.0˚C (102.2˚F)
- For the period: 91 mm
- For the year to date: 508 mm
It’s the month of baobabs fruiting, birds nesting, flowers advertising, insects pollinating, dung beetles rolling, frogs foaming, fungi blooming, sand grouse scuttling and woodland kingfishers whistling their piercing calls. We’ve had our best rains in decades and, as I write this, the Malilangwe Dam is 75 cm to spill. To describe the landscape as verdant would be an understatement – it looks more like a tropical rain forest of central Africa. Of course there’s nothing subtle, slight or gradual about our seasons in the Zimbabwean low veld - we’ve performed a quick wardrobe change from a bone-dry skimpy vest of vegetation to a drenched jungle green coat that ‘s resulted in herds of fat herbivores and flocks of brilliant birds. When it comes to game viewing I can assure you that the game is most certainly on! You may not see that many predators but it’s a time to slow down, look at the finer details, find peace and let it all soak in.
Download the full wildlife report here: SP Wildlife Report Jan 2014
- Average minimum 21,7°C (71,0°F)
- Average maximum 30,8°C (87,4°F))
- Minimum recorded 19,4°C (66,9°F)
- Maximum recorded 34,2°C (93,5°F)
- For the period: 231,4 mm
- For the year to date: 860,8 mm
December is always a popular time for visitors and families to come to the park and this year was no different. A busy lodge over the festive season with some great weather meant some amazing sightings for all the guests. It’s the time of the year that’s known for its abundance, colour and verdure. With all the greenery you need to consider how the long lush grass and thickets make it so easy for animals to become undetectable, but in saying that there is always a sense of accomplishment when they are seen, and of course half the fun of seeing the animal is the tracking and spotting beforehand! Elephants in the Kruger National Park must be some of the most dynamic landscapers to this environment and a safari would simply not be complete without seeing one of these colossal giants strutting its stuff. These giants move prodigious distances over a large home range area rather than marking and protecting a territory, – and this makes sightings of them unpredictable and erratic. Over the past month we had an extraordinary total of 89 sightings, with at least two sightings per day. Even with the huge number of elephants scattered throughout the park and with years of research, theories and estimates on these mythical beasts, so much is still unknown about the species.
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Kruger National Park Wildlife Report December 2013
- Average minimum 19.1°C (66.4°F)
- Average maximum 30.6°C (87°F)
- Minimum recorded 17°C (62.6°F)
- Maximum recorded 34°C (93.2°F)
- For the period: 160.7 mm
- For the year to date: 679.1mm
It looks as if the young baby elephant in the pictures that follow is feeding on some grass, just like mom, but looks can be deceiving…Baby elephants normally nurse until their mother has another calf, which would typically be when they are four to five years old. They don’t really have full control and functionality of their trunk until they are around one year old, at which point they will start eating a little bit of greenery. They copy the older members of their herd though, so they’ll go through the motions as best they can, which makes them even cuter!
This mountainous horizon marking the border between Kenya and Tanzania is one of the most recognizable features of the Lamai area. It also provides a beautiful background for wildlife photos taken by our field guides.
Download the full wildlife report here: Singitas Lamai Wildlife Report December 2013