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
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
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
The slow steady winter has ended and summer has arrived in full force. With the long awaited dry season coming to end it’s a time of flourish, abundance, late afternoon rainstorms and the beauty that follows those dramatic storms. After a steady rainfall throughout the night I’m always eager to head out on morning game drive as it means the game paths will be a blank canvas with only fresh detailed tracks, and the distinctive smell of drenched bushveld earth will invigorate me.Easterly winds blow over the warm Agulhas current picking up moisture which will be carried across the east coast heading west. Rising up over the eastern mountains, they cool and form cumulus clouds and thunderstorms are prevalent in the interior of the country. Often this is where our summer rains originate. It is Nature’s way of starting anew. Even the spider webs glisten as the low light of the morning sun rises in the east and streams its golden goodness across the plains. Slowly everything starts to come alive. The earth gets drenched and this is an indicator for many to get started on breeding, feeding, burying and mating.
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Sabi Sand Wildlife Report November 2013
- Average minimum 15.2˚C (59.4˚F)
- Average maximum 28.4˚C (83.1˚F)
- Minimum recorded 09.0˚C (48.2˚F)
- Maximum recorded 37.0˚C (98.6˚F)
- For the period: 24 mm
- For the year to date: 146.5 mm
A visit from a pangolin
A pangolin is often referred to as a mythical creature, something that is thought to exist but is never ever seen. Many guides will dream of seeing one but will never get the chance to lay their eyes upon the sharp-edged scales of this extremely shy animal. Imagine my surprise when the radio crackles to life and a voice utters, “Stations, I have located a pangolin.” I could not believe my ears, and I was only ten minutes away. I happened to be enjoying the company of a cheetah family at the time and as much as I loved being there I knew I had to see this creature for myself. I mentioned to my guests that they simply had to trust me here and that I was about to try and put them into a select category of pangolin-believers. They held on and off we went. Ten minutes later we arrived and there, right in front of me tucked away next to a small Acacia tree, was a pangolin. I had to do a double take, as I could not believe it at first.
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Sabi Sand Wildlife Report October 2013
- Average minimum 14.2˚C (57.6˚F)
- Average maximum 29.4˚C (84.9˚F)
- Minimum recorded 10.0˚C (50.0˚F)
- Maximum recorded 46.0˚C (114.8˚F)
- For the period: 101.5 mm
- For the year to date: 122.5 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
Buffalo versus lion versus leopard
As guests were having afternoon snacks on the riverside deck before game drive, we noticed a male lion sleeping on the opposite side of the river. Then a large buffalo bull ambled into the scene. Next, all drama broke lose. Two more male lions appeared and they set off after the now terrified buffalo. To our astonishment, teacups in hand, the lions killed the buffalo right in front of Boulders Lodge, rooms 9 and 10. Unbelievable! For the next three days we had ring-side viewing. The lions did not bother moving much as they had food and water right there next to them. The only activity seemed to be within their ever-growing bellies filled with buffalo meat. On the first morning a male leopard, known as the Nyalethi male, crept in to view. While the lions were feeding he would keep a respectful distance, never showing himself to his far larger relatives. All he was waiting for was a window of opportunity for a potential free meal.
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Sabi Sand Wildlife Journal September 2013
- Average minimum 13.3˚C (50.5˚F)
- Average maximum 28.8˚C (81.1˚F)
- Minimum recorded 07.0˚C (44.6˚F)
- Maximum recorded 39.0˚C (93.2˚F)
- For the period: 21 mm
- For the year to date: 985 mm
Although considered quite early we’ve had our first rains for the season. More than just settling the dust after a long dry winter it’s brought to life so many species that have been dormant for months. Trees have started blooming, frogs and cicadas have started calling and the most amazing birds have begun to return for our warm and colourful spring. It is now the start of baby season! So many species synchronize their breeding for this fruitful time of year. It simply comes down to good, lush feeding, which translates to the mothers producing very nutritious milk for the newborns.
World Rhino Day – five species forever
World Rhino Day was held for the fourth time on 22 September and celebrated all five species of rhino: black, white, greater one-horned, Sumatran and Javan rhino. World Rhino Day was first announced by WWF-South Africa in 2010. The following year, World Rhino Day grew into an international event and success story, encompassing both the African and Asian rhino species.
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Kruger National Park Wildlife Report September 2013
- Average minimum 16.0°C (60.8°F)
- Average maximum 30.3°C (86.5°F)
- Minimum recorded 10.0°C (50.0°F)
- Maximum recorded 38.0°C (100.4°F)
- For the period: 6 mm
- For the year to date: 415.5 mm
Introducing the Othawa pride cubs (Images and article by guide, Marlon du Toit)
After months of huge anticipation and many attempts at getting a glimpse at these young cubs, the day finally arrived, and boy did I soak in all the goodness! To see eight little bundles of lion fluff bounding towards your vehicle across the white beach-like sand of the aptly named Sand River is an absolute dream come true. These lion cubs remained well hidden within the thickets along the banks of the river for many weeks, a useful method of protecting them, especially in the absence of their mothers. We would get a glimpse of a cub every now and then, but to see all of them right there in the open was incredible. These lionesses are over five years old and are yet to raise a litter successfully. Male lion coalitions have been too unsettling in the past, killing previous litters and preventing the lionesses from entering oestrus for longer periods than usual. The resident males, known as the Selati Coalition, are now well established and thanks to that the Othawa Pride has grown to eleven in total. The cubs now need protection from the rival males, known as the Majingilane Coalition. Their survival depends on the Selati Coalition’s strength and the ingenuity of their experienced mothers. As it stands they rarely venture far east into their territory for fear of an encounter with the Majingilane Coalition. Male lions are well known for ending the lives of young cubs fathered by other males, and this would be disastrous. Let’s trust that these cubs will all make it safely to adulthood.
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Sabi Sand Wildlife Report July 2013
- Average minimum 07.3˚C (45.1˚F)
- Average maximum 22.7˚C (73.0˚F)
- Minimum recorded 02.0˚C (35.6˚F)
- Maximum recorded 27.5˚C (81.5˚F)
- For the period: 10 mm
- For the year to date: 938 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