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
Roadblocks and Traffic Jams
No matter where I went this month I got stuck in some sort of snarl-up – it seemed there was an obstruction around every bend. No warnings, no detours, no signs and no explanations – just gridlock. There were even random zebra crossings that appeared out of nowhere. There was nothing I could do about it, other than just sit and wait for it to pass. On a far more serious note – if time is on your side it is always a good idea to try every lens in your camera bag for a new perspective and a different technique.
The herd of elephants in the road gave me a great opportunity for some creative photography. The last photograph in this series is a close-up of the big bull elephant’s feet. He was blocking the road and making sure he stayed between his herd and us. I had enough time to use my 400mm lens with a 1.4 teleconverter, make sure it was stabilized on a beanbag, take the speed down to 1/80th of a second, hold the focus on his forefoot and wait for him to take a step closer, so as to capture some movement in his stride.
I’m very pleased with the moody result of a swirl of shadows, a dragging trunk, gnarled toenails and the intimidating movement in his massive foot.
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Pamushana Wildlife Report May 2013
- Average minimum 12.8˚C (55.0˚F)
- Average maximum 27.9˚C (82.2˚F)
- Minimum recorded 10.9˚C (51.6˚F)
- Maximum recorded 33.5˚C (92.3˚F)
- For the period: 1.4 mm
- For the year to date: 353.8 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
Wet, wet, and more wet
There is no better way to describe April in the Serengeti. The long rains arrived and the plant and wildlife of Singita Grumeti received more than their fair share of hydration. Although the watery landscape limited access to many areas of the reserve there was still plenty of interesting and exciting activity, on a daily basis.
Sabora Tented Camp
Sabora was the place to be for game viewing in April. Large herds of topi, zebra, eland and buffalo could be seen on the plains around the camp. In addition to the high volume of general game, you could have bet your bottom dollar that all the interesting wildlife action was to take place around Sabora.
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Grumeti Wildlife Report April 2013
- Average minimum 21.2˚C (70.1˚F)
- Average maximum 16.1˚C (60.9˚F)
- Minimum recorded 0.0˚C (0˚F)
- Maximum recorded 0˚C (0˚F)
- Sasakwa 245 mm
- Sabora 229 mm
- Faru Faru 161 mm
- Samaki 367 mm
- Risiriba 142 mm
It’s the season of plenty at the moment and all the wildlife are in excellent condition. It’s a wonderful and uplifting time to be in the bush, and as winter begins to take over the territory of summer the wilderness couldn’t be more inviting to us mere mortals! In fact many of the photographs I’ve selected for this month’s journal have been taken by staff in the area around our homes on the property, or on the drive to the lodge. At home we have prowlers of the night that come calling too – some suspicious grunting and snuffling noises a few evenings ago turned out to be coming from a family of four porcupines that were revealed in the strong beam of a night light!
Wilson Tshumisa is a superb storyteller, a gift handed down to him from his forefathers, around the embers of a dying fire. His smoky eyes hold a million memories and his dazzling smile could disarm the fiercest warlord. Wilson does the maintenance for Singita Pamushana Lodge, but last week he had the opportunity to accompany the guides on a walking exercise. He returned with a tale of course, and this is his story
- Average Minimum:14°C (57°F)
- Average Maximum:29°C (84°F)
- Minimum Recorded:11°C (52°F)
- Maximum Recorded:36°C (97°F)
- For the period:107 mm (4 in)
- For the year to date:224 mm (9 in)