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
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
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
About a week after the bulk of the Migration left Singita Grumeti, they began filtering into the area where Singita Mara River Tented Camp is located, in the remote Lamai Triangle, on the bank of the famous Mara River. They first arrived in the Kogatende area about 10 kilometres south of the camp and reachable by game drive. After a couple of days though, game drives were no longer necessary, as thousands of wildebeest congregated right across the river from camp. The numbers grew and grew, the great herds waiting until the last possible minute before they had to face the inevitable – crossing the croc-infested Mara River. Whether pushed in by the shoving behind them or out of pure bravery, the first wildebeest eventually made the leap of faith into the mighty Mara. Within a second of that first leap thousands followed. The crossing was a truly amazing spectacle. These wildebeests are not only susceptible to the dangerous jaws of the crocodiles, but also to each other. With the huge number of them crossing the river, individuals are also accidentally pushed under and drowned by their own kind.
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Lamai Wildlife Report July 2013
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
The long rains continued to fall in the beginning of May, but eventually the sun came out, the rain disappeared, and the land began to ‘de-sog’ itself. All areas of the reserve became accessible again and there was much to be seen…
An Enormous Feast
Our guide Saitoti Ole Kuwai was with guests on Rhino Rocks Road when he noticed some leopard tracks. He got out of the vehicle and followed them a short distance on foot. The tracks were going north towards Mbogo Drainage.
The group drove to Mbogo Drainage and, after an in-depth look, they could not find any sign of a leopard. Saitoti picked up his binoculars and looked back towards the south.
He soon noticed something red in a tree very far away. “There’s a leopard over there”, he told the guests. They drove quite a distance and the red soon came visible. A zebra foal was hanging lifeless from the tree. His haunches had already been feasted upon. Draped above the carcass was an impressive male leopard.
It’s a great accomplishment for a leopard to catch a zebra, and very rarely witnessed – let alone hoisted up a tree for all to see!
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Grumeti Wildlife Report May 2013
- Average minimum 31.1˚C (59.3˚F)
- Average maximum 13.4˚C (81.1˚F)
- Minimum recorded 0.0˚C (0.0˚F)
- Maximum recorded 0.0˚C (0.0˚F)
- Sasakwa 90.8
- Sabora 103.9
- Faru Faru 74.34
- Samaki 163
- Risiriba 91
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
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