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
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
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)
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
Lion roaring Article by Francois Fourie
It’s a sound that can be heard from kilometres away and one of the greatest things of living in the bush. Sitting around a fire with friends and hearing the roar of a male lion from afar calling to his brothers…A lion’s roar is not only used for the purpose of making contact with their pride members but it is also done to announce his presence in his territory and to make sure that any other potential intruders stay away. It truly is one of the most special experiences sitting with a male lion only 10 metres away and he starts roaring. That feeling is one that you can’t put into words… even more so when it is a pitch dark night with only starlight above and he starts to roar… your whole body can feel the vibrations of the roar right to your very core! Once you’ve heard Africa’s biggest cat roar then you can truly understand why people call this magnificent animal the “King” of the jungle!
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Sabi Sand Wildlife Report January 2015
- Average minimum 18.8˚C (65.8˚F)
- Average maximum 33˚C (91.4˚F)
- Minimum recorded 16˚C (60.8˚F)
- Maximum recorded 41˚C (105.80˚F)
- For the period: 13 mm
- For the year to date: 13 mm
A number of leopard sightings in the past year have contributed significantly to the continued improvement of leopard habituation at Singita Grumeti. Our recent, most noteworthy sighting yet, was that of a female leopard stalking and killing a male impala west of Faru Faru in the late afternoon, witnessed by Field Guide, Jeremiah and his guests. This is a clear indicator that leopards in the reserve have become more accepting of our safari-traversing activities and that they have slowly reverted to the type of hunting behaviour which is typical of leopards (for the first time in approximately 50 years). Leopards characteristically hunt both during the day and at night. However, in the seven years prior to 2003, before Grumeti became a photographic safari destination, it was in fact a hunting area. It was then that leopards in this area adapted to hunting only at night when the potential human threat was not around. Until almost a year ago, witnessing a leopard kill on the reserve was completely unheard of! Fortunately, these big cats are beginning to feel more comfortable and the kill that Jeremiah and his guests saw, was in fact the third kill we have recorded this year!
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Grumeti Wildlife Report December 2014
- Average minimum 29.4˚C (84.9˚F)
- Average maximum 16.4˚C (61.5˚F)
- Sasakwa 100.7 mm
- Sabora 98 mm
- Faru Faru 67.5 mm
- Samaki 208 mm
- Risiriba 105 mm
Glorious summer Article by Ross Couper
With our heightened lookout for young impalas over the last month, it’s been hard not to notice all the other young around at this time of the year. A friendly wager amongst the guides as to when this season’s first newborn impala would be seen had us all waiting in anticipation to spot a long-legged youngster and call it in over the radio. This year’s winner was Dylan – the lucky date was 4 November 2014. Lambing time has meant that impalas have had more human attention than usual during game drives, with very pregnant impalas moving off on their own and newborn lambs struggling to stand or wobbling on their stilt-like legs. There are lots of “ooohs” and “aaahs” being whispered during the game drives.
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Sabi Sand Wildlife Report November 2014
- Average minimum 18.2˚C (64.7˚F)
- Average maximum 33.1˚C (91.5˚F)
- Minimum recorded 11.0˚C (51.8˚F)
- Maximum recorded 41.0˚C (105.8˚F)
- For the period: 51 mm
- For the year to date: 110.5 mm
The first good rains of the season started mid-month, with great downpours of 75 mm in some areas. Sparks of green now flash throughout the landscape, pastel pink crinum lilies bend like ballerinas above the ground, cicada insects play raucous crashing cymbal sounds and a band of woodland kingfishers have arrived with a fanfare of trills and showy displays. There have been many sighting highlights in the month, such as a pack of 25 wild dogs fighting with a clan of nine hyenas; five lions and two cubs at a kill; three bull elephants lying down fast asleep in a drainage system; three jackal puppies pouncing about in front of the Land Cruiser, trying to catch some flying ants that were attracted to the headlights; a big herd of at least 500 buffalo plus ten hartebeest and 12 sable antelope; two hyenas scouting for a leopard’s kill that the leopard had stowed in a safe rocky crevice; a crowned eagle calling out for its partner; a leopard draped peacefully over a termite mound and six Lichtenstein hartebeest feeding on lush new grass shoots.
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Pamushana Wildlife Report Nov 2014
- Average minimum 21,2°C (70,1°F)
- Average maximum 33,6°C (92,4°F)
- Minimum recorded 15,0°C (59,0°F)
- Maximum recorded 41,2°C (106,1°F)
- For the month: 129,4 mm
- For the year to date: 643,6 mm
Busier than usual Article by Jani Lourens
So, after much talk from long-standing guides at Singita Lebombo about the large breeding herds of buffalo that move through the property, I have, at last, witnessed the arrival of a breeding herd estimated at more than 700. The landscape is a mix of burnt areas – charcoal and ash with earth exposed to the sun, different shades of brown everywhere, skeleton leadwoods and fellow grey trees. The only new foliage that has started to appear is on trees lining the N’wanetsi and Sweni Rivers and at Gudzane Dam, emulating a green snake twisting in a dying landscape. The wildlife is being tempted by this green snake as the animals anxiously wait out the dry heat for the coming summer rains to bring new life to the land.
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Kruger National Park Wildlife Report October 2014
- Average minimum 15.4°C (59.1°F)
- Average maximum 29°C (86°F)
- Minimum recorded 11°C (48.2°F)
- Maximum recorded 39°C (100.4°F)
- For the period: 17 mm
- For the year to date: 280.5 mm