Wildlife Report

The Singita Wildlife Report

First-hand ranger reports from the bushveld

Singita Pamushana

August 2015 - Pamushana, Zimbabwe

It’s dry, it’s hot, the sun is getting up earlier and going to bed later, so it’s an ideal time for safari and easy sightings at the sought-after permanent water sources. But with the grass being low and the trees leafless it is also the best time for walking safaris, and our guests have enjoyed many experiences on foot this month.

A snapshot of August’s activity is as follows:

 Wild dogs: The most fantastic news for the month is that the pack of 15 wild dogs (Lycaon pictus) introduced us to their dozen pups on 22 August! What a special occasion it was to see the healthy patchwork of youngsters romping about with the adults at a pan, and to know that our protected area has given rise to another 12 of these Endangered (IUCN Red List) predators. Guests landing at our property’s Lonestar airstrip had an awesome introduction to the reserve as they were driving to the lodge, by encountering the wild dog pack hunting and chasing impalas.

Lions: We’ve had excellent lion sightings, especially of two large males; a pride of three male lions, three lionesses and one cub; and a pride of two lionesses with four juveniles. Lions (Panthera leo) have recently been classified as
Vulnerable (IUCN Red List) as their overall population is inferred to have undergone a reduction of approximately 42% over the past 21 years. However, sample lion subpopulations increased by 11% in Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe as well as India, while an observed decline of 60% in sample subpopulations outside these countries is inferred for the remainder of the African range.

Leopards: Luck is on your side if you see a leopard, yet this month our guests enjoyed sightings of two leopards drinking at the river. Others who missed that sighting were thrilled to see a large male leopard stalking some baboons. And in a rather ridiculous situation guests witnessed a stare down standoff between two cheetahs sitting on a log and a leopard resting in the shade!

Cheetahs: We’ve had good cheetah sightings, particularly of the two territorial male cheetahs. They’ve entranced guests by seemingly posing in the most flattering late afternoon light and in all their bloody glory when feeding on an impala they’d just caught. There have been regular sightings of a mother cheetah and her now sub-adult cub. It wont be long now before this sub-adult female leaves her mother to find her own way in a solitary life.

Elephants: Once again – if you want to see elephants you only need go to where there’s water. There are some magnificent old bulls about at the moment, head-heavy with generous ivory.

Rhinos: Rhino sightings have been prolific, although it is more common to see white rhinos than black. An interesting sight was of a bull white rhino marking his territory.

Buffalo: There was a breathtaking sight of over 700 buffaloes drinking at our central pan. But the most gruesome sighting of the month
was when two buffalo bulls were fighting and one got his horns trapped in a dense thicket of branches. Then a hungry and opportunistic clan of hyenas arrived and started attacking him, while he was trapped. It was a truly gory scene when the hyenas gutted the buffalo alive. The bull kept fighting for his life for over an hour, trying to ward the hyenas off, while being disembowelled. He finally died after the horrific ordeal.

Hyenas: The day after the buffalo kill 18 hyenas were seen feeding on the carcass and bathing with bloated bellies in the nearby pan. At another hyena kill the cunning predators were seen stashing some excess meat by dropping it into knee-deep water. This kept the meat fresh, free of flies and protected from vultures. When the hyenas had the appetite to eat more, they would fish out the meat by putting their heads under water and locate their cache.

Plains game: We’ve had very good sightings of the ‘shyer’ plains game at this dry time – 15 sable antelope at the central pan, 15 Lichtenstein hartebeest at a pan in the east and a herd of eland were observed from our sunken photographic hide, as they drank from the water’s edge.

Birds: It’s a treat for us to have keen birders as guests, as we did this month, and the highlights were a pair of crowned eagles on a nest as well as three hamerkops, a great white egret, a grey heron and a fish eagle flying at low level and slow speed over the water, hunting for platana frogs coming to the surface to breath. (While this was going on we had a glimpse of a leopard drinking!) An early morning drive offered up a brown-backed honeyguide, green-winged pytilia, wren warblers, plus a big highlight – the African pied babbler.

Special sightings: Well, the special sighting of the month, without a shadow of a doubt, regardless of the fact that it was dead, goes to an aardvark! I have yet to see one, dead or alive, but one of our guides found the remains of one. There’ve been two sightings of a serval and also two sightings of a relaxed civet. Our guests were also lucky enough to get a quick glimpse of an African wildcat.

Photo hide: Our photo hide is the ideal way to closely observe and photograph animals without them seeing or being bothered by you. That’s if you can get inside it… One afternoon our plan was to spend a short while inside the hide but it was blocked by six lionesses as they slept and their cubs played about! Other guests come out dirtier than when they went in, after four elephant bulls sprayed them with mud through the small openings of the hide! By spending a few hours here guests, over the course of the month, saw Lichtenstein hartebeest, elephants, white rhinos, black rhinos, lions, giraffes, a duiker and many bird species.

Walks: It’s also the best time for walks and there’s no better way to take in some of the rock art sights on the reserve, especially if you pass an elephant or rhino on the way.

Fishing: Guests have had fun landing catfish, tigerfish and a few tilapias. Every now and then we’ll keep a tilapia and get our chef to prepare some battered fish bites and dips – there’s no better bar snack, especially if you caught it yourself!


Read the full report here: Singita Pamushana Wildlife Report August 2015


  • Average minimum: 15,1˚C (59,1˚F)
  • Minimum recorded: 09,3˚C (48,7˚F)
  • Average maximum: 28,9˚C (84,0˚F)
  • Maximum recorded: 34,6˚C (94,2˚F)


  • For the month: 0 mm
  • For the year to date: 155,0 mm

Singita Pamushana

July 2015 - Pamushana, Zimbabwe

These winter months are the most popular for safari – and it’s no secret why… cold crisp mornings lead to warm sunny days, where the vegetation is dry and the wildlife is drawn to the sparse permanent water sources. But every now and then you’ll be startled out of the meditative monotony of the earthy colours by dazzling sabi star flowers or a flashy chafer beetle.

The lions are also feeling the cold. Four of them had curled up for warmth in the drainage tunnels beneath our main access road – it’s a little unnerving knowing you are driving ‘over’ four ferocious predators! The lion prides seem to have had a preference for buffalo meat this month – there have been quite a few kills. The two dominant males of the western section have been spending the last few days lounging about with full stomachs on the other side of the Chiredzi River. At one stage they were seen on the riverbank with three adult females and one young cub. Hopefully some new cubs are on the way as there was mating activity with one of the lionesses – we’ll have to wait for at least 110 days to be sure, as that’s the gestation period.
Wild dogs:
The pack, up to 14 of them at a time, are seen hunting regularly because they’re denning in the hills – but still no sign of the pups…

We’ve had good cheetah sightings this month – a couple have been seen hunting, and so has the female who has raised several litters – she’s easy to identify as she is missing the tip of her tail.

The elephant highlights for the month come from the bulls – we’ve seen magnificent tuskers drinking, feeding, resting, dusting and mud-bathing. They are calm when not in musth and during this calm phase we are able to enjoy long, close-up peaceful encounters with them.

Rhino viewing is what we’re renowned for. The highlight this month was when guests got to see black and white rhino bulls interacting, with six lions spectating in the background!
The eight black rhinos that we were able to donate to Botswana have settled and are doing well.

The breeding herds we’re seeing are slightly smaller because
they’ve split up to go in search of smaller pockets of pasture. That’s said guests and guides got a good dusting when a herd of about 300 Cape buffalo stampeded towards a pan for a drink!

Plains game:
The varieties of habitats here provide nourishment for a diversity of plains game. It’s not uncommon to see herds of sable, eland and Lichtenstein hartebeest, as we did this month. Far more abundant are impala, kudu and zebra. Here a family of kudu browse on bush that still retains some green foliage.

Special sightings:
Eliciting a chorus of compliments were a new-born giraffe, still with its umbilical cord attached, and a brand new zebra foal being nuzzled by its mother. Other special sightings were of an African wild cat, genets, a civet, a porcupine and a honey badger. An adult male leopard graced us with his presence, close to one of the safari vehicles, giving guests a chance to admire him.
On the feathered front were many good owl sightings while five racket-tailed rollers stole the show near Nduna Camp.


Read the full report here: Singita Pamushana Wildlife Report July 2015


  • Average minimum: 14,3˚C (57,7˚F)
  • Minimum recorded: 11,1˚C (51,9˚F)
  • Average maximum: 27,8˚C (82,0˚F)
  • Maximum recorded: 34,4˚C (93,9˚F)


  • For the month: 0 mm
  • For the year to date: 155,0 mm

Singita Pamushana

October 2014 - Pamushana, Zimbabwe

It’s an itchy scratchy time of year if you don’t have a good moisturizer but, as you’ll see from the photo above and the story further on, rhinos make a plan where they can. However, we did receive an early sprinkling of rain mid-month, about 10 mm, so that has brought some relief to all. We’ve been taking advantage of the dry short cropped
landscape by taking guests on walks and have had some excellent encounters with black and white rhinos.

An advantage of cruising aboard the Suncatcher is that animals don’t seem intimidated by our presence and on a couple of occasions this month guests have spotted a male leopard on the shore of Malilangwe Dam. We’ve also enjoyed a breeding herd of more than 30 elephants feeding, drinking and swimming, two black rhinos very close to the boat, hippos and lots of birds.

Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Pamushana Wildlife Report Oct 2014


  • Average minimum 18,3°C (64,9°F)
  • Average maximum 31,7°C (89,0°F)
  • Minimum recorded 14,6°C (58,2°F)
  • Maximum recorded 41,4°C (106,5°F)


  • For the month: 12,2 mm
  • For the year to date: 514,8 mm

Singita Sabi Sand

September 2014 - Sabi Sand, South Africa

Life goals Article by Ross Couper

It was a hot afternoon and we had been exploring the western sections along the river, in search of an elusive leopard. From a distance we could see an elephant cow, strangely on her own, and from our elevated point we scanned across and saw that she was circling a particular area. We went around the corner en route to the elephant cow to see what was causing her to move backwards and forwards in the road. It was a sighting that we did not expect. A young elephant calf was trailing behind the female but it was evident that there was something wrong. The young calf showed signs of poor development, possibly as a result of premature birth, deformity or an injury during birth.

Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Sabi Sand Wildlife Report September 2014




  • Average minimum 13.4˚C (55.1˚F)
  • Average maximum 29.8˚C (85.6˚F)
  • Minimum recorded 9.0˚C (48.2˚F)
  • Maximum recorded 37.0˚C (98.6˚F)


  • For the period: 3 mm
  • For the year to date: 857,5 mm

Singita Pamushana

September 2014 - Pamushana, Zimbabwe

Crackerjack sightings are the bonus of the hot dry weather we’re experiencing. Some of the highlights that have had our safari-goers on the edge of their seats include a mother cheetah with her three young cubs, a majestic herd of sable quenching their thirst, about fifty normally evasive eland mingling at a pan with buffaloes and hartebeest as well as a caracal darting for cover. On the water a split second sighting of a young otter caused much excitement, as did the female leopard that guests spotted relaxing on the banks of the dam. Thanks to the short dry grass, guided walks in the wild have been possible, and these are always a revelation.


Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Pamushana Wildlife Report September 2014


  • Average minimum 17,1°C (62,7°F)
  • Average maximum 31,3°C (88,3°F)
  • Minimum recorded 12,1°C (53,7°F)
  • Maximum recorded 38,7°C (101,6°F)


  • For the month: 2,4 mm
  • For the year to date: 502,6 mm

Singita Lamai

August 2014 - Lamai, Tanzania

The Great Migration arrived in Lamai at the end of June and the wildebeest were a continuous presence throughout July. August did not disappoint either as the herds remained in the general vicinity, crossing north and south and north again across the Mara River, in the surrounds of Singita Mara River Tented Camp. Guests enjoyed 12 dramatic crossings during the month. One particularly exciting crossing happened right in front of the camp, and lasted for over 20 minutes.

Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Lamai Wildlife Report August 2014

Singita Pamushana

July 2014 - Pamushana, Zimbabwe

Isn’t this the most beautiful little bug you’ve ever seen? Valerie Makunungunu, our Pamushana Lodge Anchor, discovered this objet d’art while doing her routine morning
inspection of our brightly coloured and boldly patterned lodge. When she showed the rest of the lodge staff they thought she was playing a trick on them! Had she painted the intricate little patterns across its back? Had it walked across the cushions and curtains at Pamushana and mimicked the patterns? Upon further investigation we were able to identify it from an insect reference book and were delighted to find that it has the perfect name – it’s called a Picasso bug (Sphaerocoris annulus). They are found in quite a wide range of sub-Saharan Africa, but it’s a first for most of us on the property, and hopefully for you too.

Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Pamushana Wildlife Report July 2014


  • Average minimum 12,2°C (53,9°F)
  • Average maximum 25,9°C (78,6°F)
  • Minimum recorded 9,8°C (49,6°F)
  • Maximum recorded 34,2°C (93,5°F)


  • For the month: 0,6 mm
  • For the year to date: 498,8 mm

Singita Pamushana

June 2014 - Pamushana, Zimbabwe

Elephants in the mist

It’s nippy in the mornings now, but the advantages of ‘layering up’ warmly and leaving early mean you see the dewy landscape in the softest pastel tones of dawn. On a couple of mornings there’s been a low-lying layer of mist that makes everything eerie and mysterious, but oh so beautiful when an animal appears from the shrouds.

Download the full wildlife report here:  Singita Pamushana Wildlife Report June 2014


  • Average minimum 12,5°C (54,5°F)
  • Average maximum 26,4°C (79,5°F)
  • Minimum recorded 7,6°C (45,6°F)
  • Maximum recorded 33,3°C (91,9°F)


  • For the month: 0 mm
  • For the year to date: 498,2 mm

Singita Pamushana

May 2014 - Pamushana, Zimbabwe

The most exciting news of the month is that a pack of wild dogs (Lycaon pictus) has chosen to den right in the middle of our property, close to the lodge. While we don’t want to disturb them at their den-site somewhere up in the hills, we are seeing them frequently at dawn and dusk when they hunt. They use the road system and trot out together, before ‘shot-gunning’ in different directions to scatter a herd of impala and hunt them. More predator highlights are that a lioness has two cubs stowed away, and a cheetah has been seen with four small cubs in tow. Rhino sightings are excellent as always, and for the past few weeks a herd of elephants has had a regular midday swim and water sports in nearby Sosigi Dam.

Download the full wildlife report here:  Singita Pamushana Wildlife Report May 2014



  • Average minimum 14,7°C (58,4°F)
  • Average maximum 27,5°C (81,5°F)
  • Minimum recorded 11,1°C (51,9°F)
  • Maximum recorded 32,1°C (89,7°F)


  • For the month: 14,8 mm
  • For the year to date: 498,2 mm

Singita Pamushana

April 2014 - Pamushana, Zimbabwe

A babysitter was around, but not engaging with the two hyena cubs in its charge. The rest of the clan hadn’t returned from the night’s hunting and scavenging, bearing a bone or scraps, full of compelling unknown smells, whooping their return calls or performing the greeting ritual, and as a result the two cubs were thoroughly bored – as bored as only two mischievous hyena cubs can be…It was a little chilly, dew clung to the leaves and the sun was slow in getting up for the day. The scene was set for one of the most memorable mornings I’ve had at a den-site.

Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Pamushana Wildlife Report April 2014


  • Average minimum 18,3°C (64,9°F)
  • Average maximum 28,4°C (83,2°F)
  • Minimum recorded 15,6°C (60,0°F)
  • Maximum recorded 33,9°C (93,0°F)


  • For the month: 12,4 mm
  • For the year to date: 483,4 mm

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