An elephant paradise
It’s no surprise that the Lamai and Kogatende areas of the Serengeti around Mara River Tented Camp are home to many elephants. The mighty Mara River itself provides a seemingly endless supply of fresh water, flowing year-round. In addition, countless smaller rivers and estuaries stem off from the river at a rate of about one every 500 metres. The result is not only the amount of water available, but also that it is easily accessible – you don’t have to travel far to find a source of water.
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Lamai Wildlife Report June 2014
May at Singita Grumeti was flanked in contradictions and unpredictability. The month began amidst a very dry rainy season, and another seasonal phenomenon was reaching our 350 000 acre property’s doorstep more than a month earlier than it was ‘supposed’ to: We weren’t expecting you yet Meugh… meeuughhh… that inevitable sound that can only mean one thing – the Serengeti Great Migration has arrived at Singita Grumeti. Except it wasn’t June yet. It wasn’t mid-June yet. Mid-June would be in six weeks time! The 2014 ‘long rains’ saw little rain at Singita Grumeti, but while our location in the north-western Serengeti had very little rain, the central Serengeti saw almost none. The result of the lack of rain was a lack of suitable grasses, and when the wildebeest left Ndutu in the southern Serengeti at the end of March, the 80 kilometre migration to Singita Grumeti, which usually takes about two and half to three months, took only one month. By the 1st of May, our Ikorongo Game Reserve was full of at least 50 000 wildebeest. Within the next two days, wildebeest in the hundreds of thousands engulfed Singita Grumeti. The great migration had arrived.
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Grumeti Wildlife Report May 2014
- Average minimum 32.8 °C
- Average maximum 14.2 °C
- Average wind speed 0.4 m/s
- Sasakwa 32.4
- Sabora 104
- Faru Faru 37
- Samaki 144
- Risiriba 58
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
Don’t be surprised on your journey from the airstrip to Mara River Tented Camp if you see a herd of elephants on the way. There is a group of resident bulls who spend most of their time along the banks of the Mara River and are often seen from the road about a half a kilometre from camp. The migration left the Lamai area at the end of November last year, so I was surprised when guide Adas Anthony showed me photos he took in January of wildebeest cows and their brand new calves, including one that had just been born mere minutes before he approached the sighting. Curious to know the reason for this unusual occurrence, I began asking him many questions. Had some of the migration still not passed through? Was there a break-away herd making their way south later than usual? Did the mothers stay behind because they knew they were going to have calves earlier?
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Lamai Wildlife Report January 2014
January began with the usual large amounts of rain as the short rains continued into their last days, followed by lots of sunshine. The net result was a very beautiful green landscape at Singita Grumeti for the second half of the month with the grasses growing higher and higher, and for the first time in close to six months we did not have any migratory wildebeest herds in the area to mow it down. The lush long grass will be a mainstay with us, most likely until the return of the wildebeest sometime in June or July.
About six months to a year after the split of the Butamtam Pride, another of our local prides was showing
signs of a permanent division. The Nyasirori Pride had separated into two groups in the last four months. Three of the lionesses had cubs in the last quarter of 2013, and therefore the guides assumed it was a temporary split. Lionesses will spend a lot of time away from their pride from the time they are about to give birth until the cubs are about eight weeks old. When the cubs reach this coming of age, their mother will introduce them to the pride.
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Grumeti Wildlife Report January 2014
- Average maximum 33.7 °C
- Average minimum 16.2 °C
- Average wind speed 0.3 m/s
- Sasakwa 60.6 mm
- Sabora 36.5 mm
- Faru Faru 51 mm
- Samaki 321.5 mm
- Risiriba 183.0 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
In our October Journal we covered what we were sure was the final time we would see the migration until their return in about June or July. The herds entered our property for about a week, then exited making their way back south. What we never predicted was that they would unexpectedly loop back around. At some point after they left us in October, the bulk of the herds turned back north. In late November, hundreds of thousands were in the northern Serengeti at our Singita Mara River Tented Camp (see our Singita Lamai: Mara River Tented Camp November Journal). By the first day of December they were back at Singita Grumeti again, on Sasakwa plains, Sabora plains, and continuing onto the plains West of Sabora Tented Camp. They soon covered the entire property spreading from Sabora to Sasakwa to Faru Faru and further. Usually in December the wildebeest should be nearing Ndutu in the southern Serengeti, some 85 kilometres south of Singita Grumeti. The best explanation for their postponed journey most likely has to do with the rains, which arrived later than usual in the southern half of the Serengeti and, in turn, delayed the growth of suitable grass for the wildebeest. The herds moved on by the middle of the month, but their time with us produced a variety of exciting spectacles – the stories follow…
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Grumeti Wildlife Report December 2013
Festive season celebrations are in full swing and the heat is on! In southern Africa Christmas and New Year are best enjoyed around a pool where youngsters can play and splash in the cool water and the adults can take refuge in the shade. The sighting I’d like to tell you about reminded me of such a joyous summer jamboree and it was one of the highlights of my life.
I was out scouting and had arrived at the deck overlooking Nduna Dam. Carrying my heavy camera gear up the path and arriving on the deck I was a bit disappointed that there were no animals to be seen. All the same I decided to sit there quietly for a while and see if anything would emerge from the green boundary and drink at the water’s edge. But as I sat there I became convinced that I could hear splashing coming from the other side of the steep rocky outcrop that juts into the horse-shoe dam. I grabbed two lenses and began creeping up the side of the cliff. A steep ledge jutted above the area of the noise and I scrambled up it on my belly like a rather ungainly lizard. Peering over the edge I beheld Zimbabwe’s version of the Loch Ness Monster, as I think you’ll agree from the photo alongside:
The monster turned out to be one of four elephants having the most terrific time in the water. They would completely submerge and snorkel along with their trunks sticking out, and then erupt from the surface with their tusks stabbing the air. Then a boisterous game ensued of pushing, shoving, dunking splashing and spraying. To end it off they parted the water gracefully and serenely, their skin and tusks gleaming clean, and melted silently away.
Read the full Wildlife Report here: Singita Pamushana Wildlife Report December 2013
- Average minimum: 21,6˚C (70,8˚F)
- Average maximum: 32,8˚C (91,4˚F)
- Minimum recorded: 19,5˚C (67,1˚F)
- Maximum recorded: 41,5˚C (106,7˚F)
- For the period: 172,4 mm
- For the year to date: 629,2 mm
In the October report we wrote that we were sure the last of the migratory herds were leaving the area, making their journey back south. It probably was the last of the herds, but what we didn’t consider was that they would prematurely turn around and come back!
In late November the Lamai area was once again flooded with hundreds of thousands of wildebeest. Normally by late November the wildebeest should be in the central Serengeti, about 100 kilometres south of Lamai, and en route to the short grass plains of Ndutu in the southern Serengeti where they calve.
Of course, like the weather, no one can ever 100% predict the Great Migration, and in fact the weather has everything to do with their return to Lamai.
The rains started later than usual this year, and the southern areas of the Serengeti were still rather dry. This explains the wildebeest’s return to the much more lush and green grasses of the Lamai triangle, where there was still a steady amount of rain.
If the excitement of their return wasn’t enough, guests were able to view a crossing of about 80 animals just 300 metres away from the camp!
Who knows what their next move will be?
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Lamai Wildlife Report November 2013
The Mara River is a water wonderland that dominates the Lamai triangle. The river and the small springs and tributaries that feed into it, provide generous access to water for the game living here, whether it be for drinking, cooling off or just having fun. The festival of life plays out on the seamless banks that stretch unhindered to the horizon, but every now and then the urge to cross the river is irresistible, and the drama reaches its zenith.
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Lamai Wildlife Report October 2013