What’s that funny face and smirk all about? It is something which most of us have seen before since it’s actually not all that uncommon to observe in most domestic house cats. You’ve possibly seen the expression, the one which is followed by an intense sniffing session. This upward lip curling and exposing of the front teeth and gums is a behaviour which is practiced by carnivores big and small, and even hoofed animals, and is generally a means of testing and analysing different scents. Scents can be checked for any number of reasons but are predominantly used to determine sexual condition or to investigate a newcomer within a territory. This is done through a specialised organ called the vomeronasal organ, more commonly known as the Jacobson’s organ. It is situated in the top palate and the grimace is in an attempt to ensure the scent reaches the organ in the roof of the mouth.
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Kruger National Park Wildlife Report February 2014
- Average minimum 20°C (68°F)
- Average maximum 32°C (89.6°F)
- Minimum recorded 17°C (62.6°F)
- Maximum recorded 35°C (95°F)
- For the period: 38 mm
- For the year to date: 154.8 mm
February in Lamai was characterised by breath-taking landscapes and open spaces teeming with wildlife. The amount of general game in the area was thriving, to be rivalled only by those months when the great migration is moving through. Two cheetahs set against a backdrop of seemingly never-ending plains, dotted with a few squiggly balanites trees: one of the many things about Lamai that is so quintessentially Africa. Plains are the perfect habitat for cheetahs, which need large expanses of flat ground to build up their speed. The one problem with the flat plains is the difficulty to get a good view of what’s going on, so cheetahs are often seen on top of termite mounds or fallen trees, getting a better look at things. The cheetahs at Singita Lamai are very lucky to have an excellent viewing point, given to them by none other than us humans – the Tanzania-Kenya border post. Senior Guide Saitoti was watching these two males relaxing under a tree when one decided to hop on the post and look for any available prey in the area. The agile cat jumped up and looked around, checking out the landscape.
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Lamai Wildlife Report February 2014
December is always a popular time for visitors and families to come to the park and this year was no different. A busy lodge over the festive season with some great weather meant some amazing sightings for all the guests. It’s the time of the year that’s known for its abundance, colour and verdure. With all the greenery you need to consider how the long lush grass and thickets make it so easy for animals to become undetectable, but in saying that there is always a sense of accomplishment when they are seen, and of course half the fun of seeing the animal is the tracking and spotting beforehand! Elephants in the Kruger National Park must be some of the most dynamic landscapers to this environment and a safari would simply not be complete without seeing one of these colossal giants strutting its stuff. These giants move prodigious distances over a large home range area rather than marking and protecting a territory, – and this makes sightings of them unpredictable and erratic. Over the past month we had an extraordinary total of 89 sightings, with at least two sightings per day. Even with the huge number of elephants scattered throughout the park and with years of research, theories and estimates on these mythical beasts, so much is still unknown about the species.
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Kruger National Park Wildlife Report December 2013
- Average minimum 19.1°C (66.4°F)
- Average maximum 30.6°C (87°F)
- Minimum recorded 17°C (62.6°F)
- Maximum recorded 34°C (93.2°F)
- For the period: 160.7 mm
- For the year to date: 679.1mm
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
The colours of summer
I often get the question from guests about the best time of year to visit this wildlife haven. Far too often people are left with the impression that summer is not a good time because the vegetation is too thick to find any animals. Whilst there is an element of truth in that I can assure you that if you only ever visit during the dry season you are missing out on an explosion of colour and beauty. Summer in South Africa is the time of plenty. Thanks to a good rainfall, food is abundant and animals need not venture too far to find water. Many species such as Cape buffalo, impala and zebra give birth in this season. It makes sense as there’s enough food for the mothers to produce sufficient amounts of milk, and once the babies are weaned they will have no problem finding nutrient-rich food to eat.
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Sabi Sand Wildlfie Report December 2013
- Average minimum 17.9˚C (64.4˚F)
- Average maximum 28.0˚C (82.4˚F)
- Minimum recorded 16.0˚C (60.8˚F)
- Maximum recorded 38.0˚C (100.4˚F)
- For the period: 270 mm
- For the year to date: 417 mm
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
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
The mother cheetah and her three sub-adult cubs, who have grown up at Singita Grumeti since first being spotted in August 2012, were mostly minding their business and lazily trying to hunt. The four would walk for a couple hundred metres and then lie down for a rest before getting up again. During one of their resting intervals a very agitated bird was annoyed at their presence and tried in vain to shoo them off. The four cheetahs didn’t even notice. The wattled lapwing spent about 10 minutes running towards them and chirping at the top of its lungs.
Lapwings are ground-nesters, and it is possible this one was trying to ward the cheetahs away from its eggs. In any case the cheetahs paid the brave bird’s presence no mind, and eventually the cheetahs and lapwing moved on.
Download the full Wildlife Report here: Singita Grumeti Wildlife Report November 2013
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
This is always an interesting time to be in the Kruger National Park, as it is a transitional period. The phenomenal thunderstorms that have rolled in have washed the dull colours of winter away, and refreshed the canvas with a lush carpet of green. Here and there between the green you can’t help but notice the vibrant blossoming flowers that have been spurred to bloom. One of these is the Scadoxus lily – these bright red fireworks are certainly one of the most unmistakable and striking wild flowers that can be found in the lowveld. This is a lily well known for its toxicity, hence the bright aposematic colouration. It was often used in the past for many traditional medicines to cure many ailments – including mental illness, colds and skin infections. The juice of the bulb is also commonly used further north in Africa as an arrow poison, which takes only minutes to be effective.
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Kruger National Park Wildlife Report October 2013
- Average minimum 16.0°C (60.8°F)
- Average maximum 28.6°C (83.5°F)
- Minimum recorded 10.0°C (50.0°F)
- Maximum recorded 40.0°C (104.0°F)
- For the period: 48.5 mm
- For the year to date: 464.0 mm