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
We expected this March to be much like years’ past. Occupancies tend to drop slightly. Wildlife sightings are steady and there is a nice amount of general game. The first few showers of the long rains arrive, bringing cooler temperatures, a release from the heat of January and February. The views across the plains are a beautiful sight as patches of rain clouds mix with large spaces of clear blue skies across the Serengeti.
Overall, March at Singita Grumeti is peaceful and serene.
Mayhem. Incredible. Surprising. Spectacular. In March 2015 we were all thrown for a loop, and not just at Singita Grumeti. The entire Serengeti Community was left scratching their heads.
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Grumeti Wildlife Report March 2015
- Average minimum 32.8 °C
- Average maximum 18.5 °C
- Average wind speed 0.5 m/s
- Sasakwa 24.8 mm
- Sabora 45 mm
- Faru Faru 16 mm
- Samaki 16 mm
- Risiriba 32 mm
A long, successful season
On the last day of June this year I received an email from Lodge Manager Kevin Pongola, at Singita Lamai, Mara River Tented Camp: “It’s happening…” he wrote, “crossing at number 7 is active… will update you later with the details.” This report came after three long weeks of silence since the migration had left our Singita Grumeti property, and now 80 000 wildebeest were crossing the mighty Mara River onto Lamai Triangle, about 60 km away, where Singita Lamai, Mara River Tented Camp is situated. Since then, the area surrounding Mara River Tented Camp saw three straight months of migration. The herds remained present for the first week of October, but after that the bulk of them had cleared the area, making their long journey back south to the short grass plains of Ndutu. Not all the of action stopped though, as a few lagging groups were still moving out of the area, up until the middle of the month. Our guests saw a handful of crossings of wildebeest and zebra, in groups of 50 to100. This is maybe not as epic as 80 000 strong, but any crossing is always very exciting!
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Lamai Wildlife Report October 2014
Just like the three previous months, the first half of October was characterised by lots of game all over the concession. Large herds of migratory zebra continued to slowly move through the area, as well as pockets of a few thousand wildebeest. The migratory animals joined hundreds of topi on the Sabora Plains. The topi calving season that began in late September continued into October, and multitudes of tiny calves dotted the herds throughout the plains. In addition to all of the seasonal activity in October, a few guests were lucky enough to witness some really impressive sightings, many involving interspecies interactions, particularly among predators.
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Grumeti Wildlife Report October 2014
- Average maximum 32.9 °C
- Average minimum 15.8 °C
- Average wind speed 0.4 m/s
- Sasakwa 62.3 mm
- Sabora 94.5 mm
- Faru Faru 55 mm
- Samaki 121 mm
- Risiriba 128 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
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
If August was ‘big zebra’ month, September must go down as ‘big cat’ month. Guests witnessed several hunts and kills, and then more leopard hoists were located than normal, so most of this month’s report will be based on feline viewing on the concession. September also saw thousands of wildebeest moving through the concession, mostly in a south and westerly direction into the Serengeti National Park, and then many of the very large zebra herds have started giving way to the resident species.
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Grumeti Wildlife Report September 2014
- Average maximum 33°C
- Average minimum 14.9 °C
- Average wind speed 0.5 m/s
- Sasakwa 115.2
- Sabora 55.5
- Faru Faru 60.5
- Samaki 97.0
- Risiriba 35.0
“August has some pretty big shoes to fill.” This was the statement we made in our July Wildlife Report. It seemed like most of the 350 000 zebra migration that follow the 1.5 million wildebeest were on Singita Grumeti’s 350 000 acre property during July. They mingled with the large multitudes of other general game and made the savannahs a beautiful site to behold. Although we have plenty of resident zebra we were sure that after a month the travelling masses would move on in early August. We were wrong. And we couldn’t be happier about how wrong we were! Large herds of zebra continued to stay here for the entire month of August, adding to the already spectacular landscape.
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Grumeti Wildlife report August 2014
- Average maximum 32°C
- Average minimum 15.1 °C
- Average wind speed 0.5 m/s
- Average wind speed 0.5 m/s
- Sabora 62.0
- Faru Faru 6.0
- Samaki 62.0)
- Risiriba 105.0
This month our guests have been delighted by safari walks, game approaches on foot, sit-ins at our photographic hides, excellent fishing, sundowner boat cruises, visits to our cavernous galleries of ancient rock paintings, Kambako Bushcraft Museum and the spectacularly colourful, oxide-rich sandstone strata of Chilojo Cliffs. Wildlife highlights include 30 elephants in a breeding herd, drinking, feeding and bathing at the edge of Malilangwe Dam. While the guests and guide cruised past in the boat one particular elephant bull did quite the circus display – he gave a small but vocal charge ending with him stopping near the boat and standing straight up on his two hind legs with his trunk stretched high! We’ve spotted a female leopard perched high in a tree, a pride of seven lions drinking and snoozing at Banyini Pan – one lioness had tangled with a porcupine as she had tell-tale broken quills sticking into her face and chest. A herd of 300 buffaloes congregated for their daily drink, sightings of black and white rhinos have been excellent as always, but the best news of the month by far is that the pack of 13 wild dogs that have been denning close to the lodge have introduced their ELEVEN pups to the game drives! We’d not seen the pups up until now, but since they are just big enough to start exploring and joining the adults on hunting forays we’ve had some joyous sightings of them in the last week – they’ve even started playing around and coming up close to investigate the game viewing vehicles!
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Pamushana Wildlife Report August 2014
- Average minimum 14,1˚C (57,3˚F)
- Average maximum 29,1˚C (84,3˚F)
- Minimum recorded 10,8˚C (49,6˚F)
- Maximum recorded 36,2˚C (97,1˚F)
- For the month: 1,4 mm
- For the year to date: 500,2 mm
Crossing season has started
In the June Lamai Wildlife Report we explained how the migration was ‘missing in action’ from the Lamai area, until the final day of the month when 80 000 wildebeest were seen crossing to the northern side of the Mara River, about 8 km upstream of Kogatende. The rest is history. Crossings occurred on a regular basis throughout the month of July. Mara River Tented Camp guests saw a total of 16 crossings and 2 crocodile kills. Towards the middle of the month, the migration began to fill up the plains of the Lamai Triangle north of the Mara River.
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Lamai Wildlife Report July 2014