To whom do those spots belong?
With a slight chill still present and our minds flooded with the previous day’s sightings we are welcomed by the dawn chorus. It is early morning and the sun rays haven’t found their way to the foothills of the Lebombo Mountains. We are driving north in search of buffalo. We had been chatting away, still discussing that beautiful leopardess we saw, the Sticky Thorn female, and her whereabouts of the past week, when my attention is suddenly drawn elsewhere. The now well-known sign of his right hand that points backward to me in a slow rise makes me stop the vehicle very quickly. My tracker has spotted tracks and wants to have a closer look. Upon investigation we found a very large drag mark crossing the road. The possibility of it being an African rock python is quickly eliminated by the hair of an impala stuck on a branch and the leopardess track right next to it.
Territorially it has to be the Mahlangulene female. She’s killed an impala and dragged it to a safer place. We start to follow the drag mark in the vehicle, everyone on the edge of their seats. Because of the length of the grass following the trail proves difficult. Sitting in a patch of short grass there she is, licking her right paw as she grooms herself after dragging her well-earned meal to safety. We continue to try and find the impala carcass but she’s chosen such a good spot that not even our trained eyes can locate it.
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Kruger National Park Wildlife Report January 2014
- Average minimum 19.7°C (67.46°F)
- Average maximum 31°C (87.8°F)
- Minimum recorded 12°C (53.6°F)
- Maximum recorded 35°C (95°F)/li>
- For the period: 116.5 mm
- For the year to date: 116.5 mm
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
The Mountain Pride in the north was seen on almost a daily basis this month, with most of the lionesses pregnant or already with cubs. Because of this they were not really moving great distances from their den sites, which we believe are along the Xhikelenegane drainage line. The Northern Males have established themselves as the dominant lions of the pride, and with possibilities of mating and potential free meals they are staying close to the pride’s lionesses. Sightings of mating lions and the fighting battles for females were not in short supply, all to determine dominance. The confrontations are usually short bursts of aggression seldom ending with any serious injuries between the brothers. Although vicious it is very necessary to determine who the dominant one is at the time, and it is not always the same male adding genetic variation in a territory. To date we know of at least six cubs, two litters of three with the smallest ones now being just over two months old.
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Kruger National Park Wildlife Report November 2013
- Average minimum 18.6°C (65.4°F)
- Average maximum 31°C (87.8°F)
- Minimum recorded 14°C (57.7°F)
- Maximum recorded 38°C (100.4°F)
- For the period: 54.4 mm
- For the year to date: 518.4mm
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
Although considered quite early we’ve had our first rains for the season. More than just settling the dust after a long dry winter it’s brought to life so many species that have been dormant for months. Trees have started blooming, frogs and cicadas have started calling and the most amazing birds have begun to return for our warm and colourful spring. It is now the start of baby season! So many species synchronize their breeding for this fruitful time of year. It simply comes down to good, lush feeding, which translates to the mothers producing very nutritious milk for the newborns.
World Rhino Day – five species forever
World Rhino Day was held for the fourth time on 22 September and celebrated all five species of rhino: black, white, greater one-horned, Sumatran and Javan rhino. World Rhino Day was first announced by WWF-South Africa in 2010. The following year, World Rhino Day grew into an international event and success story, encompassing both the African and Asian rhino species.
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Kruger National Park Wildlife Report September 2013
- Average minimum 16.0°C (60.8°F)
- Average maximum 30.3°C (86.5°F)
- Minimum recorded 10.0°C (50.0°F)
- Maximum recorded 38.0°C (100.4°F)
- For the period: 6 mm
- For the year to date: 415.5 mm
Winter is definitely coming to an end
Winter is always a productive time of the year for us on the concession, and this year has been as exciting as ever. A combination of the vegetation thinning out, and the permanent water sources have made for some spectacular, and consistent seasonal game viewing. Spring is upon us, and already some of the migratory birds have returned to this their southern destination – like southern yellow-billed kites and Wahlberg’s eagles. We now look forward to the first rains, with the promise of green colours, insect sounds and fresh smells, not to forget it’s coming up to baby season!
Coming of age
It’s a harsh time in every young male lion’s life, the day that they are seen as a threat to the dominant male and pushed into independence. When these young males reach puberty they are evicted from the pride and need to fend for themselves, this way ensuring there is no inbreeding within a pride. Pride dynamics dictate that all female members are related, being sisters, cousins or aunts to one another.
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Kruger National Park Wildlife Report August 2013
- Average minimum 12.3°C (54.1°F)
- Average maximum 27.0°C (80.7°F)
- Minimum recorded 02.0°C (35.6°F)
- Maximum recorded 34.0°C (93.4°F)
- For the period: 0mm
- For the year to date: 409.5mm
Over the last month we had a total of 29 leopard sightings, but what was impressive was not the number of sightings, but rather the quality of sightings that we experienced. The Sticky Thorn female, with her two cubs in tow, is moving back onto the concession. Her return is as a result of most of the water drying up just beyond our concession in the west. Here we have permanent pools of water like the N’wanetsi River and Gudzane Dam. These permanent sources of clean drinking water attract prey species in drier times, and with prey species concentrated in one area you can be sure that predators are close by! One sighting that stands out in particular of the Sticky Thorn female and her two cubs was when they were feeding off an African rock python that she had caught and hoisted into a large leadwood tree. It made for outstanding leopard viewing! Another relaxed female who made a good few appearances was the Xikhova female, and what really excited us about seeing her was the fact that she looked to be nursing some cubs as well! Although we haven’t seen them yet it’s a very exciting time, as we wait with baited breath for the first sign of her new fur balls. What is so evident about the concession at the moment is the fact that we’ve reached the stage where we have a number of relaxed adult animals of different species, which means when they produce another generation, their calm demeanour is imparted to their young.
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Kruger National Park Wildlife Report July 2013
- Average minimum 09.9°C (49.8°F)
- Average maximum 24.9°C (67.8°F)
- Minimum recorded 07.0°C (44.6°F)
- Maximum recorded 32.0°C (89.6°F)
- For the period: 11 mm
- For the year to date: 409.5 mm
Cheetah numbers in Africa, Middle East and central parts of Asia have dropped dramatically from 100 000 animals at the start of the 20th century to about 7 500. In the Kruger National Park the population estimates are between 120 and 160 animals. If you get to see one or more you are really lucky, it is like finding the needle in a very large haystack. Raising cubs as a single mother is very difficult. The cubs have to be kept safe from all the other predators that will very easily and readily kill them. She also has to provide for all the hungry mouths and they are already eating meat at about six weeks old. Cheetahs do not do well with competition from other predators, often losing kills to lions and hyenas. They avoid any confrontation because they cannot risk injury to themselves as this could result in them being unable to hunt. Females give birth to between one and six cubs. The mother we’ve been so privileged to see managed to raise five cubs until they were about a year of age. She started to teach them to hunt at about four months by giving them live animals to play with, and at about six months they are making their own kills.
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Kruger National Park Wildlife Report June 2013
- Average minimum 9.7°C (49.5°F)
- Average maximum 27.5°C (81.4°F)
- Minimum recorded 0°C (32°F)
- Maximum recorded 31°C (87.8°F)
- For the period: 0 mm
- For the year to date: 398.5 mm
The Xhirombe pride with its welcome new additions
The Xhirombe pride of lions, which live in the southern area of our concession, have been going through some interesting times, but the most significant is, without doubt, the new addition three young cubs.
This is the smallest pride on the concession, and its heritage is from the famous Mountain pride, but they split years back when the Mountain pride became too big. The previous set of male cubs has now moved off and has become nomadic. The lionesses mated with a new dominant male, seen in October 2012. Given the 110-day gestation period, we estimate these three lion cubs to be at an age of about 3 or 4 months. All members of the
pride are in great health – they are fantastic hunters, and rule the mountains. The father is spending a large amount of time with the mother and cubs. Male lions are not reputed to be great fathers, but the dominant male has been staying with the female, and has actually been incredibly vocal of late, sending out a clear warning.
The lioness moves the cubs from den site to den site, but the cubs are definitely being exposed a little more now as they get older, and we have been afforded some wonderful sightings as they play around on the already spectacular granophyre rocks, not far from the lodge. Certainly very new and welcome additions to the Singita Kruger National Park.
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Kruger National Park Wildlife Report May 2013
- Average minimum 9.0 °C (48.2°F)
- Average maximum 27.7°C (81.8°F)
- Minimum recorded 3.0°C (37.4°F)
- Maximum recorded 32.0°C (89.6°F)
- For the period: 10mm
- For the year to date: 398.5mm
Singita Kruger National Park is very fortunate in terms of the diversity of botany in the area. This is based on a difference in the soils and topography in the east, with the rhyolite-based Lebombo mountains, versus the west with its extremely fertile basaltic soils and relatively flat grasslands. Flora, like fauna, has its preferences to where it likes to live, and the differences in soil type and topography allows for a wonderful spectrum. There are two particularly prominent trees that grow in the area. They are very much cactus-like plants, but are in fact from the euphorbia family. They certainly do give the atmosphere of a great Western movie! The trees are incredibly picturesque and generally grow in areas that receive a limited amount of rainfall. The first of the euphorbias is the Transvaal candelabra euphorbia (Euphorbia cooperi). This is identified by its beautiful branches with what can be described as upside down heart-shaped lobes. It typically grows on rocky ridges, but it is less reliant on these ridges than the similar Lebombo euphorbia. The more ‘cucumber’ shaped lobes of the Lebombo Euphorbia tree, with the flowers starting to come through as we approach winter. Trees of the euphorbia family have a white milky latex and are extremely toxic. They can be very dangerous to the eyes, and cause blisters and irritation to the skin if not handled with extreme care. Despite this, the traditional uses are fairly varied – they include using it as a fish poison, purgative, poison for hunting arrows and for treating lesions and wounds on cattle. As a result, the tree is not eaten by many animals. One animal that is known to browse certain euphorbias is the black rhinoceros, and it is thought to be for its stomach cleansing properties.
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Kruger National Park Wildlife Report April 2013
- Average minimum 12.6˚C (59.3˚F)
- Average maximum 28.7˚C (81.1˚F)
- Minimum recorded 08.0˚C (53.6˚F)
- Maximum recorded 35.0˚C (91.4˚F)
- For the period: 66 mm
- For the year to date: 385.5 mm