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
As mentioned in previous journals, we have been waiting with baited breath and hope for two of our young leopardesses to reveal their cubs. Clear sightings of the mothers lactating have had everyone very excited to try and locate the new arrivals. That amazing day happened on the 14th of March, when the Stickythorn female was seen with two very small additions! Great sightings were enjoyed on safari, for the morning and the afternoon of the 14th. However, she was located again the next morning with only one cub. There were many lion tracks in and out of the area and she possibly lost one to the lions. It’s believed that her den site is outside of our concession, and we have not seen her since, but the cubs are active and resilient and are probably just fine given the stature of their mother. Another magical day occurred when, not even a week later, the Mhlangulene female emerged from the long grass, boasting one cub. The mother was incredibly relaxed and even moved up to the vehicle, calling the cub behind her. However, the great big Land Rover was a bit too much for the youngster who had a brief look and then made a hasty retreat into the undergrowth.
She was located a few days later with yet another tiny cub, making it 4 new rosette arrivals to the Singita Kruger National Park family in under a week! Naturally, viewing of the cubs is conducted very ethically and sensitively, but the guides have already noticed the cubs relaxing slightly (helped by the tolerant nature of their mothers). This makes the upcoming months extremely exciting for leopard viewing, should the cubs be successful. We wish these leopardesses great success in bringing up their first litters!
We have been seeing a few young male leopards investigating the area, and are excited by the fact that there was another female leopard with a male and female cub not far from Lebombo and Sweni lodges. The near independent male cub has been exploring and hunting a little, while the female cub enjoys the potential to take a small portion of her mother’s territory. Leopards are reputably good mothers and allow the cubs to remain with them for up to two years, but will also often relinquish a bit of their territory to their young female cubs.
Download the full wildlife journal here: Singita Kruger National Park Wildlife Journal March 2013
- Average minimum: 17.3°C (63.14˚F)
- Average maximum: 29.9°C (85.8˚F)
- Minimum recorded: 13°C (55.4˚F)
- Maximum recorded: 36°C (96.8˚F)
- For the period: 60 mm
- For the year to date: 325.5 mm
Cicada’s, birds, rain, long green grass and the baby boom of small animals are just a few thoughts of summer. February, according to the records, is the hottest time of year and it proved to be just that with some sweltering and humid days after all the rain. We thought that we’d seen the end of the rain until later this year but, surprisingly, we experienced a few heavy and most welcome thunderstorms. Summer also brings in dramatic clouds and some sizzling sunsets. As an orange glow emitted across the horizon we all leaned against the land rover, watching this sunset, in awe. I have often been told that wild environments that humble the spirit are food for the soul. This was a feast! Watching large herds of herbivores you’ll often see some of them with a number of birds perched on their backs, as if to take a free ride. However, their purpose is extremely important to the host animals in the sense that they will spend a great deal of time foraging through the animals’ hairy coat, looking for ticks. Not exactly a high class entrée, but extremely nutritious and tasty to this little bird. Oxpecker populations occur in certain areas within Africa, as they live off ticks that live off livestock and wildlife.
- Average Minimum:18°C (64°F)
- Average Maximum:31°C (88°F)
- Minimum Recorded:17°C (63°F)
- Maximum Recorded:36°C (97°F)
- For the period:32 mm (1 in)
- For the year to date:262 mm (10 in)
The first of January came and went like any other day in the bush, but added was the excitement of knowing the seasonal changes ahead, the arrivals of young being born, a bird watcher’s delight, flowers galore and a reminder to take this year slowly, as the last one flew by.Early in the morning I could hear the pitter-patter of raindrops on my galvanized roof. Shortly thereafter my alarm went off and it was time to get the day started. However, this day felt slightly different… there was a cool breeze in the air and a prevalent light rain that was soaking the ground. This was rain that was going to stay for a few days.Three days later, the N’wanetsi River in front of Lebombo Lodge had swelled and was slowly rising. By early afternoon it had spilled over the weir in front of the lodge. Large dead tree stumps along with other debris were now flowing down the river. The N’wanetsi has no origin outside the park, nor a dam within the park, and it is fuelled by catchments. During heavy rains these catchments fill the river and the water gathers filtering through the wet vegetation over the saturated ground, and by the time it reaches the lodge it’s a powerful river flowing south towards Mozambique.
- Average Minimum:19°C (66°F)
- Average Maximum:30°C (86°F)
- Minimum Recorded:16°C (61°F)
- Maximum Recorded:31°C (88°F)
- For the period:233 mm (9 in)
- For the year to date:233 mm (9 in)