Wildlife Report

The Singita Wildlife Report

First-hand ranger reports from the bushveld

August 2015 - Pamushana, Zimbabwe

It’s dry, it’s hot, the sun is getting up earlier and going to bed later, so it’s an ideal time for safari and easy sightings at the sought-after permanent water sources. But with the grass being low and the trees leafless it is also the best time for walking safaris, and our guests have enjoyed many experiences on foot this month.

A snapshot of August’s activity is as follows:

Wild dogs: The most fantastic news for the month is that the pack of 15 wild dogs (Lycaon pictus) introduced us to their dozen pups on 22 August! What a special occasion it was to see the healthy patchwork of youngsters romping about with the adults at a pan, and to know that our protected area has given rise to another 12 of these Endangered (IUCN Red List) predators. Guests landing at our property’s Lonestar airstrip had an awesome introduction to the reserve as they were driving to the lodge, by encountering the wild dog pack hunting and chasing impalas.

Lions: We’ve had excellent lion sightings, especially of two large males; a pride of three male lions, three lionesses and one cub; and a pride of two lionesses with four juveniles. Lions (Panthera leo) have recently been classified as Vulnerable (IUCN Red List) as their overall population is inferred to have undergone a reduction of approximately 42% over the past 21 years. However, sample lion subpopulations increased by 11% in Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe as well as India, while an observed decline of 60% in sample subpopulations outside these countries is inferred for the remainder of the African range.

Leopards: Luck is on your side if you see a leopard, yet this month our guests enjoyed sightings of two leopards drinking at the river. Others who missed that sighting were thrilled to see a large male leopard stalking some baboons. And in a rather ridiculous situation guests witnessed a stare down standoff between two cheetahs sitting on a log and a leopard resting in the shade!

Cheetahs: We’ve had good cheetah sightings, particularly of the two territorial male cheetahs. They’ve entranced guests by seemingly posing in the most flattering late afternoon light and in all their bloody glory when feeding on an impala they’d just caught. There have been regular sightings of a mother cheetah and her now sub-adult cub. It wont be long now before this sub-adult female leaves her mother to find her own way in a solitary life.

Elephants: Once again – if you want to see elephants you only need go to where there’s water. There are some magnificent old bulls about at the moment, head-heavy with generous ivory.

Rhinos: Rhino sightings have been prolific, although it is more common to see white rhinos than black. An interesting sight was of a bull white rhino marking his territory.

Buffalo: There was a breathtaking sight of over 700 buffaloes drinking at our central pan. But the most gruesome sighting of the month was when two buffalo bulls were fighting and one got his horns trapped in a dense thicket of branches. Then a hungry and opportunistic clan of hyenas arrived and started attacking him, while he was trapped. It was a truly gory scene when the hyenas gutted the buffalo alive. The bull kept fighting for his life for over an hour, trying to ward the hyenas off, while being disembowelled. He finally died after the horrific ordeal.

Hyenas: The day after the buffalo kill 18 hyenas were seen feeding on the carcass and bathing with bloated bellies in the nearby pan. At another hyena kill the cunning predators were seen stashing some excess meat by dropping it into knee-deep water. This kept the meat fresh, free of flies and protected from vultures. When the hyenas had the appetite to eat more, they would fish out the meat by putting their heads under water and locate their cache.

Plains game: We’ve had very good sightings of the ‘shyer’ plains game at this dry time – 15 sable antelope at the central pan, 15 Lichtenstein hartebeest at a pan in the east and a herd of eland were observed from our sunken photographic hide, as they drank from the water’s edge. In this photo a sable bull keeps a nervous watch while four impala calmly wander by.

Birds: It’s a treat for us to have keen birders as guests, as we did this month, and the highlights were a pair of crowned eagles on a nest as well as three hamerkops, a great white egret, a grey heron and a fish eagle flying at low level and slow speed over the water, hunting for platana frogs coming to the surface to breath. (While this was going on we had a glimpse of a leopard drinking!) An early morning drive offered up a brown-backed honeyguide, green-winged pytilia, wren warblers, plus a big highlight – the African pied babbler.

 Special sightings: Well, the special sighting of the month, without a shadow of a doubt, regardless of the fact that it was dead, goes to an aardvark! I have yet to see one, dead or alive, but one of our guides found the remains of one. There’ve been two sightings of a serval and also two sightings of a relaxed civet. Our guests were also lucky enough to get a quick glimpse of an African wildcat.


Read the full report here: Singita Pamushana Wildlife Report August 2015


  • Average Minimum:15.1°C (59.1°F)
  • Minimum Recorded:9.3°C (48.7°F)
  • Average Maximum:28.9°C (84°F)
  • Maximum Recorded:34.6°C (32°F)


  • For the period:0 mm (0 in)
  • For the year to date:155 mm

Singita Pamushana

July 2015 - Pamushana, Zimbabwe

These winter months are the most popular for safari – and it’s no secret why… cold crisp mornings lead to warm sunny days, where the vegetation is dry and the wildlife is drawn to the sparse permanent water sources. But every now and then you’ll be startled out of the meditative monotony of the earthy colours by dazzling sabi star flowers or a flashy chafer beetle.

The lions are also feeling the cold. Four of them had curled up for warmth in the drainage tunnels beneath our main access road – it’s a little unnerving knowing you are driving ‘over’ four ferocious predators! The lion prides seem to have had a preference for buffalo meat this month – there have been quite a few kills. The two dominant males of the western section have been spending the last few days lounging about with full stomachs on the other side of the Chiredzi River. At one stage they were seen on the riverbank with three adult females and one young cub. Hopefully some new cubs are on the way as there was mating activity with one of the lionesses – we’ll have to wait for at least 110 days to be sure, as that’s the gestation period.
Wild dogs:
The pack, up to 14 of them at a time, are seen hunting regularly because they’re denning in the hills – but still no sign of the pups…

We’ve had good cheetah sightings this month – a couple have been seen hunting, and so has the female who has raised several litters – she’s easy to identify as she is missing the tip of her tail.

The elephant highlights for the month come from the bulls – we’ve seen magnificent tuskers drinking, feeding, resting, dusting and mud-bathing. They are calm when not in musth and during this calm phase we are able to enjoy long, close-up peaceful encounters with them.

Rhino viewing is what we’re renowned for. The highlight this month was when guests got to see black and white rhino bulls interacting, with six lions spectating in the background!
The eight black rhinos that we were able to donate to Botswana have settled and are doing well.

The breeding herds we’re seeing are slightly smaller because
they’ve split up to go in search of smaller pockets of pasture. That’s said guests and guides got a good dusting when a herd of about 300 Cape buffalo stampeded towards a pan for a drink!

Plains game:
The varieties of habitats here provide nourishment for a diversity of plains game. It’s not uncommon to see herds of sable, eland and Lichtenstein hartebeest, as we did this month. Far more abundant are impala, kudu and zebra. Here a family of kudu browse on bush that still retains some green foliage.

Special sightings:
Eliciting a chorus of compliments were a new-born giraffe, still with its umbilical cord attached, and a brand new zebra foal being nuzzled by its mother. Other special sightings were of an African wild cat, genets, a civet, a porcupine and a honey badger. An adult male leopard graced us with his presence, close to one of the safari vehicles, giving guests a chance to admire him.
On the feathered front were many good owl sightings while five racket-tailed rollers stole the show near Nduna Camp.


Read the full report here: Singita Pamushana Wildlife Report July 2015


  • Average minimum: 14,3˚C (57,7˚F)
  • Minimum recorded: 11,1˚C (51,9˚F)
  • Average maximum: 27,8˚C (82,0˚F)
  • Maximum recorded: 34,4˚C (93,9˚F)


  • For the month: 0 mm
  • For the year to date: 155,0 mm

Singita Pamushana

June 2015 - Pamushana, Zimbabwe

Winter is here! Most of the trees have lost their leaves now – but we caught this beauty, at the start of the month, in a state of undress from green to gold.

The pride of lions that lost a cub last month is doing well, and there’s another pride with two young cubs of about four months old. More could arrive in about 110 days – we’ve witnessed the intense and rather volatile actions of a mating pair.

The hyenas give us regular sightings around their den on the lodge road. A super morning was spent watching four adults and seven cubs playing and chasing each other. The clan fight of last month seems over and a new order has settled.
Wild dogs:
No pups yet, although we’ve had excellent sightings of the wild dogs hunting. On a walk we found that they’d killed two impalas, and guests watched spellbound as the dogs ate the kills and fought with hyenas. There has been plenty of wild dog and hyena action – the hyenas seem to follow the wild dogs and try to steal their kills – on one occasion we watched a tug of war between ten hyenas and nine wild dogs fighting over an impala. The fight went on for more than twenty minutes, and finally the hyenas were the victors!

We had a fantastic sighting of two juvenile male cheetahs, as well as another of a female scanning her surroundings for prey.

With time on our guests’ side they spent an entire afternoon with eight bull elephants. What is so rewarding when you are able to spend hours observing the same animals is the behaviours you notice – we watched as one elephant purposefully selected a long stick, and holding the stick with its trunk, used it to scratch his itchy stomach.

We’ve enjoyed excellent sightings of white rhinos, and some very special encounters with black rhinos too.

I’m loathe to use the word ‘mega’ because it has been used to describe everything from big burgers to tall buildings, but when you see a herd of six hundred buffalo together, as we have done this month, I think it is fair to describe it as a mega-herd!

The month’s highlights were an exceptional sighting of a beautiful giant eagle owl, a Verreaux’s eagle perched on the cliffs, two white-faced owls and a hammerkop trying to eat a huge toad.

Special sightings
Two smaller creatures gave us some very special moments this month, one where a very relaxed small spotted genet walked around the car inspecting it, while guests photographed the rare occasion; then there was the slender mongoose that posed for us out of a hole in a tree. A male klipspringer looked keen on procreating, while the female seemed less so, and their yearling looked completely confused.

Now that it’s so dry the best (and easiest) places to find wildlife are at the pans – congregations seen at different pans include six Lichtenstein hartebeest, a herd of 400 buffalo and a pride of lions including two very cute cubs.
At another were two elephant bulls, followed by three lionesses and the pride male. While we had sundowners a male leopard sat watching us, about 100 metres away, and later came to drink at the pan. Other highlights at the pans were two black-backed jackals and a herd of eland.

Photo hide: The photographic hides have been put to great use. Patient guests were rewarded with seven elephant bulls drinking, along with six giraffes, wildebeest, impalas and zebras. On another occasion inside the hide we had two elephant bulls wallowing, impalas, wildebeest, hartebeest, warthogs, buffalo bulls and, at last light, six white rhinos.
Community tours: These have been popular – especially the Kambako Bushcraft Museum where the heritage, culture and bushcraft skills of the Shangaan people are practised.
Rock art: Guests have expressed keen interest in the rock art, and many walks have been conducted to various sites. An excellent source of reference and information is our new book, The Rock Art of Malilangwe.

Fishing: Some great fun and catches – see the tongue-in-cheek story towards the end of this journal.


Read the full reports here: Singita Pamushana June Wildlife Report June 2015


  • Average minimum: 13,4˚C (56,1˚F)
  • Minimum recorded: 9,6˚C(49,2˚F)
  • Average maximum: 26,8˚C (80,2˚F)
  • Maximum recorded: 31,1˚C (87,9˚F)


  • For the month: 0 mm
  • For the year to date: 155,0 mm
  • Sunrise & Sunset
  • Sunrise 06:30
  • Sunset 17.21

Singita Pamushana

April 2015 - Pamushana,

Imagine the thrill of coming across two male cheetahs on a kill. It’s such a privilege to see, especially as they have disappeared from an estimated 76% of their historic range in Africa. Their population has declined by at least 30% over the past 18 years, and is primarily due to habitat loss and fragmentation, as well as killing and capture of cheetahs due to livestock loss as well as for trade. Then imagine you are Simon Capon who has spent years on this reserve researching his thesis for a degree of Master of Science in Conservation Ecology, a thesis that looked at the decline of sable antelope through much of the lowveld. A thesis that aimed to determine the cause of the decline and the continued lack of success in the sable population. And then imagine his mixed emotions when he realised these two cheetahs had killed one of ‘his’ precious sable calves!

Our research department is busy formulating identikits on some of the predator populations, as part of another study, so by looking at the spot patterns of these two cheetahs we know that they are a coalition that was first sighted on the reserve in 2012. They look to be in excellent health and fitness, and it is not uncommon for males to form coalitions for the advantages of hunting success and safeguarding a territory. Let’s hope these two don’t develop a preference for sables in the future!

Read the full wildlife report here: Singita Pamushana Wildlife Report April 2015


  • Average minimum 19.1°C (66°F)
  • Average maximum 30.9°C (91.4°F)
  • Minimum recorded 16.8°C (50°F)
  • Maximum recorded 36.8°C (98.6°F)


  • For the period: 33.5 mm
  • For the year to date: 155 mm

Singita Pamushana

March 2015 - Pamushana, Zimbabwe

This month’s highlights were 70 elephants marching along to a pan, accompanied by three white rhinos and two buffalo bulls. We were delighted to see the pack of wild dogs on the property again – on one occasion they were resting in the shade of the riverbed, being obstructed from drinking by two buffalo bulls. The young dogs enjoyed playing and calling while the buffalo seemed belligerent at best. Later in the month we had a thrilling sighting of a buffalo calf being hunted and killed by two lionesses and a lion. Less conspicuous was a young male leopard that we glimpsed at the airstrip when we where looking for two cheetah brothers that had been seen there that morning. Rounding off the ‘Magnificent 7′ highlights were three white rhinos that plodded along calmly grazing to within four metres of a guest-transfixed safari vehicle. Just as magnificent was watching a herd of rare Lichtenstein hartebeest and sable nibbling the drying out grasses.

Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Pamushana Wildlife Report March 2015


  • Average minimum: 21,6°C (70,8°F)
  • Average maximum 33,6°C (92,4°F)
  • Minimum recorded 16,9°C (62,4°F)
  • Maximum recorded 38,7°C (101,6°F)


  • For the month: 7 mm
  • For the year to date: 121,5 mm

Singita Pamushana

February 2015 - Pamushana, Zimbabwe

The Bush Telegraph reports the following highlights for February: A breeding herd of about 40 elephants entertained guests with their antics, while a lone elephant bull was seen swimming at Nduna Dam. Over 600 buffaloes blocked the horizon as they slowly made their way towards water. A couple of black rhinos were spotted – there was no missing the one that mock charged the game viewer and only stopped about three metres from the new vehicle! White rhino sightings were far more prolific – especially when a crash of seven gathered at a popular waterhole and drank, while one little calf suckled from its mother. Leopards were true to their nature by being elusive, but the sighting of the month went to a young male perched high in a tree, then climbing down and making a dash for cover into thick bush.

Download the full wildlife report here: SP Wildlife Report Feb 2015


  • Average minimum 23,3°C (73,9°F)
  • Average maximum 33,6°C (92,4°F)
  • Minimum recorded 17,5°C (63,5°F)
  • Maximum recorded 36,8°C (98,2°F)


  • For the month: 5,5 mm
  • For the year to date: 114,5 mm

Singita Pamushana

January 2015 - Pamushana, Zimbabwe

It doesn’t rain – it pours! But then it clears a couple of hours later and you see extraordinary sights in sparkling light set against gunmetal grey skies. The grass is at its zenith this month, and invariably I think to myself, “Well, unless something is sauntering down the middle of the road I’m not going to spot it…” But, time and again that is exactly what happens – the animals use the road network more than ever because they don’t want unseen dangers sneaking up on them in the long grass and they don’t want to be disadvantaged by the grass obscuring their surroundings. The tiger fishing has been great, the day trips to Chilojo Cliffs in neighbouring Gonarezhou National Park most
enjoyable, and the ancient rock art on our reserve is always a highlight, but the wildlife highlights for the month include a lion and lioness ‘on honeymoon’, a herd of buffalo numbering close to 500, close encounters with black rhinos, the hyena den-site with new cubs, a pack of 23 wild dogs, two lionesses with five cubs, an adult hyena
that was wallowing at a waterhole and was chased away by a white rhino and her calf, as well as lots of excellent bird of prey activity such as a martial eagle and an African hawk-eagle hunting guinea fowl, gabar goshawks and lesser spotted eagles hunting queleas at the quelea colonies and sightings of tawny eagle s and secretary birds.

Download the full wildlife report here: SP Wildlife Report Jan 2015


  • Average minimum 21,9°C (71,4°F)
  • Average maximum 32,2°C (89,9°F)
  • Minimum recorded 19,5°C (67,1°F)
  • Maximum recorded 38,5°C (101,3°F)


  • For the month: 2,2 mm
  • For the year to date: 2,2 mm

Singita Pamushana

December 2014 - Pamushana, Zimbabwe

It’s been a month of festivities and feasting for all – especially the predators. Early bird guests and guides have seen a female cheetah chasing an impala – but speed’s not everything, the impala jinked away to safety. Using the same strategy a wildebeest outwitted a lion after a high-speed chase and the bull made a great escape into the thick bush. We’ve seen a pack of 26 African wild dogs hunting along the river and a young male leopard stalking impalas. This journal details two predator feasts, and if you, like me, cannot eat dinner and watch Grey’s Anatomy at the same time due to the gory images I suggest you keep all food far away from you, especially any carpaccio! The predators did reveal their softer sides as well this month, such as when a clan of five adult hyenas delighted guests by playing with their four cubs next to the road and when two lionesses showed off their five cubs of different ages, the youngest being a 12-week-old ball of fluff.


Read the full report here: Singita Pamushana Wildlife Report Dec 2014


  • Average Minimum:27.1°C (71°F)
  • Average Maximum:32.3°C (90.1°F)
  • Minimum Recorded:16.5°C (61.7°F)
  • Maximum Recorded:38.9°C (102°F)


  • For the period: 148 mm
  • For the year to date:791.6 mm

Singita Pamushana

November 2014 - Pamushana, Zimbabwe

The first good rains of the season started mid-month, with great downpours of 75 mm in some areas. Sparks of green now flash throughout the landscape, pastel pink crinum lilies bend like ballerinas above the ground, cicada insects play raucous crashing cymbal sounds and a band of woodland kingfishers have arrived with a fanfare of trills and showy displays. There have been many sighting highlights in the month, such as a pack of 25 wild dogs fighting with a clan of nine hyenas; five lions and two cubs at a kill; three bull elephants lying down fast asleep in a drainage system; three jackal puppies pouncing about in front of the Land Cruiser, trying to catch some flying ants that were  attracted to the headlights; a big herd of at least 500 buffalo plus ten hartebeest and 12 sable antelope; two hyenas scouting for a leopard’s kill that the leopard had stowed in a safe rocky crevice; a crowned eagle calling out for its partner; a leopard draped peacefully over a termite mound and six Lichtenstein hartebeest feeding on lush new grass shoots.

Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Pamushana Wildlife Report Nov 2014




  • Average minimum 21,2°C (70,1°F)
  • Average maximum 33,6°C (92,4°F)
  • Minimum recorded 15,0°C (59,0°F)
  • Maximum recorded 41,2°C (106,1°F)


  • For the month: 129,4 mm
  • For the year to date: 643,6 mm

Singita Pamushana

October 2014 - Pamushana, Zimbabwe

It’s an itchy scratchy time of year if you don’t have a good moisturizer but, as you’ll see from the photo above and the story further on, rhinos make a plan where they can. However, we did receive an early sprinkling of rain mid-month, about 10 mm, so that has brought some relief to all. We’ve been taking advantage of the dry short cropped
landscape by taking guests on walks and have had some excellent encounters with black and white rhinos.

An advantage of cruising aboard the Suncatcher is that animals don’t seem intimidated by our presence and on a couple of occasions this month guests have spotted a male leopard on the shore of Malilangwe Dam. We’ve also enjoyed a breeding herd of more than 30 elephants feeding, drinking and swimming, two black rhinos very close to the boat, hippos and lots of birds.

Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Pamushana Wildlife Report Oct 2014


  • Average minimum 18,3°C (64,9°F)
  • Average maximum 31,7°C (89,0°F)
  • Minimum recorded 14,6°C (58,2°F)
  • Maximum recorded 41,4°C (106,5°F)


  • For the month: 12,2 mm
  • For the year to date: 514,8 mm

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