Seasonal changes Article by Ross Couper.
After living in the bush for several years, you start to see the subtlest of seasonal changes in the vegetation. I am always waiting in anticipation to see the metamorphoses as it engulfs the bush with a blanket of change and, if you look closely, you will notice that the changes are very evident when pointed out. These small details are often included in the game drives but are brought to the fore during the guided walking safaris. Yesterday I parked my safari vehicle in the shade, waiting for it to be filled with fuel, and when I returned an hour later it was filled with dried leaves. This was an indication that autumn was advancing. The endless bird calls in summer are always a clear indication of the summer season. As the season progressed through the rainy months, a few summer residents still fed on the last of the abundance of insects before their long return to North Africa or Europe. This week it was difficult to hear a woodland kingfisher call. We have seen a few of them but they’re a lot less abundant than they were and they are not calling as a territorial display anymore.
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Sabi Sand Wildlife Report March 2014
- Average minimum 17.6˚C (63.68˚F)
- Average maximum 28.4˚C (83.1˚F)
- Minimum recorded 8.0˚C (46.4˚F)
- Maximum recorded 34.8˚C (94.64˚F)
- For the period: 308 mm
- For the year to date: 847 mm
Territorial expansion…? Article by Ross Couper
The last few weeks have been exciting to say the least, it has been action-packed for the month. The Mhangeni pride has been within the central sections of the property, periodically moving south and maintaining a permanent movement between the various drainages and successfully hunting game within these areas. This lasted for a period of almost two weeks. The central sections of the Singita property are currently the dividing line between the two major male lion coalitions, the Majingilane males in the south east and the Selati male coalition in the north west. Both coalitions have been seen over this boundary line on different intervals. Two of the Majingilane males ventured across the territorial boundary at the same time that it was reported that the Selati males were roaring. The sound of other males roaring instinctively caused the Majingilane males to start roaring as well, and within a few hours the remaining two males of the Majingilane coalition had joined forces, and were found in the early hours of the morning well into the Selati males’ territory.
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Sabi Sand Wildlife Report February 2014
- Average minimum 17.0˚C (62.6˚F)
- Average maximum 34.0˚C (93.2˚F)
- Minimum recorded 19.0˚C (66.2˚F)
- Maximum recorded 31.8˚C (89.2˚F))
- For the period: 65 mm
- For the year to date: 573 mm
The best time to come on safari is… Article by Dylan Brandt
Right now! The Sabi Sand Wildtuin is a special piece of land perfectly placed for exceptional game viewing all year round. One often hears that the best time to come on safari is in the winter. The bush will be dry so spotting animals will be easier, true. There is perennial water on the property where elsewhere water is scarce and the animals are drawn to these parts, true. But what about summer and the ‘wetter’ season? To the west of the Sabi Sand Wildtuin lies the Drakensburg mountain range and it is this mountain range and the moist air blown over the warm Mozambique current off shore that creates an oasis below. When this moist air hits the mountain the air rises and condenses to form clouds, these clouds now full of moisture fall east of the mountains and release rain throughout the lowveld where we are, leaving much of the highveld a semi desert.
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Sabi Sand Wildlife Report January 2014
- Average minimum 18.0˚C (64.4˚F)
- Average maximum 30.0˚C (86.0˚F)
- Minimum recorded 12.0˚C (53.6˚F)
- Maximum recorded 39.0˚C (102.2˚F)
- For the period: 91 mm
- For the year to date: 508 mm
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
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
A visit from a pangolin
A pangolin is often referred to as a mythical creature, something that is thought to exist but is never ever seen. Many guides will dream of seeing one but will never get the chance to lay their eyes upon the sharp-edged scales of this extremely shy animal. Imagine my surprise when the radio crackles to life and a voice utters, “Stations, I have located a pangolin.” I could not believe my ears, and I was only ten minutes away. I happened to be enjoying the company of a cheetah family at the time and as much as I loved being there I knew I had to see this creature for myself. I mentioned to my guests that they simply had to trust me here and that I was about to try and put them into a select category of pangolin-believers. They held on and off we went. Ten minutes later we arrived and there, right in front of me tucked away next to a small Acacia tree, was a pangolin. I had to do a double take, as I could not believe it at first.
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Sabi Sand Wildlife Report October 2013
- Average minimum 14.2˚C (57.6˚F)
- Average maximum 29.4˚C (84.9˚F)
- Minimum recorded 10.0˚C (50.0˚F)
- Maximum recorded 46.0˚C (114.8˚F)
- For the period: 101.5 mm
- For the year to date: 122.5 mm
Buffalo versus lion versus leopard
As guests were having afternoon snacks on the riverside deck before game drive, we noticed a male lion sleeping on the opposite side of the river. Then a large buffalo bull ambled into the scene. Next, all drama broke lose. Two more male lions appeared and they set off after the now terrified buffalo. To our astonishment, teacups in hand, the lions killed the buffalo right in front of Boulders Lodge, rooms 9 and 10. Unbelievable! For the next three days we had ring-side viewing. The lions did not bother moving much as they had food and water right there next to them. The only activity seemed to be within their ever-growing bellies filled with buffalo meat. On the first morning a male leopard, known as the Nyalethi male, crept in to view. While the lions were feeding he would keep a respectful distance, never showing himself to his far larger relatives. All he was waiting for was a window of opportunity for a potential free meal.
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Sabi Sand Wildlife Journal September 2013
- Average minimum 13.3˚C (50.5˚F)
- Average maximum 28.8˚C (81.1˚F)
- Minimum recorded 07.0˚C (44.6˚F)
- Maximum recorded 39.0˚C (93.2˚F)
- For the period: 21 mm
- For the year to date: 985 mm
Introducing the Othawa pride cubs (Images and article by guide, Marlon du Toit)
After months of huge anticipation and many attempts at getting a glimpse at these young cubs, the day finally arrived, and boy did I soak in all the goodness! To see eight little bundles of lion fluff bounding towards your vehicle across the white beach-like sand of the aptly named Sand River is an absolute dream come true. These lion cubs remained well hidden within the thickets along the banks of the river for many weeks, a useful method of protecting them, especially in the absence of their mothers. We would get a glimpse of a cub every now and then, but to see all of them right there in the open was incredible. These lionesses are over five years old and are yet to raise a litter successfully. Male lion coalitions have been too unsettling in the past, killing previous litters and preventing the lionesses from entering oestrus for longer periods than usual. The resident males, known as the Selati Coalition, are now well established and thanks to that the Othawa Pride has grown to eleven in total. The cubs now need protection from the rival males, known as the Majingilane Coalition. Their survival depends on the Selati Coalition’s strength and the ingenuity of their experienced mothers. As it stands they rarely venture far east into their territory for fear of an encounter with the Majingilane Coalition. Male lions are well known for ending the lives of young cubs fathered by other males, and this would be disastrous. Let’s trust that these cubs will all make it safely to adulthood.
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Sabi Sand Wildlife Report July 2013
- Average minimum 07.3˚C (45.1˚F)
- Average maximum 22.7˚C (73.0˚F)
- Minimum recorded 02.0˚C (35.6˚F)
- Maximum recorded 27.5˚C (81.5˚F)
- For the period: 10 mm
- For the year to date: 938 mm
Seven days, seven different leopards
We have all been in awe of how the densities of large predators thrive in a well-balanced ecosystem, as they do within the Sabi Sand. It’s a deluge of varying opinions and scientific facts with a lot of speculation and estimates, which after a glass or two of wine around a campfire, usually results in an answer that everyone agrees on… well sort of. Ultimately it comes down to survival and the key to it all is the word ‘balance’. Managed areas like the Sabi Sand are conserved environments that have been constantly evaluated by researchers, ecologists, zoologists and guides for several years, to understand how the environment has thrived to be so successful, and also how predators have coped with each other.
Applying the basic conservation principles and having leaders with a focus on conservation and rehabilitation, is the key to a sustainable environment. This should not only be a focus within the reserve but on the periphery as well. Understanding the needs of the local surrounding communities and assisting them forms a strong link to preservation of the wildlife within the reserve.
The remnants of open grassland that were created during active subsistence farming within the area, pumping water to dams and having the Sand River flow through the reserve have all created varying biomes for the diversity of species. All of these combining factors are just a few reasons that contribute to the balanced predator densities.
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Sabi Sand Wildlife Report May 2013
- Average minimum 11.6˚C (59,3˚F)
- Average maximum 27.0˚C (81,1˚F)
- Minimum recorded 8.0˚C (53,6˚F)
- Maximum recorded 32.0˚C (91,4˚F)
- For the period: 0 mm
- For the year to date: 926 mm
Cheetahs are best known for their antics in vast open spaces like the Masai Mara and Serengeti. The large grasslands there create ideal habitat for the world’s fastest land mammal, as they chase down prey at speeds in excess of 100 km/h. That said, we have cheetahs in the Sabi Sand Wildtuin that have made this not-so-open habitat their home. The family of three pictured here joined us about two months ago, after an absence of cheetah cubs for almost five years. Singita’s most southern areas are open grassland, suitable for this family to settle and thrive. Large herds of impala often gather on the plains, giving great opportunity for the speed queen to stretch her long legs. She has had to adapt the classic hunting technique, and with several observations we have noticed that she stalks much closer to her prey than cheetah in East Africa do. She often hunts more like a leopard, in that she uses the available cover to stalk within 20 meters, or closer. A single male cheetah has also made this area his home. He is a large and strong male and has gone unrivaled for almost a year. With the arrival of the female, mating prospects have started looking a whole lot better. The only problem for now is that she has two dependent cubs. The female will not allow him to court her whilst her cubs are still around, and this should still be the case for another eight months.
Male cheetahs are not as aggressive towards foreign cubs as their larger feline relatives. Lions and leopards often kill cubs fathered by any rival male. Male cheetahs have been observed to threaten cubs and show their dislike towards their presence, as can be seen pictured below. However, there are cases of male cheetahs actually killing cubs in order to gain access to the female cheetah a few weeks later. Only time will tell what will happen with these particular ones. From what we have witnessed, thus far, his disapproval of them is obvious in that he often spits or strikes at them in typical cheetah fashion. The female will intervene if things get too heated, and he usually retreats. The cubs are in great health and have always walked away from these interactions, unscathed.
Download full wildlife report here: Singita Sabi Sand Wildlife Report April 2013
- Average minimum 15.2˚C (59.3˚F)
- Average maximum 27.3˚C (81.1˚F)
- Minimum recorded 12.0˚C (53.6˚F)
- Maximum recorded 33.0˚C (91.4˚F)
- For the month 92 mm
- For the year to date 926.0 mm