This month’s photos and stories all seem to be about the lust for life and the persistent pursuit of it. The baby bushbuck (Tragelaphus scriptus) in the photo above was born just below our Director’s home, on 1 November. This little calf is the product of a six-month gestation period and will spend an unusually long lying-up period of about four months, being stowed away and then nursed when its mother returns to it every few hours. It’s great to have these spiral-horned antelope living in close proximity to our staff housing because they are a favourite prey species of leopards and, although bushbuck are rather small, they make a very loud, deep resonating bark when alarmed. Interestingly enough they rely on their earthy colouration and white spots to conceal themselves, so the bark they make is ventriloquial – it lets the predator know it’s been spotted, even
though the predator may not have seen the bushbuck, and it lets us know that there’s possibly a predator too close to hom
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Pamushana Wildlife Report November 2013
- Average minimum 20,8°C (69,4°F)
- Average maximum 34,4°C (93,9°F)
- Minimum recorded 18,2°C (64,7°F)
- Maximum recorded 43,2°C (109,7°F)
- For the period: 69,4 mm
- For the year to date: 456,8 mm
The news of the month is that the first rains have arrived, and even better news is that the forecasted weather patterns predict that we could receive more consistent rain over the next few months, rather than the ‘once-off deluge’ of last year. As part of a team-building exercise, and because all staff are ambassadors for conservation, those who work in the lodge were invited for a game drive – and what a game drive it turned out to be! One of our chefs returned with photos and stories of rock art that is so significant to see in its own context, tracks of various animals in the dust, buffaloes, zebras, giraffes, waterbuck, hippos, elephants, and a sighting of the young female leopard who features in the ‘Cats and dogs’ story this month. On this occasion the staff spotted her cautiously walking through a relatively open area. Seconds later two golden bullets bore down on her – this time it was two male cheetahs who had seen her and given chase. She shimmied up a tree to outwit them, and stayed safely out of reach – even though the brothers ‘pretended’ to walk away nonchalantly in an effort to entice her down. Thank goodness this leopard is such a skilled climber – as you will see in the story that follows on page 12.
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Pamushana Wildlife Report October 2013
- Average minimum 18,0˚C (64,4˚F)
- Average maximum 31,2˚C (88,1˚F)
- Minimum recorded 12,7˚C (54,8˚F)
- Maximum recorded 39,1˚C (102,3˚F)
- For the period: 15,4 mm
- For the year to date: 387,4 mm
If you’d like to see plentiful wildlife sightings and different species interacting on your safari, call a Singita Reservations Consultant right now and board the first plane bound for Africa! The bushveld is achingly dry, and while this doesn’t fit with a conventional view of beauty, it has a spartan allure all its own. While driving through a mopane woodland with their copper-gold leaves drifting down in front of their sooty black-grey bark you can see that it is exactly this vegetation and time of year that a leopard’s rosetted coat has evolved to in order to provide near-perfect concealment. The game is concentrated around the shallow water holes, and if you spend a good couple of hours at any of these you’ll see species that tolerate each other drinking together, while others seemingly wait their turn on the peripheries. Elephants can be the playground bullies barging in and hogging all the space unsharingly, while many predators bide their time nearby, waiting for plains game to take a life-sustaining or life-ending drink.
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Pamushana Wildlife Report September 2013
- Average minimum 17,2°C (62,9°F)
- Average maximum 32,7°C (90,8°F)
- Minimum recorded 11,8°C (53,2°F)
- Maximum recorded 42,3°C (108,1°F)
- For the period: 17,4 mm
- For the year to date: 372,0 mm
It’s been a month of thrilling sightings, newborns and close encounters. First of all I want to tell you about the arrival of 17 wild dogs on our reserve. Seven adults and ten playful pups were seen at one of the pans. Guests enjoyed a thrilling afternoon watching the pack chasing elephants, wildebeest and hyenas! The season for wild dog denning has just finished and we suspect that this pack has arrived on our property via the south, from Gonarezhou National Park. We fervently hope they’ll make this their home for a while, and I’ll be sure to keep you updated with photos and stories if they do. Also vying for number one top sighting slot were the witnessed birth of a baby giraffe and the arrival of a baby boy black rhino. Weighing in at only 40 kg, and looking like a cartoon character, there can be few things more adorable than a rhino calf. (I do realise that I tend to say this about all young animals – but that’s just how it is!) Photos to follow next month, so please stay tuned…
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Pamushana Wildlife Report August 2013
- Average minimum 15,4˚C (59,7˚F)
- Average maximum 28,5˚C (83,3˚F)
- Minimum recorded 11,0˚C (51,8˚F)
- Maximum recorded 35,9˚C (96,6˚F)
- For the period: 0 mm
- For the year to date: 354,6 mm)
It’s been a month of drama and inspiration.
The drama was when we heard a ‘death cry’ from an area amid the lodge surroundings. This is a very distinctive and chilling noise an antelope makes when it is killed, and there’s no mistaking it. Staff members rushed to the area and were met on the pathway by a leopard carrying a male klipspringer in its jaws! It’s quite normal for leopards to prey on klipspringers but leopards are usually so shy of us and elusive, and this was ‘our’ klipspringer! Klipspringers are monogamous and a male and a female pair have been our lodge mascots for many years – always delighting guests and us by being in the lodge garden or perching on the rocky boulders like bronze statuettes. As the leopard’s crime was discovered it dropped the dead klipspringer and fled – it was probably so intent on a meal that it didn’t realise there were humans nearby. The female klipspringer was unharmed but she looks so bereft and will now need to go in search of a new life partner. The inspiration is art. So many scenes seem reminiscent of the works of great masters as well as modern artists, as this next story describes…Photography can be described as painting with light and I’m constantly intrigued by how light changes the mood of a scene, how it reminds me of great artworks and how it inspires me to be creative. I couldn’t help thinking of the vast canvases of the great master, the English Romantic painter, John Constable, when I saw this rhinoceros drinking. The way he captured light washing over idyllic country scenes and expansive cloudy skies in masterpieces like The Hay Wain immediately came to mind. Oh how I wish he’d seen the African landscapes we see!
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Pamushana Wildlife Report July 2013
- Average minimum 11,6°C (52,8°F)
- Average maximum 25,7°C (78,2°F)
- Minimum recorded 08,9°C (48,2°F)
- Maximum recorded 32,2°C (89,9°F)
- For the period: 0.6 mm
- For the year to date: 354,6 mm
It’s been another great month of sightings – some fleeting, some enduring, but never guaranteed. Visuals that we can promise are the priceless time-honoured paintings that adorn some of the sandstone cave walls on Singita Pamushana’s Malilangwe Reserve. Malilangwe has had a long history of human occupation, from the early hunter-gatherers to the more recent agro-pastoralists. Each of these groups has left behind evidence of their presence and preservation of the San rock art and other sites of cultural interest is a conservation priority. In addition, Kambako Living Museum of Bushcraft has been set up on the border of the reserve to preserve the vanishing bushcraft skills of the local Shangaan people. A must for all guests is a visit to Kambako. You’re invited to glimpse the past and marvel at human ingenuity as this fascinating community takes you through their age-old solutions of hunting, forging spear heads, making fire, preparing food, crafting pottery and so much more…
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Pamushana Wildlife Report June 2013
- Average minimum 11,6°C (52,8°F)
- Average maximum 26,8°C (80,2°F)
- Minimum recorded 08,7°C (47,6°F)
- Maximum recorded 32,7°C (90,8°F)
- For the period: 0.2 mm
- For the year to date: 354 mm
Roadblocks and Traffic Jams
No matter where I went this month I got stuck in some sort of snarl-up – it seemed there was an obstruction around every bend. No warnings, no detours, no signs and no explanations – just gridlock. There were even random zebra crossings that appeared out of nowhere. There was nothing I could do about it, other than just sit and wait for it to pass. On a far more serious note – if time is on your side it is always a good idea to try every lens in your camera bag for a new perspective and a different technique.
The herd of elephants in the road gave me a great opportunity for some creative photography. The last photograph in this series is a close-up of the big bull elephant’s feet. He was blocking the road and making sure he stayed between his herd and us. I had enough time to use my 400mm lens with a 1.4 teleconverter, make sure it was stabilized on a beanbag, take the speed down to 1/80th of a second, hold the focus on his forefoot and wait for him to take a step closer, so as to capture some movement in his stride.
I’m very pleased with the moody result of a swirl of shadows, a dragging trunk, gnarled toenails and the intimidating movement in his massive foot.
Download the full wildlife report here: Singita Pamushana Wildlife Report May 2013
- Average minimum 12.8˚C (55.0˚F)
- Average maximum 27.9˚C (82.2˚F)
- Minimum recorded 10.9˚C (51.6˚F)
- Maximum recorded 33.5˚C (92.3˚F)
- For the period: 1.4 mm
- For the year to date: 353.8 mm
My closer inspection of the photograph that follows revealed three different bird species surrounding the white rhino, which was grazing peacefully on the low grass in evidence this month. The black bird on the rhino’s withers is a fork-tailed drongo (Dicurus adsimilis). It’s waiting for the rhino to disturb insects in the grass, as it walks along, and then it’ll swoop down and catch them. The yellow-billed oxpecker (Buphagus africanus) is caught in the act of drinking blood directly from the scratch on the rhino’s side, and the little blue bird in the corner, a greater blue-eared starling (Lamprotornis chalybaeus), has already achieved success from using the rhino as its hunting machine, by catching an insect trying to flee the rhino’s tread.
I can’t recall seeing an oxpecker on the ground – they’re always perched on an animal, branch or in flight. This one used the buffalo as a base to inch its way down to the water’s edge to have a sip.
From these two photographs it’s not hard to see why many people confuse the African (Cape) buffalo (Syncerus caffer) with the Asian domestic water buffalo that has the rather delightful scientific name of Bubalus bubalis. African buffalo love to wallow, but are not closely related to water buffalo.
When it comes to wallowing, hippos take the cake! These three were chilling in the shallows of the Chiredzi River. They spend about 16 hours in the water and then emerge at dusk, to graze.
Download the full journal here: Singita Pamushana Wildlife Journal April 2013
- Average minimum 16.3˚C (61.3˚F)
- Average maximum 28.7˚C (83.6˚F)
- Minimum recorded 13.1˚C (55.5˚F)
- Maximum recorded 34.4˚C (93.9˚F)
- For the month 41.2 mm
- For the year to date 352.4 mm
Delightful news for the month of March is that we’ve welcomed the return of a pack of seven wild dogs (Lycaon pictus) to our reserve. They moved from the vast Gonarezhou reserve that is south of us, and we hope they remain on Malilangwe for a while.
Wild dogs are the masters of dispersal. They can move huge distances in search of mates and the longest straight-line dispersal recorded is 476 kilometres from the Northern Tuli Game Reserve (where South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana meet) to Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe.
We noticed something unusual about this male cheetah hunting alongside his sister – his one eye was a misty blue. It became apparent that the young male was completely blind in his left eye. We had not seen this pair before – they could have arrived here from a neighbouring reserve. There are so many possible causes for him being blind – a genetic defect, a claw from a sibling, a twig from a tree, an injury from a rival predator, venom from a snake – who knows…
When you see an adult male and female cheetah together it is safe to assume they are mother and her full-grown cub, a mating pair or a brother and sister. These two were of the same age and were not a mating pair, so they must be siblings that had left their mother and, in due course, will part ways with each other as well. It will be interesting to see how this partially sighted cheetah copes on his own. They have excellent eyesight for daytime hunting, and can spot prey species several kilometres away. Will he be able to survive without his sister – and is this why he has stayed with her for so long?
Download the full wildlife journal here: Singita Pamushana Wildlife Journal March 2013
- Average minimum: 19.9˚C (67.8˚F)
- Average maximum: 31.4˚C (88.5˚F)
- Minimum recorded: 16.3˚C (61.3˚F)
- Maximum recorded: 36.9˚C (98.4˚F)
- For the month: 21.4 mm
- For the year to date: 311.2 mm
This month there are many characters in the stories I’ve chosen – there are the lead animals as always and, in addition, other creatures and props that are integral to the plot such as eagles, deadwood, flowers, a wasps’ nest and even dung-loving mushrooms! The photograph on this page is a detail of the Singita Pamushana pool. It has to be among the most extraordinary pools of the world as its rim-flow edge allows you to gaze over a vast dam below where a large pod of hippos live. It is the perfect place to cool off during an afternoon in the sun, and I think the elephants would agree – although they have a pool of their own, thankfully…
An afternoon at the pool
One of the most memorable afternoon safari drives that you could experience is to watch a herd of hot and thirsty elephants at a large deep pool. Elephants need to drink daily and can take in between 100 and 160 litres at a time. This large amount is necessary to facilitate the digestion of the coarse food they eat. However, should the waterhole be deep and safe enough for a swim, there’s nothing that they enjoy more than a swim and a wallow – especially the bulls. In this wonderful scene that we were privy to, we saw two bulls in the middle of the pool. One was drinking and spraying water over himself while the other swam about using his trunk as a snorkel. Before long we noticed a big commotion in the nearby bushes.
- Average Minimum: 12°C (54°F)
- Average Maximum: 27°C (81°F)
- Minimum Recorded: 8°C (46°F)
- Maximum Recorded: 31°C (88°F)
- For the Period: 1.4 mm (0 in)
- Average Minimum: 172 mm (7 in)