Wildlife Report

The Singita Wildlife Report


First-hand ranger reports from the bushveld

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.

Lions:
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.

Hyenas:
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!

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

Elephants
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.

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

Buffalo
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!

Birds
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.

Activities
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


Temperatures

  • 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)

Rainfall

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

Singita Sabi Sand

June 2015 - Sabi Sand, South Africa

Chilly mornings (by our standards), have made way for glorious hot afternoons this month, and the sightings have been terrific:

Lions:
We’ve seen some interesting movement and behaviour this month between our various prides and coalitions of males. It seems that the drying conditions have been putting pressure on the prey species and thus drawing the lions towards the permanent water. We have witnessed interesting interaction whereby different prides have congregated on kills and shared the spoils. A coalition of four males has certainly and opportunistically made the most of this and spent more and more time with the lionesses – over 70% of our sightings of this coalition have been associated with the prides. It looks like their days of bachelorhood are coming to an end!

Leopards:
With the Hlab N’kunzi female still traversing the core of her home range, she’s remained the most-viewed leopard, with a third of our leopard sightings attributed to her and her young male cub. They are currently providing such great viewing as the young cub tests the waters of personal boundaries. Male leopard sightings were high in June; this is possibly as a result of a number of newly-independent younger males moving within the area and drawing the attention of larger, older territorial males who hold territory.

Cheetahs:
We enjoyed a great increase in cheetah sightings as their main competitor, lions, concentrated close to the water sources, and cheetah could safely increase their presence in the marginal areas.
Elephants:
There’s been a surge of elephant sightings, and what is notable is their change in feeding habits, with a large focus on roots and bark and less on grass.

Buffalos:
With less palatable grazing available, the larger herds have divided, with sightings of breeding herds of between 50-100 individuals.

Birds:
186 species recorded.

 

Read the full wildlife report here:  Singita Sabi Sand Wildlife Report June 2015


Temperatures

  • Average Minimum:11.2°C (52.2°F)
  • Average Maximum:24.6°C (76.3°F)
  • Minimum Recorded:7°C (44.6°F)
  • Maximum Recorded:28°C (82.4°F)

Rainfall

  • For the period:0 mm (0 in)
  • For the year to date:397.3 mm (6 in)

Singita Lamai

June 2015 - Lamai,

The month of June in the Lamai was unusually wet with the first half of the month yielding rainstorms of colossal proportions. The rain patterns of the Serengeti have been rather mercurial this year, seeing the second quarter producing more storm clouds which inevitably dictate the ebb and flow of the Mara River and, so to, the movement of the wildlife. On some mornings the level of the river rose over 60 cm in a matter of hours.

With the paucity of roads in the Lamai Triangle much of the concession was inaccessible for the first half of the month. Many afternoons were spent looking over the plains as ominous clouds thundered towards us
bringing with them the sweet scent of an African tempest. The deluge has however led to the plains flourishing and emanating with emerald hues.

Our lion, cheetah and elephant sightings have been very good – and we even had a rare sighting of a black rhino this month. Other highlights were 12 ground hornbills; a black-backed jackal killing a Thomson gazelle fawn plus two hyenas arriving to steal the kill and sightings of thousands of wildebeest on Nyamalumbwa Plains.

 

Read the full wildlife report here:  Singita Lamai Wildlife Report June 2015


Singita Sabi Sand

April 2015 - Sabi Sand,

Winter creeps in and lies in wait during the early morning and late evening drives, and you can feel its grip as you drive down drainage lines. It leaves no doubt that the change of season is upon us.

 

There are so many elements that make this area beautiful. The landscape, the small creatures, the tall creatures and the many that have unique patterns and beautiful markings. You might think that the next photo is of caked mud, but it is actually a close-up view of elephant hide. Pictured below that are the dazzling black and white patterns of zebras.

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


Temperatures

  • Average minimum 14.3°C (57.7°F)
  • Average maximum 31.5°C (88.7°F)
  • Minimum recorded 10.0°C (50°F)
  • Maximum recorded 36.0°C (96.8°F)

Rainfall

  • For the period: 29.9 mm
  • For the year to date: 88.8 mm

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


Temperatures

  • 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)

Rainfall

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

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