January 2021

Singita Sabi Sand: January 2021


Singita Sabi Sand: January 2021

Melodies of crickets and locusts, cuckoo’s and bush shrikes charge the atmosphere with a rich happiness. Our blue skies are filled with life, as barn swallows, European bee-eaters and Amur falcons swoop down, hawking the alates as they ascend from their termitaria turrets. Our night skies explode with celestial summer stars, twinkling back up in the deep blackness of the Sand River. This year has started off with a burst of growth, having over 120 mm of rain in 24 hours! With the land charged up, the beat of the bush is full of joy and optimism, a wonderful start to a brand-new year!

Here’s a Sightings Snapshot for January:


  • The Mhangene Pride have been a little hard to come by of late as they have explored the far reaches of their territory. Sadly, there are only three cubs, with the youngest suspected to have died within the month. On a positive note, we suspect that one of the older females is now denning, raising a brand-new litter somewhere within the central parts of our property.
  • The Styx and Nkuhuma male lions have been a prominent sighting this month, having several successful hunts including another juvenile giraffe. Their bond is growing, although still nomadic it’s an exciting time to witness their development.
  • The Matimba male lion was seen several times, once on a giraffe kill (made by the Styx and Nkuhuma lions) and again mid-month at the base of a marula tree, clawing the trunk to reach a hoisted impala kill.


  • Elephants have been plentiful this month. With ripe marula fruits covering the land we find more and more elephants taking every opportunity to feed on these delicious sweet treats, thus making them an easier spot for a sighting!

Wild dogs

  • Two wild dogs were briefly seen on the airstrip mid-month. These animals cover vast regions, especially at this time of the year. A fleeting sighting but we hope that February brings more viewing.


  • The Schotia female’s youngster continues to delight us with his charm and curious nature and we’ve enjoyed some very special sightings of him playing with his mother, the Schotia female. This female leopard has made several successful kills this month and continues to provide well for her son.
  • The Serengeti female (pictured above) hasn’t been seen as often this month, however we enjoyed a long distance view of her relaxing in a sausage tree, bordering the northern side of the Sand River.
  • The Xipuku male hoisted an impala ram kill in a marula tree in the middle of a clearing which allowed us to view him at a distance from the road. This was a special sighting as this male is usually only seen fleetingly.
  • We had a familiar sighting of the Shangwa male leopard relaxing in a marula tree, limbs dangling and eyes closed. This male has been seen more this month – at one sighting we watched him stalking impala, although unsuccessful.
  • The Shangwa male’s mother, the Khokhovela female, has also been seen a few times and to much excitement, she seems to have suckle marks – therefore potentially denning with new cubs!
The Shangwa male leopard sleeping on a Marula tree branch. Photo by Kirsten Tinkler

The Shangwa male leopard sleeping on a Marula tree branch. Photo by Kirsten Tinkler

  • On one very interesting morning we found the Hosana male leopard scent marking on the northern side of the plains in front of Ebony Lodge. This is an area dominated by the Nyeleti male leopard and with the latter approaching twelve years old this year, could we begin to see a shift in his territory? Will the younger Hosana male leopard push his region further south and even cross the river?


  • The female cheetah and her two cubs have again showed themselves this month on a few occasions which is always a delightful rarity for us! We are glad to see her doing so well in motherhood, keeping both of her cubs healthy for over a year now!

Bird List

  • The bird list for January kicked off with a bang, beginning our year with 235 species.
  • An absolute special for the month/year was a male great frigatebird, a bird typically seen in coastal areas over Mozambique. He was blown into the reserve by cyclone Eloise.
  • Other specials included: white-backed night heron, black stork, glossy ibis, pallid harrier, lesser kestrel, African crake, lesser moorhen, curlew sandpiper, Eurasian golden oriole and mocking cliff-chat.
Read the full wildlife report

By Jenny Hishin
Author / Guest Guide