February 2021
Wildlife

Singita Kruger National Park

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Singita Kruger National Park

With the current La Niña system, we’ve been experiencing above average rainfall, with a total of 167 mm recorded for this month. All of the rain has caused the N’wanetsi River to come down in flood again. Water is also streaming out of the mountains, in some places even resulting in small waterfalls cascading over the rhyolite rock formations. Small seasonal pools and pans are also dotted throughout the concession, and with the abundance of water everywhere, several Nile crocodiles have been sighted many miles away from the rivers, where they lie in ambush of unsuspecting prey that might be coming down to the smaller pans to drink.

With all of the rains, the grass cover has increased exponentially, especially in the areas where fires had raged through during the dry winter periods. In some areas the grass stalks are so high, that even zebras disappear in the sea of green. This is affecting the visibility tremendously, especially for the prey animals which are avoiding the long grass where potential danger could lurk. 

Here’s a Sightings Snapshot for February:

Lions

  • During the month of February, a total of 24 sightings of lions were recorded.
  • The Shishangaan Pride were predominantly sighted towards the south and west of the lodge, with their roars serenading the guests during most evenings.
  • The remaining Kumana male with the droopy lip was found in attendance of the Shishangaan Pride, and early one morning he was seen mating with one of the lionesses. Although old and haggard looking, he is still maintaining his territory towards the southern section of the concession.
  • The Mountain Pride was the pride most often viewed during the month. After spending the first part of the month towards the northern reaches of the concession, they moved towards Pelajambu and Monzo area. All 14 members still appear to be fit and healthy.
  • The Mananga Pride was seen towards north west of the concession, and although there haven’t been any visuals yet, tiny lion cub tracks were found amongst the pride’s tracks. Exciting times ahead! 
  • Xihamham, the grumpy Shishangaan male, was found in the company of the Mananga Pride around Gudzani Dam.
  • A Northern Pride female was found mating with a Northern Pride male around Cassia Open Areas.

Leopards

  • We had a few sightings of a large male leopard in south of the concession. 
  • A young male has been seen in the area of Nwanetsi Gumba Crossing and Dumbana Puff Adder Crossing. He is very relaxed with the presence of the vehicles and we are hoping for him to stay longer in the concession.
  • A skittish leopardess was found with a fresh impala carcass on Sisal Line, and the following evening a big leopard tom was found feeding on her stolen carcass.
  • The Mhlangulene female and a young male leopard were found around the Basalt/ Leadwood junction. Some of the guides believe that this young male leopard could be her son that has been pushed away now. She was clearly annoyed with this young male, who was seen playing around grabbing branches and pouncing in the long grass. After lots of growling and teeth barring the female walked off towards where she had a hidden impala carcass. Maybe this young male thought that he would receive a free meal from her?

Cheetahs

  • A sopping wet cheetah was found on the H6 as it strolled down the main road in an attempt to avoid the tall wet grass. It took the opportunity to stop and scent mark some of the prominent logs and trees, but it was obvious that the animal had enough of all of the rain!
  • A female cheetah and four cubs were seen on the open plains just to the west of the concession. We are hoping she will move her small family to the east, and hopefully we will have more sightings of them.

Spotted hyenas

  • We had a couple of sighting of lone hyenas along N’wanetsi near Croc View on the open areas. We suspect they might have a den-site on Nyala Ridge. 
  • A solitary animal was found underneath a hoisted impala carcass, where a big male leopard was feeding. The hyena was patiently waiting for any fallen scraps.
  • Several sightings of hyenas have also been recorded in the daytime, where most of the animals were seen either resting in the shade of trees, or lying in mud wallows. Spotted hyenas are known to cool off in pools of water, and it is believed that by doing so it might also aid in digestion.

Elephants

  • At the end of January, and throughout February we noticed that large numbers of elephants were moving from the basalt plains towards the southwestern parts of the Kruger, which is an annual occurrence when the marula trees come into fruit. Towards the end of the month, the trees ended fruiting, and we have seen an increase in the number of elephants returning to the open basalt plains that provide excellent grazing.
  • Several sightings of solitary bulls have been recorded throughout the concession, and a big musth bull was found towards Monzo four-ways.

Buffalos

  • We had sightings of a few groups of breeding herds coming in from the western boundary, with the biggest herd numbering about 400+ buffalos together.
  • Two buffalo bulls were seen around Xikova. These animals seem very skittish and aggressive - most likely because of the fact that they don’t have the safety of the herd.

Plains game

  • With the open basalt plains becoming waterlogged, and with the grass cover standing more than a metre tall in some areas, we have noticed that most of the general game has moved east to the rocky Granophyre’s where they are looking for big open areas for their safety. Grass is very tall in the depression where we usually find them. Regardless of their movement, we are still seeing abundant sightings of giraffe, zebras, wildebeest and large herds of impala.

Rare animals and other sightings

  • A pair of porcupines were found during a night drive as they were walking together down the road. They ended up causing a bit of a traffic jam, as they refused to move off the road, as they were obviously avoiding the long, wet grass. They strolled in front of the vehicle for more than 10 minutes!
  • A mating pair of Sharpe’s grysbok were found towards Maputo Pan. These elusive small antelopes are usually solitary, and therefore the honeymoon couple was a special find.
  • A pack of African wild dogs was seen close to the lodge on the last day of the month.

Birds

  • A corn crake was found below Green-apple Hill. This is a very rare Palearctic migrant that is seldom seen, not only in this part of South Africa, but also because of its elusive nature. 
  • Marsh owls have also been seen towards the basalt plains.
  • A peregrine falcon was seen towards the Nwanetsi Gorge where it was calling for its mate.
Read the full wildlife report

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