Singita Sabi Sand: February 2021
Daggers of lightening stab through the stormy sky, illuminating the rain-soaked bush for a heartbeat. The deep call of a lion’s roar rumbles with supreme power and confidence, asserting governance and authority for all ears listening.
On the 21st February, four new lions walked onto our property – The N'waswitshaka lions. The sighting started when we located two of the six Mhangene lionesses at the far south-eastern waterhole in the reserve. As we stopped the vehicle, it was clear that these lionesses were highly distressed, glancing back every few seconds and then stumbling forward in a panicked dash. Confused anxiety whirled around us like a thick smoky cloud only to be abruptly broken by the loud, unmistakable gut-wrenching roar of mature male lions. Fleeting paws ran past us and we continued to the source of the chaos. As we rounded the corner onto our main road, we were met by the four N'waswitshaka lions. Projecting a dominance and supremacy with every step, puzzle pieces began to fall together and the shock and fear resonating from the lionesses began to make sense. Could this be the dawn of a new era of lions at Singita Sabi Sand?
Here’s a sightings snapshot for February:
- At the beginning of the month the Mhangene pride were comprised of six females, three cubs and the Othawa male. This changed on the morning of the 21st February with the arrival of the four N'waswitshaka lions. The Mhangene pride scattered, and the event left us with great concern regarding the wellbeing of the pride and cubs. In the week that followed, the pride slowly re-grouped, but with a chilling discovery… only one cub seems to have survived, and the Othawa male is limping. The four males have returned back to southern Sabi Sand, but will they be back?
- The Othawa sub-adults (one female and three males) were viewed a few times this month in the western parts of the property.
- The Styx and Nkuhuma coalition have been found throughout the north and central parts of the property, still nomadic and not marking a territory.
- The elephants are plucking small marula fruit from the ground with the tips of their trunk and throwing them into their mouths. It’s a wonderful month for the world’s largest land mammal. A salad bowl of green grass, berries, fruit and leaves, mixed with waterholes around every corner, is an elephant’s absolute haven.
- Many small herds of elephants have strolled through the reserve during February, enjoying nature’s summer treats. We’ve also seen quite a number of solitary bulls roaming the thick, lush land.
The Othawa pack (15 individuals in total) were seen briefly in the north and then in the centre of the reserve at the end of February. We’ve noticed that the Pungwe female has joined this pack and we hope to see more of them during next month, however at this time of year these animals tend to cover vast distances and to see them is an extra special event.
- The Shangwa male leopard (pictured above, photographed by Nick Du Plessis) is often found sprawled in one of the marula trees in the west of our property. A beautiful young male identified by his rosy, pink nose, we enjoy viewing his curious and confident nature as he explores the terrain and practices his stalking.
- The Scotia female leopard has been seen almost every few days, mostly with her son, who is approaching 14 months. A very playful pair, we’ve watched them both fight, stalk and jump on each other in the tall wet grass. Time together will soon become less and less though, as this experienced mother knows it’s time for her son to become increasingly independent, spending less and less time with her.
- Sightings of the Mobeni female leopard have been quite infrequent this month and this elusive leopard continues to remain within the central regions of our property.
- The Nyeleti male leopard patrols his territory after the rains. We’ve frequently seen and heard him moving close to the lodges and along the river. Approaching twelve this year, we wonder if his vast territory will be shifting to accommodate the younger bold individuals pushing through.
- This month we’ve been very fortunate to view several different male cheetahs as well as a female with two adolescents.
- The bird list for February includes 18 new bird species, bringing our yearly total to 253 so far.
- Special bird species include: White-browed sparrow weaver and an African pygmy-kingfisher.
Read the full wildlife report here: