Singita Sabi Sand
Singita Sabi Sand
A blanket of mist covers the Sand River as the sun begins to illuminate the bush from the darkness. Bursts of golden light begin to pierce through the murky haze as the distant call of a territorial male leopard echoes across the river bank. A chill, drifts through the air, but with it we take a deep, cool, breath of excitement as we set out on our morning game drives. Autumn has set into motion and with the vast amounts of rain received this season, we move into the colder months with a much greener landscape than previous years. Although we have begun to notice the transition in temperature and vegetation, we too have noticed a slight change in predator dynamics. Last month we saw the brief arrival of the N’waswitshaka male lions, however this month has been one for the leopards...
Here’s a Sightings Snapshot for March:
- After a difficult month during February, with the loss of their cubs (except one) during a run in with the N’waswitshaka males, the Mhangene Pride has once again bounced back and to our surprise have been seen with another new pride member! Although one of the older females has begun to truly show the signs of her age, the addition of a new cub into the pride has brought new hope for the lionesses and that too for the Othawa male’s lineage.
- The Othawa sub-adults (one female and three males) have again been seen a number of times on the property this month. With greater presence from the Tumbela males in the west, these youngsters are seemingly pushing further east onto Singita and are doing well for themselves. The last weeks of March saw them feeding on a giraffe kill for close to a week, with no interruptions.
- There have been no further sightings of the N’waswitshaka male lions on the property, however distant roars can sometimes be heard further in the south east. Only time will tell if this coalition pushes further into Othawa / Birmingham male territory.
- The Styx and Nkuhuma young males too have been viewed a few times this month, with one occasion having been chased by one of their fathers (the Birmingham males) further west and away from their territory. The two young males, although nomadic, are still thriving together.
- With incredibly high rainfall this year, grasses have been abundant and thus have served to be the main source of food for many of the elephants. This comes with a price in that many more marula trees have been stripped of their bark than we have observed before in previous years. The cambium layer of a marula tree holds medicinal value of which helps (even in humans) the stomach when it is faced with diarrhoea or cramps. This may be a theory but it seems as though the elephants are using the bark to combat the upset stomachs they have, caused by large consumption of green grass.
- Many herds of elephants have graced our presence this month, however one herd in particular has stood out to us, always with intrigue when viewing them. This herd includes a female known as “Rhandzekile” a large cow with a prominent hole in her face.
- Wild dog sightings have been an exciting spectacle this month. With only a few sightings of them from time to time, these animals are one of the more rare and special to see. These are typically the months where alpha females are pregnant and until May/June they move long distances in search of good hunting grounds and a perfect den-site to have their pups. With the merging of the alpha and beta females from the Pungwe Pack and our Othawa Pack, we are excited to see what changes will come from this group of painted wolves. Will they den with us again this year?
- Always a favourite, the beautiful Schotia female continues to perfect her motherhood. With a strong young male as a son who seems to be increasingly more curious and confident as the months progress, this sort of attitude will ensure that he will move out into independence with a strong will and the precise skills in order to hunt and survive.
- The Misava male, although small for his age, still continues to survive and tends to move around in his mother’s old territory. From time to time we find him further spread from these areas however, his father the Nyeleti male, continues to tolerate him and therefore is able to stick around. This is due to the fact that he doesn’t make too much of an attempt to mark territory and exude his presence - he seems to keep more of a low profile.
- Our excitement this month has been focussed on the movements and behaviour shown by the Nyeleti and Hosana male leopards. With a high flowing Sand River for extended amounts of time and potentially less presence from Nyeleti male on the northern bank due to difficulty in crossing, it seems as though Hosana male has made his mark all the way down toward the northern bank of the Sand River in front of Boulders and Ebony Lodges thus holding an even larger territory than ever before. Recently, both males displayed fight wounds on their bodies and this could only be speculation, however a few of us believe these two males have already come face to face. With the Nyeleti male beginning to age out of his prime years as a dominant male leopard, the prospect of the Hosana male moving further into his territory is becoming more evident. We hold our breath as this story continues to unfold. The next few weeks and months are going to get interesting!
The bird list for March includes 14 new bird species, bringing our yearly total to 267 so far.
Special bird species include: Cape sparrow, booted eagle, African finfoot, Kittlitz’s plover, red-throated wryneck, river warbler and marsh warbler.