It’s a superb time of year for wildlife viewing and photography – the light is more flattering, the colour palette is richer, and the vegetation is thinner. There’s a nip in the air too which makes for long comfortable safaris. But it’s not all peace and harmony – the impala rut is in full swing and the silence is shattered by the growling, rumbling, snorting roars of rams fighting for dominance and chasing off rivals. There’s never a dull moment here in the wilds, so on that note here’s a snapshot of May’s sightings:
- The Southern Pride is growing! Last month two cubs were glimpsed with them, but this month three were spotted! They are now a pride of ten with one adult male, five lionesses, a sub-adult male and the three cubs. All were sleeping in the shade east of Chiloveka Dam. Members of the pride were seen feeding on zebra and giraffe kills during the month, in the Goto area of the far south east.
- Quality time was spent viewing five members of the River Pride comprising two adult males and three females in the Chikokovele River area.
- Two adult male lions were observed, in true cat style, drinking water from the dripping pump in Nyamsaan Paddock area.
- The leopard sightings have started to pick up again this month, thanks to the vegetation thinning and more guides and their guests being out and about to spot them.
- A female leopard had a young impala carcass hoisted in a thorn tree.
- After a sundowner stop at Sosigi Dam a leopard graced guests with her appearance.
- A brief sighting of a female leopard was had on West Valley Road before she melted away into the bush.
- Excellent rhino sightings have been enjoyed, as always.
- Highlights were watching four white rhino bulls challenging each other; a crash of eight white rhinos grazing, with sporadic commotions and challenges from the males among them; and seven white and two black rhinos feeding south of Banyini.
- The Malilangwe Trust is busy with the biannual rhino ops that includes notching calves to identify and monitor them throughout their lives, and occasionally Singita Pamushana guests are able to witness this first-hand which is a priceless experience.
- With all the lush grazing from the extended wet season the elephant population is in excellent condition and many of the younger males are playing and pushing each other about, more than ever. A couple of mature hefty bulls are in musth, and it’s best to give them a wide berth at this time.
- Highlights for the month include a breeding herd of about 30 elephants that engulfed the game viewer on their relaxed feeding journey, to the extent that the playful young ones were only a trunk’s length away! Other guests on a safari boat cruise marvelled at seven elephant bulls that were swimming in the Nyamasikana River.
- There have been estimations of different herds seen numbering 300, 500 and even 700! Like the elephants these bulk feeders are in prime condition, and watching them make their daily pilgrimage to water is an incredible spectacle.
- Guests had the safari experience of a lifetime with a pack of eight wild dogs, west of the airstrip. As they were watching them a clan of 13 hyenas burst onto the scene and a right royal rumble ensued as the dogs and hyenas went at each other, jaws snapping! The commotion went on for close to an hour and ended with the dogs taking off at high speed towards the hills to avoid the hyenas.
- A wide range of hyena behaviour has been observed this month, ranging from a mother nursing her two cubs, hyenas hunting a zebra foal (unsuccessfully), hyenas harassing wild dogs and hyenas gobbling up the remains of a leopard’s hoisted impala kill when it dropped from the tree.
- The water flow to the Banyini Pan was restored after being temporarily unavailable, and along with its return came the plains game of impala, wildebeest, zebra, giraffe and more.
- A herd of ten Lichtenstein’s hartebeest with calves were seen feeding below Malevula Hill.
- Sable have been seen feeding on the selective diet they prefer, and drinking at Hwata Pan.
Other wildlife sightings
- The audio sounds of rhinos drinking and interacting at a pan, in the black of night, while the stars twinkle overhead is possibly more powerful than seeing them.
- Watching hippos frolic and snort and ‘laugh’ is very entertaining.
- Our guides always include the little wonders in their drives – be it a chameleon on a branch, a dung beetle pushing his load or a firefly performing a seductive dance.
- Guests also enjoyed a safe sighting, from the confines of the vehicle, of a black mamba snake basking in the middle of a road.
Bush walks and rock art
- We love to conduct bush walks at Singita Pamushana. Be it to look specifically at trees, or general game, or approach larger animals like white rhinos without them detecting us. Many of the walks incorporate a rock art site where guests can rest in the shelter of a rocky overhang and learn all about our ancestors and their ancient paintings.
- The water is cooling but there have still been some good catches of tilapia and adrenalin-inducing tigerfish.
Kambako Living Museum of Bushcraft
- The living museum welcomed guests back to its humble stand where bushcraft skills are demonstrated that have enabled the local Shangaan people to sustain themselves in their natural environment for centuries.
Day trips to Gonarezhou National Park
Guests and their guide enter at Chipinda Gate. As they wind their way to the magnificent Chilojo Cliffs different breeding herds of elephants keep the adrenalin pumping. More sedate sightings of kudu, waterbuck, impala, bushbuck and warthogs can be enjoyed. The day trip is always long and always enjoyable!