Singita Sabi Sand: July 2021
Close your eyes and engage your senses. Allow the waves of sound to fill your ears, the crisp cool breeze to tingle your skin and the sweet winter sunrays to illuminate your soul. Each morning the sun pulls back her starry blanket, revealing a glassy ice-blue sky. Her rays are welcomed by the fork-tailed drongos and lilac-breasted rollers, who perch resolutely on well-lit branches. Tree squirrels huddle together in a bundle of golden fur, lapping up the morning heater before they too start their day. Muddles of tall red grass and yellow thatching blanket the ground, attracting numerous elephants as they indulge in the nourishing winter cuisine.
Here’s a Sightings Snapshot for July:
- The Styx and Nkuhuma males have been given the name Nwalungu, meaning north/northern as they both originally come from the northern parts of the Sabi Sand reserve. This coalition have been heard a lot this month, vocalising throughout the property.
- Tracks for the Mhangeni pride weave around our southern grasslands. The pride composition has been sighted as: two younger cubs, one sub-adult female and six older lionesses, however with the impressive roars of the Nwalungu males, it’s no surprise that viewings of this pride have been few and far between. Keeping their cubs safe from the threat of a new ‘pride take-over’, we’ve tracked their movements stretching from the far east to the far western areas. Interesting times lie ahead, with the new coalition starting to establish themselves and the prospect of them joining up with the Mhangeni pride…
- The two Plains Camp males have been seen in the north this month, however not as frequently as last month.
- A front-line performance greets us as we watch these huge mammals enjoy a mid-morning drink in the Sand River. Watching from the lodge decking we view many different herds emerge at the water’s edge, and delight in their movements as they excitedly dip their trunks into the cool flowing stream. Several herds, differing in numbers, accumulate to drink throughout the day. Some stay to feed on the reeds and riverine vegetation, whilst others continue on their venture into the winter bushveld.
- This month we’ve been very privileged to enjoy countless elephant sightings. Breeding herds merge at water reserves, large bulls joining them from time to time.
- Close to our south-eastern grasslands lies a very special area where a pack of wild dogs have settled up in a den site. Occupying an abandoned termite mound, we have been honoured with some extremely special viewing, watching as the wild dog pups emerge from their sanctuary. At first these tiny creatures resemble bear cubs, being completely black and as time goes on, they lose this fur, revealing the gold and white individual paintings of their fur. An exciting time to watch their progress!
- One of the most exciting sightings this month was with the Shangwa male leopard. One crisp misty morning, one of our guides headed towards the river, where she and her tracker located this male leopard. At first only a tail hanging from a large ebony tree and a spotted hyena at the base. After a few moments of establishing they came to realise that this young male had killed a fully grown nyala ewe but was unable to hoist this heavy carcass. Unfortunately for him, it seemed as though he’d lost this prize to a conniving confident clan member, although she too wasn’t strong enough to drag this gift away. An exciting sighting to view, watching the determined leopard try to steal his meal away from the greedy hyena, and being chased away. After several attempts, he managed to tear away part of the prize, racing up the ebony tree once again to get away from the hyena’s strong jaws. A relentless battle of wills that carried on for well over an hour, finally ending with an extremely full-bellied hyena dragging the remaining parts of the carcass away to a bush. The Shangwa male leopard managed to eat a small part of the kill and sniffed around for any remaining elements before retiring to a nearby thicket only to ponder on his escapades and clean his paws.
- We haven’t seen too much of the Kangela male leopard this month, however his movements have been mostly around the lodges and occupying areas when we have seen him.
- The Misava male was seen east of the lodges, but otherwise this more elusive male remains less viewed.
- The Hosana male had an interesting encounter with the Flat Rock male leopard. Both dominant males were in the same area, north of the Sand River within a few meters of each other at a dam, however both individuals did not see each other. It would be an interesting encounter to view if they did lock eyes and we wonder if there would be some hostility in their interaction.
- The Thamba male leopard has been seen further and further north and east of his territory, pushing into Nyeleti male leopard territory more and more. On one occasion, the Thamba male was seen close to July dam (a dam well within Nyeleti’s area). Scent marking and wandering the area, the Thamba male came across the Nyeleti male leopard and began to chase him. No physical fight happened on this occasion, however some very hostile vocalisation and communication was seen between both individuals. The Thamba male ended up chasing the Nyeleti male far west where we lost visual of both individuals.
- The Scotia female has been seen in her usual territories and at the beginning of the month as had an impala ram kill close to our Singita airport terminal building. The kill however was stolen by a spotted hyena.
- A male cheetah has been seen several times this month and on a separate occasion a young female has also been sighted, never staying too long in one particular place.
The bird list for July includes four new bird species, bringing our yearly total to 283 so far.
Special bird species include: Orange-breasted waxbill.