Singita Kruger National Park
Singita Kruger National Park
Crackling electric lightning streaks across the stormy skies, illuminating the earth in a flash of dazzling light. Impalas huddle closely under the protection of bushwillow and apple leaf trees, their large eyes wide and alert. Drumming is the sound of the rain as it pours down. White curtains cut through the mountainous topography, wiping fresh the history of days gone by.
An abundance of colourful fruits adorn the trees and bushes, wild-flowers burst open amongst the tall grass stems, showing off their beauty to flying observers. Every pool and pan are alive with an almost defining chorus of frogs.
This month has brought a wealth of richness. New life emerges as well as leaves as the cycle of the bush continues on its relentless path.
Here’s a Sightings Snapshot for January:
- The Mananga Pride and Shish males have been sighted several times this month, mostly towards the north-western section of our concession, however, they ventured further east a couple of times and we found them once at Pebble Pan on a zebra carcass. One early morning we found tracks of the pride heading north to Gudzane dam. Upon following these prints, we located the pride laying peacefully in a clearing. Minutes later the cubs started playing and interacting and then from out of the bundle of lions emerged three new tiny cubs! An exciting discovery to behold, we look forward to following their progress in this fast-growing pride. After a particularly rainy twenty-four hours, the guides found the entire pride of twenty-two lions and two Shish males on a buffalo kill in a waterhole. An incredible sight to behold with every lion coated thickly in dark mud as they gorged themselves.
- The Kumana male and Maputo male have been seen together regularly, with one amazing discovery of them on a waterbuck kill just north of the lodge. Another afternoon, late in January, we found the pair feeding on a young zebra around Ostrich Fly Camp. The males were joined by the Shish lionesses and three cubs. Upon finishing the kill, the Maputo male left with the older Shish lioness, walking south to the H6 road. It was there that we located them the next morning where we witnessed them mating.
- A portion of the Shish Pride, one adult and three sub-adult females, have been sighted on several occasions in the southern part of our concession. They enjoy the open H6 road and we often see them patrolling at night.
- Driving along the fence line parallel to Mozambique, we noticed a big line across the road. Upon examination, we realized that it was a drag mark and even saw an indentation in the fence. Tracing the drag into the bushes we found the Xirhombe male lion, lying in the shade. The Xirhombe male is a skilful killer, using the fence to his advantage to chase prey into the wired wall. On this occasion, we saw the remains of a large kudu female – a feast for the old male.
- The Mountain Pride has been moving frequently through the grasslands and mountains. A large herd of around two hundred and fifty buffalo was grazing in Kori clearings for a few days and with the mountain pride very close to this location it was inevitable that they located them… Stalking quietly through the tall grass, the pride of 11 made their approach. The lionesses split up, each choosing their direction of attack. With the wind not in their favour, however, the buffalo soon became edgy and started raising their noses, sensing the invasion of the predators. Curious bulls moved closer to the lions, tension, and unrest in their movements. Then they saw them. Minute long seconds of suspense suddenly turned to chaos as the bulls started to chase the pride. When the rest of the buffaloes realised what was happening, they too joined the pursuit. With their energy wasted but lessons learned, the Mountain Pride hurried from the scene into the bush.
- The Euphorbia male leopard has been seen a few times in January patrolling his territory along Park Road and stalking impala. One evening we followed him into some long grass where we waited in the pitch black. Minutes passed and we were sure we could see him still in the bright moonlight. Minutes carried on and we waited. Our waiting was rewarded though as just as we thought he’d moved away, the large male leapt into the air out of the tall grass – an exciting display to see at night!
- An impressive sighting of the Mbiri-Mbiri male showing his strength when one of our trackers located him with a zebra foal in a leadwood tree. This young male leopard is growing strong and has started to become more and more dominant in the area.
- Mating leopards have been seen north of Lebombo next to the N’wanetsi River. The female seems to be quite shy, however, we’ve had some incredible viewing in the cover of night.
- Driving in the mountainous northern sectors, the Mhlanguleni female has been sighted a few times. She seems to be pregnant and we expect to not see her for a while as she looks for a den to give birth.
- Around Gudzane Dam a large unknown male leopard has been seen a few times scent marking and patrolling.
- This month we have been treated with many sightings of the Dumbana female leopard and two cubs They’ve been seen with several impala kills, both newborn and adult impala. The cubs seem to enjoy resting in small apple leaf trees as on several occasions, we’ve found their tails hanging from branches and curious eyes peering out from the branches. Their playful personalities continue to delight us.
- What a month for viewing wild dogs! We counted three packs on our reserve at a few points! Chasing impala and being chased by zebra, the dogs never cease to entertain.
- One morning we stopped to have morning coffee at a beautiful fig tree. Just as we were clearing up, a pack of nine wild dogs ran past. Quickly, we jumped into the game viewer and pursued them. The dogs headed to Golf Course Clearings, a usual hot spot for zebra, giraffe and impala. A dramatic entrance into the clearing caused impala to scatter in all directions. The dogs gave chase and managed to catch a baby impala in the chaos. We lost the pack in the bushes where they continued their morning adventure.
- One afternoon a spotted hyena was seen feeding on a leopard tortoise. It’s incredible to see the strength and power in a hyena’s jaw and this meal was putting that to the test!
- The Xinkelegane Fly Camp den-site is still active and the cubs are getting bigger every day, and are almost ready to leave the den and start following the adults on their nightly voyages.
- Huge breeding herds of elephants wander through our concession, making use of rain-filled dams and streams. These herds have included a large number of baby elephants, suckling, playing and learning how to use their trunks. A few solitary bulls in musth with close to “big tusker” status have been sighted meandering around in search of females in oestrus.
- There have been frequent sightings of a pair of old buffalo bulls along the drainage systems and pans, enjoying the new muddy wallows. Large breeding herds have entered from the north of our concession and slowly made their way south, passing through the good grazing areas and one of our central pans, where we were treated to a sighting of a breeding herd of over 150 individuals and 100 elephants together.
- The ever-lengthening grass has caused dazzles of zebra to congregate in the shorter grassy open plains with often more than fifty individuals scattered amongst large herds of impala and wildebeest. The central depression has become home to many new warthog piglets, a few of which have ended up in the talons of the mighty martial eagles. Giraffes are abundant along the Delagoa and knob thorn thickets with several males necking, as they fight over a nearby female.
Rare animals and other sightings
- Bushpig tracks were sighted in the Nyokene drainage, and a few porcupines avoiding the dangers in the long grass have been followed down the dirt roads in the early evenings. An African rock python was discovered moments after it had grabbed a new impala lamb and we watched how it used its powerful body to crush the young impala before attempting to swallow the large meal.
- Red-billed quelea have begun looking for suitable nesting sites, one being started south-east of the granophyre ridge and a second near the Mozambique border in the south of our concession. A few groups of southern ground hornbills have been regularly seen along the N’wanetsi River. There have been many sightings of martial eagles feasting on Nile monitor lizards, warthog piglets as well as a few of the common game birds.