Singita Kruger National Park: February 2022
February has been very hot due to the unusually low rainfall. The second month of the year is generally when we expect our highest rainfall of the year. A tropical cyclone was building in the Indian Ocean in the early part of February, but it weakened and dissipated once it made landfall and the rains did not reach our concession.
Now, as we approach the end of summer, and long sunny days fade into crimson sunsets, the standing water is starting to dry up. However, the veld is still lush, the grass inflorescences have bloomed and a rich aroma fills the late afternoon air. Somewhere a large pride of lions and their cubs stroll through red grass hidden from the glossy eyes of their prey. With all the rains the previous months there has been an increase in insect life too. On evening game drives, once the sun has set, fireflies paint an enchanting picture as their glowing green bodies float above the waving grass, giving our guests a magical light show.
Here’s a Sightings Snapshot for February:
- Lion sightings have been consistent with the Shish Pride often seen close to the lodges. The pride appears to be split in two for the moment. The older Shish lioness and the limping female and sub-adults have been seen together. The other two lionesses have each given birth to a litter of three cubs, which is exciting. The most recent litter was only revealed in the last weeks.
- The Shish Pride killed an impala near the weir that crosses the N’wantesi. A few days later they were seen feeding on a baboon.
- The Kumana male and Maputo male have been seen mating with the older Shish female on at least two separate mating bouts. The Maputo male was, on both occasions, first in attendance and the Kumana male took over a few days later. They caused much delight in the camp when they spent some of the time mating on the entrance roads to the lodges.
- We have seen the three unknown nomadic male lions on occasion this month. They are only seen in the far northern parts but are moving more south of previous sightings.On one occasion they were found with one Mountain Pride lioness lying up a kilometer away from them. She was very injured, with a lot of blood on her body, and the other members of the pride had run off to the west.
- Sightings of the Mountain Pride have been scarce, with sightings being mainly in the mountains. They were also seen on the Mozambique border as far south as the lodges and even crossed into Mozambique a few times. They have not been recorded this far south for some years. They seem to be avoiding the threat posed by the new intruder males in the north. In the latter part of the month, they were viewed in the central parts, hunting near the N’wanetsi River. On one occasion they managed to kill a blind buffalo calf.
- The ever-impressive Mananga Pride has been pushing into the central parts of the depression and were seen hunting the large herds of zebras. They managed to kill a warthog one evening and shortly thereafter a Mountain Pride lioness strolled into the Mananga Pride. They chased her into the mountains.The pride seems to be moving between Gundzane Dam and Mananga Trails in Kruger. It also seems like some of the lionesses have taken their cubs to hunt separately from the rest of the pride, probably to limit the competition because we have seen 18 together a couple of times.
- The Shish males are still around but it seems like their territory is slowly shrinking and becoming more like a fixed territory. They are under a lot of pressure from the new males.
- The handsome Mbiri-Mbiri male leopard has continued to produce great photographic opportunities, mainly along the Xinkelengane drainage line. He was seen resting in trees on a few occasions.
- The Dumabana female is doing very well raising her two cubs in the area of Ntsimbitsane, Dumbana, and Milkberry. Every time we locate her or her cubs we know that is going to be a good quality sighting and almost everyone on the game drive will be able to view them.
- The Euphobia male was also sighted a few times along Nwanetsi near the Euphobia crossing. He does not have an established territory yet, so his movements are between H6 and Nwanetsi River.
- The pack of seven was regularly seen hunting impala. The sightings have been spread out across the entire concession.
- Another pack of six was also seen coming from Mozambique, in the area of Ostrich Link, Sisal, and Ntsimbitsane. This has been a great month for us as we do not see wild dogs often in the concession and they have become a regular sighting in the past couple of weeks.
- Xinkelengana Clan have moved north towards Golf Course Clearing. We think they might have moved because of the previous experience of the Mountain Pride spending time near the den-site. We have not located their new den-site yet, but we are suspecting the area north of the Golf Course Clearing.
- In other hyena sightings, single hyenas have been spotted around Rhino Skull, H6, Ntsimbitsane, and Ostrich Link.
- In the evenings, when we drive back along Park Road, we have also come across a pair of hyenas in the area of Sticky Thorns. Elephants
- Elephants have been seen almost all over the concession. We have enjoyed large groups of about 20 to 30 together. Most of the cows have youngsters and the herds are looking healthy and doing well.
- They have been sighted in the south along the Sweni River where guests were able to view them from the lodge, and all the way north into the basalt grassland.
- We have enjoyed beautiful sightings of the breeding herds feeding on the basalt grassland - the grass is still green and lush and they are making the most of the grasses and the fruiting marula trees.
- Some very large solitary bulls have been recorded along the H6 towards the lodge.
- A very large herd of buffalo was seen moving between the depression and west towards Kruger. They have been spending time along the Xinkelengana drainage line when they are in the concession, enjoying good grazing and water along the drainage.
- There have also been quite a few sightings of buffalo bulls. Four bulls are spending time around Scotia Pan and Nhlaguleni, and another solitary bull around Pony Pan.
- In the northern section, we have also seen a large herd of more than 150 buffalo.
- We witnessed a zebra giving birth in the Kori Clearing grassland. The entire birth was viewed by one of our tracking teams from the beginning to the end when the foal dropped.
- Most general game sightings have been around Kori Clearings and the central depression area, with a good number of zebras, wildebeest, the ever-present impala harems, as well as many sounders of warthogs with little piglets.
- It has been challenging to spot the small antelope, like grysbok, this month because of the long grass. We recorded one sighting around Mbeki's Crossing.
Rare animals and other sightings
- One evening one of our guides went to the Poort and on their way back they spotted a very relaxed caracal in the open area of Tortilis Clearing- a very special sighting!
- African civet cubs have been sighted around Secret Pan.
- A regal sable antelope was seen close to the Mozambican border.
- Birdlife has been phenomenal with many migrants taking advantage of the abundance of insects after the early summer rain. The vibrant European roller has been being particularly plentiful.
- We have seen huge flocks of red-billed quelea flying around the plains feeding on grass seeds. This year, the quelea have established a colony south of the lodge, close to the border with Mozambique. The little birds and their woven nests have been targeted by marabou storks, lesser spotted eagles as well as Wahlberg’s eagles waiting for the easiest of meals.
- Other migrants such as the Amur falcons and barn swallows have been seen feeding in preparation for their journeys back to the northern hemisphere.
- A pallid harrier was seen on a few occasions near the H6.