April started off fairly dry and there was a steady wind blowing from east to west. The wind dried out all the small mud pools and the grass had even begun to turn a shade of gold. The open areas with long grass tended to remain fairly quiet, however, the short grass plains to the south consistently had good game viewing.
From around the 20th of the month some rain arrived and we either had short powerful afternoon storms or soaking rain that persisted through most of the night. The plains by the end of the month were green and humming with the sounds of crickets, frogs and cicadas.
The yellow-throated longclaws were busy shifting nesting material and the guinea fowl with their new chicks – sometimes a dozen in number – would dart down the roads before slipping away into the long grass.
A sightings snapshot for April follows:
There was a good amount of lion activity on Sasakwa Hill and eight lions were seen around Kivulini, Lawatu and Sabayaya a number of times. There were often waterbuck moving through the area and it was assumed the lions were opportunistically trying to find them. Tracks on the Farasi track showed that lions had also been in the area where the old buffalo bulls like to spend time.
- Four Nyasirori Pride lionesses sighted South of OP 7.
- An unidentified coalition of two lions sighted north of one of the old Explore camps.
- The longer grass and rainy days later in the month seemed to make it a little tougher to find the leopards although they were certainly around, and at night from the camps we often heard the baboons and monkeys alarming.
- A large male sighted north of Watershed and Fort Ikoma Road junction.
- A young male sighted walking along Sabora Access heading east towards Fungo junction.
- Female sighted up on Albizia tree along the drainage line west of Grumeti North Hill.
- The dominant male cheetah that we see on the Sasakwa plains was seen a couple times during the month. In one sighting the trainee guides sat with him for most of the morning and he went from fast asleep to catching a young eland calf in less than a minute. The calf was only a few days old and the mother unintentionally walked into the cheetah.
- Another action-packed sighting was when a cheetah killed a large male bushbuck. An unusual prey animal and a brave move considering the reputation bushbuck have for being able to defend themselves.
- Female with cubs was seen in the central areas on the short grass plains.
- The elephant herds continue to spend a lot of time moving along all the drainage and river lines on the property. Reports often came from the Ikorongo of large numbers in the woodlands.
- Breeding herd of about 70 individuals was sighted south of Fungo and Sabora Access junction.
- Breeding herds frequented the forests near German Bridge.
- A breeding herd of 12 individuals sighted north of Bangwesi camp.
- Single bull sighted East of Martin’s Hill, moving between herds.
- Breeding herd of about 50 individuals sighted east of Sabora camp.
- The buffalo herds are strong and there are a large number of calves within them. It has been interesting to hear of a few sightings where a small clan of hyena had caught and were eating a calf. This clan have learnt the skills of how to isolate a female and her calf. They then wait for an opportunity to race in and can kill the calf with one fatal bite to the head or spine. This had also been reported in the March journal – an interesting hunting strategy while the migration is still away.
- Several breeding herds of between 200 and 400 have been seen regularly.
- Rhino in the boma and in the Grumeti / Serengeti land management areas are all doing well and accounted for.
- We still are very fortunate to see our male black rhino on the eastern side of the boma.
- The hyena cubs at Nyasirori den are still doing well and the clan is always good value to be around.
- A journey of 15 giraffes sighted north of Pundamilia Hill with some impressive old dark bulls in attendance. A journey of 24 giraffes sighted at Old School.
- Great numbers of topis, elands and gazelles sighted at Nyati plain – this is what has been attracting the cheetah to the area.
- Around the middle of the month there were good zebra numbers and then when the rain came they seemed to disperse and moved back towards the Serengeti.
- Reports from the southern Serengeti (Ndutu) as having been quite dry and the migration being quite fragmented all north of Seronera. The late rains might swing the herds back south again.