Have you ever seen a such a smug looking dassie? It’s not surprising given his perch! What a month it has been with some unseasonably late rains and spectacular wildlife sightings.
The Malilangwe Reserve is abuzz with activity as operations are underway to move buffalo, zebra and two white rhinos from the property to restock other reserves. Where possible our Singita Pamushana guests are invited to observe these meticulously organised big game relocations. It is thanks to a myriad of factors concerning the successful conservation of the Malilangwe ecosystem that, from time to time, wildlife exceeding the scientifically-calculated carrying capacity for the area can be relocated, for restocking and introductions at other well-protected reserves.
Guests touching down at our airstrip have had some phenomenal starts to their safaris: Two guests arriving for 11 nights were treated to vultures pointing the way to five lions at a kill within 10 minutes of their arrival! Other guests on the drive from the airstrip to the lodge saw a female leopard sitting on the river sand of the Nyamasikana River Crossing!
Here’s a Sightings Snapshot for April:
- The Nduna Pride has had great success hunting giraffes this month. They were seen feeding on three giraffe carcasses in less than two weeks. At one of these feasts two white rhinos came along and chased the lions from the kill! The Nduna Pride has a mating pair, so there could be some new cubs in 110 days! This pride likes to spend time resting on the high sandstone outcrops and it is a sight to behold seeing them up on a ridge and greeting each other as each member summits.
- The River Pride has been seen on various occasions, trying to hunt or relaxing in the riverine shade.
- Guide, Mike Mpuche, and tracker, Mavuto Mukape, followed up on a feeling and were rewarded with an excellent sighting of a big male lion, “Looking like he had lost a wallet full of money,” according to Mike.
- There have been some good sightings of leopards this month. The highlight was finding a drag mark crossing a road near the river, following it and finding an impala carcass hung up in a mopane tree. Returning to the area as darkness fell everyone was rewarded with seeing the leopard who had returned to feed on the carcass.
- Spotted hyenas have been seen regularly, especially when they are determinedly on the trail of African wild dogs.
- Some magnificent bulls are seen almost daily, drinking at their preferred Banyini waterhole.
- A delightful sighting took place at Sosigi Dam when a breeding herd of over 40 elephants, with some tiny babies among them, spent time drinking at the dam.
- Incredible sightings of large crashes of white rhinos, and one black rhino, have been regularly reported, at a favourite pan, as dusk falls.
- A few unexpected sightings have occurred, such as when a black rhino ambled across a road, then galloped off at full speed. Another was when the deep sound of hooves running was heard, and as the guide and guests drove around a bend they saw a mother white rhino, calf and mature bull running down the road. Making sure everyone got value for money were three black rhinos on the Chimizie Highway that gave the game viewing vehicle a good rev!
- There is never a dull moment when watching a herd of buffalo - always something to see with the pushing, shoving and herd dynamics. Herds of over 300 can be seen daily.
- Two packs of African wild dogs are being seen, a pack of 10 and another of 8 – possibly originally one pack that has split.
- An alpha female is looking heavily pregnant and will be denning very soon.
- The dogs have been seen successfully hunting impala, but having their meals stolen on occasion by hyenas. These are serious confrontations with potentially deadly fighting and biting that goes on.
- A wonderful safari surprise was heading down a track very early one morning, to be met with wild dogs running as a pack up the track, toward the vehicle. Another treasured time was watching the young dogs playing next to the vehicle, then calling their pack mates with long, low hooting calls.
- The plains game are abundant. Guests even got to watch giraffe which were courting.
- Daytime sightings of smaller treasures such as Sharpe’s grysbok, and nighttime spotlight spots of white-tailed mongoose, large-spotted genet, porcupine, and African wild cat.
- One of the month’s birding highlights was watching a little sparrowhawk chasing and grabbing a European swallow in flight.
- Guests had great fun trying to photograph lilac-breasted rollers in flight – easier said than done.
- Guests have had a good time fishing, and it seems the tigers are really on the bite at this time of year, but the biggest fishing scoop came from one of our young residents on the reserve. Tristan Saunders landed a 6.5 kilogram (14 pounds) tigerfish – the biggest out of the dam in 12 years! He released it safely back into the waters and it swam off strongly to fight another day.
- Singita Pamushana are renowned almost as much for our bush walks as we are for our rhino sightings. Here are a couple of walk summaries from the month:
- We did a walk that concentrated on the scents and aromatic smells that connect us with the bush. Amongst the outstanding scents were the wild sage, followed by wild basil, as well as purple pan weed.
- We tracked black rhino for an hour and were eventually rewarded as we came face to face with the herbivores, three in number - a mother, sub-adult and an adult bull. Following from behind with the wind in our favour we had the best view before they were disturbed by a breeding herd of elephants.
- On foot we tracked members of the River Pride that we had seen the previous evening within the Chikwete area, at first coming across a bull elephant and continuing with the lion tracks and being rewarded with the kings of the jungle, west of Chikwete Pan. Even though they saw us they still felt comfortable at 30 metres. As we left we saw an adult female leopard - we all got to see her but as is the norm with leopards, when you are on foot, she took off towards the river.
- A guest who had visited us in 2011, before we had the photo hide, took the opportunity to spend time in it during his visit this month. It was quiet in the beginning which gave him time to set up cameras and familiarise himself with the surrounding area. Double-banded sandgrouses were first birds to come and drink and bathe in big numbers, followed by two big elephant bulls, then black rhinos.