Singita Kruger National Park: June 2022
June marks the first month of winter and temperatures are telling with the morning drives as low as nine degrees Celsius. The natural air-conditioning provided by the breeze passing through the open vehicles, make for a frosty morning. However, the chilly mornings are counteracted with beanies, gloves, layers of clothes, hot water bottles and blankets, until the sun has warmed us up.
The concession is still in fabulous condition with most of the vegetation still boasting rays of green and many of the pans and rivers still have enough water to evenly disperse the animal herds. Most herbivores are still glistening in their fur coats, in pristine condition.
Here’s a Sightings Snapshot for June:
- The Mananga Pride has been seen several times a week on our concession. Their territory is enlarging which could be a testament of their growing numbers. They have been seen as far north as Hatayi which is one of our most northern blocks, as far east as the northern fenceline, all while still maintaining their hold on the north-western and central part of our concession. A growing pride of lions like this needs enough land to hunt, and we have observed them covering much ground overnight depending on the amount of game in the area. We are still seeing them on occasion split into two factions, namely the two lionesses with their young six cubs and the other portion containing the rest of the Mananga Pride lionesses, subadults, cubs and young male. North factions have been seen with the Shish males, on one such occasion the entire pride was reunited and they were trailing a large herd of buffalos that were roaming from the northern part of the concession all the way south near Xingwenyana crossing. They successfully killed a buffalo around the sticky thorn thickets, after finishing the carcass they followed more buffalos to Nyeleti and managed to kill another buffalo. The pride has split again after that kill, into the two factions.
- The Maputo male and Kumana male were only spotted once this month, on the first of the month. With two members of the Trichardt coalition establishing themselves in their territory they seem to be keeping a low profile and not vocalizing, and scent marking. They could have been killed by these new males with only the vultures and hyenas who could retell their story, or they could have cut east into Mozambique, or further south, accepting their defeat. Only time will tell which of these scenarios have played out.
- The Trichardt males have pushed more north, they were seen around Ngume and Ma-four Pounds following the Shish lionesses, but it looks like they are not yet accepted by them because every time they hear them roaring they move away.
- The unrest has caused the Shish Pride to split up again as they did when the Maputo male came into this concession this time last year. The lionesses are separated into two factions, one lioness and three sub-adults together and the other three with the limping lioness are together.
- We had an incredible sighting of the Nhlagulene female, where her cubs were up in a tree feeding on an impala carcass their mother had successfully managed to hoist. Exposure to the vehicles during this time has made the cubs more accustomed to the vehicles, and the sightings we’ve had of them thereafter have been more relaxed.
- Dumbana female and her two “cubs” continued to offer us magnificent sightings this month. They were seen in the central parts of our concession. On one such day we heard the impalas alarming and investigated. We spotted the Dumbana female moving east, and after a few minutes a spotted hyena arrived. We found that she had just killed an impala, and she was trying to distract the hyenas. Unfortunately, the hyenas managed to commandeer her carcass. However, a little later while the hyenas almost finished the carcass, she managed to grab the leftover head and neck to host in a nearby tree. She then went to fetch the cubs for them to feed and continued hunting.
- After that sighting, the Dumbana young males have also been seen around the Xidulu Pan area.
- The Mbiri-mbiri male come back south this month, and has been spotted around the Nuntlwa and Leadwood area. He was seen together with three Shish lionesses near Nuntlwa. We believe he killed a warthog and they came to scavenge. It was an interesting sighting because he did not want to give up his kill, and was about ten meters away from the lioness trying to get back the carcass, but they kept chasing him away and he would keep returning waiting and watching for an opportunity to get his meal back. We eventually left the area that night and when we got back the next morning there was not a single trace of the story that played out the night before.
- A couple of hyena sightings have been recorded from all over the concession. Two adult hyenas were seen on the southern boundary, and we had a lot of their tracks moving all over the area. We suspect that they might have a den-site in that area. Three other hyena sightings were recorded around Border/Sisal junction coming from the south. This might be the same clan from the southern boundary.
- We had a sighting of two hyenas scavenging the impala from the Dumbana female leopard south of Ntsimbitsane First Crossing on the drainage line.
- A single spotted hyena was seen feeding on a kudu carcass on the fenceline north of the rhino link. Two other hyena sightings were also recorded on Maputo and the fenceline.
- Multiple hyena sightings were recorded in the central depression. Three members of the Nkayanini clan were also seen lying up on the open areas between Ingwe and Ingwe link.
- We have had incredible sightings of elephants this month. A number of breeding herds as well as bachelor herds have been sighted from the lodge all the way to the north.
- The southern section has also been a hotspot for elephants, with great sightings from Border/Sisal junction heading all the way south towards the Poort. It is always special to see breeding herds feeding along the Nwanetsi River with the Lebombo ridges as a dramatic backdrop.
- We have also had elephant herds browsing in and around the lodge.
- We had a wonderful sighting of a breeding herd of buffalo in the concession this month. About 1 000 buffalos entered the concession coming from our northern boundary, and they made their way all the way south towards the Nwanetsi River (Xingwenyana Crossing). Due to lions trailing and hunting them they split into smaller factions of about 400 buffalos, which were spread across the concession. They eventually regrouped after a few days.
- A couple of single bulls and smaller herds were seen around the rest of the concession.
- The Nwanetsi concession is well known for its big herds of general game but this month they have exceeded the record. On Ntsimbitsane open areas, we have seen hundreds of impalas, waterbuck, wildebeest, and zebras. It is always a highlight seeing all the different species feeding together in the central depression area.
- Giraffe sightings have been phenomenal this month with towers of up to 20 plus individuals roaming the concession. We have also seen several newborn calves amongst them, still learning to walk.
Rare animals and other sightings
- An African wild cat was spotted by one of the guides on the morning drive, hunting a scrub hare, but it was not successful.
- We had a very relaxed serval cat around Nwanetsi and Dumbana Junction.
- One of the resident honey badgers was seen exposed around Sweni Lodge, basking in the sun!
- Multiple pairs of white-backed vultures were spotted preparing their nests for breeding.
- A flock of yellow-throated longclaw was spotted a couple of times around Xingwenyana crossing and Sticky Thorn Road.
- A half-collared kingfisher was seen for the first time ever on the concession, around Dave’s crossing.