July 2022

Singita Pamushana

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Singita Pamushana

July is an excellent time for safaris here at Singita Pamushana, and the lodge has been wonderfully busy. There’ve been a few cold days, and a spot of rain, so our climate certainly seems to have shifted somewhat. A very interesting scientific paper was published recently – it states that as African wild dogs like to breed at the coolest time of the year, climate change has shifted the average timing of birth by 22 days in just 30 years.

That is a frighteningly dramatic change for this endangered species, with many ramifications. Here on the Malilangwe Reserve we saw our wild dog litter leave their den-site on 13 July.

Here’s a Sightings Snapshot for July:

Lions

  • Nduna Pride: This growing pride had a feast on a buffalo bull they killed, south of 07 Camp. One of the lionesses is coming into oestrous. The young sub-adults have been very playful climbing trees and play fighting.
  • River Pride: A mating pair has also been seen within this pride. The pride have spent much of their time in the inaccessible swamp area, and also fed off a buffalo carcass for a couple of days.
  • Southern Pride: This pride has been viewed the most during July. Their usual stronghold is around Chiloveka Dam, buy that is currently as dry as a bone, so they have pushed north and have been spending their time in the Mahande area, Hwata Pan, and even up to Banyini. They have one cub who laps up all the attention it can get!


Leopards

  • Most of the sightings have been fleeting, but during a cruise on the peaceful waters of Malilangwe Dam a male leopard was seen just below Malilangwe House as it came down for a drink, before heading west towards Crocodile Creek. This was most likely the same male seen the next day at Sosigi Dam, in the story that follows later in this journal.

Hyenas

  • Hyena sightings are so less frequent than they used to be in the central areas. That is possibly one of the reasons the wild dogs chose to den in the central regions. That said, most of the hyena sightings have been of individuals following the hunting wild dogs, or out patrolling the roads in the early hours.

Elephants

  • There have been some great sightings of bulls, particularly one huge tusker west of Banyini. These bulls are starting to target a wider variety of vegetation in an attempt to get all the nutrition they need in these dry months.
  • The breeding herd sightings with their little ones are as delightful as ever, and most of these have been north of Ray’s Drift in the Chiredzi River region.

Rhinos

  • White: White rhinos are seen numbering into the twenties if one is to spend several hours at a favoured waterhole. It is a spectacle hard to believe. The star trail image at the end of this journal tells the story. However, the most interesting white rhino sighting this month was when 11 were seen together - ten bulls and one cow, with the males all fighting for an opportunity to mate with the female that was in oestrus.
  • Black: Black rhino viewing involves quite a lot of luck, and being in the right place at the right time. The alternative is to track them on foot. Guests have had good sightings this month, such as the cow and calf coming for a drink at a pan; the bull marking his territory; and, seen on foot, the mother and calf sleeping in the mopani shrub – they were watched undetected for about 10 minutes before the wind direction changed.

Buffalos

  • There are huge herds amassing at the waterholes, sometimes in excess of 700 buffalos. The sheer number, clouds of dust and bellowing are awesome to witness.

Wild dogs

  • Pups were seen! At least five white-tipped little tails, but only a distant visual through binoculars. We hope to get a better idea of the new litter now that they are running with the pack.
  • Wild dog sightings for the first weeks of July were prolific as they hunted at dawn and dusk in the central areas near the lodge, in order to feed the pups back at the den.

Plains game

  • Lichtenstein hartebeest, eland and sable have been seen regularly, due to the limited water supply at this time of year.
  • Their seems to have been a giraffe baby boom, with many youngsters staggering about on stilts.
  • An interesting sighting was watching kudu, nyala and impalas feeding together under umbrella thorn trees with baboons feeding in the tree tops. As the baboons were feeding they were knocking down some of the nutritious pods which the plains game were eagerly eating.

Unusual sightings

  • A small python, about 1m long, was seen. Our guests loved looking at its beautiful markings.

Birds

  • A highlight was seeing an osprey at Sosigi Dam, as well as a marabou stork, knob-billed ducks and white-faced whistling ducks. Scarlet-chested sunbirds can be seen feeding on nectar from the aloes that are in flower, best seen on the side of hills during a boat cruise. Fishing
  • Winter is not the best time for fishing, that said a few bream and tigerfish have been landed.

Water safari

  • Our water safari sunset cruises are so popular with our guests that we’ve acquired another boat – a sleek and luxurious Watermark pontoon.

Bush walks

  • Now is the best season for doing a bush walk, with the vegetation dry and starting to be grazed low. Guests, led by their very experienced guides, have even done walks specifically tracking lions, rhinos and elephants. The ideal goal of these is to observe the animal undetected, and then leave without it knowing you were there.

Rock art

  • Having incredible rock art on the property adds another dimension to safaris at Singita Pamushana. Our guests this month have been fascinated with the rock art, especially those for whom this was the last stop on their African safaris, and they’d seen all the animals on their wishlists.

Photographic hide

  • Our eye-level-with-the-water hide has been very popular this month, with animals and guests alike! It’s the best place to view white rhinos, and the Southern Pride of lions has been drinking from this pan too. It can be quite an overwhelming experience when it’s so busy with animals.

Kambako Living Museum of Bushcraft

  • Visitors have been shown how to make fire, forge iron, pound sorghum, weave baskets, do beading, use a bow and arrow, divine water and more!