Singita Kruger National Park: August 2022
This year has shuffled along rather quickly and the days have warmed up and stretched out a little bit longer until sunset. The mornings retain an icy feel but it no longer lasts as long as before. August is usually our windy month, and this year has been no exception. It seems to become drier by the day and the little green grass that was left has given way to hues of gold and brown.
The roads are dusty and the tracks of the animals are showing well on morning drives. The sun sets blood red with an afterglow in the west each evening. As the water disappears from the pans, the rivers are full from the summer rains and are sure to yield some great wildlife experiences for our guests in the coming months.
The bright orange of the flame creeper (Combretum microphyllum) dots the Lebombo’s ridges now, interspersed with splashes of pink of the candy-striped impala lilies (Adenium multiflorum), adding a pop of colour to the stark contrast of the rugged mountainous terrain. The cherry-red flowers of the weeping boer-bean (Schotia brachypetala) trees in camp are a hive of activity with lots of insects as well as avian visitors to the nectar. The tall knobthorn’s (Senegalia nigrescens) cream-coloured flowers have made an appearance, which is a tell-tale sign that spring is just around the corner.
Here’s a Sightings Snapshot for August:
- This month has been an incredible month for lion viewing.
- The Mananga Pride continues to produce great sightings. The larger portion of 16 members, has continued to search far and wide for prey. They are focusing on the large herd of buffalo that have been moving through our concession. They have been viewed attempting to bring down buffalo on a few occasions, in an almost never-ending “cat and mouse game” they have trailed the herd all night and then spent the day resting, almost in view of the herd, then once the sun begins to set, they follow again. They had success bringing down a large buffalo bull that was split from the herd, north of the dam. The entire pride gorged themselves on the bull, including the Shish males. It was a spectacle to remember with all 26 members of the pride finishing the carcass in less than 24 hours! The smaller portion of the pride, the two females and six cubs, are seen in and around the Gudzane Dam area, and the cubs are growing well.
- The Trichardt male lions have continued to be seen in the southern parts of the concession, mainly along the N’wanetsi River. They have been mating with the Shish females and, on one occasion, they were seen mating near the lodge entrance! They brought down a big buffalo bull shortly after sunset during the middle of the month. The buffalo struggled with the two big males for almost an hour until he took his last breath. The males were joined in the following days by some of the Shish females and, incredibly, even the old Kumana male lion - very unusual behaviour. These Trichardt males do seem to have asserted themselves as the controlling territorial lions in the south, however, the Shish females were seen mating with a rival coalition of three lions from the west. These three males were seen marking territory, calling and looking for the Trichardt males. Once they found them a fight ensued, separating the two Trichardt males, and they gave chase into the mountains. There did not seem to have been any blood spilled during the day-long altercation and the intruders were seen far west along the H6 during the following days.
- The Mountain Pride continues to be elusive. They were found in the far north-east feeding on the remains of a buffalo, and they seem to be spending some time in Mozambique.
- The Kumana and Maputo males were seen not far from the Mountain Pride. Initially hopes were that they had joined the Mountain Pride however, both males have seen separated further south towards the last days of the month.
- The Dumbana female leopard and her two male offspring have continued to be the mainstay of our leopard sightings for the month. The mother has managed to kill several impalas and all three have been viewed regularly together finishing off the carcasses. A carcass does not last more than a day. This female caught an impala but her luck turned as the Trichardt male lions were resting close by and, after hearing the commotion, they trotted in to investigate and then abruptly stole the carcass from her. She managed to escape.
- The Nhlangulene female and her cubs have been seen a handful of times this month. Guests were treated to both the Nhlangulene female with cubs and the Dumbana female with the two sub-adults in one sighting. It is possible that after the Nhlangulene female killed and hoisted an impala, she set off to fetch her set of six-month-old cubs, and the Dumbana female found the hoisted carcass and seized the opportunity of a free meal. There was a total of six leopards in one sighting, which is truly special.
- Sightings of the Mbiri Mbiri male have been unusually quiet. On one occasion he was viewed hunting warthogs.
- The Gudzane female was seen on a few occasions near the Gudzane Dam but the sightings were not long as she is shy during the day.
- A pair of dogs were found running north in the Central Depression area, late one evening. There have been tracks of some dogs on the Mozambique border.
- We have had fairly regular sightings of hyenas, mostly after sunset, of individuals walking around searching for something to eat or patrolling the clan’s territory. One afternoon a leopard had an impala carcass stolen by a single hyena, and the hyena finished the entire carcass!
- Breeding herds have been seen across the concession and are often viewed in the mountains during the colder mornings, and along the rivers in the afternoons.
- Elephant bulls and bachelor groups are encountered regularly.
- The very large breeding herd of buffalo, which numbers between 500 and 1 000 animals, is regularly seen. This huge herd is often the focus of the lions in the area and it seems to follow a circular route through the grasslands, then looping back towards the river.
- There are also several old bachelor groups of grumpy bulls found along the drainage lines in the mountains.
- As with most months, the general game viewing has been fantastic this last month. There have been large herds of plains zebras and blue wildebeest dotted throughout the concession. The large journeys and towers of giraffes are a regular sighting as well as the healthy post-drought years warthog population. The waterbuck herds are easily found along all of the river systems and are often in large mixed groups of different species including kudu, impala, and baboons.
We have had a few sightings of cheetahs this month. Most sightings were on the H6 around the recently burnt areas. Then around the middle of the month, we had several sightings of four sub-adults in the central areas, and two males were seen in the open areas that surround the Gudzane Dam.
Rare animals and other sightings
- Serval, caracal, African civets, African wild cat, and Sharpe’s grysbok have all been recorded this month.
- Honey badgers have been seen on the concession and often in and around the lodges and staff village.
We have seen a total of 165 birds for the month. Birding has been good considering the late winter dry conditions. With spring approaching some of our summer migrants have already started arriving. Yellow-billed kites have been seen this month. Some of the sandpipers have also returned. The Wahlberg’s eagles have also returned and we are excited to see that the pair that usually nest in the trees just upstream from the lodge are here again for another season. One of these birds is an uncommon snow-white pale morph.