October has been a wonderful month with lots of action and fantastic wildlife numbers all over the Grumeti Reserve. Thousands of zebras continue to pass through the region alongside huge numbers of wildebeest that have been utilising the good pastures.
The Grumeti River continues to flow as a shallow clear channel, snaking its way through the riverbed beneath the towering fig trees. Consequently, we have had some fantastic walking adventures along the river under these favourable conditions. The wildlife coming to the river water during the heat of the day is magical. Elephants congregate on the sandy bars whilst spraying themselves with cooling spurts of water from their trunks.
The buffalo, zebra and eland descend the banks wearily to drink as they know the lions are never too far away. Using wind, shade and good safe cover, one can hide away successfully from the approaching animals and watch quietly as they drink. A truly lovely experience for those privileged to be involved in such an activity.
The elephants on the property have been constant with many congregating along the Grumeti River. Cat sightings too have been great with numerous cheetah sighting this month.
Here’s a sightings snapshot for October:
Core prides, such as the Butamtam and Nyasirori continue to captivate and produce wonderful interactions.
The West Pride, close to Explore Marula have also offered great sightings on the Raho drainage.
Lions along the river have been fantastic! As the sand banks are exposed with the dropping water levels some lovely shady sections are made available for the cats to rest in through the heat of the day. The lions also know that it will not be too long before the zebra herds return to the river again to drink. Ambushes are set between the banks and often the lions are successful in their hunting.
The coalition of seven young male lions continue to remain together and have been sighted in the central region relatively often.
Good leopard sightings this month with some lovely leopard action at both Sabora and Faru Faru.
A relaxed male leopard was sighted on the Raho drainage, just downstream of Kigelia Crossing. This male was also sighted in the vicinity of an adult female on the drainage line earlier this month.
The Sabora drainage male leopard continues to provide some powerful sightings, just a stone’s throw from Sabora camp. This incredibly strong individual is able to run up a sausage tree easily, with a young zebra in the clamp of his mouth! Such power is pretty awe inspiring.
There has been leopard activity around Sasakwa Hill from time to time but the animals remain shy and well hidden, and sightings are not as common.
The Grumeti North male has been seen on a number of occasions. He is well known for lying in the cool branches of the trees on the drainage, waiting for a young wildebeest to stray close enough to launch his attack. This male leopard is wise and has patience. A lovely relaxed individual and a pleasure to spend time with.
We have had some great interactions with the Sasakwa plains veteran male. This powerful cheetah has been hunting on the Sasakwa plains successfully, on a number of occasions.
Two younger males have been spending some time in the block between Colobus Crossing, on the river, and Arab Camp. These two individuals are likely to be brothers and coordinate their hunts together very well. We were lucky enough to experience some of their hunting skills and techniques close to Pelican pan, as they closed in on an impala herd.
We had reports of a female cheetah with four youngsters out in the far western plains of the Grumeti Reserve. Excellent news indeed!
An unknown large male cheetah had also been seen in the vicinity of the Sasakwa males’ territory a number of times and we are keeping a close eye on any consequent interaction.
We have observed fantastic elephant viewing on the river this month from Bangwezi, Ikorongo and downstream to Colobus Crossing.
Good breeding herds of elephants utilising the Manchira drainage this month which has been lovely to see. Very good feeding is offered on the upper reaches of this relatively secret little corner of the reserve.
Good activity on the Mkomure drainage too this month and some great elephant bulls sighted in this location, and east towards the Amara Woodlands.
Buffalo populations are booming! This species is very successful on the grasslands of the Grumeti Reserve. It has been an incredible story of recovery as we look at a population of approximately 8 000 animals these days.
Some of the herds are almost 1 000 strong. The breeding herds have been successful this year, rearing many calves.
Sasakwa Hill has seen aggregations of up to 30 bull buffalo in a single bachelor herd. It is awesome spending some time observing these characters and looking at the differences between individuals from physical traits to their differences in mentality.
All rhino are accounted for and in healthy condition. We continue to work closely with the TANAPA teams to ensure vital protection is in place.