Singita Pamushana Lodge: October 2022
October has been hot and dry. You’ll see from the photos in this journal just how parched the landscape is, but every now and again there is a pop of green, sending signals of hope. The baobabs have dug deep and started getting their leaves as well as a couple of other early-bird tree species. The evening winds have picked up, and thunderclouds are brewing in the afternoons, threatening the relief we’re all waiting for. The sunsets, exacerbated by the dust in the air, have been like balls of fire dropping onto the horizon.
Our guests have enjoyed incredible sightings in these extreme conditions, and the month has been dominated by rhinos and lions. However, there is always time for relaxation and reflection. One of these occasions took place when guests were encouraged to sit barefoot around a glowing fire in a riverbed, and enjoy a drink before dinner whilst watching the night sky spectacle.
Here’s a sightings snapshot for October:
Southern: This pride has moved back south around a spring in the Chiloveka area that’s dominated by thick ilala palms, and the reason became clear when two four-week-old cubs appeared out of the thickets to join the pride that were feeding on a buffalo carcass. The cubs have been stashed away in this almost impenetrable area for the last month, by their wise mother – the lioness with the damaged left ear. The pride males were seen mating with one of the other lionesses earlier in the month.
River: This pride spends much of their time in the swamps across the Chiredzi River – an area that’s hard to access and impossible if the river is too high to cross. But this month they have given spectacular sightings in the riverbed, and it has been a treat to see not only the three pride males together but also the six curious cubs that are about nine months old.
Nduna: The pride have been drinking, hunting and relaxing around Nduna Dam. Amazingly the two old pride males are still in control of this pride, despite having sustained severe injuries from an attempted hostile takeover by other males in recent times. The one male has been mating with the one oldest lioness and testing the receptiveness of the others.
HQ: Not much is known about this pride, but a lone male was spotted around the HQ area this month.
Fleeting sightings are occasional, and every now and again sustained sightings of these elusive cats are had. Two such occasions this month were when a leopard was seen relaxing on the rocks in the Nyari area; and the other was when a leopard had killed an impala and dragged it into a tree one morning. She was still on site during the afternoon drive, as she carried on feeding from her bounty.
White: Large crashes of white rhinos are seen together. We have also been introduced to some brand new arrivals – their mother’s cautiously making their way to drink after sunset, with their babies at heel. An intense scene was watching two white rhino bulls fighting each other.
Black: There have been excellent passive and active sightings of black rhinos – especially as they make their way to water during the twilight hours. A black rhino caused much excitement when it gave chase to three giraffes, and then walked towards the game-viewing vehicle and gave us a few mock charges before taking off at speed.
It’s tough times for elephants this month – there is little available for them to eat. Lone bulls are seen chewing on roots and bark. There relief should come next month with the rains. A huge breeding herd has been spending time around the dam, even swimming across the shallows, as they drink and cool off, and make the most of the greenery that survives near the water’s edge.
A highlight was a herd of 13 sable antelope drinking at Banyini pan.
A nyala gave birth to her lamb very close to the lodge – a rare privilege to witness the event.
The rhino sightings in the cooler hours have been incredible, and offer guests photographs and memories never to be forgotten.
The water has heated up and the fishing is good! Many successful fishing safaris have returned to the lodge with tales of tilapia, catfish and tigers being caught.
There are four pups with the pack, and together the twelve members have been hunting in the north-western regions and drinking at Sosigi Dam.
Enormous herds, one numbering about 1 000 individuals have been kicking up dust, drinking at the permanent water sources and feeding along the river banks.
There was an epic battle between a hyena and warthogs. The hyena chased the warthogs, but they were having none of the opportunist’s brazenness and turned around and chased the hyena. Wisely the hyena backed off leaving the warthogs with their heads and tails held high in victory.
The track of a large python left in the sand was seen, so the guide and guests followed it and it ended up disappearing into the water at Banyini pan. The python was visible in the water, and while everyone was watching it two lions came to drink, then a lone hyena came along to check on the lions. The lions showed no interest in the hyena and it moved away to go and sit in the water where the python was. It wasn’t long before the hyena noticed the snake and then tried to catch the python using its feet and its mouth to bite it, but only ending up with a mouth full of mud. It persisted and then suddenly bolted from the water, as it had most likely received a nasty underwater bite from the big snake!
A glorious scene was watching a breeding herd of well over 30 elephants swimming across the Malilangwe Dam from the western to the eastern banks.
Our boat cruises safaris are a unique and idyllic way of experiencing the African wilderness. Memorable moments from this month include seeing a female crocodile out of the water protecting her nesting site; a fish eagle eating a huge bream; watching a pod of 38 hippos; spotting a male leopard drinking near the old jetty; and marvelling at eight terrapins all sunning themselves on one log.
We’ve seen them trailing the wild dogs, patrolling the roads, and eight of them came to drink, play, display and call close to where guests were enjoying a sundowner.
Walks & rock art
It’s a great time to walk, as long as it’s during the cooler hours of the day. One walk incorporated a boat cruise over to an area from where the guide chose to depart, and on that walk, half way up a hill, they came across a site where there were a number of carcasses under a rocky overhang. It was where a leopard, on a few occasions, had used the site to eat its prey. Some of the remnants found were a fully intact crocodile skull, a terrapin skull and the bones from a busbuck or impala. Other walks have been to see the fascinating rock art paintings, and to hug the biggest baobab on the property.
The highlight of a walk along the Chiredzi River was spotting a Pel’s fishing owl!
Other twitching ticks included a secretary bird; a hammerkop and a woolly-necked stork both with a frog in their bills; broad-billed, European and lilac-breasted rollers; African and Klaas’ cuckoo; striped and brown-hooded kingfishers; scops owl; a pair of African hawk eagles; and yellow-billed storks.