November 2022

Singita Kruger National Park: November 2022


Singita Kruger National Park: November 2022

Following on from the month of October, game viewing has continued to be excellent. The expected rains finally arrived in the middle of the month which brought a welcome respite. After a few more rainless days, the heavens opened again on the 26th and continued for two days, resulting in the N’wanetsi and Sweni Rivers levels to rise. All of the pans are now full as well as the many ephemeral mud wallows – these will play an important role for the many animals that rely on them for cooling and self-care during the summer months. The cacophony of frogs can be heard all over the concession and more and more migratory birds have arrived to take advantage of the impending insect explosion.

Here’s a Sightings Snapshot for November:

Lions :

The Mananga Pride continue to be a common sight on the concession and we have been witness to some spectacular moments. The pride managed to kill four large buffalo bulls in the space of ten days, of which one sighting was witnessed by some of our guides and guests in the central depression. The whole pride, together with the two Shishangaan males, were in attendance and it was amazing to watch the hunt from start to finish. The entire buffalo was consumed in just over twelve hours.

Shishangaan Pride sightings have been very sporadic over the last month due to the unstable lion dynamics down south near the lodges. The Trichardt Males that fathered the cubs recently born into the pride, are now getting pressure from a coalition of three males which have yet to be named. These three males have been entering the concession more frequently in the last few weeks and both coalitions have come into physical contact, with members from both sides showing recent injuries. Since the last confirmed sighting of one tawny cub on the 30th of October, we finally located seven Shishangaan lionesses with only one tawny cub again present on the 20th November. We had another sighting of three lionesses with the cub on the 26th and sadly we can assume that the other two cubs are no longer alive.

We have had no sightings of Mountain Pride during the month and the consensus is that they have moved into Mozambique due to the Mananga Pride’s expansion to the east.

An unknown coalition of four lions was found on the 28th of November to the north of the concession. Will these males push south and challenge the two aging Shishangaan males? Only time will tell.

Regarding the Shishangaan males – they continue to be dominant over the central and northern parts of the concession. They were even seen as far south as Xingwenyana Crossing on the N’wanetsi River one morning which is pushing into the territory of the two Trichardt Males. When not out patrolling, they are constantly found with the Mananga Pride and were present at each of the buffalo carcasses killed by the pride. On the morning of the 30th, they were found with the Mananga Pride feeding on a male waterbuck which had been killed by another male in a territorial dispute.

We had two confirmed sightings of the Maputo male – one at Hyena Pan in the north eastern part of the concession and another just to the west of the concession. With the Kumana male presumed to no longer be with us, he is now keeping a low profile and has become nomadic. We are happy to report that he is in great condition and it is hoped that he somehow manages to find a new coalition partner.

The Xirombe male was seen on two consecutive days feeding on a female waterbuck in the southern parts of the concession. This male is also nomadic and he would be an ideal coalition partner to the Maputo male.


The Dumbana female was seen on a handful of occasions. Most notably, she and the Nhlanguleni female had two territorial disputes two weeks apart. During the first dispute, the two leopardesses became physical, each showing fresh injuries. While witness to the second dispute, there was a lot of hissing and growling between them, before they eventually went in opposite directions.

The two young Dumbana males have once again provided excellent viewing for our guests. Either one or sometimes both were viewed on fifteen separate occasions during the month. They are spending most of their time in the N’wanetsi River and the many drainage lines that feed into the river, particularly the Ntsibitsane and Xinkelengane. These areas are where most of their preferred prey – impala, common duiker, bushbuck and nyala - are found. Also, with the impala lambing season in full force, we expect both to take full advantage, as they continue to hone their hunting skills well into independence from their mother.

The Nhlanguleni female and her two cubs also provided excellent viewing towards the end of the month. All three leopards were viewed together feeding on multiple impala lamb carcasses further north in the Xinkelengane drainage. As stated above, we twice viewed both her and the Dumbana female having a territorial dispute. With both of her cubs being female, she is probably looking to increase her territory, with a view to eventually ceding some of this to her cubs, should they both make it to independence. Female leopards are generally philopatric, sometimes setting up territory directly next to their mothers and even claiming a small part of their mother’s territory, as already mentioned.

The Lebombo male was viewed on three occasions in the granophyres and an unidentified male was seen on a few occasions in the N’wanetsi River and south western parts of the concession. On the 30th, we located yet another unidentified male feeding on a hoisted carcass of a blue wildebeest calf near the Gudzane Dam area.


Cheetahs were seen on six occasions this last month.

Four of these sightings were of a single individual female cheetah. She was wearing a telemetry collar and we assume that she came from Mozambique.

The other sightings of cheetah were of a female with two sub-adults. On the last day of November, they were seen in the grasslands on the western side of the concession. After a short while they spotted an adult female impala and the chase was on. The mother managed to bring down the antelope and the youngsters started feeding. Unfortunately, a large hyena had seen a vulture that descended to a dead tree nearby and came to investigate. The hyena found the cheetahs feeding and immediately ran in and usurped the prey, chasing the cheetahs away. What an incredible sighting!

Wild dogs

Four different packs were seen this month: A pack of three, a pack of five, a pack of nine and a large pack of twenty-two (including pups).

The pack of three dogs was seen on a few occasions in the concession, but by the end of the month they had moved out of the area and were seen outside of the concession far to the west, close to Satara Rest Camp. These dogs were seen to have quite a few injuries on them. We are not sure what caused these wounds. One afternoon we were watching them searching for prey in the grasslands on the H6 public road. We had just seen a steenbok prior to finding the dogs and had explained to our guests how they often drop down into the grass with their ears flat when seeing predators. In such a pose they look just like a rock (hence the name steenbok, meaning stone antelope). It was only minutes later that the dogs came into view and we watched as the steenbok did exactly what had just been said and the dogs ran by, within a few meters of the crouching antelope, without seeing it.

The pack of five were seen a few times just east of the lodges, in the hills. On one of these occasions the dogs found a dead impala that had been killed by a leopard and they appropriated and ate it.

The pack of nine was only seen on one occasion on our western boundary road.

The large pack was seen once, in the far northern reaches of the concession along the Mozambique boundary. They were resting in the shade of a large jackalberry tree.

Spotted hyenas

We have had quite a few sightings of these amazing animals this last month (42 sightings in total).

Some of the more interesting sightings included: One adult hyena feeding on a honey badger; one adult hyena resting in a cave in the rocky hills on a hot day; three adults waiting at the base of a tree in which a leopard had stashed its kill – they were hoping to get fallen scraps; an adult female was seen in the far north of the concession playing with four youngsters; one adult female hyena chasing a baby impala; three adults that stole the kill from a leopard; and three adults feeding on the carcass of a young elephant. The next day there were seven hyenas lying in the area waiting for the lions (which had found the carcass) to move off. Towards the end of the month a large female hyena managed to steal the kill of three cheetahs.


We have had great elephant viewing this last month. A bull with fairly large tusks was seen on a few occasions. We have also seen quite a few herds of females and youngsters, including a few sightings of babies that were only a few days old. Towards the end of the month we found a young bull elephant that had died in the grassland near the river. We are not sure what caused him to perish. His carcass attracted a lot of vultures and marabou storks. On the second day after he had died there were over 160 vultures in the vicinity of the carcass and soon the lions saw the mass accumulation of vultures and also came to feed on the decaying meat.


Most of the month we were seeing a few male buffalos. There are two dagha boys that have been hanging around in the Nkayanini area (in the far north of the concession). On the second of the month we found a single bull drinking at Pony Pan. After quenching his thirst he headed north, but unfortunately for him Mananga Pride found him during the night and we found them the next morning feeding on his remains.

On the 4th a herd of approximately 800 buffalos entered into the concession from the west and immediately the lions found them and managed to kill one. The buffalos then fled back westward.

Towards the end of the month there had been quite a lot of rain in the concession and we were driving mainly on the Kruger roads. While outside of the concession we did have a few sightings of large herds of buffalos.

Plains game

The plains game has been great, as usual. We have been seeing giraffe, kudu, waterbuck, impalas, zebras and wildebeest on most drives. We have also had quite a few sightings of klipspringers on the rocky ledges. On a few occasions we saw the diminutive Sharpe’s grysboks, mainly in the hills. We have also had regular sightings of steenbok and warthogs. Common duikers have been seen a few times this last month (in contrast to the name common duiker are not common in this area).

This is the time of the year that the animals that give birth seasonally have their babies. There are lots of baby impalas now and by the end of the month they were already gathering in their small creches. We have also seen a few baby wildebeest in the far north-western reaches of the concession. Many of the herds of zebras have young foals at the moment.

Rare animals and other sightings

The following unusual animal sightings were recorded this month:

Two sightings of African Civets on the night drives.

One sighting of a very relaxed caracal.

One sighting of a shy serval.

A few sightings of Sharpe’s grysbok, nyalas, klipspringers and common duiker.


This is the time of the year that the migrant birds return to our area. We have seen both Intra-African Migrants and Palearctic migrants returning. The European rollers arrived towards the end of the month and will now push the lilac-breasted rollers into hiding.

Some of the rare birds seen this last month include white-backed night heron, saddle-billed stork, marabou stork, yellow-billed stork, secretarybird, hooded vulture, Cape vulture, white-backed vulture, lappet-faced vulture, white-headed vulture, tawny eagle, martial eagle, bateleur, kori bustard, greater painted snipe, European roller, southern ground-hornbill and golden pipit. All of the afore-mentioned birds are listed as birds of concern by Birdlife SA (except for the golden pipit, which has possibly only been seen in southern Africa fewer than thirty times).

Some of the endemic (only occur in southern Africa) and near-endemic (found mainly in southern Africa, but may extend just outside of the region) birds that we see fairly regularly in the area, and were seen this last month, include Natal spurfowl, red-crested korhaan, double-banded sandgrouse, southern red-billed hornbill, southern yellow-billed hornbill, acacia pied barbet, sabota lark, white-throated robin-chat, southern boubou, southern white-crowned shrike and Burchell’s starling.

Towards the end of the month we found an elephant carcass that attracted over 160 vultures, including white-backed, hooded, white-headed, lappet-faced and Cape vultures. This carcass also attracted a few bateleur eagles, tawny eagles, yellow-billed kites and marabou storks.

By Jenny Hishin
Author / Guest Guide