December 2022

Singita Sabi Sand: December 2022


Singita Sabi Sand: December 2022

As we look back on 2022, December was the perfect way to round up the year as there was something for everyone. From the buzz of the cicadas to bellows of big buffalo herds, the reserve is truly teeming with life. With the gentle rise in temperatures so comes the increase in rain which breathes rejuvenation back into our surroundings. Long days offer us the chance to explore this beautiful environment without rushing the journey and still having time to sit back and relax. This is the month of self-reflection and healing.

Here’s a sightings snapshot for December:


The sweetveld to our east becomes attractive to the pachyderms during the summer months, however we have already started to see some marula fruits turning from green to yellow which will prove too hard to resist in the months to come.


Frequent sightings of the territorial male cheetah in the southern grasslands continues to be a major highlight for many guests, although he has been seen limping of late, he has often been found with a plump belly (like many of us after Christmas dinner) suggesting it is not hampering his hunting ability.


Last month lions stole the show on the big cat front but this month, in true Sabi Sand fashion, it was all about leopards. There has been regular viewing of familiar individuals, as well as some new faces.

To the north of the Sand River a new leopard to Singita is the Hlambela male, a four-year-old male who was fathered by the legendary Singita old boy, the Ravenscourt male. Hlambela has been sighted on a few occasions now, and this part of the reserve seems to still be mostly unoccupied when it comes to one dominant male.

The Kangela male leopard and Misava male have been another two males that have found refuge across the river from our lodges. The Kangela male leopard has been licking his wounds after a brutal encounter with the Thamba male south of the river close to Tavangumi Koppies, a clear message to the young tom of who is in charge in that section. What was surprising about this sighting is that Kangela did not take the abuse lying down but stood up to Thamba and did his best to fight back. Thamba’s massive stature gave him the upper hand and now Kangela is left scarred but still surviving.

There may be some new leopard cubs coming soon. The Nkuwa female leopard has been offering us great viewing, often sighted up a tree, giving us a chance to see her swelling mammary glands. We really hope she chooses the rocky Mobeni riverbed as one of her denning sites. This leopardess is simply mesmerising!

The Schotia female leopard looks to be in great condition and there is a strong possibility she may have a new litter of cubs somewhere close to camp. If so they will have been fathered by the Thamba male. We will be watching her closely to hopefully confirm our speculations..


The single mother, the Nkuhuma lioness, has been thriving along the Sand River and surrounds. She successfully hunted a massive waterbuck bull that fed her and her two one-year-old offspring for three days, and surprisingly managed to keep a large clan of hyena at bay. This sighting was sensational, taking place in the Hukumuri drainage, we not only witnessed hyenas, vultures, and lions but two different leopards hoping to scavenge a piece of the kill.

The Mhangene Pride and the Plains Camp male lions trail the large herd of buffalo that are currently grazing in the south. The condition of the lioness with the limp seems to be improving and she is now moving at the front of the pride showing how resilient these big cats are. This environment can be harsh even for the most feared predators. We are anticipating the pride to grow in numbers in the weeks to come.

In the beginning of December there were a few sightings of two new male lions, the Black Dam male lions in Othawa. This part of the reserve has been a frequent hunting ground for the Talamati Pride which still seems nomadic in their movement, wandering from the far north all the way to the deep south of the Sabi Sand in just a few days.

Bird List

The bird list for November includes four new species, bringing our yearly total to 286.

Special bird species include: broad billed roller and Steppe eagle.

Jenny Hishin
By Jenny Hishin
Author / Guest Guide