A magnificent start to the year! The Singita Grumeti Reserve is bursting with life, the plains are lush and green, the waterholes full and the air clear and fresh. With reasonable rainfall continuing through the month the grass continues to grow taller and with it comes an explosion of widow birds and whydahs and their incredible colours and impressive tail feathers.
The Grumeti River and other streams and drainage lines flow gently, carving through the reserve as they flow towards Lake Victoria in the west. Elephant herds fan out across the reserve as food and water become plentiful and the pressures to acquire enough forage ease a little, at least for now. Herds of giraffe are seen striding out over the plains in impressive towers. Thompson’s gazelles, oribi and warthogs relish the hillsides and grasslands where openings of shorter grass are preferred.
Harriers and kestrels take to the skies, hovering, gliding and swooping into the tall grass as they hunt for insects and small rodents. Migratory birds from afar stop by to make the most of the riches to be found on such productive grasslands before they too move on once again.
Sightings snapshot for January:
Fantastic lion sightings all over the reserve as we roll into 2023 with some very interesting dynamics unfolding.
The coalition of six young male lions continue to evade mature territory-holding lions. They remain silent as far as we have been able to observe and keep themselves under the radar, avoiding contact at all costs.
With many plains wildlife filtering out of the central area to more favourable pasture, the lions have no choice but to hunt buffalo more and more. The risks are huge, the energy expenditure massive and the possibilities of injury more than likely but, like everything else in the natural world, the trail to survival can lead the lions down a dangerous path.
The coalition of six lions have been seen hunting buffalo on occasions, sometime successful, other times not so. Witnessing six powerful male lions being chased across the plains by a herd of buffalo is an indelible memory.
Three Butamtam male lions were sighted with the pride just south of OP 7 whilst they hunted the grasslands towards the Raho drainage.
There have been good West Pride lions sightings in the Marula Explore camp region. There were 17 individuals seen within the pride, close to the drainage line.
The Sasakwa Pride of 15 have moved away from the hill in an easterly direction, further upstream the Mkomure drainage.
The Mazingira leopardess and her two five-month-old male cubs have not been seen this month, however, we have come across their tracks on Sasakwa Hill after the rain.
A lovely male leopard seen on the Nyasirori Dam drainage has been providing some awesome sightings.
The Grumeti North male leopard has also been seen this month in the centre of his territory, just west of Faru Faru Lodge. He was seen pulling a warthog into a tree close to the drainage in the middle of the month.
A leopardess and single cub of approximately four-months-old has been sighted on the River Road, downstream of Faru Faru Lodge.
Two males sighted on the Sasakwa plain hunting impala just south of Sasakwa Dam. The same two males were seen close to the Nyasirori high ground later in the month.
The veteran male cheetah continues to hunt in the Koroya Hill region with observations of a number of successful kills this month.
A single female was seen on the Gambaranyera plains, moving in a southerly direction.
Elephant numbers moving through the reserve this month have been great. Many sightings in the central regions as well as out west.
A large breeding herd of 35 sighted on the Rahu near Sabora.
A breeding herd of 26 sighted on the Sasakwa plains.
A breeding herd of 12 sighted in and around the hills and valleys of Sasakwa.
A group of 7 mature bulls sighted in the Ikorongo region at the beginning of the month.
Various breeding herds observed coming to Sasakwa Dam to drink during the warmer hours of the day.
Two large herds of 300 strong on the Sasakwa plains.
A herd of 250 seen just west of the Grumeti North Hill.
A breeding herd of 40 sighted on the Mbogo drainage.
A large herd of 600 sighted on the Kawanga plains.
Good buffalo bull numbers on the Nyasirori high ground and the Rubana drainage.
The rhinos seem to be doing very well and we have had a number of sightings of the bull rhino Eric, in the boma this month. The other rhino on the property continue to do well.
We were also very lucky to have a fantastic sighting of the rhino cow, Laikipia, on the very western boundary. She is elusive and shy, so it was a great privilege to spend a little time with her while she browsed her way through the thickets.