February has been a lovely month, albeit rather dry. This is not uncommon for this time of year as we proceed into the dryer window between the two rain cycles. The grassland waterholes have all but disappeared this month and the Grumeti River has dropped significantly. The water is but a slither of crystal-clear magic, pulling in wildlife from afar. The plains are dryer now and taking on a different tone of golden yellow. The air is hot, still and anchored with a purple haze. Magnificent colours can be seen from sunrise to sunset allowing for some powerful photographic captures.
At a distance, animals appear on the grasslands as a wavering mirage. Great plains wildlife can be seen on the banks of the river along with awesome herds of elephants. Lions and leopards hunt close to the river, looking for opportunities as wildlife come to drink. It is an incredible time to be out on safari and appreciating the vast landscapes and endless shimmering horizons.
A sightings snapshot for February:
Lion sightings have been as good as always with many fantastic interactions.
The Butamtam Pride have allowed for some great sightings including a buffalo kill where 29 members were seen feeding on the carcass at a single moment in time. You can just imagine the squabbles and quarrels between pride members, the sounds of the lions as they fight amongst themselves for a morsel of the prize.
A Butamtam lioness emerged from the thickets in the rhino boma with a single young cub halfway through the month, and was again sighted close to Sasakwa Dam a week later.
Sightings of the Nyasirori male lions have been frequent in the central/west regions of the Grumeti Reserve.
Lions have been active on Sasakwa Hill from time to time, however, sightings have been rare and more often than not their presence is revealed with deep, penetrating roars in the still of an evening.
Leopard activity has been lovely this February and our guests have experienced some great sightings.
A mother and her two young cubs were sighted a number of times close to Faru Faru on the Grumeti River. The cubs are approximately three months old and after close observation we were able to deduce one male and one female.
A fairly shy female had been spotted on Chui Link, close to the base of Sasakwa Hill on a number of occasions.
The Sabora Drainage male has offered some good sightings as this once very shy male is really beginning to relax in the company of the game viewers.
The mother and four cubs of the Sabora region have been observed this month on a number of occasions. She was seen hunting impala close to the Sasakwa airstrip and the following day she was on the Rahu Drainage close to Sabora. This is considerable movement as she bounces between lion prides, keeping herself and youngsters safe.
Another female with two sub-adults was sighted on the watershed in the central region.
The Sasakwa male continues to hunt his territory, close to Koroya Hill, central Grumeti Reserve.
Great elephant viewing this month with good sightings all over the reserve.
Very good matriarchal herd numbers in the Ridge Hills and over the Sabora plains.
The Rubana Drainage has been a popular area for the breeding herds towards the end of the month.
Great elephant sightings on the Grumeti River too as waterholes dry up elsewhere, pulling the elephants back to the surrounding Faru Faru region.
We have seen some large bulls in musth this month, roaming the plains alone, working the wind for breeding herds and receptive females.
We have seen some shifting taking place in some of our resident buffalo herds this month as pressure from the lion prides increases.
We have also noticed a peak in mating activity and tension between bulls in the breeding herds as they jostle and compete for receptive cows.
Batchelor herds of healthy bulls both young and old follow the breeding herds gently, pretending to pose no threat but always watching for opportunity to slip into the herd and perhaps displace another bull.
Large herds can be seen all over the reserve as you would expect. Often the great black masses are accompanied by the striking white of the cattle egrets that join them during the days. These birds will feed alongside the buffalo on insects disturbed in the grass as the buffalo move.
All rhino are well and accounted for. There have been some lovely sightings of Eric on the eastern side of the boma. At the end of the month the Grumeti Fund Conservation Team began a programme to replace all transmitters in the rhinos. We wish them the best of luck.