February 2023

Singita Kruger National Park: February 2023


Singita Kruger National Park: February 2023

Over the past decade we have been seeing a shift in global climate and weather patterns, which makes predicting weather and rainfall a gamble. This February has been a classic from the past, with about a third of our annual expected rainfall being recorded due to moist air being pushed over the eastern regions of South Africa from the warm Indian Ocean. Line thunderstorms have also been developing, which added to the wet month we have had.

Regardless of the rain, we have still been spoilt with amazing sightings and spectacular views of flowing rivers and streams. The long grass and sodden soils don’t deter the perseverance and experience of our masterful guides, and our guests were still treated to memorable experiences viewing not only the abundance of larger mammals but also the smaller birds, trees, flowers, and insects.

Here’s a Sightings Snapshot for February:


Most of the sightings this month have been of the two respective portions of the famed Mananga Pride of lions. At present, the pride numbers are in a constant state of flux, with the larger portion ending the month with a regularly seen number of 13 individuals. One lioness has been seen on her own a handful of times in the north-western portions of the concession, and it is hoped that she has cubs at a den-site that she is concentrating her activities around.

The smaller portion of eight, which comprises two adult females and their six, now almost one-year-old cubs, have been joined regularly by the two Shish Males. These ten lions surprised all guides by venturing much further south than is normally expected and provided some quality viewing just on the lodge's doorstep a few times!

The Shishangaan Pride have not been seen too often during February, as they follow known seasonal distribution patterns, taking them into a wilderness zone south of the lodges. We have had a good number of sightings, and the pride fragmented into smaller groups of two to five members, which was the most we saw together at any one time.

The Trichard Males have, on occasion, been seen with members of the Shishangaan Pride, but have also been encountered on their own on many occasions. They seem to have retained control of their territory around the lodges and on the concession, as we have not seen or found any signs of the larger coalition of males that for the past six months have been venturing into the concession from the south-west.

The larger coalition of males, as already mentioned, have been absent on the concession, but remain a threat in the long term. They have been seen a handful of times along the road between the lodges and the staff village on our daily commutes between the two. It would appear that they are spending more time in the west, where they have cubs in a pride that now need their protection more than before. The cubs were viewed for the first time with pride, whilst feeding on a zebra along the H6 road linking Singita Lebombo and our airstrip.

Wet weather during the month prompted the guides to venture further from the concession at times in search of animals, and this led to a few magical sightings of the pride that resides near our airstrip close to Satara. The distance travelled to see this pride is negligible when the reward includes seeing the now dominant and territorially established white lion male born almost eight years ago in the Shishangaan Pride.


At least three unknown and as yet unidentified female leopards were seen over the month. Two of these sightings were of these females feeding on carcasses of impalas. One young, still-dependent female cub was also spotted near the end of the month, and it certainly bodes well for future leopard sightings that we are seeing new individuals entering the concession and relaxing in the presence of the game viewers.

Nhlanguleni female has only been seen on a single occasion, and no sightings were recorded of either of her two daughters that are still dependent on her at this point.

The Dumbana female leopard has been conspicuous in her absence this month. She has in all likelihood given birth to a new litter of cubs after she was recorded mating at the end of October last year. The timing is right, and hopefully, when we do see her again as she starts venturing further from her chosen den-site, we may be able to confirm our suspicions by seeing suckle marks or, even better, get confirmed sightings of her cub/s.

The Pelejambo male was seen several times, with the best sighting being of him in a dead leadwood tree in the central depression area for about an hour with the Mananga Pride all of lions around the base of the tree! After the lions lost interest, the Pelejambo male descended the tree and continued unharmed along his way.

The two Dumbana males have stayed close to their maternal territory, and have provided the bulk of our leopard sightings this month. 1:1 Dumbana male, the paler of the two, seems to be well established in the central regions, and as I write this, is finishing off a young impala he killed and hoisted into a leadwood tree a few minutes’ drive from the lodge. His brother, a 3:3 darker male, is most often seen in the northern areas along the Xinkelengane Drainage system that eventually feeds into the Nwanetsi River near Green Apple Hill, where many of our past and future guests will and have been mesmerized by incredible elevated views of the concession plains.

A male was seen once with a nervous female. He did not give us the chance to properly identify him, as he was more interested in following and trailing the female that made a hasty retreat from the approaching game-viewing vehicle.

The Mbiri Mbiri male was seen once, and so too was the Monzo male.

Wild dogs

The small pack of three was seen four times this month, and no sightings were recorded of any of the other packs that we have been seeing regularly over the past year. The mere fact that we can see wild dogs is a gift, as they are considered the most endangered large carnivore in our area. There are less than 350 individuals in the entire Greater Kruger National Park ecosystem.

Spotted hyenas

Frequent sightings are still commonplace, with known hotspots of at least three different clans that hold territories on the Lebombo concession. Many daytime sightings were had because of the cooler wet weather we have been experiencing most of the month.

The smallest of the clans hold territory on the Western boundary of the concession, and sightings of members are almost guaranteed upon the return to the lodge in the evenings along Park Road near James Road junction.

The two other clans have a large number of members and are seen around Ostrich Link, Monzo, and Ma4Pounds, and Lastly Golf Course clearings and Xinkelengane Fly Camp respectively.


As marula season starts drawing to an end, we are seeing more and more elephants moving back east into the grasslands where feeding can take place without the constant friction and abrasion on their molar teeth from the woodier diet of roots, bark, leaves, branches, and marula pips. We should be seeing an even greater influx of these large pachyderms in March, due to the good rains we have had in February, leading to an explosion of lush grass growing on the plains on the concession.

Large breeding herds numbering over 50 individuals have not been uncommon this month, and the nutrient-rich diet at present ensures that breeding-age bulls are in musth and have been in constant attendance with these herds.


We managed to see several different cheetahs, totalling seven sightings this month! It appears that the female who was raising two sons has sent them to a life of independence, as both she, and the two brothers were seen separated from each other on a few occasions. A second and even a third female cheetah were seen feeding on impala kills during February. A large adult male was also recorded on the concession.


We have needed to venture into the furthest north-eastern corner of the concession to locate the breeding herds of buffalo that prefer the vegetation in this region. There are hundreds of mud wallows dotting the landscape here which works in their favour.

There has been a group of around 15 bulls spotted a few times along the eastern boundary of Pan Link, all the way to Hyena Pan.

Plains game

We are truly fortunate at Singita Lebombo to have almost constant and consistent sightings of all manner of plains and general game. Giraffe, zebra, waterbuck, kudu, impala, and wildebeest can be viewed in fairly large numbers spread throughout the concession, daily.

An interesting sighting of a newborn impala was recorded in the last week of February, making this little lamb's arrival a good three months later than his fellow generation of lambs that were born in November.


Most of the migrant birds are in southern Africa for the abundance of food that is present during the wet warm season here in the Kruger National Park.

It is a veritable pallet of colour in the sky as you see the bright breeding plumage of many of the normally drab-looking birds, and their longer feathers.

We have seen hundreds of Amur falcons feeding on the winged termite alates that take flight after rain, and were thrilled with a sighting of a lanner falcon on the fringes of the flock of falcons one afternoon near Xingwenyana Crossing. This bird party also included blue cheeked bee-eaters, carmine bee-eaters, little bee-eaters, Eurasian bee-eaters, lilac-breasted and European rollers, joined by dozens of yellow and red-billed hornbills gorging themselves on termites.

By Jenny Hishin
Author / Guest Guide