March has been lovely here at Singita Grumeti with some isolated heavy rainfall towards the end of the month. The clarity in the air and the crisp colours in the skies above our vast horizons have made for some beautiful scenery.
The clear fresh air has brought with it an explosion of life, birdsong, animal interactions and blossoming flowers. Animals hug the woodlands and the valleys as impressive storms roll in from the east on prevailing winds. Dark clouds loom, complimented with rays of golden yellow cast upon them, as the sun drops to the west. The great Grumeti River levels begin to rise.
The wildlife viewing has been stunning with great herds of elephants fanning out over the tall grassed plains. As we head out in the early morning, whether it be on drive or on foot we are met each day with a new lease of life in the animals we encounter. Shaking off the cold and wet from last night’s rain, the wildlife is charged with excitement knowing what warmth will come from the new day’s sun.
Here’s a sightings snapshot for March:
Lion sightings have been great this month with lots of action from the resident prides. Lion dynamics in the central areas are unstable currently, there has been much displacement and a lot of erratic movement.
The coalition of six young males continue to roam within the central region of the reserve without disturbance from the Butamtam territorial holders. These six young males seem to have taken over the central territory and there has been no further sign of the Butamtam males. The six have been successfully hunting buffalo on the plains this month, and the Butamtam lionesses have been sharing in the kills.
Members of the coalition of six males were observed mating with lionesses from the Mkuyu Pride, a small neighbouring pride to the Butamtam.
The Butamtam lionesses hold their range within the central areas. They continue to hunt along he Chui drainage and the Koroya hill region.
The Butamtam lionesses unfortunately lost their young to the two Nyasirori males that swept through the central area, it seems, on a mission to kill off the competition, before heading back west of OP 7.
The West Pride, close to Marula Explore camp, seem to be showing a little more stability and cohesion which is great. The youngsters are moving from strength to strength and pride individuals are generally looking fit and strong.
Leopard sighting have been fantastic this month!
Good interactions with the Grumeti North male close to the drainage line and Faru Faru Lodge.
Guides and guests gazed on in anticipation as this male leopard waited patiently for a warthog to emerge from its burrow. The warthog eventually revealed itself but noticed the leopard lying close to the hole. With an incredible injection of speed the warthog managed to dart around the ensuing bulky male leopard!
Some lovely sightings of shy individuals in the Nyasirori high ground region, south of Sabora camp.
The Mazingira mother was sighted on occasions moving with her two six-month-old cubs between Sasakwa hill and the western boundary of the rhino intensive protection zone.
The mother and two cubs of the Faru Faru region were sighted once this month.
The Sasakwa male Cheetah continues to put on a show in the central region.
Guests were lucky enough to see this professional hunt on a number of occasions including a successful reedbuck kill in the Chui drainage and a warthog piglet at the base of Koroya hill. What exhilarating experiences!
Two young females with full bellies were seen close to Sasakwa airstrip at the end of the month. We do not recognise these individuals and may just be passing through.
A female cheetah was observed hunting Thompson’s gazelles at Nyasirori Ranger Post.
There was a single observation of the Kawanga female and four cubs. We believe she may have shifted south over the Raho drainage and into the national park.
Elephant numbers this month have been impressive. Great aggregations observed on the plain as many breeding herds arrive in favoured feeding areas together. Some of these individuals may have known one another once upon a time, although, not seen each other for many years. Distant bonds are recharged as great numbers gather together.
We were lucky enough to see aggregations of up to 170 individuals strong. A powerful sight when parked beneath the shade of a desert date tree watching these animals roll on past you like a gentle wave.
Large bulls were observed in areas from time to time. Mostly these animals were alone but we did see, on occasions, bulls moving together with the more mature bulls in front with younger bulls following in tow. The younger bulls are learning valuable life lessons from the big guys that know the ropes!
Hyena sighting have been good as one would expect with such a high population.
Clans have been busy with youngsters at some of the known den-sites.
We have had some lovely interactions with a mother and two cubs at the cave on Sasakwa hill. The mother has taken over a porcupine burrow as a sanctuary for her young. She spent time enlarging the hole, which is located under a great rock overhang at the top of one of the Sasakwa valleys. Sitting patiently in the game viewer with a clear view of the overhangs opening will be rewarded with the young cubs irresistible curiosity. Two little heads with teddy bear ears are sure to rise above the lip of rock to take a look at who gazes upon them.
The great herds of buffalo here on the Grumeti Reserve are doing very well. Many of the breeding herds have new calves at this time.
The herds are often hounded by lions both day and night as many of the other plains wildlife have moved to more productive pasture.
Buffalo will shift after disturbance from lions and so are seen to be moving around a little more than usual.
The two large herds of the Sasakwa plains merge from time to time which can be quite a sight to see, as over 1 000 head of buffalo congregate around Sasakwa Dam.
All rhino are accounted for after successful transmitter replacements.
Great sighting of both bull and cow within the intensive protection zone. Both of these individuals appear to be doing very well. They are in good health and good spirit.
Other rhinos within the reserve continue to disperse, covering some ground. All are well and in good health.