March 2023

Singita Sabi Sand: March 2023

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Singita Sabi Sand: March 2023

As summer tapers to an end the winds of change can be felt in the most subtle of ways. Grass inflorescences reach high before making one last attempt to multiply, while the shadows that seem to stretch for a few minutes longer each day bring with them a noticeable change in temperature. The distant bray of a zebra stallion regrouping his harem carries for many miles as the golden afternoons are now almost as still as the star-filled nights. March has been a month of calmness and preparation for our biggest seasonal change which is that of winter. This time of year can been considered that of a shoulder season where summer slowly embraces the winter. We are grateful for this time and everything that accompanies it.

Here’s a sightings snapshot and news for March:

Plains game

We have noticed that the larger herds of buffalo are now splintering off into smaller herds that number a few hundred. There have been numerous sightings of bulls mating with some of the cows which would mean births being timed in accordance with the rains at the end of this year.

As the days go on, we are hearing an increase in impala ram rutting. The deep guttural calls of older males leave our guests in awe as this is not a sound you would expect to hear from such an elegant looking antelope!

The old Selati railway that weaves through the grasslands in the south has been the best place to view large congregations of zebra, a firm favourite for children on safari.

Elephants

Most of our elephant viewing has been taking place in the south as well as on the edge of the silver cluster-leaf woodlands where damp soils bare the last of the seasonal herbs and forbs. While watching them feed we are greeted by the scent of wild basil and aniseed awakening our olfactory senses.

Lions

The Mhangene Pride has dominated our lion viewing of late. They have been seen on a wildebeest kill just south of Castleton Camp, while one of the Plains Camp males had been mating with the oldest female north of the camp. Andrew and Johnson tracked and found a lactating lioness that headed into the Mobeni drainage suggesting her cubs may be stashed among the wild date palms in the riverbed. This area has been zoned for the next few weeks to allow the cubs and mother to settle during the most vulnerable time of their lives.

In the north the Talamati Pride has been seen looking full-bellied on a few occasions. The five females with the one sub-adult male lion in tow. His days are numbered with the females as the Plains Camp males further their territory.

Leopards

There has been a shift in territory with the aging Mobeni female leopard and her daughter the Ximobanyana female. One even Golden, Marc, and their guests watched as the younger female frequently scent-marked on Mveve hill, which once formed the core of her mother’s territory. There have been two sightings of the Mobeni female just east of our lodges - once with a hoisted kudu calf kill and more recently on a patrol. It looks like she may be looking to set up a new territory around the area of Hippo Pools.

Now the area that the Mobeni female has been seen in is part of the Schotia female’s territory. It has been confirmed that the Schotia female has cubs close to our lodges. The rocky outcrops in the east of her territory are a well-used denning area but is now frequented by the Mobeni female. She will be a threat to the Schotia female’s cubs if she were to move them there at some stage. Fortunately, using scent the Schotia female may be able to detect her presence early on before tragedy may prevail.

Piet, Louis, and their guests viewed a successful hunt by the Nkuwa female. After a long, patient stalk she caught an impala just as the light was fading after sunset. What made this even more exciting was hearing her contact call for her cubs! We have not had a chance to see them yet but by looking at tracks we think there are at least two cubs.

In the north the Kangela male (Photo on the right. Image by Matt Durell) is looking comfortable in the lower woodlands along the Sand River. This scenic area provides such diverse wildlife viewing owing to the variation in habitat. The cherry on the top is seeing the growing male slouched in the branches of a tree, which has been a frequent sight for guests this month.

Wild dogs

The pack of eight that has been frequenting Singita of late have been seen mating. Both the alpha female and beta female have been mated with by two separate males. This behaviour is not commonly observed.

Cheetahs

A female cheetah and two cubs were sighted on three occasions around 40K pan in the south. Sightings of females and cubs is not something we see on a regular basis. We desperately hope her cubs make it through to independence.

Special sightings

A once in a lifetime sighting of a honey badger raiding a mopane bee hive was witnessed just after sunset. Guests watched as a male honey badger dug into the bee hive right next to the vehicle, completely undeterred by the bees.

A serval was also seen making a successful hunt on a rodent in the southern grasslands. Sightings of this small cat may only come around a few times a year. What a special encounter this was!

Johan, Chris, and their guests witnessed a crash of both black and white rhino together, seeing black rhino, let alone both species together, is truly remarkable and shows what a success the protection of our property is yielding.

Wellness moments

As we near the dry season we have been experiencing more time on foot. As the winds drop and game paths form, approaching game on foot has been more achievable without disturbing them. We have been lucky enough to view elephant bulls and rhino going about their routine without them being aware of us. These moments are unforgettable as we watched in complete silence on foot.

Finding a quiet point along the Sand River is the ideal area to take a moment to meditate, slow down and reflect, just the thing Andrew and his guests did at Hippo Pools this month.

Bird list

The bird list for March includes twenty one new species, bringing our yearly total to 246. Special bird species: white-backed night heron, glossy ibis, curlew sandpiper, little stint, marsh owl, half-collared kingfisher, brown-backed honeybird, marsh warbler and violet-eared waxbill.

Jenny Hishin
By Jenny Hishin
Author / Guest Guide