August 2023

Singita Sabi Sand: August 2023

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Singita Sabi Sand: August 2023

The winds of change are upon us! Days are getting a little longer and new colours are starting to burst - from vibrant yellows of the sjambok pod tree to electric greens of new grass shoots, it has a been a perfect build-up to spring. Familiar calls can be heard once again adding to the dawn chorus which begins earlier and earlier each morning, like that of the Wahlberg’s eagle as they diligently stay true to their breeding routine as per years before. As we near summer each day offers the opportunity for change in many different aspects of our surroundings, and, being immersed in nature, it affords us the chance to slow down and appreciate this transition.

Here’s a wildlife overview for August:

Lions

In the months leading up to August the Mhangene Pride had stolen the show but this month the Nsevu breakaway sub-adults have been an exciting group of five lions to follow.

The Mhangene lioness that had been denning with her cub at Tavangumi Koppies has introduced her cub to the rest of the pride making the total ten cubs from four females! This pride is looking in superb condition and it has been a pleasure watching them thrive at Singita Sabi Sand.

The Nkuhuma lioness and her two offspring now occupy the area to the north of Ebony Lodge and has even been sighted hunting in the riverbed from the Ebony suites. August is Women’s Month in South Africa and this lioness is an icon for women in Africa as she endures the hardship of raising cubs by herself and does it so gracefully.

Cheetahs

Viewing of cheetahs has continued where it left off from in July. There was a sighting of a male and female together. There was no confirmed view of them mating but this is a promising sign for the population of cheetahs in the Greater Kruger.

There are now at least, but not limited to, six cheetahs in the area of Singita Sabi Sand.

Wild dogs

The consistent viewing of the wild dog pack with so many pups has been a major highlight for many guests this month. From not only spending time in intimate settings near the secluded safe havens of the various dens, but the game drive to get there has been an adventure in itself. The pack regularly moved dens and now, at over three months of age, the pups are finding their feet and moving with the adults.

Buffalos

The dry season can be an enthralling time to watch wildlife, and buffalos in large numbers on their way to drink water are the perfect candidates to set the scene. Dust can be seen from miles away as hundreds of hooves pelt the ground. Flocks of oxpeckers bicker among themselves for the best perch on their tick-infested hosts which now start trotting and then galloping on their way to quench their thirst. These are scenes which have been common during the month of August with a herd of over a thousand buffalo frequenting the south at the moment.

Leopards

A highlight for this month was the Thamba male leopard mating with the Tisela female for the first time. The four-year-old female flirtatiously followed the male right into the heart of the Schotia female’s territory. Driven by instinct alone she ignored the territorial markings of the older female in pursuit of Thamba, and at one stage were seen outside the bush suites of Boulders suites 11 and 12.

On the same day the Schotia female was seen not far at suite 6. She would have definitely heard the two mating but chose the safer option and avoided them. The Schotia female has been in great condition despite the state of her tick-infested ears. She has been making frequent kills. Perhaps she will welcome spring by coming into oestrus once again?

The Xipuku male leopard had everyone overjoyed when George spotted him with an impala ram kill hoisted in the only marula tree for miles near Triangle Pan. Approaching the sighting we could see the remains of the kill dangling in the tree some distance off. We exercised a lot of patience in hope he would ascend the tree in the afternoon. There was not much left of the kill but we knew he would still return to finish off the last one third that remained of the carcass. Eventually, after the sun dipped behind the Drakensburg escarpment, he leapt up the tree leaving our guests gasping at the bulky leopard moving so swiftly up the tree.

As the Mobeni female’s territory gradually shrinks there have been a few more sightings of her older daughter, the Ntoma female leopard, who occupies the Xmobanyana riverbed in the central western part of Singita. Sightings of her can be unpredictable, either choosing to accept our presence or move off earlier than we liked. This is what makes leopard viewing so addictive.

Elephants

Elephant sightings are prolific, especially of relaxed breeding herds.

Large game paths which are now covered in round and oval shaped tracks cross the combretum woodlands as the majority of the elephants’ diet is now roots, leave and bark. Often while watching wildlife, we can hear the crack of the elephants feeding in the distance.

Unusual sightings

This month is always a promising time to catch a glimpse of a honey badger. We have recorded almost ten sightings of this feisty carnivore, many of them on the burnt areas. Over time we are also noticing that certain individuals are building a tolerance to the vehicles and are allowing us to view them for relatively lengthy periods of time.

Another nocturnal species which had guides and trackers giddy was a discovery of a pangolin at the start of an afternoon drive. For many experienced safari goers this is considered the holy grail of mammals. The diminutive size and nocturnal habitats make them difficult to actively track down.

Bird list

The bird list for August includes two new species, bringing our yearly total to 264.

Migrants have started to return; we have seen several Wahlberg’s eagles return to their nests, and on the 13th of August three yellow-billed kites were seen.

Jenny Hishin
By Jenny Hishin
Author / Guest Guide