September 2023

Singita Kruger National Park: September 2023

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Singita Kruger National Park: September 2023

Spring has officially sprung, and with temperatures soaring to over 40 degrees Celsius, the vegetation is now a crispy dry yellow and grey. The last shallow pools in the N’wanetsi River are covered in mats of green and yellow algae, and the sunsets accompanied by a dusty red haze.

The flame creepers and long-tailed cassias’ flamboyant red and yellow flowers are in full bloom and one can feel the energy of new life emerging. Vibrant butterflies fill the sky, while glowing fireflies dance in the moonlight. Towards the end of September the clouds started building and we knew that change was imminent. The heavens opened and we were blessed with the first rains of the season. All the natural pans are now full, and even the Xinkelengane drainage is flowing.

The cicadas are singing the sounds of summer while frogs echo in the valley as we return to the lodge from our evening drive.

Here’s a Sightings Snapshot for September:

Lions

  • It has been a great month for lion viewing and we have had multiple sightings of at least four coalitions as well as our resident Shish Pride and Mananga Pride.
  • The Satara/H6 male coalition was sighted once this month, but remain in the far northern reaches of our concession, not venturing further south than Gudzane North area.
  • The Trichardt males have been well fed this month and were first sighted in the eastern hills with full bellies. The next day they were found feeding on the remains of a giraffe carcass in the N’wanetsi River. They spent a good portion of the beginning of the month around Ntsibistane first crossing with the Shish Pride.
  • On the 10th the Shish female with the limp introduced us to her three new cubs, who we believe had been denning in the drainage line nearby. Just one week before we had brief sightings of another two new additions to the Shish Pride in a den-site amid a rocky ridge, bringing the total number of cubs up to 15. After feeding on a zebra carcass near Xingwenyana crossing, the Shish Pride headed west and the Trichardt males patrolled the northern reaches of their territory.
  • Near the end of the month the Trichardt males encountered a portion of the Mananga Pride, and were seen mating with two of the females and chasing the two sub-adult males around the Central Depression.

Leopards

  • The beginning of this month’s leopard sightings were dominated by the Lebombo and Monzo males. They were both seen feeding on the giraffe carcass found in the N’wanetsi River. On one occasion, Monzo, an unnamed female and a sub-adult male, that we assume to be their offspring, were all in attendance of the giraffe carcass.
  • An unnamed female and her daughter were seen around Euphorbia Crossing feeding on a baboon carcass which Monzo later stole.
  • Dumbana 3:3 was sighted three times, first in the Central Depression near the Xinkelengane drainage and then finally moving west near an area known as Impala Lily. On the 23th of September we received news that he had been spotted 65 km west of our concession! Looks like he has followed his brother’s footsteps and is exploring new areas looking for a territory of his own.
  • Various other unidentified leopards have also been sighted this month, an unnamed female was sighted a few times near the N4/Gudzane Dam, and one shy male with an impala carcass in a tree south of Mangwa Pan.
  • The Pelajambu male was also seen multiple times along the N’wanetsi River. Later in the month we noticed a slight limp, perhaps due to altercations with the Lebombo male who also looked as though he had been in a fight.
  • By the end of the month the Nhlanguleni female and her two, almost independent daughters, had made up the bulk of our sightings. One daughter seems to be keeping to the more northern reaches of her mother’s territory while the other is still trailing her mother and even sharing a meal together.

Cheetahs

  • There was one female cheetah seen in the north of the concession during the month, as well as a few sightings on the H6 near the Shishangaan junction. Wild dogs
  • Of the 14 sightings recorded this month, the Floppy-ear Pack was seen during the first half of the month around the eastern parts of the concession in the Lebombo Mountains. We suspect a den-site in Mozambique, as immediately after hunting, the pack runs straight east. Wild dogs need to keep active after feeding to delay digestion to be able to regurgitate meat for their pups back at the den-site.
  • On the 7th of September we were introduced to the nine pups of another pack of seven wild dogs, south of the Poort on the Mozambican border. They have moved west and were last seen on the H6 near the S37 with all nine pups still alive.

Spotted hyenas

Spotted hyena sightings have been prevalent this month, having been sighted 47 times in 30 days. The month started with a few individuals slinking around the giraffe carcass in the N’wanetsi River after the leopards and lions had had their share. Then a clan of six were feeding on a zebra in the northwest. For about a week we had a clan of seven hyenas and over 100 vultures scavenging on an old male giraffe that died near the lodge, and a clan with a few sub-adults were seen on the H6 on the way to the airstrip, mulling around an impala carcass that was later pulled up into an apple leaf tree by a leopard.

Buffalos

  • A large herd of over 600 buffalos have been winding in and out of the concession around the S41 between the Sticky Thorns and Gudzane drainage, often with either the Trichardt coalition or Mananga Pride not too far behind.

Plains game

  • General game viewing has been exceptional, especially near the last remaining water points, with dazzles of up to 50 zebra not an uncommon sight.
  • Due to the short grass and open burnt areas, the smaller antelope such as steenbuck, and even the rare Sharpe’s grysbok seem plentiful.
  • The impala ewes and a few other female antelope are beginning to show obvious signs of pregnancy as we look forward to the lambing season in the coming summer months.

Rare animals and other sightings

  • A dead serval was found being fed on by a bateleur eagle.
  • The very relaxed white-tailed mongoose was seen again, as well as more frequent sightings of honey badgers, genets and civets thanks to the short grass making visibility of these small nocturnal creatures easier.
  • A caracal was seen at the end of the month walking along the western boundary of our concession.

Birds

  • The pale morph Wahlberg’s eagle and her partner have been seen mating and preparing their nest along the N’wanetsi River.
  • The migrant cuckoos, especially Klaas’s cuckoo are being herd more every day.
  • A purple heron spent a few days in the Shishangaan drainage at a crossing point near Lebombo, as well as a common moorhen and greater painted snipe.
  • The highlight however, was the sheer number of vultures observed feeding on the giraffe carcass across the river from Lebombo. All four species; white-backed, hooded, white headed and the mighty lappet-faced vulture were seen filling their crops until they were almost unable to fly.

Jenny Hishin
By Jenny Hishin
Author / Guest Guide