October 2023

Echoes of the Mhangeni : A symphony of life and death


Echoes of the Mhangeni : A symphony of life and death

It was in the fleeting embrace of the late afternoon, that marked the beginning of our truly unforgettable experience. The southern plains of Singita, bathed in golden sunlight, resonated with songs of distant birds carried by the wind, each chirp and trill a testament to nature's undying rhythm.

Lost in the rhythm, lost in the resonance, our journey shifted with the first sign of tracks. Not just any tracks, but the unmistakably large footprints of the Mhangeni lioness, distinctive and as broad as those of a sub-adult male lion. These tracks beckoned, urging us deeper into the mysteries of the African bushveld.

The Mhangeni Pride, with their ten playful cubs, commands a presence that instils itself deep within the observer. Each member is a symbol of the raw, untamed spirit of the wilderness. However, that day, the tracks indicated intent rather than playfulness.

As the sun continued its slow descent, we ventured south, enveloped by the vast bushveld. The rangers worked together, combining our insights to understand the story the sands revealed beneath our feet. Then, a clue: the alarming sight of a lioness, fur stained with fresh blood, her determined pace taking her towards the Mobeni River. The sharp yet languid presence of hooded vultures overhead hinted at a fresh kill. And soon, the low, rumbling growls of a feast reached our ears, intermingled with the distant contact calls of separated pride members.

Our vehicles moved cautiously, one at a time, as we navigated the rugged terrain. We could glimpse tails flicking, the rustling of bodies, and the sharp tug-of-war over the spoils of nature's cycle: a zebra, its fate sealed by the fierce prowess of the Mhangeni Pride. The scene was as raw as it was beautiful. The ferocity of survival, the clamour of feeding, and the undercurrent of tension as the lions vied for their share – every growl, every snarl, was a testament to the cycle of life in the African bushveld.

It was a rare privilege, a glimpse into the heart of Africa's rhythm – a day that began with the simple tracing of tracks and culminated in witnessing the age-old drama of predator and prey. The untamed heartland of Singita shared a tale with us, a tale unforgettable, a tale unpredictable, a tale of nature's dance.

By Dan Hartman
Field Guide