Singita Sabi Sand: October 2023
This month the landscape is a striking canvas of colour and wildlife activity. Lush greenery and delicate wildflowers adorn the scenery, creating a picturesque backdrop for our safari adventures. The reserve is not only a haven for wildlife but also boasts a rich diversity of plant life and the return of the summer birds at this time of year. There’s a captivating synergy in October - the vibrant wildflowers add an extra layer of colour to the landscape, and provide the most perfect setting to spend large chunks of the day looking for wildlife, making each game drive a visual feast for the senses.
A wildlife sightings snapshot follows:
The journey of the Mhangene Pride has been a rollercoaster, marked by occasional challenges, but the exhilarating highs far outweigh the tough moments. There were days when the lionesses appeared gaunt and weary, but their determination shone as they successfully hunted under the cover of a moonless, gusty night. A heart-warming highlight was the long-awaited reunion of two cubs, absent from sight for nearly a week, with their life supporting pride.
Down in the southern reaches, nomadic male lions hailing from the Talamati Pride have graced us with their majestic presence. What truly intrigues is the newfound alliance formed as the Nkuhuma male joined forces with these wandering males, marking the third instance of such cooperation with unrelated pride members.
In the northern wilderness, the breakaway Nkuhuma Pride, comprising a lioness and her young male and female offspring, has demonstrated resilience. They've been spotted gallantly prowling the landscape around Boulders Lodge, a captivating sight during our safaris.
The Nkuwa female and her two cubs have graced us with their elusive presence, breaking their prolonged absence as they were spotted near an impala kill in the picturesque setting of the Ximobanyana drainage along Treehouse Road. This month, her sightings have surged, indicating a shift in her territorial core to the west.
In the western part of the reserve, a territorial battle unfolds between the Tisela female and Schotia female. Presently, the winds seem to favour the youthful Tisela female, with Schotia's absence from our sights extending to two weeks. While it may be premature to write off Schotia's claim, her condition is a concern, raising the question of whether it's time to pass the torch to the next generation.
In the central and southern regions, the Mobeni female continues to exude vitality, with many promising years ahead. Meanwhile, her daughter, the Ximobanyana female, has become a cherished sight, comfortably adapting to the presence of our safari vehicles.
A male cheetah in the south has been on an epic odyssey, covering vast expanses of land, ranging from the Sand River's northern banks to the remote western corners of the Sabi Sand Nature Reserve.
On one awe-inspiring evening, we shadowed him in the soft glow of sunset, as he stealthily sought hunting opportunities in the diminishing light. However, the tables turned as a wildebeest herd spotted him, boldly confronting and driving the cheetah from his resting grounds. It was a breath-taking spectacle, witnessing the predator becoming the prey.
The Othawa Pack has achieved a remarkable feat by successfully nurturing 13 energetic pups to this stage, an extraordinary accomplishment amidst the heightened presence of predators on the reserve. As these young pups become more mobile, we eagerly anticipate their increased activity and the chance to witness their playful adventures.
With the arrival of substantial rains this month, the grasslands have burst into life, casting a magnetic spell that draws numerous breeding herds of elephants. These newfound lush pastures have transformed once dusty patches into well-trodden mud baths, providing unforgettable moments for us to cherish. It won't be long before the eastern Kruger becomes a magnetic pull for a multitude of elephants, beckoned by its sweet veld grasslands.
Buffaloes have been an enduring spectacle this month, with herds gracing both the northern and southern regions. Observing the larger, battle-scarred bulls along the banks of the Sand River reminds us of the harsh and unforgiving reality these bovines face. As the rainy season unfolds, competition among herd members intensifies, shedding light on the demanding nature of their lives.
The bird list for October includes six new species, bringing our yearly total to 273.
Specials this month includes an immature crowned eagle, a pair of crowned hornbills, a female mocking cliff chat and a yellow-bellied greenbul.