Singita Sabi Sand: November 2023
This month the Sabi Sand displayed some of its finest leopard viewing in recent times with no fewer, but not limited to, 14 different leopards seen by our guests and guiding / tracking team. Here is a brief summary of some those interactions
- The Thamba male leopard had been busy as usual as he was seen mating with the Boulders female who followed him deep into her daughter’s territory, the Tisela female. Later on in the month he and the Hlambela male squared off to the north of the Sand River over territory. The larger Thamba male delivered his message loud and clear as he pushed Hlambela back further north vocalising as he trotted after the younger tom.
- Hlambela and the Nkangala female were also doing their part contributing to the gene pool as the shy female flirtatiously enticed the new male in the area to mate with her.
- With the recent passing of the Schotia female leopard her territory has been hotly contested by the Tisela female and the Ntoma female, both of whom seemed to have claimed small portions of the legendary female’s prized possession.
- The Senegal Bush male leopard has been frequently viewed in the eastern parts of the reserve all the way to Treehouse Road.
- The Nkuwa female and her two cubs have been doing well and thriving in the rocky valleys in the eastern areas as her cubs gained more confidence around vehicles.
- Other leopards viewed include the Serengeti female, Kangela male leopard, Mobeni female, her daughter the Ximobanyana female and the Xipuko male.
- After many months with no sightings the lone Tsalala lionesses hunted her way along the Sand River close to Boulders Lodge. Despite having no pride, she is looking in superb condition.
- The Ntsevu males and their sister have, once again, been showcasing how to hunt buffalo. This time they have taken up position around Giraffe Pan hunting successfully on two occasions. There also seems to be a change within the Breakaway Pride as the lionesses seems to be coming into heat which has got the attention of all the males, a potentially dangerous situation for this female that may get caught in the cross-fire of these testosterone-fuelled lions.
- With the temperatures soaring this month hunting for the Mhangene Pride seemed to be a difficult task as they struggled for over a week to catch a prey item substantial enough to feed all members sufficiently. This pride generally thrives in cooler conditions as seen in the earlier part of the month with a buffalo kill not even a few hundred yards from Boulders Lodge. In recent days their overall condition has improved as we have watched them lounge about with plump bellies.
- Consistent viewing of some large breeding herds of elephants, and a number of impressively tusked bulls who have made their way through the reserve. A lot of their feeding routine is based in the grasslands as it provides dense stands of grass and seasonal herbs. Many of the bulls have been in musth which has led to some colossal encounters between males as their testosterone levels climb.
- An exciting discovery was made this month of a mother cheetah and three brand new cubs in the southern reaches of our traversing. It is estimated that these cubs are no older than ten days old as their eyes are just opening. It has been decided that this area where the cubs are kept will be limited to driving on roads and avoiding following wildlife off-road, to give these cubs the best chance of survival. What this may also indicate is that these cubs could possibly be the offspring of the male cheetah that has set up territory in this area. A male cheetah will not tolerate cubs in his territory that he has not fathered. Time will tell regarding their future.
- A new wild dog pack to the Sabi Sand made an appearance in the north, the Mbali Pack, originating from the eastern part of the Kruger Park close to the Singita Lebombo and Sweni Lodges. This pack consists of seven adults and eight pups.
- The Othawa Pack has provided regular viewing in November and seven of their pups now follow the adults learning what it takes to survive in such a competitive environment.
- With water and green grass a plenty, the south has been teaming with wildlife, most noticeably healthy herds of buffalo and dazzles of zebra scattered throughout this area.
- Towards the area of 40km Pan a pair of black-backed jackals are raising two young pups in the abandoned burrows dug by aardvark.
- Over the last few years, the population of ostriches has been growing in leaps and bounds. Not only is there a pair with a few chicks, but also a nest with well over 15 eggs were found.
The bird list for November includes 11 new species, bringing our yearly total to 284. Specials this month includes: peregrine falcon, yellow-billed egret, Cape sparrow as well as an immature gorgeous bushshrike calling and being seen close to Boulders Lodge, a first confirmed record for us here.
- Some memorable moments include a soccer game in the river valley to sunrise walks around Tavangumi rocks. With such long days the opportunities are endless.
- One particularly adventurous family enjoyed getting their hands dirty and were shown how to make clay from the earth and then moulded their own animal sculptures from the refined clay.
- Fire-making and walks in the Sand River for morning coffee have been a popular break away from the vehicle and experience the grounding effect.