Singita Pamushana: December 2023
The thirsty landscape has gulped up the rain and a vibrant metamorphosis has taken place. A lush carpet of green has emerged, with muddy pools in the depressions, and the environment thrums with newfound vitality and rejuvenation.
Here’s a sightings snapshot for December:
Nine members of the Nduna Pride were seen together, without the territorial males. There were two subadult males, two cubs and five lionesses sleeping in a shady spot.
The older female of the Southern Pride was seen with territorial males in attendance. She was calling to locate the rest of her pride, and wanting to hunt.
One of the best sightings of the three territorial males together was of them having a long drink from a puddle of water on the Mahande drainage line.
On two occasions this month we witnessed both white and black rhinos drinking together. The second occasion was of two white rhinos arriving to drink, followed by two black rhinos. There was much sniffing and jousting between the rhino species, and later the black rhinos took off at speed, leaving the white rhinos in a cloud of dust.
There have been some glorious scenes of white rhinos mudbathing.
There was an adrenalin-charged sighting of two bull white rhinos challenging each other. Both had blood on their faces and horns. The wounds weren’t too bad but they were definitely establishing dominance. The one rhino defended himself by walking backwards for about 300 metres to a pan.
On the way to Gonarezhou for a day trip our guests were treated to three black rhino sightings on our reserve.
A black rhino bull was intrigued with the engine being switched off and the vehicle rolling to a stop. He could not help himself from coming to investigate very cautiously. He made a few lunges close to us before deciding to run off.
In a different area a shyer black rhino initially ran off but then came back and charged at the vehicle three times, splashing up red dust every time he slammed his brakes on.
There are huge aggregations at the moment. Herds well in excess of 500 have been seen.
The old dagga boys are in their element with all the mudbaths about.
With the vegetation thickening up the best place to look for breeding herds is around the dam, when out on a boat cruise.
There was an impressive sighting of three elephant bulls – two of which sported huge tusks.
Interestingly three leopard sightings this month have been of leopards in trees. One had an impala kill hoisted close to the airstrip (and another leopard was seen walking along the road nearby), the second was of a leopard relaxing in a tree on Pamushana Access Road, and the third was of a male leopard in a mopane tree.
Another precious moment was of a leopard drinking at Sosigi Dam.
Three wild dogs provided the highlight of a morning game drive when they tried to hunt a newborn wildebeest. The wildebeest cows grouped together and chased the wild dogs away for roughly 200 metres on a high speed chase!
An eerie sighting was of eight spotted hyenas feeding on a dead black rhino, which was killed by another male black rhino in a territorial fight.
The plains game are all bulking up on the new grazing that’s emerged.
We witnessed a feeding frenzy of multiple birds species that were hawking alates (reproductive stage termites that are winged). There were Amur falcons, European bee-eaters, carmine bee-eaters, European rollers, southern masked weavers, red-backed shrikes and broad-tailed paradise whydahs. It was incredible having the bee-eaters swoop close in front of guests as the birds caught the termites.
Our safari boat cruises continue to be the highlight for many of our guests. Sightings of birds, crocodiles and hippos are guaranteed, and there is no better way in the world to enjoy a sundowner!
The fish are biting! While tilapia are being landed the tigerfish are playing hard to get.
Walks and rock art
Most of the walks at the moment are conducted in the hills and incorporate looking at, or looking for, rock art. Along one cave system a walking party discovered the remains of a warthog. The signs indicated it had been killed by a leopard. Right next to the warthog’s lower jawbone was the carcass of a hooded vulture. It seems the vulture did not pay attention to the whereabouts of the leopard when it flew in to scavenge off the warthog, and got caught and killed by the leopard.
The hide has still been in operation, despite the rain which will probably make it temporarily inaccessible in due course, and an abundance of wildlife has visited there to drink. Elephants, white rhinos, buffalo, zebras, jackals, buffalo and impala have all showed up.
Kambako Living Museum of Bushcraft
Guests really appreciated seeing the bushcraft skills displayed at Kambako. One group got to see about 900 buffaloes and a crash of six white rhinos on their trip to Kambako which is located just beyond our eastern boundary.
Gonarezhou Day Trips
Always vying for attention are the elephants and Chilojo Cliffs, so when there happen to be elephants in the riverbed below Cholojo Cliffs it’s a very impressive bonus.