January 2024

Singita Sabi Sand


Singita Sabi Sand: January 2024

With summer in full swing the bushveld is humming with life. We have experienced the Xmobonyana and Mobeni Rivers flowing during the healthy downpours of rain that drenched our lands and awakened those that had waited so patiently for it. Dotted throughout the reserve foam nest frogs whip up their foam nests perfectly placed above pools of rainwater, pools that will host the foam nest frog tadpoles, other tadpoles, terrapins and even juvenile Nile crocodiles.

January also signals that start of the marula harvest - from elephants to people, the fruits are gathered at this time of year all over the eastern parts of southern Africa, and are eaten or used for skin care and making beer.

This summer has seen its fair share of heart-throbbing wildlife encounters and this month has been no different.

Dive right in to January’s highlights:

The lion dynamics of late have been astonishing, to say the least. The Mhangene Pride have made just two appearances on Singita this month. One of those sightings was when they finished off a whole buffalo within a day, clear signs that these cubs are developing quickly. Their generally westerly movements are due to the presence of two male lion coalitions coming in from the north and east.

The Black Dam males have been seen along Eastern Sandveld as they are pushed south by the Ntsevu males. The Ntsevu males have now taken over the Nkuhuma Pride. The Plains Camp lions have had their work cut out for them as they defend their eastern boundary from these two young male lion coalitions.

What this has all meant for small nomadic lions like the Nkuhuma Breakaway and the Tsalala female is that the central part of Singita has had very little activity from the larger Mhangene Pride. The Tsalala female is often found close to Tavangumi koppies and eastwards along the Sand River. She has also been seen mating with the larger Plains Camp lion. The Nkuhuma Breakaway has provided plenty of captivating viewing in the west and central parts of Ravenscourt as we have spent time with them on the prowl during the cooler summer days, that we have experienced this January.

At the turn of the new year the Xmobonyana female was seen carrying one cub into a densely vegetated riverbed. Sightings of this female have been sparse but she has been seen around Castleton.
In the south there has been an increase in leopard activity with three different females in the area of Makhotini Dam. The Kigelia female has done a superb job of nurturing two cubs in her injured condition. Her older daughter the Jacana female has been seen not far from this area too.

The eastern parts of Singita has seen the majority of leopard sightings with the Nkuwa female and her two male offspring, now just over a year of age, providing top quality wildlife encounters.
In this area the Ntomi male, Xipuku and Senegal Bush males have been active in the same patch of bushveld as well.
Tisela female and Thamba were mating at the start of the month in the western parts of Singita.

What an incredible run of cheetah viewing we are having! Frequent viewing of the territorial male in the south has provided weekly sightings of this cat. The long grass has created an ideal refuge for not only him but at least two other females. One that was seen feeding on an impala, and another that is being followed by her three cubs. This is the same female that was seen in November carrying one of her helpless cubs to a new temporary den.

Wild dogs
A pack consisting of just three wild dogs, two males and a female, have been traveling far and wide in Singita Sabi Sand and the surrounding reserve. On a morning drive we watched them pursue a herd of impala which ended in them leading us to the Kigelia female leopard and her two cubs feeding on the remains of an impala kill. Unexpected encounters like this are so often the case when following a pack on the move.

With the marula trees dropping their bountiful harvest elephants are beelining between every fruit-bearing tree in the region. Game paths are being forged by elephants between the marula groves and grasses trampled at the base of the trees as the pachyderms search below for their prize. The fruit have also attracted many impressive bull elephants, most of which are in musth. This has also resulted in some tense stand offs between rival males of a similar size.

Buffalo sightings have been abundant throughout the south and in the north. Herds have fragmented during this time of plenty. One of the more memorable moments with the big grazers was witnessing a cow give birth, just before sunset. A well-timed birth for this female who will recover quickly and produce much needed milk for her calf.

Bird List
An exciting month with some great birding. Specials included broad-billed roller, African cuckoo-hawk, Grey-backed sparrow-lark, yellow-rumped tinkerbird, gorgeous bushshrike, Cape white-eye, Eurasian hobby and marsh warbler. In total we saw 211 different species.

Download the full report here >>