Spectacular Sightings: Why Conservation Counts
Singita Sabi Sand in South Africa is a pristine stretch of protected land in one of the most biologically rich areas on the continent. The high density of diverse flora and fauna makes the region a prime location for game viewing, as is evident in Singita field guide Ian Mey's recollection of a recent morning spent in the bush with his guests:
"One of the great privileges of being a guide in an area like the Sabi Sand is our incredible viewing of large predators and their interactions with the various other species. And while I urge guests and guides alike not to just rush out and accrue lists and ticks on these specific sightings, there can be no doubt that for me very little compares to getting to spend time with Africa’s large cats and canids.
Being part of an area like the Greater Kruger National Park, that has been actively managed as a wildlife sanctuary in one form or another for well over a hundred years, allows encounters and interactions with wildlife not often achieved in more newly established reserves. Areas like the Sabi Sand offer opportunities for more unusual sightings - like seeing mating leopards or having a pack of wild dogs denning on your reserve and watching their month-old pups emerge for the first time. One such example happened on one of my recent morning safari drives where my guests and I were treated to one of the most incredible experiences I have had in over a decade of guiding.
We had set off from Singita Boulders Lodge on a very chilly morning and had stopped to listen to the dawn chorus of hippos when our tracker, Rebel, spotted some fresh leopard tracks. After driving not even 200 feet down the Sand River, we came across a large herd of elephants who were enjoying a sand bath and feeding on either side of the road. With barely a minute to enjoy the scene, we suddenly heard a male leopard’s rasping call further west, very close to where the elephants were feeding. So, we hesitantly left the herd and tracked down the leopard responsible for the territorial calls and, to our delight, found him mating with a female.
After spending about an hour in their company, a pack of wild dogs suddenly appeared, hunting a very unlucky female bushbuck. Both leopards leapt up and gave chase with wild dogs but soon left the hunt to the excitable pack of canines. I turned to my guests at this point and, for what seemed like the 50th time that morning, told them how lucky we had been to see so much action in a mere one kilometre stretch of road."
Sightings like these are possible thanks to the protection and management of this unique ecosystem in the Sabi Sand. Decades of dedicated conservation work, commitment to environmentally conscious hospitality and the tireless work of our community development staff has ensured that the land remains as close as possible to the untouched state in which the Bailes family found it some 90 years ago. The result is an abundant habitat and unrivalled wildlife experience for our guests.
The monthly Wildlife Reports from each of the five regions in which Singita operates give readers an overview of recent animal activity, noteworthy game sightings and seasonal changes in the landscape. They also serve as a chronicle of how Singita's dedicated conservation work affects the biodiversity of each region. You can learn more about our conservation projects here.