It’s that time of year again where the first summer rains have fallen here at Singita Sabi Sand, and the bush has come to life. It is a favourite time of year for many, including myself, and life is truly never more abundant and evident than now after the start of the rains.
Trees, plants, flowers and grasses are all bursting with new growth. Antelope, predators, birds and smaller creatures are all either breeding or giving birth to new life and filling this incredible wilderness with the feeling of excitement and possibility.
The southern parts of the reserve are flooded with the sprouting of some incredible flowers and plants, like this fireball lily seen above. The fireball lily is certainly beautiful, but comes with a toxic side to it too. A number of African tribes will make a poisonous paste using the root and flower of this plant to poison arrow tips and pools of water containing fish.
Also, beautiful to see at this time of the year are the flowers of the leopard orchid. This epiphyte remarkably uses a tree purely as an anchor or host (as seen attached to a dead knobthorn tree in the photo). It is non parasitic and actually retrieves all its nutrients and water from the air and from tendril-like roots which face skyward trapping any fallen organic material. Investigate the larger leopard orchids closely on your next safari, as they have been known to be a common nest site for the impressive Verreaux’s eagle owl.
There also seems to be a considerable amount of intercourse associated with the rainy period! Not only are all the visiting bird migrants going at it, but so too are the smaller and often overlooked creatures. The giant land snails, as seen in the photo, are being found entangled all over the reserve. These snails are hermaphroditic, meaning that each individual has both male and female reproductive organs. So, when you see them ‘mating’ as above, they are in fact sharing sperm with similar aged individuals to inseminate between 100-500 eggs per individual.
Impala lambs are everywhere bringing endless enjoyable sightings of these youngsters finding their feet. It also brings predation, which may be hard to witness, but a remarkable part of Nature’s way of life.
It has been a joy for all Singita Sabi Sand guides and guests alike to witness the flourishing of the Mhangene pride. Over the last six months, three of the lionesses have given birth and the pride is thriving. The photo shows the latest arrival, a six-week-old little cub exploring this incredible wilderness with its mother.
A welcome addition to the family is the arrival of five little ostrich chicks which are often seen exploring with their parents in the southern area of the reserve.
Summer is a time of new life, remarkable colours, feelings and smells. We cannot wait to experience more of this amazing time in this remarkable wilderness with you soon.