The blue hues of winter linger in the morning before the sun reaches across and illuminates the trees then trickles through the sparse canopies warming up the grasslands. It can almost be described as time standing still. Shortly after departing the lodge, the Land Rover slowly idles and comes to stop. The sounds emitted across the valleys and seasonal streams keep us all fixated to the varying calls emanating through the bush and we sit and interpret the sounds and decide on our route for the morning. Game drives become an event of exploration, excitement, emotional connection and a never ending source of amazement. It becomes a favourite moment in the day, second to dessert after a decadent evening meal as most would argue, or is it the wine? The Singita experience encompasses it all, as our guests find a new home.
This month was filled with many sightings that stand out as being one of a kind, it includes a pangolin, three leopards and two cheetahs… not all at once of course! Here’s a highlights package of what we viewed:
Leopards: The Schotia female and her two cubs were definitely the highlight for this month. They strolled along the roads during midday to carcasses that were stashed by the successful mother. Unfortunately, on most of the occasions the kills were not hoisted, and ended up being stolen by hyenas. A few new male leopards have been sighted north of the Sand River which has been exciting as this would mean the nomadic young males are venturing out of their natal areas and exploring new ground.
Lions: The Matimba male lions continue to forge further west and have graced the grasslands in Singita on a few occasions, with a bellowing roar making sure all of the lions in the area are well aware of their presence. They have been viewed with the Othawa pride and continue to court the females in the pride, however the males have been chasing the Othawa young male. The young male is well within the right age to be independent. With the prior lack of the dominant males moving through the area, the young male has been living the perfect lifestyle of being undetected by larger males.
Elephants: Large herds of elephants were reported, in some cases numbering well over one hundred individuals during the last few weeks. Elephants have continued to feed heavily on the branches of the silver cluster-leaf (Terminalia sericea) and buffalo thorn (Ziziphus mucronata) trees, and as we move deeper into the dry season, they will also utilise the young stems of the round-leafed teak or kiaat (Pterocarpus rotundifolia). The playful antics of baby elephants are always an absolute delight to behold.
Wild dogs: We are holding thumbs as a pack of eight wild dogs has been moving along a drainage line that has been used as a prominent den-site during the last two winters… could this be a third year in a row? We will be sure to keep a close eye on this area. Recently a tracker was moving along the drainage line following wild dog tracks in the hope of finding the pack lying near a termite mound, however he did not get very far as he stumbled upon something far more difficult to see, a pangolin! The pangolin sighting definitely overshadowed the wild dogs for the afternoon.
The colour shortly before an afternoon rain storm was mesmerising, fortunately it held out long enough for us to all enjoy the beautiful afternoon and capture some incredible golden moments.