Here’s our wildlife round-up for the month, and what a month it’s been!
Lions: We had some great lion sightings in February with a total of 72 sightings for the month. As with previous months, the majority of the sightings took place out west. The five three-year old, nomadic, once-Butamtam males continued to spend most of their time around Sabora. The Butamtam pride females and their offspring were seen mostly in the Sasakwa area, and there were many sightings on and around Sasakwa Hill. Equestrian Centre manager, Alison Mundy, saw the lions much too often for her liking as the lions spent a lot of their time close to the stables and horse paddock. One morning before letting the horses out to graze, Ali and her team spent half an hour searching in and around the paddock to make sure it was lion-free. Once they were sure the coast was clear they brought the horses from the stables to the paddock to graze. Not even five minutes later Ali heard the horses making a noise and came out of her office to see lions in the paddock. All of the horses were lined up next to the paddock gate ready for her to open it so they could get out! Ali and her team immediately chased the lions off. Needless to say over the next few days it was difficult to persuade the horses to go back into the paddock!
Leopards: What is it with February? For the fourth year in a row, February has again proven to be “leopard month” and Singita Grumeti. There were 29 leopard sightings this month – one leopard a day, on average! As with January, the majority of leopards seen were female. Female leopards tend to be shyer than males and therefore are generally seen less. The fact that the majority of the sightings were of females means that the leopard population in the area is growing continuously more confident and comfortable with the safari vehicles. There were four sightings of females with cubs, three of them different family groups! Not only is this thrilling because leopard cubs are a special treat, but the fact that three different females and their cubs were seen suggests once again, how comfortable the female leopard population at Grumeti is becoming. The more cubs that are exposed to and become comfortable with the safari vehicles, translates to an even more relaxed population for the future.
Cheetahs: The two mother cheetahs, each with two cubs, once again dominated cheetah sightings. The mother cheetah with the two younger cubs continued to make the immediate Sabora area their home. Others seen on the concession were a coalition of two brother cheetahs, a single male cheetah, and a single female cheetah. Where there were cheetahs, there was action in February and these fast cats made up the majority of memorable wildlife sightings this month.
Elephants: Elephant sightings in February were double that of January – most likely due to the curtailing rains. Large herds were regularly seen around Sasakwa airstrip.
Wild dogs: Some exciting wild dog sightings occurred on the concession this month and most of them took place near the Raho drainage in the Nyati plains area, just on the border with the National Park. The second release of wild dogs from the Nyasirori release sight took place toward the end of February. The 17 dogs that were released joined six members of the pack that were released in April 2015. We are extremely delighted to have additional wild dogs in the area and hope to see a lot more of them in the future.