It’s all happening out on our vast over-the-horizon plains, so here’s a snapshot of the month’s wildlife activity.
Lions: Early on in April there was an influx of zebras into the area and because of this the local lion populations became fairly spread out. It also brought a few of the prides that we haven’t been seeing out of hiding.
The area in the vicinity of Sabora continued to be a magnet for the large herds of general game and thanks to this the lions maintained their position in and around the camp at the same time. The Nyasirori pride and the Ridge pride groups were on occasion seen with only a couple of kilometres separating them.
Early on in the month one of the Ridge pride females were seen mating with a young male and in the last few days of April there were two pairs of amorous lions seen mating in the area of German Bridge on the Grumeti River. These females are undoubtedly members of the old Butamtam pride before they split. Nowadays they are referred to as the Mkuyu pride, which also have remained out of sight.
The Butamtam pride were also a constant throughout April. They really made use of their entire territory and this made life interesting at times when trying to locate them. One day they would be on the plains to the south of the Butamtam Hill, the next day they would be all the way to the northern extremity of their roaming area. The pride was seen on quite a few occasions feeding on kills.
Leopards: Leopard sightings dipped again in April and this could possibly be attributed to the onset of the long rains towards the latter part of the month. That being said, when we did have sightings, they were tremendous!
The sightings were spread out across the property, and again the Grumeti River didn’t fail to produce.
There were a number of sightings of a female leopard with two seven-month-old cubs in tow. Seeing leopard cubs is still very much a novelty for all of the guides and guests alike at Singita Grumeti, and when it is called in over the radio you can really hear the excitement. It’s special because we have only really started seeing relaxed female leopards in the last three years or so, and as they have become more familiar they have become more visible. Now we are benefitting because they are comfortable enough with our presence to be seen with their offspring.
We also had great viewing of a large, older male leopard with his impala ram kill right out in the open on the Sasakwa plains for three days.
Cheetah: The most viewed cheetah in April was a single female that took up temporary residence in the area of Punda Milia Ridge. Some members of the Butamtam pride also frequented the same area. It is a little stressful watching this go on for a few days, especially in the thicketed portions of the hills where lions are happy to hang out. Lions make light work of cheetah caught in these situations. The good news is that nothing untoward occurred between the two species of large cats.
To the west, the female with the two cubs dominated sightings but from time to time a coalition of two males were seen, as well as another single female.
The other female with the two of the younger cubs were seen more to the south of the central area on Nyati plains. This area is heavily occupied with hyenas and probably not the best place for a mother cheetah to be with her young ones. Unfortunately this came to a head near the end of the month and a hyena killed one of the cubs. Sad news for everyone as we have been watching the cubs grow up for almost the last year now.
Elephants: Sasakwa Hill was the focus of most of the elephant sightings this month, not on the hill itself but the foothill was the main attraction for the herds. Every day guests at Sasakwa were treated to elephant viewing from the main areas of the lodge.
Another area that proved to be of good value was the woodland to the south of Koroya Hill. Sightings of about 150 elephant were seen feeding peacefully. It is an incredible experience being in the company of this many elephant seemingly silently going about their business.
Wild Dogs: Only two sightings of the wild dogs were recorded in April. Nevertheless, it is always thrilling to spend time with these endangered predators.
Special sightings: The special sightings this month have to be the spectacular herds of zebra that were spread out across all the plains. Interspersed among the zebra were large herds of topi, good numbers of eland and both species of gazelles as well. On one drive, parked on the Nyasirori plains we counted eleven species of mammal in view around the vehicle!
As mentioned before, the multiple sightings of the 150-strong elephant herd makes it in to our special sightings list.
Our unusual sighting for April has to be that of a relaxed African wild cat that was seen around the Nyasirori ranger post.