As with the last few days in July, large numbers of resident wildlife occupied the areas along the fast drying pools in the many drainage lines on the concession and in the Grumeti River. We noticed a large influx of zebra at the beginning of the month, and then later on a substantial incursion of migratory wildebeest entering Ikorongo and steadily moving south and west. The effects of El Niño continued, benefitting the predators enormously both with the incredible numbers of plains game gathering in and around Sasakwa Dam on a daily basis, and then the conditioning of the grazers as they continually weakened over the month allowing all of the predators fairly easy hunts…
Looking back over the month of August 2016, I think it will be best remembered for the incredible number of kills witnessed at Sasakwa Dam, and the daily stream of thousands of plains game rushing in and out of the dam throughout the day. It was live theatre every morning, starting at first light when we could see activity at the dam through the giant telescope at Sasakwa Lodge. Members of the extended Butamtam pride would congregate daily and feast on the smorgasbord presented to them at the best water source on the concession. What an experience for the many guests that got to witness the mayhem first-hand.
Lions: As mentioned above the latter parts of this month were a boon for not only the Butamtam Pride, but all the lions that frequent the Singita Grumeti haven. It was almost guaranteed that lions would be found feasting on either zebra or wildebeest. The numbers speak for themselves, at the end of August we tallied a total of 138 individual sightings of lions.
Leopards: August provided great leopard sightings consistently throughout the month. We managed an impressive 47 sightings over the 31 days. On a number of days we had multiple sightings and on a couple of occasions there were four different sightings. Included among the ‘special’ leopard sightings, we managed to witness mating leopards and a leopard kill too.
Cheetahs: The cheetah sightings did seem a little on the slow side this month, with a total of 26 sightings. They really are one of the flagship species for the Serengeti as the habitat is perfect for them to hunt and survive in.
For the most part we had a female cheetah with her single cub making up the majority of the sightings, and on occasion we had single females as well as a pair of males being seen.
Elephants: Due to the dry season exacerbated by El Niño, elephant herds became a daily fixture at Sasakwa Dam along with many others. There is nothing better than watching elephants frolicking about at the water, (it’s hard to imagine elephant frolicking, but they do!), and making all the other inhabitants uncomfortable.
The Grumeti River is another magnet for the elephant herds. Even though there may not be flowing water in the river at this time, there is some standing water left in pools. Elephants also have a great little trick, they dig through the sandy riverbed to get to water that is located just below the surface – clever beasts!
We closed the month with a total of 76 elephant sightings.