The non-arrival of the ‘short rains’ at the end of last year definitely had an influence on migratory species, who maintained their presence through the first number of weeks of the month. We continued to have terrific sightings of predator/prey interactions. But for me, the most spectacular scene is out on the grassy plains, seeing them filled with thousands of wildebeest and topi, side-by-side with zebra, eland and Thompsons gazelles (to mention but a few) is nothing short of breath-taking.
The latter part of February brought some rain which we took to be an early start of the long rains which were welcomed with relief. The dry plains slowly but surely began to green up and transformed the vast views from Sasakwa lodge’s lofty perch.
I find it a real pity that Grumeti isn’t frequented by more guests during this traditionally quieter time of the year. We have had another bumper month of game viewing this February. In fact, we have undoubtedly smashed the record for cheetah sightings over the twenty eight day period, but more on that later.
Lion: We were introduced to some more lion cubs this month. Three of the Butamtam Pride females have had 8 cubs between them. We knew that there was something “iffy” going on, as there was a constant presence of these females on the outskirts of the rhino sanctuary. Sure as anything that was where they were hiding the little tykes.
These cubs are offspring of the Triangle male coalition, who are the territory owners between the Grumeti River and Sasakwa Hill. The Mkuyu Pride also falls within their range and all the older cubs in that pride have been sired by these 5 males.
The Nyasirori Pride and the Butamtam Males have also made up a good portion of the sightings toward the south near Sabora. The nice thing about this particular group is that they have more of a tendency to be together.
On at least a couple of occasions 21 members of the pride were seen together with 3 of the 5 males. 24 lions together…that is certainly not a sighting to be scoffed at!!
For the month, the guides witnessed a total of 118 lion sightings across the property.
Leopard: On an unfortunate note, another of the leopard cubs denned on the Momukomule Drainage has been lost.
This leaves only one 4 month old cub remaining to this female. The core of her territory is a difficult spot in which to try and raise her young. She has to deal with multiple baboons who roost locally, the high density of hyena that occurs in the area and then to top it all off, there are the 3 Butamtam Pride females that were mentioned in the section above. That is one drawback of being a highly territorial species and they just have to accept the presence of the other residents that live there.
Now on a more positive note, Ed Ayo encountered another female leopard walking at the foot of the hills that Sasakwa look over and she had two 8 week old cubs in tow. Initially, the little ones were terrified of the intruding game viewer but after just one sighting they took their cues from their calm mom and got to know that there is nothing to fear.
Leopard sightings were 43% higher than that of February last year climbing from 15 to 26 sightings.
Cheetah: Wow…this month was an unbelievable month for cheetah sightings. It seemed that Grumeti had some sort of magnetic appeal for these iconic Serengeti cats. Fifty one sightings were registered in just twenty eight days!
The majority of the sightings were made up of the 2 female cheetahs and their respective cubs who have been regulars within the central portion of complex for some time now. The rest were made up of strange young individual males, the pair of males we know, as well as a host of new unknown single females.
On one particular morning drive there were 6 different cheetah sightings on the go at the same time.
Female cheetahs have no ties to a particular area and will wander far and wide across the Serengeti. There have been individuals well known to us at Singita Grumeti that have shown up in the southern area of the Serengeti.
Elephant: Interestingly, during the wetter times of the year our elephant sightings take a dip as elephant herds split and spread out and will make their way towards the Grumeti, Mbalageti and Seronera Rivers within the National Park.
With February being a drier month, elephant numbers tend to peak at Singita Grumeti. We recorded 127 sightings through the month, and I am pretty certain there were a number of sightings that somehow weren’t noted, so that figure is very likely to be on the conservative side.
A few of these sightings were made up of elephant herds numbering well over a hundred individuals, some groups even getting very close to the 200 mark. As far as I am concerned, the opportunity to see this number of elephant together is one of Mother Nature’s gifts to the world.