We opened the New Year with full lodges and exciting drives on the horizon. The game viewing has been fantastic this month, and the standout highlight for January has been leopard. We have been seeing at least one almost every day!
With the rain we have had, we have observed a lot of plains game move off, with predators, namely lions and cheetah, in tow. Predators left behind have had to work at taking down bigger prey like eland.
In saying that, we have had some interesting interactions between lions and leopards, and leopards and hyenas, as predators compete for prey and kills.
We have had truly amazing elephant sightings this month, and some herds regularly visiting Serengeti House to drink from the pool, a real treat for the guests!
There is a noticeable influx of young amongst species, namely giraffes, topi, elephants and hyenas. A real treat for the guests to see these gorgeous young animals, but exciting to see that our populations are going from strength to strength.
A total of 89 lion sightings were recorded in January. As always, we have had a strong presence of lions. The Prides are spread out across the reserve, in pursuit of the grazers who are seeking shorter grasses. The grass has grown quite substantially after some rain in December, and therefore it’s giving us wonderful coverage of the reserve. We’ve observed that the Prides are still split up. Yet, we have had some new male arrivals and movement of males between Prides.
We didn’t see the Nyasarori Pride for the first two weeks of the month, we believed they moved into the Serengeti National Park due to the shorter grasses and concentration of grazers there.
It’s the rainy season, the grass is green, there is water everywhere, the wildlife is healthy and strong. With the migration moved on, the resident species have succumbed to the carnivores; in particular, the eland has been a common victim to the lions. Above is one of the Butamtam Pride eating an eland bull, hunted around the Old School area. With three new males in the Butamtam Pride, they seem to have fuelled the hunting of eland. This lioness is collared by TAWIRI (Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute) for monitoring and tracking.
A total of 38 leopard sightings were recorded in January. This month has shown a high number of leopard sightings. There is a good mixture of males and females, with more young males seen by themselves. One female has been spending time around Faru Faru Lodge.
We counted two mating pairs, one pair on Kompre Drainage, and another pair on Grumeti North Drainage. The pair on the Kompre, were together for approximately one week, and the pair on Grumeti North Drainage, spent approximately five days together.
The cheetahs seem to have retreated to shorter grass plains, in the southern side of Grumeti Reserve and Serengeti National Park.
With the grasslands being so green, animals are generally very healthy, so the hyenas have less scavenging opportunities, and therefore have had to hunt for themselves. Overall, the hyena numbers on the reserve are very strong. We had sightings of them hunting topi and zebra foals on the same day, on the Nyasarori high ground.
At Fort Ikoma and Sand Road Junction, our guides discovered a hyena den, with 20 cubs!
A total of 73 elephant sightings were recorded in January. This month, with so much surface water and green trees and grass, we have had elephants a-plenty. Even on the open plains, we are seeing large herds of elephants roaming. The herds consist, on average, of 20-30 animals, sometimes up to 50. We are thrilled to share the news that there are many young in the herds, and herds are looking strong and well. We are also experiencing a small herd of elephants frequenting Sasakwa Hill.
We have had a herd of elephants frequently visiting the watering hole in front of Serengeti House. This is an absolute delight for the guests staying there. However, they are also coming to the pool to drink. The animals are relaxed when guests and staff watch them drinking from the pool.
We had a lucky sighting of Lakipia, our female white rhino with field guide Kimaro, she came to the fence of her boma. Unfortunately, we did not capture a decent photo as she was still somewhat obscured in the bushes.
A total of 52 buffalo sightings were recorded in January. We are experiencing very large herds of buffalo across the reserve. Approximately 200 – 300 in some herds. We also have some strong bachelor herds (dagga boys), some with up to 50 members.
Now with the rains, the plains game is moving from south to north, dispersing quite a lot. At the start of the month, a lot of our typical plains game, had moved way south, into the Serengeti National Park, but towards the end of the month, we started to see their return.