We had an amazing month of game viewing at Singita Kruger National Park, with interaction between species, hunts, kills – you name it! With the concession drying up and the N’Wanetsi River and Gudzane Dam holding water, it can only get better! The concession is also looking absolutely beautiful at the moment with the knobthorns, flame creepers and cassia trees in flower. The bright yellow hues of the cassias are a welcome splash of colour to the otherwise neutral time of year. Uncharacteristically, we did have a few days of rain towards the end of the month, which settled the dust. We are all interested to see what effect it has on the bush, especially the burnt areas in the next few weeks.
Buffalo: There have been over thirty different buffalo sightings recorded during the month of August. The vast majority of the sightings have been of old buffalo bulls. There have been just under ten sightings of breeding herds. One of the most impressive buffalo sightings this month was of a herd of probably well over one thousand buffalos. They were all spread out throughout a prominent drainage line, where they had gone to have a drink in the late afternoon. The sun’s rays illuminated all the dust that the herd kicked up, and it made for a surreal sight.
Spotted hyena: There is some great news with regards to our hyena sightings this month. The Nyokene den which is very close to the lodge on our concession is active again! Interestingly, the cubs are older than what we expected and we don’t know where they have been hiding before now. So far, we have seen at least two new additions to the clan. As always, at this age they are very inquisitive of the vehicles. The other two dens are also still active. The Xinkelengane den in the very northern parts of the concession has been an extremely active den-site for almost two months now, and the once nervous cubs are growing in confidence by the day.
There has also been a lot of interaction between leopards and hyenas this month, with at least three recorded sightings during the month where they sat patiently under kills that where hoisted by leopards. On one occasion, a fight was witnessed between a male leopard and single hyena having a tug of war with and impala as the rope. Even though it was a fully grown male leopard it stood no chance against the large hyena.
One of our guides, Blaine, has written up some more information about spotted hyenas in an article further on in this report.
Elephants: Elephant viewing has once again been amazing this month. More than two hundred sightings of elephants were recorded and a large amount of those sightings were of breeding herds. With the dry conditions at this time of year, and the concession still holding a lot of water in comparison to the surrounding areas, there have been multiple sightings on a daily basis. There is still a good amount of water along the N’wanetsi River, Gudzane Dam on the west, and Pony Pan in the central area of the concession.
Lions: This area has always been a place of incredible lion viewing. We are pleased to report that there are no changes on that front. In total, there were 83 lion sightings this month.
Cheetahs: We had three sightings of these rare, big cats this month. The most memorable sighting was when Margaux noticed a large gathering of vultures circling and rapidly descending to the ground. Initially it was believed that the lions had made a kill, as fresh male lion tracks were seen heading towards the same direction where the vultures were landing. Upon closer inspection over fifty vultures were seen milling about on the ground, and between the mayhem a spotted hyena was seen rapidly pulling a carcass apart.
Out of the blue, a cat suddenly leapt out of the long grass towards the hyena, who momentarily backed away from the carcass. At first it was believed that it was a small lioness that was charging in to steal the hyena’s kill, but it was soon realised that it was in fact two male cheetah that had made a kill and that the hyena had claimed their prize. Being a relatively small predator, cheetahs often get displaced from their kills by larger predators, and the hyena moved back to the kill before devouring it in front of the cheetahs that could do nothing but look on in disdain.
Leopards: With the vegetation dying back and the grass becoming flattened by the trampling of hooves, these normally elusive cats have been sighted over 20 times this month.