Singita Kruger National Park

Kruger National Park | May 2019

Winter is here and the gloves and hot water bottles are in use. Some misty mornings have been experienced which adds great atmosphere to the morning drives and some unique photographic opportunities.

The rutting of the male impalas is coming to an end as the victors stand proudly with their harems of females. It is not clear how many males fell to predation due to their attention being elsewhere, but there certainly was a noticeable increase in the amount of impala rams being killed and eaten by leopard and cheetah in particular.

The very last of the migratory birds, although lingering a little longer this year due to the availability of food, have now gone.
Due to our dry winter conditions the grass is dying back and viewing is becoming easier. Even in the dry months our concession holds water much longer than some of the surrounding areas and therefore we have an increase in large mammals moving into the area. This is particularly obvious with the large number of big herds of buffalo and elephant which are now seen almost daily.
Winter is a very exciting time of year for us and game viewing certainly peaks for about five months around our dry months. The predators are active for longer in the cooler mornings and large amounts of general game stream onto our concession for our great water supplies, and the last remaining palatable grasses on offer.The very last of the migratory birds, although lingering a little longer this year due to the availability of food, have now gone.

Due to our dry winter conditions the grass is dying back and viewing is becoming easier. Even in the dry months our concession holds water much longer than some of the surrounding areas and therefore we have an increase in large mammals moving into the area. This is particularly obvious with the large number of big herds of buffalo and elephant which are now seen almost daily.

Winter is a very exciting time of year for us and game viewing certainly peaks for about five months around our dry months. The predators are active for longer in the cooler mornings and large amounts of general game stream onto our concession for our great water supplies, and the last remaining palatable grasses on offer.

Here’s a Sightings Snapshot for May:

Cheetah

  • Cheetah are back and we are super excited! We have had seven recorded sightings on the concession this last month. We are hoping, as was the case last year that we get a few sets of mothers with small cubs visiting our beautiful area. We wait in anticipation and hope for this, but of course with the current population status of these highly endangered large predators (there are probably only approximately 400 cheetahs in the entire Greater Kruger area), we are grateful for any sighting at all.
  • We have also had a sighting of six cheetahs (a female and five youngsters) on the public road leading to the lodge.
  • A single female cheetah was seen on at least four occasions in the basalt grasslands near the Sticky-thorn Thickets. On each occasion she was walking around sniffing and standing on fallen tree trunks, providing some great views.
  • A single male was seen on at least three occasions in the central area of the concession.

Lions

  • As usual, the Singita Kruger National Park concession has produced the goods as far as lion sightings are concerned. We had a total of 69 recorded sightings in the concession this last month.
  • The Mountain Pride has again been our most consistent pride to be found and viewed, often with at least one, if not two of the beautiful Shish male lions in attendance. This pride has been on our concession for at least fifteen years now, numbers of individuals peaked to 37 some years back, and dwindled to three at one stage. The pride is now at seven and we are hoping that this is the beginning of the bounce-back of the Mountain Pride.
  • A pride from the west which we are calling the Mananga Pride have also been seen a few times, particularly with the largest of the Shish males giving them his time and attention, because there are a few lionesses amongst them, possibly in early oestrus. There are eight females in this pride of differing ages.
  • We are very happy to have seen seven of the lionesses from the Shishangaan Pride in the concession this last month. They have been absent from the area for quite a few weeks. Since this was the dominant pride in our area we are very happy to have them back. At least one of them looks as if she could be starting to lactate.
  • Since the sub-adult males from the Shishangaan Pride (including the famous white lion) left the concession quite a few weeks ago we were not expecting to see them back here again. They are at the age where they need to look for territories of their own. However, towards the end of the month we had a surprise visit from three young males (including the white lion).
  • We only had one recorded sighting of the Xhirombe male this last month. He was seen feeding on an impala near the granophyre ridge. We have not seen his mom for a while now. She was very old and we now think that she has passed on.
  • The Shishangaan males have been seen regularly this last month. The big grumpy male (often referred to as Xihamham because of the sound he makes when he growls at the cars) has been seen often in the company of the Mananga Pride or the Mountain Pride. He is certainly a cassanova!
  • One of the Kumana males was seen mating with an unidentified lioness (possibly a Shishangaan lioness) near the Sweni Bird Hide one morning.

Leopards

  • There was a total of 25 recorded sightings of leopard in the concession this last month.
  • We have been fortunate enough to discover three different sets of leopard cubs. Unfortunately, these cubs are from very shy females and were seen hidden in areas that are very difficult to access with a vehicle.
  • The Dumbana male was seen a few times and on one of these occasions he offered much entertainment and excitement killing an Egyptian goose gosling.
  • The N’wanetsi male was seen a few times during the month of May.
  • The Lebombo female, who is always great value, as she is quite a relaxed leopard, was seen too. We had great views of her one day as she fed upon an impala that she had stashed high up in a leadwood tree.

Elephants

  • We had a total of 132 elephant sightings this month. As the water in the rivers is drying outside of the concession we are starting to see more and more of these great grey animals coming down to the
    pools in the N’wanetsi River and at Gudzani Dam, particularly in the late mornings and the early afternoons when the temperatures are still high.
  • Large numbers of elephants are seen almost daily at the moment and we are very privileged to be based in the Kruger Park, one of the most elephant-rich national parks in Africa.

Buffalo

  • With the sufficient grass cover still around, many great buffalo sightings have been recoded this month. (We had at least 49 recorded sightings of these bovids.)
  • Many of the sightings that we have had this month have been of large herds (a few hundred individuals). On the morning of the 24th a herd of buffalos was seen in the vicinity of Gudzani Dam that the guides estimated was in excess of 1 000 individuals, including many small calves.
  • We are also still seeing quite a few single bulls and small bachelor groups in the vicinity of the rivers or drainage lines.

Plains game

  • We have been spoilt this month with great kudu, waterbuck and zebra herds on the basalt plains, as well as wildebeest and, as always, amazing giraffe viewing with lots of calves around at the moment.

Birds

  • We have recorded 176 species of birds in the concession this last month.
  • Some of the highlights include: white-backed night-heron, long-crested eagle, lizard buzzard, dark chanting goshawk, osprey, Dickinson’s kestrel, African crake, African wattled lapwing, striped kingfisher, trumpeter hornbill, eastern nicator, yellow-bellied eremomela and yellow-throated longclaw.
  • A martial eagle eating a baby steenbok whilst perched in a dead leadwood tree was also a spectacular and special sighting this month.

 

Read the full report here: Singita Kruger National Park Wildlife Journal – May 2019