February this year has been another incredible month at Singita Kruger National Park. A good amount of rain fell towards the beginning of the month and both the N’wanetsi and Sweni Rivers came down in flood again. Water has been seeping from the Lebombo Mountains non-stop since the rains and previously barren waterholes and riverbeds are now flowing – we’ve even found Nile Crocodiles in areas where we haven’t seen them before, proving once again that any waterbody could become a place of residence for these sly and patient predators!
The grass is the tallest and greenest it’s been in years, and the abundance of food and water will be enough to sustain the animal populations during the approaching dry months, and for that we are very thankful.
With all the rains there has been an increase in insect life too, in particular some grasshopper species and fireflies who paint an enchanting picture at night as their glowing green bodies float above the waving grass.
Here’s a Sightings Snapshot for February:
Forty-six lion sightings have been recorded for the month of February.
The Shish Pride have made an appearance again after being away for several weeks and brought with them a lovely surprise – five beautiful cubs that belong to two of the lionesses! The pride has been spending the majority of their time around Granophyre Ridge, a beautiful setting where the cubs can play and hide between the boulders!
Two of the Kumana Males have also returned after not being seen for more than a month and are unfortunately looking very skinny and weak. It is uncertain if the third male is still alive, but with the current conditions the males are in they will be unable to protect their territory and the new cubs they sired with the Shish Pride. We can only hope that the Shish Pride cubs will survive this uncertain time.
The Mountain Pride was seen on 23 occasions. They have been spending more time around the central area of the concession. Their tracks also indicate that they have been trespassing into the Mananga Pride’s territory.
After the rains the Mananga Pride have moved further west and they were only seen on two occasions during the month.
The three Shish males are still in good condition and have been spending quite a bit of time with the Mountain Pride. The two younger brothers are still doing the majority of the territorial patrols seeing as the third brother’s hip injury has affected his pace and range, causing him to often stray off on his own.
The Xikhova young male has been found on a couple of occasions around Euphorbia Crossing and Big Croc View and unlike his very irritable and unpredictable mother, this youngster is very relaxed around vehicles and often offers us great viewing opportunities.
The Lebombo female has been seen mating with a big male around Big Croc View, making all of us very excited to see if it will result in pregnancy.
A female with two cubs were found around Kori Clearing in the Central Depression. The cubs offered great views playing and stalking each other.
Another female with two youngsters were seen on the H6, with the one cub missing its tail.
More than 60 sightings of elephants were recorded during the past month.
A big tusker bull was seen towards the end of the month while he was trailing a herd around the Sticky Thorn area.
We also saw a cow and calf getting chased across Ostrich Link by two bulls. It appeared that she was in season and the males were vying for her attention.
The majority of our buffalo sightings have been of a bachelor group that have been spending time at Dumbana Pools along the N’wanetsi River. One of the old bulls has a fiery temper and has been seen thrashing bushes with his horns in threat whenever a vehicle gets too close.
Herds of over 100 animals have also been seen but more towards the west of our concession. We think that is also one of the main reasons why we haven’t seen the Mananga Pride that much this past month as they are probably following the large herds.
Members of the Nyokeni Clan were seen around Ostrich Link open areas where they were found interacting and harassing two Cape hunting dogs. We believe the clan is still denning in the Granophyre Ridges, but unfortunately due to the terrain the area is inaccessible.
There is another clan that is frequenting Dumbana Drainage and they’re often seen around sunset as they start getting active for the night.
The general game sightings have been phenomenal, with large journeys of giraffe, zebra and impala being found throughout the concession.
The two Cape hunting dog females were seen on several occasions. Several guides have had the opportunity to follow them on hunts and on different occasions they were seen killing both impala and steenbok! We’re hoping that a pack of males become aware of their presence and that they settle down in the area.
There is still an abundance of European Rollers, Carmine and European Bee-eaters and Amur Falcons in the area. This year the Red-billed Queleas have not been as abundant as in previous seasons, even though there is sufficient grass cover and seeds for them to feed on.