September marks the start of springtime and it is evident in every direction you look. On the banks of the N’wanetsi River, large brack thorns stand out with their pale yellow flowers and new light green leaves, and the red-flowered weeping boer beans are teaming with animal life, attracting birds that are feeding on both the nectar of the flowers and also on the variety of insects that are attracted by the trees.
On the Lebombo hills the burnt areas are revealing fresh green growth and the basalt plains below are scattered with the yellow-flowered knobthorns, which attract scores of giraffe. As it’s still dry and food a bit scarce for some, the elephants are pushing more trees over to get to the exposed roots and the bark, and around noon close to water is a sure place to find these giants resting in the shade. Any body of water is a hive of activity. The N’wanetsi River is full of water around the weir and at its confluence with the Sweni, but upstream has long dry stretches with pools of various sizes in between. The smaller pools are the busiest as fish and other aquatic creatures are easier to catch, attracting goliath herons, African fish eagles, yellow-billed, saddle-billed and black storks and also African open-bills.
Towards the end of the month a bush fire had crossed the border from Mozambique and the fire had swept over the northern reaches of our concession. This fire will recycle vital nutrients back into the soil, and with the summer rains hopefully around the corner, we are expecting a great abundance and good grazing opportunities for the coming months. We cannot wait to see the transformation.
Here’s a Sightings Snapshot for September:
The Mountain Pride really surprised us all this month when they introduced three more cubs to the pride. With the lockdown we were not able to follow the prides and focus as intensely on their movements, and none of us were even aware that one of the females was pregnant. This pride now consists of 15 members.
This Shishangaan Pride and their remaining cubs were seen and heard close to the lodges. The cubs that had mange seems to be slowly recovering.
The remaining Kumana male with the droopy lip was seen on several occasions this month around the lodge. He was seen with both the Shishangaan as well as with the Southern Prides.
The Mananga Pride was seen on several occasions around Gudzani Dam, where they were feeding on the remains of a waterbuck kill. The National Geographic film crew that is currently on site on assignment to document the various prides, even saw them stalking a herd of buffalo in broad daylight.
Two members of the Shishangaan male coalition, including Xihamham were seen with the Mananga Pride.
Fourteen members of the Southern Pride were found feasting on the remains of a buffalo kill. Some members of the guiding team also conducted a mentorship training walk, and we were successful in following the pride’s tracks until we found them all sleeping in the long grass. It was the perfect approach as the lions were blissfully unaware of our presence, and we moved off unnoticed.
A mating pair of leopards were seen just outside of Sweni Camp, and their courtship growls and snarls could be heard throughout the night by all staff members who stay close to the lodge. Hopefully we will have new leopard cubs within the next couple of months that we can share with our guests once they return.
A female leopard was seen around Mbeki’s Crossing walking towards the concession boundary.
A big leopard tom was seen on the H6 by staff on the way to work. He was draped over the branches of a big leadwood tree, and looked ever so comfortable and regal.
A coalition of two males were seen close to the Shishangaan staff camp that is situated towards the west of the lodges.
A single female cheetah was seen on the basalt plains towards the west of camp.
Members of the Nyokene Clan were seen feeding on the remains of a buffalo that the Southern Pride had killed.
With the dry season setting in, several herds of elephants have decided to frequent the lodge areas where they are feeding on the well curated and watered gardens! There is still abundant food for them in the bush, but obviously they enjoy the culinary experience on offer at the lodge, much to the lodge gardener’s dismay.
Several sightings of a large herds of buffalo has been seen around the N’wanetsi River and Gudzani Dam. These herds are in a constant chess game with the various prides of lions that are trailing them and testing the herd for any sign of the old and vulnerable members.
The burnt sections are attracting large aggregations of zebra and wildebeest towards the north western sections of the property.
The flowering knob-thorn trees are also attracting large journeys of giraffe.
Rare animals and other sightings
A pack of five African wild dogs were seen around Park Road and Jo’s Junction. Another pack of eight dogs were seen in the central area of the concession later on in the month. This is very exciting as these endangered canids are not frequently seen in this area.
The Wahlberg’s eagles are returning from their intra-Africa migratory trips, and the resident pair has been seen flying over their nesting site of last year.
There have been large gatherings of ostriches in the basalt plains to the west of the lodges, amazing to see them this abundant, especially with the high predator density that we are see at Singita Kruger National Park.