Singita Kruger National Park

Kruger National Park | November 2020

November is the last month of spring and we are gradually witnessing the passing of the baton between the acquainted seasons. We have received extremely hot days giving us time to acclimatize for the much warmer temperatures that are expected over the next few months. We have not received the volumes of rains that were anticipated for this month however the trickles we did get have contributed to the lining of the thirsty clay pans and riverbeds. Although the N’wanetsi is not flowing there is a visible rise of the water levels at some points across the river’s course. Trees have stripped themselves of their flowers, that have served their purpose of reproduction by facilitating pollination. The purple cluster pods which were, just last month, covered in pale yellow flowers and drenched in perfume, are now showing little to no signs of their floral dresses. Most trees have now changed wardrobe to their lush green leaves, painting the bush in hundreds of different shades of green. In some areas the lush green grasses that sprouted prematurely as a result of the great rains we received last month have begun to slowly brown as the consistency of rain has not been there. Many shrubs are fruiting, such as the tiny berries from the white berry bush and the orange fruits of the sour plum, which are being enjoyed by antelopes and primates alike.

We have seen a greater number of tortoises, strolling leisurely on the concession, which have been relatively less active during the previous months, and as we have been wandering around pans to see which mammals or birds have come to drink we have spotted a number of frogs, some as tiny as a fingernail and some big enough to fit in your palm.

The first impala lamb was sighted on our concession on the 10th of November, with many more female impalas still carrying their lambs. There are also a number of other young animals that have taken their first steps on the green carpeted grounds. November and subsequent months are proving to be the time of plenty.

Here’s a Sightings Snapshot for November: 

Lions

With a dedicated tracking team made up of trackers and some guides who leave the staff village every morning to gain a greater understanding as to what the animal movements are on our concession, we have subsequently had numerous lion sightings, some of which are as follows.

  • The Shishangaan Pride has been seen frequently on the concession. They are in good condition and have been sighted with full bellies. One of the cubs who was previously struggling with mange, has now sustained additional injuries of unknown origin which has left it with a missing eye and injured/tattered ear, however, when sighted, the little cub has not let its condition get the better of him and was still managing to keep up with the rest of the pride.
  • The Mananga Pride has been maintaining their stronghold around the north-western parts of our concession, predominantly around Gudzane Dam. The two Shishangaan males were also seen with the Mananga Pride on a few occasions.
  • The Mountain Pride has also been seen on the property accompanied by Xihamham (Shish male) on a couple of those occasions.
  • An unknown coalition of two males were seen steadily heading in a northly direction around N’wanetsi through territories that have been actively defended by the likes of the Kumana male and Shishangaan males, leaving nothing but tracks as evidence of their presence.
  • Another unknown coalition of four adult male lions were seen feeding on a buffalo in the central parts of our concession.

Leopards

  • A number of unknown adult males have been sighted on the property over this past month moving intently through the overgrowth.
  • A young male was seen around Stickythorn Thickets with an impala carcass hoisted up above the ground, with hyenas patiently waiting at the bottom for any scraps to rain down on them accidently as the leopard fed. A few days later the hyenas had done a good clean up job as not even a single hoof was found.
  • Another young male was spotted around Basalt on the same day, a couple of kilometres apart. He was walking out in the open with little to no concern for the impalas that were giving away his location.
  • The Nhlanguleni female was spotted around warthog pan, hunting.
  • There has also been a young male sighted on a few occasions around the Pony Pan vicinity.

Cheetah

This time of the year usually doesn’t yield too many sightings of cheetah, due to the thicker overgrowth and longer grasses, which is not the ideal habitat for these cats. However, we have still been lucky enough to observe cheetahs on our concession.

  • A male cheetah was sighted on our western boundary heading in a northern direction.
  • A coalition of three cheetahs were seen on our northern boundary (Mbatsane) in an area with great visibility due to the open fields. They were seen huddled under the shade of a tree.
  • Two males were seen around Dumbana Pools, having a drink of water.
  • One single male was seen around Rhino Skull, heading in an easterly direction.

Spotted hyenas

Hyena numbers remain strong on the concession, although their physical presence is often missed, because they tend to use the shadow of the night to move, leaving many tracks and signs as evidence of their presence. On occasion, we have managed to catch them at dusk and dawn wandering about.

  • Over the four days that we had the young male leopard at the Stickythorn Thickets, with an impala carcass hoisted up in a tree, there were two to three hyenas that remained at the base of that tree the whole time.
  • Single travelling male and female hyenas have been spotted on a number of occasions, prowling around the concession.

Elephants

We have had an innumerable number of elephants in the concession, varying in size and composition. These giants have been typically aggregating at our nearest water sources, like along the N’wanetsi, Gudzane Dam and a few other pans, but have not limited their presence to these areas. Almost every single game drive we do or even just travelling to and from work we have been guaranteed elephant sightings, in the most part.

  • There was a large aggregation of over 100 elephants ranging in size from gigantic bulls to calves a fraction of their size all taking turns to come down to Gudzane Dam to drink in smaller groups of five to twenty individuals, then making space for the next group to come down.
  • There have been multiple breeding herds ranging from 20 to 50 individuals scattered across the property over the past month.
  • There have also been a number of large elephant bulls wandering the concession alone and/or in bachelor herds, some of which have been in musth and have made their need for space known.

Buffalo

Black seas of buffalo have been sighted all across the property.

  • A large breeding herd consisting of over 1 000 individuals was seen in the north-eastern region of our concession.
  • Smaller breeding herds consisting of ten to over 600 individuals have sporadically been seen across the property.
  • A number of straggler bulls have also been sighted on the concession, alone or in numbers of ten or less.
  • Large dazzles of zebras have been spotted in the company of varying species like impala, wildebeest and giraffe. These dazzles range from groups of five to larger aggregations of over 50.
  • Wildebeest are a common sight on game drive these days with the abundance of grass we have in the area. The sizes of the herds varying from ten to 60 individuals. The single lone territorial males have also been spotted actively defending their areas.
  • Giraffes have been seen in strong numbers with many young in their presence. One particular giraffe still had the afterbirth attached to her, however the calf was nowhere to be seen, and vultures were circling the area, which may be an indication that she lost her calf.
  • Waterbuck, kudu and impalas have also been plentiful across the property, however there are still hardly any nyalas within the concession away from the lodge, which seems to be their safe haven.
  • Klipspringer have also been seen in pairs and singularly, bouncing about in the rocky outcrops that are spread across the property.

Plains game

Plains game are in tip-top condition, with their glistening coats indicating the presence of good water and lush vegetation. This is indeed the time of plenty for these four-legged creatures.

  • Large dazzles of zebras have been spotted in the company of varying species like impala, wildebeest and giraffe. These dazzles range from groups of five to larger aggregations of over 50.
  • Wildebeest are a common sight on game drive these days with the abundance of grass we have in the area. The sizes of the herds varying from ten to 60 individuals. The single lone territorial males have also been spotted actively defending their areas.
  • Giraffes have been seen in strong numbers with many young in their presence. One particular giraffe still had the afterbirth attached to her, however the calf was nowhere to be seen, and vultures were circling the area, which may be an indication that she lost her calf.
  • Waterbuck, kudu and impalas have also been plentiful across the property, however there are still hardly any nyalas within the concession away from the lodge, which seems to be their safe haven.
  • Klipspringer have also been seen in pairs and singularly, bouncing about in the rocky outcrops that are spread across the property.

Rare animals and other sightings

  • African wild dogs have treated us with two sightings this month, one of which was a single male wandering through the concession, and another sighting of a pack of four individuals, a few days later.
  • A single serval was seen strutting around the H6.
  • The pair of ostriches that had decided to nest around Leadwood have, to our disappointment, lost every single one of their eggs which were, from the latest count, a clutch of twelve eggs. It is assumed that they were eaten by either a pride of lions or hyenas who both left very fresh tracks in and around the ostrich nest!
  • A porcupine and an African civet were both seen on the same day in the same area around Gudzane North/Park Road heading in opposite directions.
  • There have been a number of Sharpe’s Grysbok spotted on the concession.

Birds

The vast majority of migrants are back to spend their summer with us, and their cheerful songs fill the air. Some of the migrant bird species that have returned include barn swallows, yellow-billed kites, lesser-spotted eagles, common buzzards, various cuckoos (including common, African, red-chested, black, Le Vaillant’s, Jacobin and Diederik cuckoos), woodland kingfishers, grey-hooded kingfishers, European bee-eaters, broad-billed rollers, European rollers, red-backed shrikes and violet-backed starlings, to name a few. Some of our resident birds have also brightened up their wardrobe in preparation for the breeding season to attract mates.

Read the full wildlife report here: Singita Kruger National Park Journal November 2020