This has been a busy month with a variety of sightings that have been memorable in one way or another. The temperatures have fluctuated by over 20 degrees from the morning to the afternoon. Fortunately, after the seething hot days, we have had a few cool mornings that made it feel like winter had returned. The clear blue skies and crisp breeze were perfect conditions for game viewing. Unfortunately rain has been scarce and the effects of a dry season are starting to show. The Sand River trickles slowly and various species are congregating around water sources just before midday to avoid the hot conditions. A few dams north of the Sand River have almost dried completely and thus the small amounts of water remaining are writhing with catfish. This bounty makes easy pickings for raptors, storks and a honey badger that we saw moving in for a fishy feast. We’ve recorded 216 species of birds this month – many are visitors here to enjoy our summer and all it offers. Here’s a highlights package of the month’s sightings:
Lions: Lion sightings currently could not get any better! Two male lions of the Matimba coalition have been sighted on a few occasions and they are gradually expanding their current territorial zone north of the river. The Mhangene pride continue to dominate the central area of Singita Sabi Sand and we have watched a few interactions between the Majingalane male lions and the sub-adult males in the Mhangene pride that resulted in the young males being dispersed from the pride temporarily. One of the lionesses from the Mhangene pride has been seen with prominent suckle marks indicating that she has given birth. The lionesses has been seen moving in front of the lodges during the early morning as we suspect that the cubs are hidden in the river just east of Boulders Lodge. Exciting times ahead with this pride!
Leopards: The two sub-adult leopards from the Mobeni female leopard have become independent and there have been a few sightings of the young female. Normally we only give names to leopards in established territories, but even though these two are not yet territorial, we are referring to them as the Ntoma male and the Mawelawela female. We look forward to seeing more of these two new leopards in the future.
Buffalos: Smaller groups of males have been encountered north of the river. The larger breeding herds exceeding 200 individuals have not been viewed as regularly and this maybe due to the lack of nutritional vegetation as a result of the poor rainfall we’ve had so far this summer. The large herds are moving further for better grazing and permanent water sources.
Elephants: A large number of elephant have been seen moving along the Sand River as they are drawn to the remaining water source. It’s been a treat watching them from the lodges. (Insider tip: an ideal location to watch game is from your personal plunge pool.)
Wild dogs: A pack of twenty-one wild dogs have been seen north of the Sand River. With their puppies growing up they are covering more ground which means more sightings are bound to occur.