The October month welcomes the green, the grass, the leaves and flowers as they all start to bud after the first rain received. The smell in the air is incredible – the fresh clean, invigorating freshness of pure wilderness! The early mornings are starting earlier, with the greatest benefit of watching the sun rising on the horizon. It has to be one the best ways to start your day…
Here’s an overview of the month’s sightings:
Lions: The Mhangene pride has been on the move in various directions around the Sabi Sand, but during the last month, more so in the west of the reserve. A recent sighting revealed an unknown pride that we have never recorded before. The pride consisted of 13 lions and originated from the north-eastern sections of the reserve. They have been sighted twice, north of the river, and we hope to see this pride moving into the area more frequently, as the northern section of Singita is a vast area quite often not occupied by any of the lions regularly being viewed in the area.
Elephants: Elephants are constantly on the move for suitable grazing and browsing conditions. The recent rain has not flushed enough green in the vegetation, which causes the larger mammals to move further and often become sporadic in their movements. With the rain predicted for the next few weeks, we hope to see these large mammals staying in the area for a longer period of time.
Buffaloes: Small groups of bulls are encountered in the south of the reserve, and also in certain areas to the north of the Sand River. The largest group recorded for this month was about 400 buffalo moving in the general direction of Castleton Dam. With the Mhangene pride lying in the shade within close vicinity of the area, and looking hungry on that day, some potentially violent interaction was predicted.
Leopards: It was harrowing to watch the Schotia female leopard constantly calling out for her cub. At the end of last month the young female cub was killed by the Mhangene pride. Without any indication of finding the remains, the mother returned to the area where the last scent of her offspring was the strongest. A week after the incident, we watched her hoist an impala carcass and return back to the site, still uncertain of the cub’s whereabouts. Within a few days of that sighting, the female was mating with the Nyelethi male for several days. We are hoping that in the next three months we can report some good news. A few new leopards have made an appearance this month in our sightings. The Khokovela female was also viewed mating with the Nyelethi male within a very short time of him finishing his session with the Schotia female. This presents a clear indication that the young female leopard is looking to establish herself within an already leopard-rich area, as we have viewed her on a few occasions this month, even as she scouted around the lodges one afternoon.
Hyenas: There has been one den-site that has proven to be extremely productive this year, as we have counted numerous litters being born at the location, all to the delight of the guests watching the little black cubs emerge from the old termite mounds.
Wild dogs: The beta female has been moving with the rest of the pack and the alpha female’s litter now hunts with the adults. On one occasion this month, we were fortunate to have three different packs of wild dogs being reported within the same morning game drive. Such an occurrence is always a highlight for guides, trackers and guests.
Birds: The total bird count for the month of October was 214 (211 in September). Specials for the month included the return of both Levaillants and Diedericks cuckoo, violet-backed starling, plus a mocking cliff chat. Beautiful views of African quail-finch were had too.