As the year comes to an end it often allows a time to reflect back on what has been achieved and look forward to new goals that will be evident as part of our conservation purpose within Singita. Guiding in a pristine wilderness is incredibly satisfying and we see to it that our conservation ethos is practised daily. After a dry winter and hot introduction to spring, the summer season has finally arrived in all of its glory. Wild flowers, migrant bird species, baby impalas and the onset of good rains have the rivers flowing again. Excitement fills the air with the sound of thunder in the distant hills. Summer is in full swing!
Here’s a highlights package of the month’s sightings:
Lions: It has been a tough month for trackers, as the lions have been moving consistently with very few periods of staying for a long time in a particular area. There are two attributes that come to mind about why the lions are constantly on the move. One is that the cooler weather conditions we have experienced this summer (generally the overcast rainy days will be considered temperate conditions) have made it suitable for the lions to move during midday. The other reason is that the larger groups of buffalo have been moving in the western section of the Sabi Sand Reserve and the lions have been trailing them.
Elephants: On some days we have found it difficult to drive very far without stopping on every corner to watch an elephant herd. Yet, on a few days it has been tough to find them and the trackers have been tracking the herd animals to keep up with their movements. This is not an easy task when elephants move over vast distances in search of food and suitable water. Sometimes it seems to transpire that after all the hard work of tracking, we return back to the lodge to find them playing in the Sand River below the lodges!
Buffalo: A few smaller groups have been viewed in the south, however larger herds have been moving further west and east in search of palatable grass prior to the rainy season. As the season progresses the grasslands will flourish and draw for the larger groups will occur.
Leopards: The leopards have been moving around significantly. As the lions have been scarce, the leopards have been out to play! The Hlab’nkunzi female leopard continues to move in close quarters to Singita Ebony and Singita Boulders lodge, often leaving her young cub within the surrounding areas as she moves out to hunt. This month the young cub has reached his first year in the wild. The Schotia female leopard has been viewed along the river just west of the lodges which is an indicating factor that her territory has shifted since the loss of her female cub. This week there was a sighting of the Hukumuri female leopard that has shown signs of possibly having cubs, due to the very prominent suckle marks, which means exciting times ahead as the females continue to dominate the sightings in the area.
Hyenas: There have been good sightings of hyenas this month and more so we have been fortunate on a few occasions to report them casually walking past our sundowner stops en-route to their dens or scavenging the surrounding areas. It is an interesting encounter and one that reminds us how wild it is out here, even when relaxing as we sip on a cold beverage whilst watching the sun set on the horizon.
Wild dogs: Early in the month a sighting of the beta female along with three puppies was recorded, with two hyena moving in close quarters behind the pack. Unfortunately, the last few weeks have confirmed that the three puppies have not survived.