The green months are in full swing with the Sand River moving through a cycle of ebbs and flows with the rain received. It has been like watching Blue Planet in a time lapse mode, with the exception of us all living in the environment and seeing it in real time. The summer migrants are preparing for their annual return soon, however still gorging themselves on the bountiful amounts of insects emerging after the rain.
Here’s a highlights package of the month’s sightings
Lions: Lion sightings have been incredibly interesting for the month of the February, with the dynamics of the Mhangene Pride and the aging Majingalane male lions as they disperse. The pride’s litters have reached independence, the now sub-adult lions have been viewed regularly on their own in varying numbers, from four individuals to eight, often with the mothers of the pride not being present. The coalition of Majingalane males battle through the hardship of being a male lion in the wild, and have been viewed with the sub-adults, following the younger lions in the hope to overpower a potential food source. One of the younger lionesses was reported to have a large gash under her left jaw, a clear indication of a wound inflicted by a buffalo during hunting. The puncture wound was only noticed when the lioness was seen resting with the pride within a short distance of a group of buffalo that they were hunting the night before. A wound that would be a reminder that experience far outweighs brawn in the wild! A harsh lesson, however, given the resilience of wild animals the wound should heal and she will recover well.
Leopards: The Halb’Nkunzi female leopard continues to move further north as her daughter (the Schotia female) resides in her territory close to the lodge. The Schotia female has been viewed regularly this month as she returns to a prospective den-site within close quarters of the lodges. We are all yearning to see her new litter. With this being her second litter, we are holding thumbs that she has some experience from her previous litter and thus turns out to be a successful mom. We know for sure if her last litter was anything to go by, her cubs inherit her beauty along with her striking blue eye colour. This month of leopard sightings had brought along a few surprises and most notably the return of a legendary leopard that roamed the entire section of Singita for many years, the Kashane male. Even though he has aged, he was looking as regal as ever. Another exciting find was the Ntoma female, daughter of the elusive Mobeni female. The Ntoma female was last sighted two years ago shortly after being independent to her mother. The Ntoma female moved through the central areas as if she was returning home and confidently marked her territory along her route.
Elephants: An interesting month, as the female marula trees have fruited and continue to have large piles of fruit beneath the canopy of the trees since mid-January, which has drawn large herds into the areas. The fruits have been consumed not only by the elephants – other species capitalized on the fallen gems of nutrients and they too have consumed large amounts during the past few weeks. The elephants have moved purposely in search of further marula groves to feed on the fruits and this has caused the sightings of large groups to be sporadic.
Wild dogs: The wild dog sightings have been on par with our previous year recordings, indicating the consistency with which these animals move through the summer season. It has been notable that our viewing of the pack members always increases within the winter months, however the few sightings that we do experience in the summer are always rewarding.
Buffalo: The largest group was approximately 150 individuals. This relatively small group of buffalo has been hunted or trailed by the Mhanegene Pride consistently within the southern sections of the reserve.