When it rains, it pours. Undoubtedly, one of the big highlights for this month is the rainfall. It’s not often that our attention is veered away from the mammal and birdlife in the Sabi Sands, but with the huge amount of rainfall we’ve experienced in the area over the last month, the Sand River has been a spectacular sight to behold. It really is just a matter of minutes before the river goes from a small stream to a rushing torrent. The continual swirling and whooshing sounds as the water races past the lodge is a soothing and hypnotic background noise and one very special to this time of year. We’ve seen hippo clambering out of the currents, grazing midday in the overcast atmosphere, observing as they chomp happily at the lush, long green grasses at the river’s edge. Swallows shoot around the sky above, lapping up the many flying termites and critters. The amplified calls from painted reed frogs and the bubbling kassinas join the orchestra at dusk. As the sun sets on another day, the bushveld remains loud with activity and a fresh energy that refuses to sleep in January.
Here’s a Sightings Snapshot for January:
A rather fun and interactive sighting with a pack of 20 wild dogs, chasing each other and running around turned into quite a dramatic and suspenseful scenario. Through all the playing and chasing they ended up getting split up and began calling one another to re-group. This calling alone was incredible to behold, but little did we know it also drew the attention of other creatures in the bush. From the green thickets burst a couple of the Othawa lionesses. Chasing the dogs and puppies, the animals split up in all directions as the pride raced them through the bushes. Hearts racing this scene was incredibly dramatic and thankfully none of the dogs were hurt.
The Othawa Pride and Matimba male lion have patrolled their territory through the central and southern parts of our reserve and we have enjoyed tracking them and following their movements in the thick summer terrain.
Reports from the east are that the Mhangene Pride have been making their way west towards Singita and we hope to see them around for February.
Some very exciting news this month, as the Othawa male has been seen mating with at least one of the Mhangene lionesses. This could mean some new additions to this pride in a few months!
With water available throughout the reserve in the form of waterholes, mud wallows and streams, we are seeing smaller breeding herds moving across the land.
It is a humbling experience to come across a large bull elephant, especially one with impressively long and thick tusks. There have been quite a few of these bulls roaming the lush land this month, enjoying the endless salad bowl that is the bushveld.
The race for the wild dogs is always quick. These incredible animals can cover huge areas of land in one afternoon. A sighting that sometimes finds you, we have been fortunate to have these animals on our property from time to time over January.
As the Khokhovela leopard’s cub becomes ever more curious and independent he is seen less and less with his mother. Both incredible characters with such a playful and joyful air to their movements. The ‘beach’ area has proven to be a popular place for these two to reside, with one very special sighting this year of Khokhovela’s cub climbing on a fallen knob-thorn tree, lying and playing and tugging the branches. One cannot help but smile at the sight.
The Hukumuri female leopard has been sighted close to the Sand River but only a couple of times. She’s showing signs of lactating and must be keeping a close eye on her cub(s).
The rasping calls form the territorial male leopard, Nyeleti, have been heard around the lodge area and river area. We’ve followed his movements as he’s patrolled his terrain, refreshing his dominance in the area with scent marking after the rains.
The bird list for January totals 212 birds, including some special species like the pallid harrier, long-crested eagle and ruff.