Tall grass stems swoosh and sway in the wind. The lush emerald green landscape is littered with bright orange and red flowers that complement the fragrant smell of summer air. If you listen carefully you may even hear the odd soft thump of a marula fruit landing on the ground. Dark, heavy rain-filled clouds sweep over our evening skies, illuminated by the late sun giving us theatrical and intense sunsets. The pitter-patter of rain throughout the night washes away the imprints of animal activities in the sand, leaving little trace of the previous day’s events. A new page is opened in the book and the stories are ready to unfold.
Here’s a Sightings Snapshot for February:
It is always exciting to locate fresh tracks for a pride of lions. One cool February morning, we spent a few hours tracking the movements of the Mhangene Pride and Othawa Male through the long grasses in the south. Tracing these animals’ movements, we tracked their path through the bright green grasslands to find them resting close to a dazzle of zebra.
The Nkuhuma sub-adult male and female lions have also been seen on the property, just south of the Sand River near some waterholes.
We also got to enjoy regular sightings of the Styx Pride, mostly along the Sand River and north of Ebony and Boulders Lodges.
It’s marula season on the reserve, with piles of yellow and green coloured balls littering the ground. A sweet delight in a diet of leaves and grass and an incredible thing to witness as these huge land mammals delicately probe and pick up these small individual fruit. These sugary pleasures have attracted some large male elephants and during most days we are humbled to witness at least one of these animals patrolling across the land.
Wondering through the tall reeds that line the Sand River, there have been some small herds enjoying the riverine area, excitedly crossing the still high water.
We’ve been so fortunate to have regular sightings with two packs of wild dogs running through the reserve. Usually viewed on separate occasions, except for one afternoon in which we witnessed both packs meet and fight each other. This dramatic scene ended in the smaller group heading west from our property.
Large herds of impala regularly found in centre of reserve attract the larger pack of African wild dogs, its members totalling 19 individuals. Energetic game drives in the mornings and evenings involve following this pack as they chase zebra and hunt impala and scrub hares.
Excitement is thick in the air as the Scotia Female leopard brings out her two cubs from her den for the first time. She has been seen taking them to a kill she’s made and then walking them back to the den area afterwards. Although these youngsters have only been seen a handful of times, it’s with great respect and care that we look forward to observing their growth and progress.
The playful and curious Khokhovela young male leopard continues to stay around his mother’s territory in the western part of Singita. He is growing in confidence and much like his mother, seems to really favour climbing trees and jumping and lying on branches. This has provided some exceptionally stunning viewing.
We haven’t seen much of the Hukumuri Female leopard this month, but this can be expected. With the foliage so thick, and her rather shy disposition, we believe she may be nursing some very young cubs north of the river in the Hukumuri drainage.
With the rain washing away the scents left by many animals, it’s no surprise to see the Nyeleti Male leopard patrolling his large territory, updating his pathways with urine and faeces.
It was with much awe and surprise that we saw a cheetah just south of the river in a thicket area close to the lodges. This is very unusual as these animals tend to prefer grassland habitat and flat open plains where they can use a termite mound or fallen tree to climb and scan the land. This young individual didn’t stay around for long though and was seen a few days later far south and east.
The bird list for February includes 17 new species, bringing the total to 230.
Special species include: African black duck, Steppe eagle, African crake, thick-billed cuckoo, thick-billed weaver and lappet-faced vulture.