The final short rains are beginning to ease and there is a change in the air. From hot, humid mornings come crisp chills in the air, warmed ever so slightly by the glorious rays of sunlight. Winter is on its way and we are beginning to feel it as it unfolds. The vivid colours of green have gradually started to lose their saturation and the abundance of water is beginning to diminish. This is an incredible time of the year, one of great change however, still plentiful in new life. Young impala, zebra and wildebeest have found their footing and continue learning life’s great path, whilst the smaller spotted cats are beginning to make their way out of their den to explore the world around them. It has been a month of change for all of us, one in which we are able to change like the season and yet gain a deeper understanding and connectivity to nature.
Here’s a Sightings Snapshot for March:
Lions have been a highlight for us this month, with a number of prides present at the same time during the middle of the month. The Mhangeni Pride, Styx Pride, Othawa Pride and Matimba male lion have been on our property in different areas. We have also had the Nkuhuma Pride make a few appearances north of the river.
The Mhangeni Pride were sighted in the south on a blue wildebeest kill. This was quite a sight as it brought many different scavengers, more than we would normally see. This included both black-backed and side-striped jackals, spotted hyenas and a number of vulture species: white-headed vultures, white-backed vultures and hooded vultures.
The Othawa Pride prefer the northern part of the property, however during this month we tracked them to the central parts where they were seen hunting impala.
With only four females and one sub-adult male now making up the Styx Pride, these lions are still a formidable force. The pride killed a female kudu which drew the attention of a local clan of hyenas resulting in an intense standoff between both species.
The sound of a male lion roaring at dusk is an intense and dramatic audio to hear. We watched the Matimba male lion vocalising hoping to get a response from the Othawa Pride.
Herds of nearly 40 elephants have been wandering through the property, collecting the last of the marula fruit and gardening the green landscape. Apple leaf and silver cluster leaf branches litter the roads – traces of these huge land mammals feeding along the roads.
There have been many young elephants within these large herds. Full of playful energy, we watch as they learn how to use their trunk as a tool, copying mom as she tugs at grass stems and bites off the roots.
Wild dogs can often be one of the rarer animals to find, however recently we have been lucky to view two different packs who are constantly moving in, out and around the property. Quite often keeping to the central parts of Singita.
The mysterious and shy Hukumuri young female leopard was seen north of the Sand River relaxing on a fallen knobthorn tree. This leopard isn’t seen often due to her young age and shy temperament. Her mother – the Hukumuri Female leopard was only seen once this month and we believe she’s nursing some small cubs somewhere in the Hukumuri drainage – a km or so north of the Sand River.
The Schotia female leopard has been the highlight this month, treating us to viewing her two young cubs. She is now taking them out of the den to feed on the kills she makes.
An exciting time as the Khokhovela female has been mating with the Nyeleti male leopard. This pair have been seen in action within the rocks of the Sand River and alongside the river banks directly in front of Boulders Lodge.
The Tavangumi male leopard has been seen less and less as he branches out of his mother’s territory. Gaining independence, he has some local competition with his father (Nyeleti) the local dominant male, as well as the Thamba male – a strong young male originating from the north.
Hosana male leopard looks to be expanding his territory further, as he’s been seen numerously over a very large area north of the Sand River.
One of our guides was lucky to witness a female cheetah kill an impala in front of Castleton Lodge.
We have been treated to a number of cheetah sightings over the past month with at least three different individuals identified.
The bird list for March includes 13 new bird species, bringing our yearly total to 245. Special bird species include: black-headed heron, mocking cliff chat, red-collared widowbird and buffy pipit.