Shimmering golden light awakens the wilderness as the thick winter blankets of mist begin to subside. Cold, misty winter mornings are here and with a deep, fresh breath of the crisp cold air, we begin our day. Lions vocalise across the land bringing a sense of adventure and determination in which to start the journey of their discovery. We twist and turn along the river loops, listening and observing as great herds of elephant make their way toward the water for their first drink of the day. In the beauty of our current silence, there is so much to be heard and if we continue to listen to the calls of nature, we will hear the loudness of its voice and understand that in all stillness there is life.
Here’s a Sightings Snapshot for May:
There have been some particularly interesting happenings with the lion dynamics over the past month which has been quite exciting to observe.
Firstly, we found the Othawa male lion mating with an unknown female who we later found out was one of the Nsevu/Kambula pride females. Although this is an exciting prospect, we have come to learn that this female in particular has attempted to mate a number of times but has proved to be unsuccessful in producing any litters.
The second exciting observation we made this month was the presence of the young Nkuhuma male lion alongside the Styx pride. With the Styx pride already consisting of one sub-adult young male also fathered by the Birmingham male lions, this integration could hopefully bring some success to the younger males thus being able to become a potential coalition in the years to come.
The Nkuhuma pride have made a few more appearances on the property over the past month as it seems the Avoca male lions are beginning to move further into southern parts of their territory.
The diminishing rains and drying up of smaller waterholes have meant that elephants and other general game are more focused around the constant water sources. We see large herds of elephants moving along the Sand River making the most of the soft, moisture filled vegetation and being able to drink the cool, fresh flowing water in the heat of the day.
At least two different packs have been moving in and out of the property this month. With the Sands Pack down to five members after having lost both alpha dogs as well as several others to competing predators they seem to be strong as ever and we are looking forward to observing how the pack works out its hierarchy for the denning season.
The pack of 13 who have denned on Singita now for the past four years have been moving around a lot as they usually seem to do at this time of the year before finding the right place to call home for a few months as the pups arrive. All fingers crossed they make their way back home to Singita again this year for denning time.
Schotia female and her cubs continue to thrive and we have watched as these two young boys start to gain their own characteristics. Having already had a few encounters with other predators, primarily hyena, they are building confidence and are displaying true signs of instinct, making sure to keep safe especially when mom isn’t around.
We have had an increased number of sightings of the Hosana male leopard who has once again been seen mating with the Nkangala female. His territory also seems to be broadening across the northern parts of the property with some more recent sightings being slightly further to the west.
For the first time this month we finally got a glimpse of the female cheetah and her cubs. She has unfortunately lost one but after being in the unknown, wondering if they were all still alive, it is beyond incredible that this female has managed to raise two cubs in this harsh, predator filled environment. We are really looking forward to seeing these young cheetahs grow into adulthood.
There have also been a few sightings of two different male cheetahs, one presumably the brother of the mother cheetah. They both seem to be spending quite some time moving across the southern parts of the property.
The bird list for May includes 6 new bird species, bringing our yearly total to 262. Special bird species include: Secretary bird, African Golden Weaver, Orange-breasted Waxbill and Cut-throat Finch.