Time in the bush

Kruger National Park | September 2020

As the national lockdown continues, Singita Kruger National Park hasn’t received any guests yet. At least 45% of staff from various departments are on site to look after the property. This is also a good opportunity for members of other departments to learn and practice other department’s duties, and we’ve had the amukeri team helping with housekeeping duties, guides doing maintenance and housekeeping serving food in the canteen.

As guides we have spent much time in the bush to make sure the concession is always in good condition and ready for game drives, and we have been keeping track of the animal population in our area. We arranged to do training walks during the week where we do encounter training and tracks and signs with the night porters.

On one of the Tuesday training sessions with the night porters we started our walk from N’wanetsi Big Bend towards Dave’s Crossing. Bernard was a leading the walk, and I was his back- up. We encountered a few different breeding herds of elephants as it was a warm afternoon and they were down at the river drinking. We managed to get a great view of the elephants and the night porters were so happy to view elephants on foot from such a close distance. We then moved safely to the next herd. The wind direction was in our favour, and we were hidden behind thick vegetation, so we managed to view them without them noticing us. Because there were lots of elephants in the area we decided to walk back to the vehicle and take a short drive and see what else we could find.

We drove along N’wanetsi Road and just before crossing the river, near a large jackalberry tree, Kenneth, the head night porter spotted a cheetah in the plains to the west.  Unfortunately, the cheetah was a bit shy and moved off quickly.

We carried on driving north and as we passed Warthog Pan, Solomon spotted a leopard in the fork of a tree. The leopard was extremely relaxed with our presence and we managed to get great views. We continued on our drive and went to check the open plains for any interesting things. We were really fortunate and spotted the Mountain Pride lions lying under the shade of a small thorn tree. We went offroad for a short distance, to see how many members there were. We were so surprised and happy at the same time to see six cubs ranging in size. Some of the cubs had never been seen before. We stopped and gave them some space, as it was the first time for the cubs to see a game viewer. While we were watching the Mountain Pride, we looked around with our binoculars, and spotted a herd of buffalos in the distance. We left the sighting and drove back home with big smiles, after seeing the lions with new pride members.

After a few days we were heading out to the north of the concession to check on a fire that had managed to jump from Mozambique on our eastern boundary. We had to monitor the fire day and night, to ensure that it would not spread uncontrolled into the rest of the concession. We took a drive around the burnt blocks one morning, and bumped into the Mountain Pride near Fig Tree Link. We stopped and counted an additional two members to those we counted the day before. We are so happy to see the Mountain Pride thriving with a total of fifteen members.