Winter on its way out

Sabi Sand | July 2016

The month of July has already come to an end, and with that, days are lengthening. The fact that some rain fell towards the end of the month has been really welcome. Although it was not a large volume of rain that fell (only around 15 mm on most parts), it has had a most welcome impact, the most significant being a noticeable greening-up of the short, sparse grass cover on the sodic areas in particular. Selective grazers, notably impala, wildebeest and warthogs have already converged in good numbers on these sodic areas.

Another great, albeit very temporary, benefit of this winter rain that fell, is that it has partly filled a number of small pans and mud wallows with water. This obviously means that there are far more places where animals can drink, without having to go to the Sand River or any of the more established waterholes. As this fresh drinking water undergoes a metamorphosis towards a thick, dark sloppy mud, it becomes more and more desirable to the major wallowing animals, namely warthogs, buffalo, elephants and rhino.

Fruits of the jackalberry trees (Diospyros mespiliformes) are now abundant, though not yet quite ripe on most of the trees. Monkeys and baboons don’t always wait for them to ripen, however! Other signs of winter being on its way out are the increasing number of frog and toad calls being heard in the evenings, as well as birds such as fiery-necked nightjars being more and more vocal in the evenings. The impala ewes are starting to show visible signs of bulging, as they enter their third month of pregnancy. Early mornings are still sometimes really crisp and cold, but by mid-morning the extra layers of clothing are being peeled off, and most guests are discarding their hot-water bottles by the time they stop for their morning coffee break. I still think (and hope) that we are going to experience at least one more cold snap before we can really welcome the onset of spring, but there is no doubt at all that winter is on its way out. Yet another exciting change of season!