January at Singita Grumeti was a month marked by change: The holiday festivities quietened down, the rains stopped, the sun came out and the short grass grew to extremely long lengths within a matter of days. But, the one thing that continued to be consistent was excellent game viewing. 28 Cheetah sightings in September, 25 in October, 35 in November and 44 in December. Our cheetah sightings have been climbing recently and January was the best so far – 60 different cheetah sightings, and most of them consisting of more than one animal! The usual suspects on the property have become more and more comfortable with the vehicles and are less afraid to be seen. Then there are multiple newcomers who continue to sporadically show up. They include two additional brothers and a few single females. All of the newcomers are still quite skittish. We can’t wait to see what the future has in store for our cheetah population at Singita Grumeti. Currently we are averaging two sightings a day and many guests have been lucky enough to witness a gazelle being hunted. We hope all of these world speed record holders are here to stay! Over the past seven months we’ve had regular sightings of the female cheetah and her single cub, in the sequence of photographs that follow. Making it to adulthood is difficult in the bush, especially for cats, so it has been awesome to watch this cub continue to grow and survive.
This month I witnessed how predators are so incredibly good at assessing a situation, weighing up the potential benefits of a hunt and analysing the potential costs or risks at the same time.
We set off under the cover of darkness in the early morning and on to one of my favourite drainage lines to look for lions. As it began to get light I caught site of the Butamtam lionesses and their youngsters. We gently approached the lionesses and then switched the engine off and watched. One of the more mature lionesses, the daughter of ‘Mama Scar’, was busy nursing her five youngsters. This is interesting as lionesses only possess four teats.
I was out one morning looking for elephants as my guests were still hoping for further interaction with these special creatures. What we came across that day, we could not have prepared for – it was simply magical.