Most of the drainage lines had dried up, but after receiving good rains in the vicinity of Singita Faru Faru Lodge in early September, the burnt areas grasses turned green within a week, and very high densities of Thomson gazelle and zebra were recorded.
Lions: September ticked along nicely with predator sightings. The lion distribution continues to intrigue us, with the Butamtam Pride continually splitting and then disappearing for days, and even weeks on end. It adds to the mystique of the Singita Grumeti concession when a group of nine to twelve animals are not seen for ages; with no sign of vulture activity, something you would expect to see with lions killing larger plains game species. The Ridge Pride, with ten members, was seen on more than two occasions, and the split in the west is fascinating between the Sabora West Pride of eight, and the Kawanga Pride of seventeen. The location of the Singita Explore “Marula” and “Balanites” Tented Camps was incredible in September as huge herds of topi, wildebeest and zebra congregated on the Gambaranyera Plains, and we were lucky to see the two western prides on a few occasions. The guides frequently visited this area, particularly from Singita Sabora Tented Camp, as it was the highest concentration of plains wildlife on the concession. Although the grasses on most of the plains were relatively short, the lions on the concession continued to spend quality time in trees, avoiding biting flies, possibly enjoying more of a draft from the breeze, and having a nice elevated position to survey the savanna.
Leopards: The Tulia female and her two cubs dominated the leopard sightings for the month. A few of the guides had a magnificent sighting one morning when, from a distance, a black-backed jackal was howling an alarm call. Moving in and observing, initially from a distance, we watched as the leopard and her cubs fed on a Thomson gazelle carcass, while the stressed jackal and a clan of excited hyaenas mingled below a balanites tree (Balanites aegyptiaca). The clan knew that eventually they would receive a few scraps, but not an entire carcass; so when it did drop from the tree it was fantastic to watch how they went about ripping the carcass to pieces and dashing off with the spoils.
Read the full wildlife report here: Singita Grumeti Wildlife Report September 2015
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.