Wildlife overview for December
Lions: We suspect the Nduna pride have new cubs hidden away as we’ve only seen two of the pride lionesses, one big male and three cubs of around eight months old. Head Guide, Brad Fouché, managed to view five different, adult male lions in less than a 24 hour period with his guests. We’ve seen a single lioness near a popular pan and we suspect she’s a new arrival from Gonarezhou National Park as she is young and very afraid of people and vehicles.
Rhinos: Rhino sightings are very good, but unfortunately there has been some territorial fighting by black rhino bulls. Our wildlife team intervened on an occasion when a small bull was found in poor condition from being ‘bullied’, and that individual is recovering well.
Wild Dogs: Wild dog dynamics are as interesting and patchy as their coats! Eleven pups were born, making the pack total 27. They then went down to 25; then to 23. Now it seems the pack has split and we are seeing 15 dogs together at the moment. There have been times when the two packs have been on the reserve at the same time.
Cheetahs: These fast felines are doing well. We mostly see the ‘short-tale female’ with her grown daughter, and the two brothers as well. The pregnant cheetah photographed at the end of this journal has yet to reveal her cubs to us…
Elephants: Our Nduna area has provided amazing sightings of bulls as well as breeding herds; on a number of occasions we’ve seen about 130 elephant drinking and swimming at sunset at Nduna Dam.
Buffalo & Plains Game: The buffalo herds have split somewhat to cope with feeding pressure. The impala have started lambing and there are the most delightful little long-legged lambs in their nursery groups.
Birds: The crowned eagle pair is still at their nest site, and a lanner falcon is nesting at Nduna and spending a lot of
time chasing the fish eagles around! Special sightings include sacred ibis and glossy ibis spotted from the boat, while on one of our water safaris. This is a first in this region for many of us guides. A scwacco heron has been seen in the central areas and painted snipe have been heard calling. A staff member was lucky enough to see a narina trogon at his house – to put this into perspective it’s like the aardvark of the bird world!
Read the full report here: Singita Pamushana Wildlife Report Dec 2015
I hope you’ve already eaten.
While watching a pack of African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus) sleeping near a waterhole in the drizzling rain I noticed a few hooded vultures (Necrosyrtes monachus) skulking about on the ground. Every now and again they would peck at something and eat it, and I wondered what it was since vultures are scavengers, feeding mostly from carcasses of dead animals. You often see them cleaning up the scraps of meat from a kill made by wild dogs. The dogs hadn’t made a kill nearby, and so it was that my binos and big lens revealed they were eating the wild dogs’ faeces!
It is not uncommon to sit in Hwata blind and see dagga boys come to the pan and drink. Dagga boys are the old grumpy buffalo bulls who have left the ‘buzz’ of the breeding herd and often join bachelor herds of other old bulls. The name dagga boys refers to their habit of wallowing in the mud (dagga), mostly as a means of thermoregulation. These old guys are very confident in their grumpiness and often end up walking into the middle of the pan on a hot dry day.
It ended up being a remarkably fortuitous morning as we had started our drive early to look for black rhinos. I drove to all areas with the habitats that black rhinos prefer – areas with shrubs and trees and dense thickets, but with no joy.
Early one morning Jenny and I were out scouting in different vehicles to help the guests’ game drives locate key specific animals, like lions, leopards, cheetahs, black rhinos and wild dogs. At about 7 am we received a sighting update from Bravo 2, which is the main southern boundary gate that links us to Gonarezhou National Park, informing us that they had seen wild dogs frantically location calling and running backwards and forwards along the boundary area.