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
A call crackled over the radio that the tracking team had found the River Pride on a buffalo kill near Hwata Pan. “Bonanza!” I thought. Not only because this would provide good photo opportunities of lions feeding in relatively open area, and the clean-up crew of hyenas and vultures that would make no bones of the carcass over the next few days, but mainly because Hwata Pan is where we have our sunken photo hide, and the lions would have to go and drink there at some stage during the feeding frenzy. I’ve waited for 10 years to get a shot of a predator drinking at eye level to me from this hide – could this be the chance at last?
The Malilangwe Dam is an amazing fishing destination. The most sought out species are tigerfish and tilapia.The best times of the year for fishing is when the water is warm – a good reminder is good fishing months all have an “r” in them from September to April. That said, we have still been enjoying some great fishing now in May – all the photos in this story are from early May.
It is most satisfying watching elephants enjoying a mud bath! It starts off with the approaching walk, an elephant has when making his/her way to the water source. To describe it, I would have to say it’s an excited, exaggerated, fast walk while bobbing their heads up and down and to the sides at the same time. We call it ‘the water walk’. Even for the novice person you can pick up the excitement of the elephant looking forward to a thirst-quenching cool drink, usually followed by refreshing mud bath.
I was camped out again, on my favourite dam wall that offers a good vantage point and a relatively safe refuge from the vehicle. I was trying to tell myself that really it was an afternoon of birding – just sitting quietly with binos and a bird book and trying to ID whatever came along, and enjoying the isolation and peace. But really what I wanted and hoped and wished for was a solitary black rhino.