With Green Season in full swing, Singita Grumeti was the place to be during April. Both the Sasakwa and Sabora plains were a sea of grass. Our resident game, topi, gazelle, giraffe, eland and zebra are making the most of having the concessions to themselves before the migration returns. The majority of them can be found on the grass plains of Sabora, the reason being safety in numbers and also to eat the nutrient-rich grass that they need to be able to nurse their young. With their prey moving west the predators have been forced to do the same. There have been nine various kills witnessed this month – cheetah and wild dogs made up for majority of them. The wild dogs in particular have enjoyed great success in and around Sabora with five hunts being seen in the area.
Lions: All our lion prides are in a stable and healthy way at the moment, with us seeing four different prides on a regular basis. The Nyasarori pride again made up most of the sightings this month. We often see between 15 and 22 members together, including the five males. The Butamtam pride, who spend the majority of their time between the rhino sanctuary and Sasakwa dam, have had three new arrivals. So that takes their cub total to 11, with their being so many mouths to feed it keeps the mothers on their toes always looking out for an easy meal. With most of the herbivores being seen on the short grass plains it has forced the Butamtam females to venture further south in the search for food. We recently witnessed one of the Butamtam males on honeymoon with a Butamtam female, so, all going well, we can expect some new fur balls in about three months. For the month, the guests and guides have seen 64 different lion sightings. Gerald and his guests came across 18 pride members on an adult female giraffe kill. All the signs point towards the lions attacking and killing this female as she was seen the day before looking healthy and also with her one-month old calf. While guests where watching the lions feeding on the giraffe, the baby giraffe appeared out of the bush looking for its mother, which was a bad move, as four of the lions strolled up to it and proceeded to catch and kill the youngster and then started to feed on it. Nature is an unforgiving beast!
Leopards: The majority of leopard sightings were of the Mbogo Drainage female and her two sub-adult cubs. We are starting to see the young male on his own more and more, which means he is starting to explore his solitary existence. More than likely he will be forced out of the area by the dominate male, so let’s hope he moves further into our concession so we are able to watch him grow and form his own territory. The female that is seen around Mkuyu Hill and the balloon launch site is starting to be seen more frequently each week. She is calm and relaxed and the area she frequents makes it relatively easy to search for her. The female along Mkombre Drainage with her single cub has been seen on several occasions. The cub is growing up quickly and always provides some great game viewing when located.
Cheetahs: We’ve enjoyed another bumper month for cheetah, with a total of 42 sightings seen. Most of the cheetah sightings were seen in the area dominated by the short grass plains. These plains are full of Thomson’s, Robert’s and Grant’s gazelles which make up a large portion of the cheetahs’ diet. Impala is also a standard on their menu. The female with the single cub seems to be making a regular appearance in our area. She moves between Sabora and Sasakwa Lodges looking for prey out on the plains. Again several single males and females have been seen moving across the concession, and on two occasions pairs were seen mating. So, let’s hold thumbs and hope in the near future that some cute new cubs will be seen.
Elephants: The elephant sightings have been amazing this month, with herds of up to 200 elephants being seen together. The big breeding herd tends to spend majority of its time along the Grumeti River, but has been seen out on the plains on a few occasions, which is quite something to witness.
Wild dogs: The dogs have made regular appearances this month, with them being seen in and around Sabora, Nyasarori Rangers Post and the Nyasarori drainage line. They have been thriving in that area due to the high concentration of herbivores.
I was lucky enough to witness them hunting and catching a Thompson’s gazelle, the hunt took place over about 15km, they started off by hunting a topi, but it was able to avoid them and that’s when they locked onto a female gazelle. The pack takes turns chasing after the gazelle, so as soon as one dog becomes tired another is ready to take over the chase. Eventually the alpha male managed to catch the gazelle and within minutes the pack had consumed it and a blood stain in the grass was the only proof that something had been eaten.
Read the full wildlife report here: Singita Grumeti Wildlife Report April 2017
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.