May started off relatively slowly with regards to the number of general game seen across the reserve, but certainly ended off with a bang! As always during this time of the year the big question is, “When will the migration arrive?” This year the date was 21 May. At first it was a steady trickle and by the 23rd the majority of the migration had filled the plains across our concession.
Currently they are heading in a westerly direction towards the south-west of the Serengeti National Park and we expect them to be within our concession for the next couple of months as they slowly start their way towards the Masai Mara plains.
With the migration being here, it’s a time of plenty for our resident predators! Many of our guests have been lucky enough to see several kills as the predators cash in on the numerous wildebeest moving through the territory.
Here’s an overview of the wildlife:
Lion: A time of plenty for our lion prides across the concession as they make the most of having an endless supply of wildebeest passing through their territory. A total of 122 sightings of lions during the month.
The Butamtam Pride has got seven new members, with two females introducing us to their new cubs during the month – one female with four cubs and the other with three, which takes the prides numbers to 21. There are six females and 15 cubs aging between 1 month – 12 months, which make for some fantastic viewing. With there being so many mouths to feed the females are forced to make kills several times a week.
Over the last week of the month one of the Butamtam males was seen mating with the youngest adult female in the pride, so again we can expect the pride numbers to grow.
The Nyasarori pride is strong and stable, with no new members as all the adult females currently have cubs. They are spending the majority of their time along the Raho drainage line as all the herbivores in the area congregate in the area for water.
The west pride, who’s territory is along the Raho drainage west of our Explore camps are becoming a regular sighting for our guests in that area. The pride consists of two males, six females and nine cubs. They were seen recently with six wildebeest carcasses in a single day, so they are making the most of having the migration in their territory.
The Mkombre female and her single cub have been seen on a regular basis – she has moved off the Mkombre drainage line and is spending the majority of her time around Arab Camp hill.
The resident female that is seen in and around Sabora was recently seen with two cubs of about two months old, but with there being a high density of lions in the area we are not seeing her as regularly as we would like. She is spending the majority of her time in thick wooded areas west of the camp.
Several of our resident males have been seen throughout the month and again all of them have been seen with wildebeest calf kills.
Cheetahs: There were a total of 32 cheetah sightings this month. We recently found a female with four tiny two week old cubs, so we have zoned off the area they are in as the cubs are still so young and very susceptible to other predators killing them. We will give them a month or so before we actively start to view them, this way giving them the best possible chance of surviving these early stages of their lives.
The success rate of a mother raising her cubs to adulthood is around 30% so if stats are anything to go by only one of these cubs will make it. Let’s hope that these cubs defy the stats and they all make it!
As with last month the majority of the sightings occurred on the short grass plains of Sabora and Nyati plains, with several males seen traversing the concession.
Elephants: With the migration coming into the area it does seem to push the elephants out, but we have been seeing several breeding herds in and around Sasakwa Hill as well as along the Grumeti River.
The majority of our resident elephants have moved off towards the national park to try and get away from the noisy wildebeest!
Wild dogs: The alpha female was looking rather pregnant towards the middle on the month and then, on a few occasions when we saw the dogs after that, she was not seen with the pack. We are holding thumbs that she has given birth to some pups at an undiscovered den-site.
Read the full wildlife report here: Singita Grumeti Wildlife Report May 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.