June was a wildebeest-filled month, with the migration making its annual migration west then turning and heading north, and with the migration being around our predators made the most of this with kills being seen every other day.
As usual with the migration June was a noisy dusty month, providing all who visited the Grumeti with some much needed excitement and entertainment as the monotonous grunts of the males seeking out females and youngsters trying to re-locate their mothers filled the days.
Sasakwa Dam was a hive of movement, as the passing herds would all go via the dam for a much needed drink as water is becoming more and more scarce as the year goes on.
By the end of the month the majority of the migration had passed through the Grumeti Reserve, leaving only the sick and wounded behind to try and fend for themselves.
Lions: Our lion prides made the most of having the migration pass through their territories, with numerous kills being seen throughout the month.
The Nyasarori pride again spent the majority of the month along the Raho drainage line, as the passing wildebeest would have to seek out water. This made life relatively easy for the pride as all they would have to do is sit and wait at the several diminishing waterholes, and ambush the thirsty wildebeest as they came in to drink.
With the abundance of wildebeest the prides are thriving, all the youngsters are growing up quickly and already showing signs of attempting to hunt, but are still some ways away from this as the oldest set of cubs are only a year old.
The Butamtam pride took up residence in and around Sasakwa dam, as each day between 10 000 – 100 000 animals would drink there, making it very easy for the pride to hunt.
The two females with six cubs are still holed up along Chooi drainage as it provides great shelter for the cubs when the mothers go off and hunt.
Guests again were lucky enough to see a mating pair. A mating pair will move off from the pride for 3 – 5 days and copulate every 10 – 20 minutes. During this time they will not kill or feed and place all their energy into mating.
Leopards: Guests and guides came across a truly remarkable sighting one morning. When searching for the Mkombre female and her single cub, they found her on an ostrich kill. Yes, that’s right, an ostrich!
The above pictures show her lying off to the side of the ostrich and you can clearly see she has been feeding on it. There was also a large amount of feathers from where she had been plucking them to get to the meat. We are unsure if she actually killed the ostrich or just happened to come across it dead but none the less an incredible sighting to witness.
None of the guides or myself have ever seen or heard of a leopard catching or feeding on an ostrich which left us all with more questions than answers!
The Sabora female with her two cubs has been seen on two occasions this month. We think she is moving further west out of our concession into the national park, which is a shame.
Two of our dominant males have been seen during the month, one in the area of Arab Camp hill and Sasakwa dam, the other along the Grumeti river and around Faru Faru camp. They hold relatively large areas and each will have several females that share their territories with them.
Cheetah: What a great month for cheetah sightings with a total of 59, the most in the last two years. The mother with the four tiny cubs has been seen on one occasion but this was without her cubs, the cubs are still too small to view, so we trying to give them the best chance of surviving. She is still in the area around Koroya hill so we think she is hiding the cubs there. Once the cubs reach 6-8 months and have made it through the crucial early parts of their life we will then actively search them out and view them.
We have had several males pass through the concession and, on one occasion, Anicet and his guests were lucky enough to witness a male catch and kill a reedbuck. He fed on this carcass for two days before moving off back into the national park.
The mother and single cub are doing very well, spending the majority of their time out towards Sabora camp and the Nyasarori ranger’s post. The cub is just over a year old so when mom catches a gazelle or young impala she does not kill it but rather allows the cub to chase and catch then suffocate it by biting along the wind pipe, all valuable lessons the cub will need if she is to make it to adulthood.
Elephant: Guests saw elephant herds every other day, herds of 20 – 30 individuals. Most of these sightings took place along the Grumeti river, with a few herds seen close to Sasakwa airstrip.
Wild dogs: Great news on the wild dogs, we can confirm there are 10 new pups in the pack! They all seem to be the same age so we believe they belong to the alpha female.
There is another female that has not been seen for a while and we think she has given birth to an unknown amount of pups in the den, so we are waiting for them to make their first ventures out so we can confirm exactly how many there are. Currently, with the 10 new pups, it takes the pack numbers to 23.
The pack now has to kill every day in order to feed all the new mouths. Quite something to see when they return and regurgitate food to the pups which make very light work of the meals presented to them.
Read the full wildlife report here: Singita Grumeti Wildlife Report June 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.