A good pair of gloves is essential for the wintery morning game drives we’ve been on this month – and it is essential to keep your hands warm and functioning for all the photographic opportunities that present themselves during these blue and gold dawns.
Here’s our wildlife overview for July:
Lions: There was an incredible afternoon where we watched lions hunting an eland. We didn’t witness the actual kill but did find the lions eating the eland some time later.
Leopards: We’ve had a couple of leopard sightings such as on a short late afternoon drive where we saw a hyena, then a leopard and then two white rhinos.
Cheetah: This sighting began being about wild dogs as we sped off in our bush ferrari, at the report of wild dogs on the central plains. We arrived in the nick of time as we found the wild dog pack on a kill. We enjoyed unbelievable viewing of the dogs ripping apart and eating a whole impala in minutes. While watching them two black-backed jackals crept closer to the action. Then we heard a call of a cheetah behind us! Sure enough we saw it, and followed slowly after it as it passed by two white rhinos. The rhinos caused the cat to run, and it did so right in front of the vehicle, in perfect golden early morning sunshine!
Rhinos: We’ve had superb sightings of white rhinos, and a couple of black rhino encounters too. On one occasion we sat for about an hour at the main pan during which time 12 white rhinos came to drink at different intervals.
Elephants: There has been great elephant interaction – one drive ended up being referred to as “Elephant Bull Safari” with a total of twenty bulls being counted during the drive, and most of them strolling up close to the vehicle to inspect the guests.
Wild dogs: It is such a privilege to have a pack of African wild dogs on the reserve at the moment. There’ve been the standard
skirmishes between hyenas and the wild dogs, with hyenas trying to steal the dogs’ kills. On one afternoon a pack of twelve wild dogs killed three impalas east of the river, and three hyenas managed to steal one of the carcasses for themselves.
Hyenas: Most of the hyena sightings have been in tandem with the wild dogs, but one evening, when all the guides and guests were enjoying a bush dinner, nine hyenas patrolled the outskirts and seemed keen to investigate what the chefs had prepared!
Plains game: Apart from the common plains game such as giraffe and zebras seen on every drive we’ve also seen hartebeest and sable antelope.
Buffalo: There are huge herds of Cape buffalo to be seen at present. One of the most incredible sights was when we were at the main pan and watched a stream of buffalo pour in for water. What made this sighting phenomenal was the fact that the number of buffalo amounted to around 1 000 strong. Five separate herds arrived at the same time, all in single file allowing for simple counting.
Read the full wildlife report here: Singita Pamushana Wildlife Report July 2017
It’s so satisfying to feed off the excitement of guests seeing some of Africa’s wildlife for the first time, and this was no exception as we trundled down a track and they spotted a rhino. It turned out to be a black rhino which are known to be far more volatile in nature than white rhinos. This one, however, didn’t charge us or race off into the bushes a second later, instead it slowly circled around assessing us.
We left the lodge at the crack of dawn and thought we were the early birds, but other birds were already out there scouting about. As is the norm I announced my call sign over the radio, and got a response from Jenny telling me about the presence of a breeding herd of elephants on the Pamushana Access Road. On hearing this
The cheetah brothers came from of a litter of five cubs – three males and two females. Their mother was an amazing hunter and she managed to raise all five. When the time came the mother cheetah left her young ones to fend for themselves, and she went on to produce another litter. The cubs did very well for some months and the two females left the area as is normal to go and start their new life in new lands. The three males were fine for almost two and half years, but one morning we discovered that one of the boys was missing in action. There was no need to ask ourselves what happened because you could see the soulful bereft looks on the faces of the remaining two – they kept calling and calling for their brother until they realised there would never be an answer; their brother had died and they would never be a coalition of three again.
I decided to leave the lodge before sunrise at 5.15am. My plan was to drive directly south to Hwata Pan, to not pass Begin and not collect $200. Hwata Pan is an active waterhole due to it having permanent water in an otherwise dry area, and I wanted to see if I could find a nocturnal drinker. I was determined not to be distracted by anything else, and made good progress on the chilly drive as I glugged steamy sips of Zimbabwean coffee from my flask.