October must be my favourite month of the year! The reason being that the reserve transforms dramatically over the month and this is due to the start of our “short rains”. Their arrival was well appreciated as the bush was becoming very dry, and now the plains in front of Sasakwa and Sabora are flushed with new growth making the landscape beautiful and green. These areas are teeming with our resident herbivores, large herds of eland, topi and zebra.
Here’s a snapshot of the big game news for the month:
Lions: It’s been yet another great month for lion sightings across the reserve, with a total of 166 sightings seen.
The majority of these sightings were made up by the Butamtam, Nyasarori and West prides, each of these prides having over 30 lions each.
The Butamtam pride continues to provide guests with some incredible sightings – on a few occasions this month over 23 members were seen together. We are starting to see a definite shift in the pride makeup, with five females and their nine cubs spending a great deal of their time between Karoya Hill and Chooi Drainage, whilst the seven females and their 12 cubs have taken up residence on Sasakwa Plains and Malingai Drainage. The five males move between these two sets of females as well as the Mkuyu pride.
The Nyasarori pride has welcomed two news cubs of approximately six weeks of age.
The West pride continues to spent the time along the Raho Drainage downstream of our Singita Explore camps. Guests staying at these camps are treated to the roars of the pride each night.
Cheetah: Our cheetah sightings just seem to be getting each month, with a total of 59 seen in October.
The majority of the sightings have been of two males which have taken up temporary residence along Sasakwa and Sabora plains, and the female and her 12-month-old cub. They are seen on the Nyasarori Plains and close to Sabora.
We have also seen several solitary males and females passing through the reserve, spending two or three days here before they move off into the national park.
Guests have been lucky enough to witness several hunts this month – the two males pictured here took down an adult impala ram. They fed on the impala for two days before moving onto a different area of the reserve.
Leopards: Once again the majority of our leopard sightings have been made up of the Mkombre female and her cub. She has moved off the Mkombre drainage line and is spending a great deal of her time in and around the rhino sanctuary. There are large herds of impala and zebra in this area making hunting relatively easier for her.
Tulia and her two cubs have been seen on a few occasions this month, they have moved further west, spending their time in and around our Singita Explore camps north of the Raho Drainage.
With the topi recently dropping their calves this has been her preferred diet this month. The cubs are growing up quickly due to the abundance of food available in the area.
There has still been no sign of the Koroya Hill female, she must have given birth and with the cubs still being very small she is keeping them well hidden from the numerous predators that are found within her territory.
Wild dogs: The dogs were seen on numerous occasions this month. One sighting in particular was quite spectacular, the entire pack was seen out on Nyati Plains after making three successful wildebeest kills. With full bellies and the day becoming hot they found sanctuary from the heat in a small waterhole. The pack then proceeded to play and swim for half an hour giving the guests an incredible sighting.
Elephants: The elephant sightings have been spectacular this month, with herds as large as 300 being seen on a regular basis! The reason being is that with the abundance of water available across the concession the herds are able to join up as the need to find water is very easy.
Read the full wildlife here: Singita Grumeti Wildlife Report October 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.