Living ‘bush’ allows us to watch the ebb and flow of nature taking her natural course with the circle of life. It is such a privilege to experience the unique feeling that we are a small part of an animal’s life. Over the last seven years working at Singita, I have watched leopards come and go in various Singita regions, true to the peak and trough of leopard populations in the wild.
There is always one particular population of leopards that is extremely close to my heart, as I literally live with them. Often, I have woken up in the early hours of the morning listening a rasping roar, wondering who it is and in which direction they are going. Leopards have added significantly to my guiding experience, and I now understand them better than ever before, and this is all because of the frequent interactions that we are fortunate to have with the well-habituated leopards in the area.
As we watch them in wild, due to being able to see them frequently, we see how young male leopards soon become independent and instinctively move away from their natal territory that are maintained by their mothers. Conversely we see mother leopards often relinquish territory to their female offspring. We watch the males fend for themselves and occasionally we are lucky enough to have them establish a territory in close vicinity to Singita.
A leopard that is considered a highlight by the guides at Singita, is the Ravenscourt male. Unfortunately, he spends a greater part of his time west of Singita, but occasionally crosses the boundary and we encounter an old friend that holds a legendary story of survival.
The image on the right was one of the last recorded sightings of the N’weti young male just before he decided to move south in the Sabi Sand Reserve. The guides keep a record of identities with each of the leopards we encounter. We work closely with Panthera to attain the data required in order to create an historical analysis of movement of the leopards throughout a year, but more importantly through several years. This data adds great value to facilitate a conservation purpose and management strategies.
Autumn daylight tends to be on the short side, more so because our body clock is still on the long summer afternoons that just refuse to end. This gives plenty of time to decide where one would like to stop for a break. Autumn sunsets seem to catch you out unexpectedly and most days you scramble to find a nice spot for an enjoyable golden sunset in the African bush. Or you get reminded by cameras clicking whilst you’re driving, only to find that the day is almost done and cameras are working hard to capture a glimpse of the fast diving sun.
Guests will often ask about my favourite animal and without hesitation I can say that it is definitely a leopard. With the amount of quality leopard sightings at Singita Sabi Sand, this was definitely one of the drawing cards to work here. In my opinion Singita Sabi Sand is one of the best places to see these normally elusive and secretive cats on a regular basis.
The Cuculidae family consists of thirteen cuckoo species that can be observed in the southern African region. These birds are renowned for not taking any parental care rearing their chicks, after laying their eggs in a host specie’s nest! Evolutionary, this is exceptionally cunning behaviour that is known but not easily observed in the natural environment!
We have been fortunate enough this year to receive sufficient rainfall over the wet season and, due to this, the bush has become a place of new life with the most incredible vibrant colours at every angle. The open clearings have become lush grasslands and the thickets have been blanketed by the greenery. One aspect that has really stood out over the last few weeks has been the influx of elephants into the area. We have been extremely privileged to see the large herds returning here.