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Singita Kruger National Park Lebombo & Sweni Lodges South Africa Wildlife Journal For the month of January, Two Thousand and Fourteen Temperature Rainfall Recorded Average Minimum: 19.7°C (67.46°F) For the period: 116.5 mm Average Maximum: 31°C (87.8°F) For the year to date: 116.5 mm Minimum recorded: 12°C (53.6°F) Maximum recorded: 35°C (95°F) To whom do those spots belong? With a slight chill still present and our minds flooded with the previous day’s sightings we are welcomed by the dawn chorus. It is early morning and the sunrays haven’t found their way to the foothills of the Lebombo Mountains. We are driving north in search of buffalo. We had been chatting away, still discussing that beautiful leopardess we saw, the Sticky Thorn female, and her whereabouts of the past week, when my attention is suddenly drawn elsewhere. The now well-known sign of his right hand that points backward to me in a slow rise makes me stop the vehicle very quickly. My tracker has spotted tracks and wants to have a closer look. Upon investigation we found a very large drag mark crossing the road. The possibility of it being an African rock python is quickly eliminated by the hair of an impala stuck on a branch and the leopardess track right next to it. Territorially it has to be the Mahlangulene female. She's killed an impala and dragged it to a safer place. We start to follow the drag mark in the vehicle, everyone on the edge of their seats. Because of the length of the grass following the trail proves difficult. Sitting in a patch of short grass there she is, licking her right paw as she grooms herself after dragging her well-earned meal to safety. We continue to try and find the impala carcass but she's chosen such a good spot that not even our trained eyes can locate it.
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Wildlife Journal - Singita

Jun 08, 2022

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Singita Kruger National Park Lebombo & Sweni Lodges South Africa
Wildlife Journal For the month of January, Two Thousand and Fourteen
Temperature Rainfall Recorded Average Minimum: 19.7°C (67.46°F) For the period: 116.5 mm Average Maximum: 31°C (87.8°F) For the year to date: 116.5 mm Minimum recorded: 12°C (53.6°F) Maximum recorded: 35°C (95°F)
To whom do those spots belong? With a slight chill still present and our minds flooded with the previous day’s sightings we are welcomed by the dawn chorus. It is early morning and the sunrays haven’t found their way to the foothills of the Lebombo Mountains. We are driving north in search of buffalo. We had been chatting away, still discussing that beautiful leopardess we saw, the Sticky Thorn female, and her whereabouts of the past week, when my attention is suddenly drawn elsewhere. The now well-known sign of his right hand that points backward to me in a slow rise makes me stop the vehicle very quickly. My tracker has spotted tracks and wants to have a closer look. Upon investigation we found a very large drag mark crossing the road. The possibility of it being an African rock python is quickly eliminated by the hair of an impala stuck on a branch and the leopardess track right next to it. Territorially it has to be the Mahlangulene female. She's killed an impala and dragged it to a safer place. We start to follow the drag mark in the vehicle, everyone on the edge of their seats. Because of the length of the grass following the trail proves difficult. Sitting in a patch of short grass there she is, licking her right paw as she grooms herself after dragging her well-earned meal to safety. We continue to try and find the impala carcass but she's chosen such a good spot that not even our trained eyes can locate it.
It was in fact the Mahlangulene female leopard. She provided us with great viewing as she spent three days there and ended up draping the impala over a branch in the drainage line. Over and above this we had a very good leopard month, with sightings of the Sticky Thorn female which happened at regular intervals. The now called Tingala female (Xhikhova female cub) also graced us with her presence when we watched five male lions passing through an area, and she made herself comfortable high up in a leadwood tree. There is also an unknown male along the N’wanetsi River, and we're looking forward to making his acquaintance.
Smallest of the small – a true Lebombo special The Sharpe’s grysbok (Raphicerus sharpei) is truly the smallest of the small. Just imagine your survival skills in this environment when you stand no taller then half a metre (one and a half feet) from the ground and weigh less then seven and a half kilograms (14 pounds)! It is not just the big cats you would have to fear but also the small ones, certain birds and snakes. Yet some how this little antelope has found a way to thrive in rocky terrain, which is commonly found on our concession. Exceedingly shy and secretive is what makes it possible for them to survive out here, but because of this very little is known about the habits of this species. Being predominantly nocturnal and living in a concealed habitat makes them very difficult to observe. What is known is that they are mostly solitary or found in pairs. One remarkable fact about this diminutive species is that they are completely water independent, meaning they can go their entire lives without ever having to physically drink water. All the moisture they need is acquired through the food they eat as browsers.
White stork (Ciconia ciconia) – a summer visitor These large birds with long legs and heavy pointed bills don't have any sexual colour dimorphism. They have broad wings that are adapted for soaring, and thermals are often used to cover large distances efficiently and when scouting for food. The white stork population in the south west of South Africa are breeding intra-African migrants. This population is supplemented by a non-breeding Palaearctic population in summer. The non-breeding visitors breed in Europe, north west Africa and south west Asia. When they migrate between Europe and Africa, they avoid crossing over the Mediterranean Sea and detour east and west because the air thermals they depend on to migrate do not form over the Mediterranean Sea.
Lion update Lions have always had an association with royalty and leadership. Their power is reflected in their impressive size and the fact that their lifestyles allow them to sleep a lot – up to 18 hours a day. With that in mind it usually takes a lot of patience and persistence to see them doing anything but sleep and luckily for us this last month we managed to see them on a few different occasions, during that small window of opportunity when they weren’t dreaming. Here are a few updates on some of the known individuals and prides we see on the concession: Mountain pride This is our original pride that has been resident since the lodge was built over 12 years ago, and they live in the northern part of our concession. The pride dynamics have changed in the last while since the three new northern males have taken this area from the previous two dominant males. This pride has been seen regularly around the depression area with six cubs. Due to the amount of general game on the concession, such as wildebeest, zebra, waterbuck, giraffe and various other antelope species, this pride has been extremely successful in the
past by raising cubs to adulthood. Most exciting is that even though we already have six new cubs in the pride we expect more of the lionesses either to be pregnant or have already given birth. Shishangaan pride This is a pride that occupied our central areas to the southern end of the concession, and, when together, are the largest of the big prides in the area. They have been drifting in and out of the concession for some time following the arrival of the new southern males, who have decided to make most of the concession their own, and who can argue with them being five young arrogant males. Unfortunately with a takeover imminent this also means the possible loss of life to any cubs not older than 18 months. However horrible and vicious this may seem it will, over time, help with the genetic variation in this area. This pride has been fragmented for a long time and is now slowly coming back together again as they tolerate the new males as their own, and we all wait with baited breath for the dry season to see if this ‘mega pride’ reunites.
Creepy crawlies – what comes out of the woodwork in summer?
Dung beetles Dung beetles live in many habitats, including desert, farmland, forest and grasslands. They do not fare well in extremely cold or dry weather and can be found on all the continents with the exception of Antarctica. Dung beetles have always been seen as more than just another insect - in ancient Egypt they where worshipped as scarabs which are of sacred status and vital importance. The scarab was linked to Khepri “he who has come into being”, or otherwise known as the god of the rising sun. The ancient Egyptians believed that the dung beetle was only male in gender, and reproduced by depositing semen into a dung ball. The supposed
self-creation of the beetle resembles that of Khepri, who creates himself out of nothing. Moreover, the dung ball rolled by a dung beetle and being buried resembles the sun going into the ground, out of which it reproduces into a new day and beginning. What I always find it fascinating that everything in this environment has a role to fill in the larger scheme of things - by taking one piece out of the puzzle it is incomplete and thus does not work to its full potential. That is what I love about what we do here - it is not just understanding the theory, but also seeing it being put into practice! Dung beetles most importantly play a remarkable role in the agriculture of the land. By burying and consuming the dung, they improve the nutrient recycling and soil structure. They also protect wildlife and livestock, by removing the dung which, if left behind, would provide a habitat for pests such as flies.
A small African rock python feeding on a bird.
A dice moth caterpillar inching its way along a stem of grass.
A tabanidae fly (Horse fly) laying eggs.
A predatory-winged katydid.
Articles by Nick du Plessis, Nico Mulder, Deirdre Opie and Collen Sibuyi Photos on site by Nick du Plessis and Barry Peiser
Singita Kruger National Park South Africa
Thirty-first of January 2014