Singita Kruger National Park Wildlife Report April 2013

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Singita Kruger National Park Wildlife Report April 2013
Singita Kruger National Park
Lebombo & Sweni Lodges
South Africa
Wildlife Report
For the month of April, Two Thousand and Thirteen
Temperature
Rainfall Recorded
Average minimum:
Average maximum:
Minimum recorded:
Maximum recorded:
Euphorbia trees
12,6˚C
28,7˚C
08,0˚C
35,0˚C
(54,6˚F)
(83,6˚F)
(46,4˚F)
(95,0˚F)
For the period:
For the year to date:
66 mm
385.5 mm
(Article and images by guide, Anthony Holdcroft)
Singita Kruger National Park is very fortunate in terms of the diversity of botany in the area. This is based on
a difference in the soils and topography in the east, with the rhyolite-based Lebombo mountains, versus the
west with its extremely fertile basaltic soils and relatively flat grasslands. Flora, like fauna, has its
preferences to where it likes to live, and the differences in soil type and topography allows for a wonderful
spectrum.
There are two particularly prominent trees that grow in the area. They are very much cactus-like plants, but
are in fact from the euphorbia family. They certainly do give the atmosphere of a great Western movie! The
trees are incredibly picturesque and generally grow in areas that receive a limited amount of rainfall.
The first of the euphorbias is the Transvaal candelabra euphorbia (Euphorbia cooperi). This is identified by
its beautiful branches with what can be described as upside down heart-shaped lobes. It typically grows on
rocky ridges, but it is less reliant on these ridges than the similar Lebombo euphorbia.
Transvaal candelabra euphorbia trees.
The Lebombo euphorbia (Euphorbia confinalis), is similar to the Transvaal candelabra euphorbia, but is
actually endemic, meaning that it is only found in the Lebombo mountain region. It has more ‘cucumber’
shaped lobes, but it is fairly similar in size and shape, from a distance.
Lebombo euphorbia trees
The more ‘cucumber’ shaped lobes of the Lebombo Euphorbia tree, with the flowers starting to come
through as we approach winter.
Trees of the euphorbia family have a white milky latex and are extremely toxic. They can be very dangerous
to the eyes, and cause blisters and irritation to the skin if not handled with extreme care. Despite this, the
traditional uses are fairly varied - they include using it as a fish poison, purgative, poison for hunting arrows
and for treating lesions and wounds on cattle. As a result, the tree is not eaten by many animals. One animal
that is known to browse certain euphorbias is the black rhinoceros, and it is thought to be for its stomach
cleansing properties.
A messy kill in the Xhinkelengane drainage
(Article and images by guide, Anthony Holdcroft)
Early one morning the Shishangaan pride had been located along the central depression area, at the base of
the mountains. They were portraying typical lion behaviour – that of lazing about and sleeping. However, that
afternoon when we returned to relocate the pride, there was no sign of them, but upon turning the vehicle off
there was the unmistakable sound of lions feeding. Little did we expect to find 18 members of the pride
feeding on a zebra that they'd killed in the water of the Xhinkelengane drainage.
The sighting was unique in that it is not often that you can see 18 lions feeding on a kill at once, let alone all
of them feeding on a kill that is almost underwater.
For a pride this large feeding on a kill is extremely competitive and there is a lot growling, fighting and
shoving which takes place. The frenzied feeding of the lions muddied the water to a coffee brown, their coats
were stained with mud and their golden eyes penetrated and pierced more than usual. It was a ferocious,
menacing and terrifying ordeal.
However, the sighting provided a fair amount of laughter. As you can imagine, the lions' black-tipped tails
were submerged in the murky water for the most part, but as they moved, occasionally a tail would break the
surface water. On two instances, these tails caused some confusion...The first time, a lioness was feeding
and her tail kept flicking up in the water. A young male
feeding next to her saw the disturbance out of the corner of
his eye, and thought it was a crocodile approaching.
Instantly he began to growl and hiss at the 'threat'. Seconds
later, another lioness was feeding on the opposite side, and
another young male decided to reposition. As he walked
around her, he saw the tail flick and thought that it was the
end of the dead zebra's leg. He initially bit, and noting the
soft tissue decided to try to steal the fleshy piece and run
away with it. The ‘leg’ however was firmly attached to the
lioness and she swiftly dealt out some discipline to end his
idea of a cheap meal.
This truly was a sight to behold, and definitely one of my
most incredible sightings to date.
N’wanetsi Weir
Every year when the N’wanetsi River flows, the concrete weir that crosses the river just below Lebombo
Lodge is a fantastic spot to sit and watch events unfold. Firstly, there are all the beautiful birds that frequent
the area, including numerous kingfishers, many different types of herons, storks and the resident black
crakes.
The position offers a unique angle in which to view a pod of hippos. You are afforded an eye-level sighting of
them in the river as you are below the water level of the dam wall and can view them straight across the
surface.
The riverine foliage is absolutely beautiful with stunning different types of trees including fever trees (Acacia
xanthophloea), weeping boerbeans (Scotia brachypetala) as well as some jackalberries (Diospyros
mespiliformes) and leadwood trees (Combretum imberbe).
Photos: Nick du Plessis
Another spectacle to watch is the behaviour of Nile crocodiles waiting in ambush as the water overflows.
They wait for the fish that are trying to swim upstream in the fast flowing water, to spawn. Many fish are often
utterly exhausted from the effort and slip back down the weir. This creates a fantastic feeding opportunity for
the crocodiles as they patiently sit below the weir and gulp down the tired fish. The crocodiles, as a result,
can often be fairly relaxed and so focused on their food source that it's possible to get close to them for great
photographic opportunities.
Photo: Anthony Holdcroft
We will always have the lilacs
(Article and images by guide, Nico Mulder)
The lilac breasted roller (Coracias caudatus) is one of the most beautiful birds, and has sparked many
questions from guests due to its striking colours, especially in flight.
It also has a peculiar flight pattern, where it almost seems to be rolling. This 'rolling' is usually done by the
males as they dive down at high speeds rocking from side to side as part of their courtship display. This flight
behaviour is common to the roller family and is also seen with the European roller, which is just as colourful a
bird.
With winter upon us, many of our vibrant birds have started their migration back to other areas. These would
include some of the rollers, kingfishers and eagles.
Migration, according to Trevor Carnaby’s, Beat About The Bush - Birds, means, “Birds that makes
predictable seasonal movements to prescribed destinations”. This all happens once in a calendar year. The
European rollers migrates between Africa, Europe and Asia, which is referred to as palearctic migration. The
lilac breasted roller rarely migrates, but has been recorded to make seasonal altitudinal movements,
meaning they may move from the coast, inland to higher ground and back again.
It is comforting to know that in our area the lilac breasted roller will still be around to add a splash of colour
this winter!
Singita Kruger National Park photo gallery
(Images by guide, Nick du Plessis)
A flutter of wings as a flock of red-billed queleas take to flight.
A cheetah mother with her litter of five cubs.
A pearl-spotted owlet.
A female banded-legged golden orb web spider.
A juvenile bateleur having a splash.
An adult bateleur ruffling its feathers.

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