South Africa Game Report – Savanna

April 8, 2014  By: Gretchen

AAC Savanna leopardThings have been hopping at South Africa’s Savanna Private Game Reserve. They shared some recent sightings with us and we couldn’t be more pleased for recent travelers who were privileged to witness some of these amazing moments.AAC Savanna leopard with kill

Leopards are the most photogenic of the high profile game and we were spoiled for opportunities this month. The Scotia female is fast becoming our most viewed leopard and is taking after her mother, Hlabankunzi, with her tendency to pose perfectly every time! She is also becoming a brilliant huntress and recently killed a young waterbuck calf, which she managed to keep from hyena for a few days by hoisting it up into a marula tree.

AAC Savanna leopard runningOn one occasion, while we were following her as she wandered through some thick bush, she bumped into Kashane as he was patrolling his territory. He no doubt got scent of her, and came to check if there was perhaps a kill around. Scotia was clearly not going to hang around to see if he was in a friendly mood or not and took off at breakneck speed! Kashane was not too fazed by her, and after a quick scent test to see if she was in season or not, moved on.AAC Savanna leopard down tree

Hlabankunzi seems to be moving her territory further east after the Ravenscourt female was killed by the Nyelethi male a while ago, leaving this territory vacant. With Hlabankunzi increasing the size of her territory, it will allow her daughter more space that she can claim for herself as she matures! She has given us some fantastic sightings, especially on one occasion where she uncharacteristically climbed up and down a couple of trees in succession!

AAC Savanna leopards leapDewane was also seen regularly in February, patrolling his territory on his long walks that cover huge distances. But occasionally we would find him on a kill, allowing us a few days of good viewing. In one particular sighting, he seemed to have found the kill of another leopard, although we never saw the other one, which might have been driven off by the time we arrived. Dewane climbed into the tree, and slowly brought the remains of an impala carcass down, where he could feed on it more comfortably.AAC Savanna eles 2

We have always enjoyed our great elephant sightings, as the herds here are extremely relaxed, and do not bother about the vehicles in close proximity at all! This was demonstrated again this month, when we were treated to a herd of elephants cavorting in a small muddy patch in the road, created by recent rains. We watched for over an hour as these massive beasts enjoyed their mud bath, with young and old alike lying down in the mud, tusking it and spraying it all over themselves! This must arguably be one of the best sightings one can have! There have been a number of bulls around our concession as well, which make for fantastic photographs, especially with dark clouds building in the distance as a backdrop.

AAC Savanna lion king 2The lion viewing has been good this month, despite the Ximungwe pride remaining way up in the north, out of reach on most drives. The Southern pride made a few excursions into our concession, however, treating us to some fantastic sightings. On one particular morning, they were found out on the clearings near Brass Monkey Donga, lying regally on top of a large termite mound, scanning the clearings for possible prey. Unfortunately, they did not stay on our concession for too long, heading back east the following evening. The Ottawa pride has been seen frequently, coming south and west more often, probably due to the Ximungwe pride remaining in the north. All eight cubs are in good condition and it bodes well for the future of the pride.AAC Savanna lion king

The three Selati males have been very prominent this month, moving all over our concession as they patrol their territory. They are frequently apart, as they go into various sectors of their domain and are often heard roaring in order to remain in contact with one another. On one particular morning, one male was found quite far south, not too far from Savanna. Guests were treated to a spectacular daytime roar, before he got up, headed north and met up with one of his brothers, greeting each other with the familiar head rubbing.

AAC Savanna wild dogsThe wild dog pack has made a few appearances, but as the pups are now much older and can keep up with the pack with ease, they are moving huge distances very quickly and never remain on the concession for long.

The same can be said for the large herd of buffalo. Good grazing everywhere means that they can continually be on the move to avoid predation. As conditions are so good, they do not need to remain in one area where the food might be more plentiful. The herd often enjoys a drink and a swim to cool down at every water hole it gets to.AAC Savanna zebra

Our clearings in the south have been cut this month, as the grass had become extremely tall after all the good rains this season. These clearings are maintained to provide suitable habitat for the plains game, and it was immediately evident how much they prefer the shorter grass. Large herds of zebra returned at once, as well as other game such as waterbuck, wildebeest, impala and jackal, and we frequently see four or five different species on the clearings at the same time. Summer is generally a fantastic time of plenty and, as a result of the late rains, it has been a longer season than normal.

AAC Savanna LBRBird life is still fantastic, and we are still seeing some of the special smaller things, such as Grey Tree Frogs breeding, making their characteristic white foam nests above temporary waterholes.

While Savanna Private Game Reserve had a big month, most months have great game! If you’d like to visit, consider taking advantage of our stay 3, pay 2 special, which is valid until December 20, 2014 (excluding April 14 – 28, 2014). Also, for honeymooners, we can offer 50% off for the bride for a 3 night stay. Just give one of our safari specialists a call to start planning your journey!

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