Another week, and another update about the animal families of the Timbavati!It was a week of warming weather, but we ended off with a light drizzle on a cool, windy day. Once again, the guests at Tanda Tula Safari Campwere spoilt with some excellent leopard viewing and these spotted cats were found on every drive.
Several of our spotted cats were seen feasting on kills over the course of the week. It started with Nyeleti female being found with a steenbuck safely hoisted up a marula tree just a day after she finished her fully-grown impala ewe. The only leopard that was fatter than her this week was the impressive Ntsongwaan male who was found wandering in the eastern parts of his territory. We caught up with him after he had finished a warthog kill and he looked as uncomfortably fat as any leopard I have seen in a long time! One morning we followed Nthombi as she led Hlangana back to an impala kill – the two feasted for a couple of days before a hyena ran in and stole the last scraps from them. Being a confident youngster, Hlangana wasn’t ready to give the kill up just yet and tried his best to sneak up on the hyena and steal some of it back, but it was to no avail and the hyena soon sent him packing!
Some encouraging news was when we found Marula’s son with the first sizeable – albeit unusual kill – hoisted safely up a tree. The kill was of a black-backed jackal and although it is not uncommon for leopards to kill smaller predators, this is not something that they typically feed on. However, ever the opportunist though, this young male wasn’t going to let this meal pass.
It wasn’t just on drives that the leopards were playing along. After dinner one evening the guests got to enjoy a large male leopard who ascended the apple leaf tree right opposite our main verandah. Then, the next night, Marula’s daughter was seen drinking at Camp Dam as the guests were having their pre-dinner drinks.
The lions were far less active than they have been for some time, even though they were still seen on most days. The Mayambula Pride sadly didn’t show any signs of returning to our area over the past week, although the two Mbiri males did make a trip up north to visit the Zebenine lioness for one day. The males then moved off west and the lioness reunited with her daughter before moving back into the eastern sections of the concession.
Once more, the week started and ended with the River Pride in attendance; the former when the four lionesses spent a couple of days resting their full bellies, and then ending off with being woken by some of the River Pride males roaring outside of camp last night. Three of the young male lions and two lionesses were then tracked down on the morning drive to end off the week on a good note. The River Pride males are getting bigger with each passing month, and as they become more and more settled in these parts of the Mbiri males’ territory, the likelihood of a change in dominance of the area in the not too distant future is coming ever closer.
The large wild dog pack seems to have moved off for now; although we had their tracks on our southern boundary one morning, the animals themselves, remained elusive for the most part. A small pack of five individuals were seen throughout the week in the very far western parts of the concession – they consisted of four males and a female.
Despite the buffalo herds being absent, we enjoyed daily sightings of buffalo bulls near the camp, and the elephant herds could be seen enjoying the cooling benefits of the camp’s waterhole on most days. Even away from the camp, we were seeing some lovely large herds – with lots of babies – walking all over the concession.
Until next time!