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A Week of Working Hard

Chad Cocking | A Week In Pictures

Another week has come and gone, and it was one that flew by.  This may have been based on the fact that it was a busy week both with guests and behind the scenes. Tanda Tula and a few other lodges within the Timbavati helped to ensure the completion of the second annual Timbavati Traverse – an ultramarathon through the Timbavati aimed at raising funds to support the reserve’s anti-poaching and conservation efforts.  The day was another great success, and we now look forward to next year’s event.

On the animal front, we also had to work hard to deliver some good sightings for our guests.  The big cats didn’t make our lives easy this week, and there was much searching for these elusive gems.  Luckily the gorgeous Sunset female leopard did come to our rescue several times over the course of the week, and it is a real treat to be seeing this relaxed leopardess more frequently now that the bush is eventually beginning to thin out after a great – and prolonged – summer of rainfall.  As stunning as she is, Sunset has a habit of making use of dense cover when moving around, making it a challenge to keep up with her.  One particular afternoon saw her being found near one of her favourite waterholes before disappearing into a dense drainage line.  Whilst trying to relocate her, a flock of guineafowl erupted next to our vehicle, and the reason for this soon became clear as Sunset emerged from the drainage line with a guineafowl clamped in her jaws!  She lived up to her name as we picked her up around sunset on a couple more occasions during the week too.

This week also saw the eventual unveiling of a leopard that had until now been a mythical entity for us down at Tanda Tula Plains Camp!  We have kept on hearing about what a star the Savannah female leopard was, but since moving down to Plains Camp, we have not even seen so much as a track for her.  During my month in Kenya, I did hear that this leopard was seen walking around the dam and drainage line after which she was named.  From what the guide that saw her could see, it looked as though she had recently had cubs based upon how the loose skin on her belly was hanging.  At the beginning of this week, Foreman was heading back to camp and bumped into a very relaxed leopard close to camp, and upon arriving, the first thing I noticed was the loose skin on her belly.  Sadly she went into a dense area that we couldn’t follow, but the next day, whilst out photographing the Timbavati Traverse, I found her stalking some impalas on our boundary and got my first proper sighting of her.  Hopefully, this is the first of many moments we will get to share with her over the coming months.

The lions were anything but cooperative this week, and provided a real challenge for us; something we haven’t had to deal with for ages!  The Mayambula Pride had split and were wondering around in some very unusual areas, but they did re-appear briefly at the beginning of the week, but as they were on the opposite side of the concession, we opted not to go, hoping instead that they would return to their old haunts and be more visible over the coming days…we were wrong!  They only showed themselves again at the end of the week, and Scotch managed to get to see three of the lionesses, but not the lionesses that have the cubs.

Interestingly, there were reports of members of the Birmingham Pride being found within Mayambula territory, and not too far south of our concession – reports even suggested that the pride did have the white lions with them!  We actually did get to see two young males from the Birmingham Pride near Nkhari Homestead one evening, and these lions were later identified as being the brothers of the young white male lion from within the pride…this gives us a glimmer of hope that there may be a day in the not too distant future that he graces us with his presence.  The River Pride made a brief one day appearance in the north-west of the concession, and the young Giraffe male and the injured Monwana male were also seen briefly in the Klaserie River close to Plains Camp, but they disappeared before I got to see them.

Our hyenas continued to provide daily sightings around the den, but the little cubs are still building up their confidence to venture beyond the entrance of their den.  The rest of the adults continue to busy themselves around camp and on the plains and can be found there most days.

The large herbivores were a little more in evidence this week, with several herds of buffalo being seen across the length and breadth of the concession.  Elephant herds were a little more scarce, but as the week wore on, they showed up in larger numbers.  Around Plains Camp, we had the constant company of some large elephant bulls as they tucked into the abundance of food that still persists in the area.  We did enjoy some decent general game on the plains, with impala, wildebeest, nyala, warthogs and giraffes – including at least three calves – being seen in some good numbers.  The zebras are a little less obvious than they were at the end of autumn, but further east they seem to be seen quite regularly.

And that is it for the week!  I do hope that the cats don’t make us work as hard next week, but you will have to check back on us then to see if my wish came true!

Until then, cheers!

Chad

 

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