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A Brief Week

Chad Cocking | A Week In Pictures

Welcome back to another instalment of the happenings of the lives of the animals of the central Timbavati!  I was away for most of the week, spending a busman’s holiday up in the northern Timbavati. I got to catch up with an old friend, the last limping Nharhu male and his “other” family, the Western Pride – it was great to see him doing so well and in charge of a second pride – not bad for a lion who we wrote off just last year!  I popped back to Tanda Tula Plains Camp for a couple of nights to drive some return guests, as well as some friends I was on holiday with, and it was a most pleasant few days in the bush.  The weather this week was mild, but with there was a little rain – about 5mm – at an unusual time of the year.  I haven’t had any rain records for May over the past few years at Tanda Tula, and if the forecasts are anything to go by, we are in for a very wet weekend here in the Greater Kruger region.

It was another good week of viewing on the lion front.  The Giraffe Pride were a little more active in the area and the week started off with the adults spending the day near Sunset dam and giving the guests a roaring display.  A couple of days later the guides found them close to camp first thing one morning after their tracks came right past the gate and straight to the hyena den. The Hyena clan did then temporarily shift homes before returning a few days later once the coast was clear.  The lions did head back south that morning, but tracks for the males continued to visit through the week; there was also signs of where the pride had killed a wildebeest in the concession before finishing it and returning to the cubs off the concession.  We also had a visit from one Sark lioness who had drawn the attention of three of the Vuyela males – these boys are growing into an impressive coalition!

The single Ross lioness was found fending off a small clan of hyenas on the Klaserie boundary one morning; something she has gotten very used to over the years.  We are not sure where the Hercules female was, or indeed if the Ross female still has her cubs – it really is not an easy situation for a small pride without protective males to raise cubs in an area with such a dominant presence of hyenas.  The Mayambula pride continues to do well, and there are at least signs of the new cubs coming out of the den, but at this point, we have only seen the tracks…it really cannot be long now!  The eight older cubs are growing well, and we caught up with them after the mother’s brought down a zebra in the eastern sections.

Guy had a lovely sighting of the Skorro males one evening and whilst following them a porcupine popped out and got their attention!  The River Pride also paid a couple of visits to the northern section this week, so it was another very active week of lion viewing.

On the leopard front, we got to spend part of the morning with Nyeleti and her two growing cubs as she moved them past Tanda Tula Safari Camp to the north – she was on such a mission that I was certain she was taking them to a kill, but eventually just settled in a thicket and we left them to it.  The Mbilu female leopardess showed herself a couple of times around Plains Camp, as did an unknown male one afternoon.  We got to spend a pleasant afternoon watching Ntsongwaan male resting up a marula tree as the sunset behind him.  In the east, Thumbela was also seen one morning around Machaton Dam.

The only wild dogs viewed this past week were the small pack of three members that continue to run around the area; they don’t make it easy  for us to keep track of them, so seeing them involves a great deal of luck!  Whilst on holiday in the north, I did see the pack of 20, and it was great to see that both the alpha and beta females are pregnant, with the former being extremely close to whelping. I am sure they will again den in the mopane woodlands of the northern Timbavati, but there is always hope they move down to our area and den…fingers crossed.

The large herbivores were out and about this week, with loads of elephants coming and going from the area; the elephant bulls continue to be a persistent presence around Plains Camp, but more breeding herds were seen moving around this week too.  A large breeding herd of buffalo also spent time in the western parts of the concession, whilst a smaller herd settled into the central parts.

Another wonderful scene this week was waking up to see the lunar eclipse one morning as the full moon set over the plains. We are incredibly lucky to be surrounded by such natural beauty and stunning creatures in this part of the world.

I am back in the saddle for the next week, so be sure to check back in next week to see what has been keeping our guests entertained!

Until then, cheers


Tanda Tula - Timbavati - South Africa



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