Chad Cocking | A Week In Pictures
I am actually sitting typing this blog in Johannesburg and so had to rely on getting my updates from the other guides on drive at Tanda Tula Plains Camp and as usual, they did a good job of giving me FOMO – a fear of missing out – whilst I enjoy a bit of leave. Having said that I was on drive for the first half of the week and if the good viewing of those first few days continued through the week, then I am well justified in harbouring my FOMO.
The first day of the reporting period saw us spending some more time with the Giraffe Pride that had all but finished off their zebra kill and had gathered around a nearby mud wallow to cool off and digest their meal. The roars of the pride through the entire night led to us to checking up on them again the next morning and being greeted by the amazing sight of all eighteen pride members lying around the same mud wallow – not a bad way to start off the day! The pride did move out of our concession after that and despite hearing the roars of the two dominant males close to us later in the week, they remained AWOL.
The mating pair of Mayambula lions spent a few more days mating in the far east, and on my one journey to that part of the Timbavati one morning, we found the three mothers of the older cubs resting near the den site. In the days that followed, the little ones did show themselves again after several day’s absence, and all eight youngsters are doing well as they enter the fourth month of their lives. The other younger lionesses of the Mayambula Pride were still moving around in the south-eastern sections of the concession, but our one attempt at tracking them did lead them towards the boundary with the Kruger National Park. The River Pride returned for their weekly visit when they were found with a zebra kill in the north-western corner of the concession.
We had a good week with the leopards, especially in the western parts of the concession close to Plains Camp. The young Mbilu female was seen on a few occasions; although she is not as relaxed as the other leopards we are used to seeing, she still offers some good viewing, and with a little more vehicle attention, I am sure she will become as relaxed as her mother. We found Mbilu one morning whilst following up on the roaring lions when the alarm snorts of a herd of zebras led us to this spotted beauty.
That afternoon, whilst heading to a sighting of the ever-relaxed Sunset female, we bumped into Ntsongwaan male leopard walking in her direction. After a month of hoping to find this impressive leopard, we eventually had some luck and followed him as he went for a drink in the last bit of light of the day. After finishing up, he walked towards a herd of impalas that had been alarm calling at Sunset Female; whilst following Ntsongwaan, we spotted Sunset and followed her back towards the dam that Nstongwaan had just left! The two leopards must have walked less than 50m past one another without seeing each other! We watched Sunset drink and then followed her into the sunset before she spotted something and went stalking off into the long grass. Later in the week Ntsongwaan was found again, and there was also a sighting of Sunset and her daughter in the same area. Let us hope that this is a sign of things to come from our western leopards.
Further east, Nyeleti and her cubs were found with a massive male impala kill, and then for the third kill she was joined by an unwanted male; this time it was her son – Xigodo – who once again arrived and stole the meal. There were once again reports of Xidulu male leopard being seeing in the south-east in an area that is devoid of a dominant male leopard at the moment, so we are hoping that he will set up a permanent territory in the southern half of our concession.
The wild dogs were around a couple of times this past week, with a pack of 21 in the east, and a pack of 15-odd dogs in the west on the plains in front of camp; Guy got to enjoy an exciting morning with them as they got harassed by an equally large clan of hyenas. The hyenas themselves continue to provide great viewing around Plains Camp, and over and above the active den site, we see hyenas on almost every drive in the west from both the local clan, as well as a clan a little further east – one coffee stop saw about a dozen members of this clan arriving to join us at the waterhole.
The predator sightings were concluded this week by Dale outdoing himself and finding the two male cheetahs crossing into our concession from the south; Sadly, they walked into a massive – and sensitive – sodic sight and were left to it. We hope to see more of these boys over the coming months.
Although we have been a bit shy of elephant herds in the west (the bulls on the other hand have been on display), this week saw a large number of elephants moving into the area around Plains Camp, as well as in the eastern sections of Tanda Tula. The scatterings of late rain are keeping them dispersed, but we foresee another good winter of elephant viewing ahead of us. We also got spoilt with multiple herds of buffalo moving around in the west, with no fewer than three separate herds being seen over the week.
Other than that, it was business as usual for us with fantastic general game being seen in the area – some of my guests are regular visitors to Timbavati and Tanda Tula, and even they commented that they hadn’t ever seen as many zebras in the area as they saw on this trip.
I am on leave at the moment but will be back at work next week. With it being a long Easter weekend next week, there won’t be a weekly update, but be sure to check back after that when we will continue to update you on the lives of these wonderful animals.
Until then, take care and safe travels for those making the most of the holidays!
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