Tanda Tula in the Timbavati Game Reserve, part of the Greater Kruger National Park, South Africa - Photo credit: Chad Cocking
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A Week of Babies and The Big 7

Chad Cocking | A Week In Pictures

It’s only the second week of 2022 and I am already on leave!  I’m doing what most guides do when they have leave and sitting in the northern Kruger National Park sipping a GnT and overlooking the Luvuvhu River whilst I type this, so forgive me if the spelling leaves a little to be desired!

I spent a few days prior to my leave on drive and had a wonderful few days with a couple from Germany, as well as the private guide that was accompanying them (Alan McSmith, who actually used to work at Tanda Tula many years ago). Alan’s speciality and focus is on elephants, so we spent as much time as we could with these gentle giants, both in the vehicle and on foot.  What a treat it was to spend time with someone so passionate and knowledgeable about these creatures, so not only was it full of great viewing, but also such a good learning experience.

Tanda Tula in the Timbavati Game Reserve, part of the Greater Kruger National Park, South Africa - Photo credit: Chad Cocking

As a result of the focus on elephants, we didn’t spend time following up on the other creatures of the Timbavati, but we still managed to get some good viewing over the days, and naturally, as soon as I went on leave the animals came out to play – although a good downpour of between 25-45mm in our concession did make things a little more challenging for a short while.  The lions were not playing along, and although we had tracks for the Mayambula pride on a regular basis, they remained frustratingly elusive.  The tracks for the lionesses (probably two) kept on moving in and out of an inaccessible part of the Machaton riverbed where they have their cubs, but sadly they just weren’t showing themselves when they weren’t with the cubs.  I think we only had a couple of sightings of the lionesses over this time.  Fortunately, with the Mayambula’s being confined to the south-east, the River Pride felt more comfortable popping back into the northern sections and spent a couple of days close to Tanda Tula Safari Camp (we found them 100m from our bush breakfast spot one afternoon), and then they managed to catch another wildebeest the next day to ensure that the pride was staying strong and healthy.  Further west the lions were not overly active, and we didn’t receive any updates on the movements of the Giraffe and Sark prides.

Tanda Tula in the Timbavati Game Reserve, part of the Greater Kruger National Park, South Africa - Photo credit: Chad Cocking

On the leopard front, Nyeleti was seen a few times in the area around her den site, and later in the week I saw a report that the cubs had been moved further north along the Nhlaralumi, possibly towards a kill of hers – they are old enough to be eating meat so will start making their way to kills that mom makes.  Sadly our Khisimusi female and her three cubs seem to have moved den sites, so we will see how long it is before we catch up with them again, but hopefully not too long!  Thumbela and her son were seen with an impala kill in the east, and we also saw the pale eyed male close to camp one evening, and for once he didn’t just run off.  Maybe there is still some hope he can relax in time?

Tanda Tula in the Timbavati Game Reserve, part of the Greater Kruger National Park, South Africa - Photo credit: Chad Cocking

The rarer predators also showed themselves this week; the wild dogs were only around for one day, but we were lucky to catch up with the pack of 24 from the south around Nkhari Homestead, and although there were signs of more dogs in the area a few days later, they evaded us.  One cat that was somewhat more obliging was our female cheetah in the east, and we saw her several times over the course of the week in the open areas of Tanda Tula.  It really is such a treat to have her spending so much time in the area, and it is due to the limited movements of the lions that side at the moment.  I am keeping my fingers crossed that she stays around for the rest of summer.

It was also a week of many babies; elephants, warthogs, impalas, wildebeest, zebras, mongooses, francolins, plovers and many more all had their babies on display and once again made us realise why summer is such a wonderful time to visit the Timbavati.  Add to this the fact that we have some stunning birding at the moment (the blue-cheeked bee-eaters are still around, and the lesser moorhens have returned to the area again this year…I also saw my first secretary bird in many, many years!), and there really is no excuse for not booking to come and visit us!

I will be on leave for the next couple of weeks but will return with some new blogs very soon.

Until next time, take care and stay safe

Cheers

Chad

Tanda Tula in the Timbavati Game Reserve, part of the Greater Kruger National Park, South Africa - Photo credit: Chad Cocking

Tanda Tula in the Timbavati Game Reserve, part of the Greater Kruger National Park, South Africa - Photo credit: Chad Cocking

Tanda Tula in the Timbavati Game Reserve, part of the Greater Kruger National Park, South Africa - Photo credit: Chad Cocking

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