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A Week of Back to Work in Photos

Chad Cocking | A Week In Pictures

After a wonderful couple of weeks of leave, it was so great to return to the Timbavati. Thousands of flowering Knob thorn trees were dotted across the landscape welcoming me back to Tanda Tula Plains Camp.  The weather was a little up and down this week with conditions changing from rather warm to somewhat chilly and windy, and a good mix of days in between.  The green tinges in the leaves and grasses that I spoke of a month ago have now all disappeared and the winter colours are dominating the Kruger. The mud wallows and small pans are also drying at a rapid rate, as this has happened the larger water holes have become noticeably busier – it’s these two aspects that make winter such a great time to visit the bush. 

As usual, it appeared as though I missed out on some great viewing during my time off. The Savannah leopardess and her cub with a kill east of Plains Camp and at the same time, Sunset and her cub had a kill a little further east.  The Giraffe Pride killed a wildebeest a few hundred metres from Plains Camp, and there was also a sighting of the two male cheetahs on an impala kill closer to Tanda Tula Safari Camp.  And the guides got to see another pangolin at Nkhari!!!   

Fully expecting the game to disappear once I returned, I can happily state that my guests and I were treated to quite a good week of game viewing here, and that my return didn’t chase the game away. Every morning before I started driving this week, I woke up to the sound of hyenas at the Plains Camp den site fighting with wild dogs. 

On the lion front, the Giraffe Pride made a couple of brief appearances but stuck to their habit of gravitating back to the south of our concession.  This morning we spent most of it tracking the pride as they spent most of the night walking around within our area before eventually heading back south.  Fortunately, the Mayambula Pride provided us with better tracking success.  Jack spent a good part of one morning tracking the pride before eventually locating seventeen members of the pride on the remains of a zebra kill and Given and Ginger managed to track them down close to Safari Camp the next day.   

That evening we had an incredibly exciting sighting as the six lionesses went off hunting without the cubs; after failing on their first attempt at some impalas we relocated them just as they found a buffalo bull and arrived to the amazing scene of the buffalo running off with a lioness hanging onto his back!  We followed them into a thicket and once the lions had got the buffalo to slow down, it looked like they might be able to bring it down as the lioness was still riding on his back, and two others were biting at his legs, but the big bull somehow managed to throw all the lions off and made a hasty retreat.   

Earlier in the week, Ginger followed two of the lionesses back to a den site in the east and briefly got to see at least four of the newest cubs as they played around the den site.  The Birmingham Breakaway males had a buffalo kill just north of our concession last weekend, once finishing it off they returned to the area for a couple of days feeding before the Skorro males picked up on their presence and set about chasing them off to the north – just what we want!  Ginger also managed to find the single Sark Breakaway lioness in the west one morning, and we spent one evening with her waiting for her to wake up from her rest, but she had different ideas! 

The leopard sightings were a little less abundant this week, but Sunset leopardess did show herself a couple of times over the course of the week.  Following a windy night, there was also an unidentified large male leopard with the remains of an impala kill in the west, and he was joined by a slightly nervous female leopard.  Sadly, they finished off the kill quickly and moved away.   

Nyeleti gave the guides and trackers a run around this week, just like she has been doing for the past couple of weeks.  They eventually managed to find her yesterday afternoon, but just as I was approaching the area she vanished into a thicket.  Hopefully she starts showing herself more over the coming weeks as the bush dries up. 

Our wild dog pack showed themselves on two occasions. Firstly, when they were fighting with the hyenas outside Plains camp early one morning and then spent the whole morning on the property. A few days later they crossed back and forth through the area on a successful hunt.  The pack has moved the den onto an adjoining property, so we are hoping that we will start seeing the adults coming to hunt around the plains on a more regular basis.  It also means that it won’t be long until they start moving into our area with their ten pups. 

The buffalos were quiet in the beginning of the week but started showing themselves more regularly as the week days passed.  There were several groups of buffalo bulls active in the east and a large breeding herd that moved through the western parts of the concession, providing us with a great sighting as they came to drink at Sunset Dam.  The elephant bulls were seen around Plains Camp most days, and a couple of nice sized family groups were also seen over the course of the week.  

With the Knob thorn trees in full flower, it was no surprise to see a good number of giraffes moving around the concession, especially in the west.  The wildebeest, zebras, impalas and warthogs were also all quite common this week, and together with some exciting viewing meant that we had another great week here at Tanda Tula.  Be sure to check back again next week to see what other magical moments we have experienced. 

 Until next time, cheers! 

Chad 

 

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