Greetings once again, and welcome back to another weekly update from the heart of the Timabvati! After last weeks intruding male lions, there was some uncertainty as to what would transpire this week. I am happy to report that it was a week of calmer times.
While things cooled down on the lion-front, the weather started heating up and we were able to start doing morning drives without the need for hot water bottles. I know that we often get fooled into thinking that winter is over when these warm August conditions arrive, but I know that we are still in for another cold snap or two before we can officially hang up our woolly hats.
Let’s start off with the lions; now whilst there may not have been as much male action it. doesn’t mean that the intruding males left the area. In fact, Scotch found the two Black Dam young males right in the heart of Mayambula territory a few days ago. When it was reported that the Skorro males were seen chasing buffalos close to Tanda Tula Field Camp yesterday and other male lion tracks were seen in the Mayambula territory, we began to worry. This worry was amplified when a lioness was seen moving some young cubs further south along the Machaton Riverbed, and closer to where the roars of two male lions were heard.
Fortunately, it was a case of misidentification, and the roaring lions turned out to be the two Skorro males back in the heart of their domain, and the lions moving out of the area in the morning were likely the Black Dam boys. So for now, the Mayambula lionesses and their growing cubs seem safe enough. The pride remained in the north-east of our concession and crossed out of the concession a couple of times before returning to their usual haunts. They are looking in great shape, and despite the prey being scarcer in that area due to their presence, they are doing well to make ends meet. The Birmingham Breakaway young males also remained within our concession for a little longer and were seen out west, closer to Tanda Tula Plains Camp on a few occasions during the week.
The coalition found a sixth member and they spent some time moving around Giraffe Pride territory before moving back south. A day after the six fat-bellied boys were seen in the area, the Giraffe Pride eventually showed themselves on a zebra kill before once more heading to the south-west. Reports indicate that another lioness has given birth to four cubs, and this could be drawing the pride continuously back to the south. They were quite active around Plains Camp, and one day we even followed their tracks and saw that they had come to drink water in front of the camp. The last lion update was that of the lone Sark lioness that continues to remain isolated from her pride; Tristan had a great sighting of the lioness ascending a Marula tree to steal an impala kill from a young male leopard before making an unceremonious descent and hitting the ground with a mighty thud!
The leopards were a little more elusive this week. Thumbela was seen in the east a couple of times, but sadly she remains in a sub-par condition, and the wounds that she picked up several weeks ago are not healing quickly at all. Hopefully a good meal or two will sort her out. Sunset female was seen late in the week in the total opposite condition as she lazed in a Marula tree sporting a fat belly. That same morning Ntsongwaan male was also found resting in a dense area close to our Bush Breakfast site with an even fatter belly. I had also seen this big tom earlier in the week with a good sized belly as he quenched his thirst before also disappearing into a thicket. There was a report of Savannah leopardess close to Plains Camp late in the week as she was spotted briefly walking around with his cub…a cub that is evidently much older than we suspected she would be at about 6-8 months. Hopefully we start seeing more of this duo soon.
The elephants were somewhat absent this week following the good form of late, and although we had daily sightings of the bulls hanging around the plains and the Klaserie River, the herds were notably absent for much of the week. The same cannot be said for the buffalo, and we were once again blessed with the presence of some large breeding herds hanging around in both the western and eastern sections this week.
The giraffes were showing off this week and seemed to have babies on display whenever we saw them; one herd on the plains had five babies, with several more being seen in the area this week. Zebras and wildebeest remain very active in the west, and it was also great to see a fair number of waterbuck moving around in the concession; they are not a species we see too often.
I am going to be heading away for some time off, but Tristan will keep you updated with what has been happening over the next couple of weeks before my return, so do be sure to keep an eye out for those updates.
Until next time, cheers!
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