Hello all, and happy Heritage Day to all our South African followers! It is a long weekend for us here, and so nice to see a full camp again! Even the weather gods seem to be playing along and have forecast a strangely uniform weekend and week of weather ahead – a real rarity these days. This past week continued the trend of up and down weather, with some cold, windy weather accompanying us for a few of the days. It was so cold that I even had to go and dig out my winter jacket that I thought I’d stored away until next June…seems I was wrong!
As always, we kick off with the lions and it was a week that seemed to further entrench the Mayambula’s intentions in the area as they became very settled, and even started pushing the bounds of what I would have considered their “territory” as recently as last week. Following their buffalo kill, the pride headed off east and spent a day resting off their fat bellies and mating near our eastern boundary, but sadly did cross out that night. Three days later they were picked up marching back into the areas from the south, and straight to the nearest waterhole to quench their thirst. Based on the fact that they went to a relatively central waterhole, I can only suspect that they had actually been on a kill within our area, but that the guides had just not checked in that particular part of our concession, and hence we missed them. Seeing all nine members of the pride – including the Skorro males – line up to drink was a special sight!
From there the pride headed back to our eastern sections, crossed out late in the afternoon but were found the next morning with the remains of a zebra kill close to Machaton Dam. Despite their fat bellies, the pride still covered almost 8km during the course of the night as we tracked them down to the western section of our concession, they then headed off south that evening. This pride can walk, and we now wait to see where exactly they pitch up when they return in a couple of days. With the nightly roaring and movement into areas that were considered River Pride territory as recently as last week, it is no surprise to be hearing that the River Pride are now being seen many kilometres north of our concession in what is new and unexplored areas for the pride. As always, only time will tell if they return south or exactly what their future holds.
Our leopard viewing this past week was fair; Nyeleti was found walking around in camp one evening and a few days later with an impala kill to the north of Tanda Tula Safari Camp; as is often the case these days, she was eventually joined by Xigodo on the second day before both leopards went their separate ways. Thumbela and her son had been around and frustrated us one morning when the trackers were tracking them, but despite her crossing roads only minutes after we had checked them, we failed to catch up with the duo, but it was good to know that they were still quite active in the area. Towards the end of the week, I also bumped into a young, semi-relaxed male leopard near Nkhari Homestead whilst heading back to camp one evening. He was on the move but allowed us to follow him for some time before we left him be – sadly I didn’t get any photos of him for an ID shot, but he did look as though he had some potential to produce good sightings in the future.
With warming weather, our elephants began paying us more consistent visits to the camp waterholes as well as surrounding water points in the central areas. These times of the year are so enjoyable as they arguably offer the best and most predictable elephant viewing of all. The buffalo bulls took up residence around Safari Camp, whilst the large herd of 200 buffalo continued to feed and graze around the area, pushing their activities a little further west, but usually returning to the central regions within a day or two for water. Both the Mayambula Pride and this herd of buffalo were heading for the same are when we last saw the lions, so it will be interesting to see if their paths crossed during the night!
With food still abundant, and water resources good enough to satisfy the water-dependant, our general game sightings continued to be good with daily sightings of good zebra herds, wildebeest, journeys of giraffes, kudus and more. One of the more remarkable sightings of the week was that of an unbelievably relaxed Verreaux’s eagle owl that had just caught itself a genet, and was perched near the road with its dinner in its talons – a first for me!
That is it for this week – a busy weekend ahead, and things are starting to feel like old! We trust you will enjoy your weekend and week ahead. Until next time, keep safe and stay well!
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