Chad Cocking | A Week In Pictures
Another week has come and gone and we are feeling more and more at home at Tanda Tula Plains Camp as construction work has gotten underway at Safari Camp. Last week’s wonderful warm weather felt like a thing of the past when I spent my four nights of guiding in far less ideal conditions! The warm sunny days were replaced with cold, windy and drizzly weather, which was a welcome reprieve from the heat that we had been experiencing. A total of 18mm fell at Plains Camp, but up to 55mm were recorded on Nkhari and in the east which resulted in both the Nhlarlaumi and Machaton Rivers coming down in flood.
The lion sightings continued to be good, although most of the sightings were limited to the Mayambula Pride in the east. The pride even ventured as far as Nkhari, and the two Skorro males were seen with a couple of the females close to Nkhari Homestead, and a few days later four of the younger pride members were feasting on a kill a few hundred metres downstream from Tanda Tula Field Camp!
The three mothers with the eight growing cubs began introducing the cubs to meat, and were taken to two separate wildebeest kills over the course of the week. I had a slightly frustrating afternoon when I headed to where the pride had been seen on a kill in the morning, but when we arrived we found only a single hyena feeding on the remains of the kill, and the pride had moved into an area that was just too thick to track in. We did manage to see one of the Skorro males on the search for his partner which was some consolation, and we were lucky to see the lionesses and cubs back at one of the den sites the next afternoon.
Guy found three of the Vuyela males in the west one morning when they seemed to be testing the waters to the south, but they soon moved back north. Foreman also found two lionesses from the Sark Breakaways on his way between camps one afternoon and notified the guides. The guides that were closest followed up and found them, and quite amazingly, whilst following them the one lioness lay down and gave birth to a cub in front of them in the middle of nowhere, almost as if the birth took her by surprise!!! When she moved off with the cub, they wisely closed down the area to give the mother some privacy and we await to hear how the cubs are doing. One other Sark lioness spent a couple of days in the west too after feasting on a warthog. There was no sign of the Giraffe or River Prides this week.
The leopards were once again very elusive, even in the west. The only sighting of the week was a male leopard that came and drank at the waterhole in front of Plains Camp after dinner one evening as Dale and some of the guests enjoyed a nightcap. Sunset female was seen once, but sadly a little too far from where I was operating, and the Mvubu leopardess was seen down in the Klaserie one afternoon but got chased away by a buffalo before we got to see her.
The hyenas were once again very active this week, with daily visits to the waterhole and some great activity around the den site at Plains Camp. The clan also got to feast on a baby giraffe that died on the plains early in the week. It was a calf that we had seen struggling last week – some large growths on its neck seemed to impede its breathing and the poor thing collapsed and eventually died. The mother giraffe hung around for a day before accepting the result and leaving the calf to the hyenas. It is still impressive to see just how many hyenas are walking around this side of the Timbavati! The predator sightings for the week concluded with a brief sighting of the northern pack of African wild dogs late one afternoon when they were located at Machaton Dam and we followed them for a while until it got dark.
The elephants were not as abundant as last week, but seen on almost every drive. We have had some great elephant bull activity in the area, with these gentle giants providing for some memorable moments for our guests. The buffalos were not very active, but a few bulls continued to hang around the Klaserie River in the west, and one breeding herd being seen on Nkhari later in the week.
The general game continued to pump on the plains – my guests’ first drive last week saw us seeing literally hundreds of animals on the plains as herds of wildebeest, zebras, giraffes and impalas filled the plains. A few of the hippo pods have moved off to other dams, but there are others that remain active in the area, so it is wonderful to have the chance to see these enormous creatures everyday.
I won’t be out on too many drives next week, but I will definitely try to get out there and snap a few pics to go with next week’s blog update, so be sure to check back again same time next week!
Until then, stay safe!
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