Male Lion at 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 Continued Surprises

Chad Cocking | A Week In Pictures

Another week, another blog – it seems like just yesterday I sat down to write up about our sightings and yet, here I am again.  As they say, time flies when you’re having fun!  Fortunately, it has been another very pleasant week here at Tanda Tula Safari Camp and it has been wonderful to welcome back some new and old faces; both in terms of guests and animals! 

Although I have been writing these blogs the past couple of weeks with dooms day prophecies for our River Pride, the encouraging news is that for now, they seem to be carrying on without having had any known altercations with the new Skorro males.  We only caught up with the pride on a couple of occasions, and the limping lioness’s paw seems to slowly be getting better.  The cubs are looking good, and although we didn’t find them on any kills this past week, they were maintaining decent shape.    

The Mayambula Pride spent three days to the North of our concession on a buffalo kill, but did return to their old haunts after they had satisfactorily gorged themselves, and we caught up with these impressive girls on our eastern boundary before we tracked them down in the South-east a few days later.  Upon driving into the sighting we could see that the lionesses were in the presence of a large male lion and I assumed it was one of the Skorro males.   Approaching cautiously, I was very pleased at how calm he was with our presence, but couldn’t get a great view due to his position behind a bush.  After the lionesses regrouped a short distance away, the male lion stood up and limped over to them, and it quickly hit us that this was the limping Nharhu male back with this pride!  This means that these poor girls are having to juggle the attention of two different male lion groupings and it is no surprise they are continuously throwing themselves at the males to keep the peace.  They must be incredibly confused and stressed with having to be friendly with males that seem not to be too keen on their advances.   

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

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

As it turns out, the Skorro males have not been seen this week and our one attempt at tracking them showed them moving back East away from our concession.  With the River Pride gravitating further to the West, it seems as though the two Sark Breakaway lions have decided to seek new areas to reside.  The young lioness and male (who incidentally was the male on the wildebeest kill last week, and not the young Giraffe male as I wrote) were found with a male nyala kill early in the week. They spent a day resting off their fat bellies and then headed North out of our concession. From the reports we received, they just kept moving in that direction!  The Giraffe lionesses and one of their pride males were also reported in the West on two occasions, but with all the lions hanging out around Safari Camp, we didn’t venture out there. 

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

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

This week provided some stunning elephant viewing, and some guests I was driving had seen the video of our new born calf from two weeks back and were very keen to see the youngster.  After a report of the calf late one morning, Glen and I set about tracking the herd down and found them at Impala Dam and in amongst them was our tiny little calf, considerably more stable on its feet than the last time we saw it, and adjusting well to life as an elephant.  Whilst sitting with them, a large breeding herd of buffalo also arrived to drink and the whole scene made for a truly special sighting.   

In general, the big herbivores were all very cooperative this week, with two breeding herds of buffalo, lots of elephants and increasingly good numbers of giraffes moving into the area.  The flowering Knobthorns are blossoming more and more with each passing day, and the colours of the bush have been further enhanced by the long-tailed cassia’s that sprang to life overnight with a profusion of bright yellow flowers. It is a much earlier flowering season than last year was probably made possible by the higher water table after last summer’s good rains. 

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

On the leopard front, it was a little bit quieter, but Nyeleti and Thumbela (with her son) did provide some good viewing when these lovely ladies were found with their respective impala kills. Xigodo remained elusive for most of the week, but tracks around Tanda Tula Safari Camp suggested that he was popping in on at least two occasions over the past few days.  Perhaps our newly resident pair of honey badgers is making him less confident around here, as these little chaps don’t seem to take mercy on much as was seen when they were dishing out some famed honey badger aggression towards the hyenas last night!  The pale eyed male was again found with a kill, but he seems to be getting no more confident in our presence and moves off as approached, so we left him to it.  Another very large (but also sadly shy) male was seen near Machaton Dam yesterday too, but I couldn’t get an ID on him – he did look enormous though! 

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

The only other news was that of the gentle giant Apollo showed himself again, and it was an absolute treat and privilege to be able to sit in his presence!  We also, almost, got to spend time in the presence of my favourite animals – the wild dogs – but despite having fresh tracks for a pack coming through the Eastern sections, these endangered animals remained out of sight for another week.  News is that the pack with the pups have returned to a life on the move, and we remain hopeful that it will not be long before the pack returns to this part of the Timbavati with their new editions. 

 Until next time though, keep safe! 

 Cheers 

Chad 

 

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

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

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

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