Leopard lying on a tree branch 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 crazy action in camp

Chad Cocking | A Week In Pictures

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

If there was a week to have chosen to simply sit in camp and enjoy the animal activity around Tanda Tula Safari Camp, then this week would surely have been it!  From elephants, buffalo bulls and rhinos drinking at the waterhole to lion and leopard kills in camp, this week had it all!

The most eventful evening happened at the end of the week when a pack of hyenas caught a nyala close to the dam.  It wasn’t long before their excited chattering drew the attention of the two Nharhu male lions that came running in, announcing their presence as they walked along the riverbed in front of the camp! Exactly what followed we are not sure of, but the hyenas were still around feeding on the remains of the kill in the morning, possibly the left-overs after the lions had been through?

It was a welcome return for the lions to our area and we saw the pride operating in the far south of our concession and beyond.  We started the week with the whole River Pride in the east near the fig trees, but from there they pushed south and only showed themselves on a couple of occasions.  The area in which they operated meant that we barely heard their roars this week…until last night.

The two Sark Breakaways were again found to the north-west of our camp, with the young male sporting a new limp, possibly from an altercation with a buffalo herd that the two seemed to be following.  We also found tracks for what we can only assume was a portion of the Mayambula Pride in the south-east, an area that has been the River Pride’s stronghold of late.  On two successive days their tracks came into the area, had a drink and then headed back south.  We are all really hoping that as the weeks pass, we will be seeing more than just signs of this impressive pride.

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

Leopard Mother and cub up a tree Tanda Tula in the Timbavati Game Reserve, part of the Greater Kruger National Park, South Africa - Photo credit: Chad Cocking

Our leopard story of the week was that of Xigodo young male setting himself up around Safari Camp, and for the first part of the week he was seen on a daily basis walking on the outskirts of camp looking for a nyala meal.  One evening when he was sitting near the dam, we watched as he walked off into the thickets along the fence and suddenly heard the commotion of him catching a nyala.  In the morning our fears were realised when we found that he had hoisted one of our new tiny baby nyala calves up a leadwood tree in camp.

Nyeleti was also seen coming into camp to collect Xigodo one evening, but strangely we were unable to locate where they went onto the next day; instead, the tracks appeared to be for a mating pair of leopards.  That night, whilst Xigodo had his kill, we could hear a pair of leopards mating in the bushes directly opposite the verandah, and their intermittent growls accompanied us through most the night.  Thumbela and her son also provided for a good stint of viewing when the pair were found with a young male impala kill not far east of camp.  Scotch also had himself a visual of a seemingly new, very large and not all-that-nervous male leopard to our south.  So, although not as flush with leopards as the previous week, we still had some great viewing of these notoriously elusive cats.

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

The last of the big cats to show themselves this week were the same four cheetahs from last week’s blog.  The mother and her three sub-adults were found hunting impalas in the west, and both Scotch and Neil’s guests came very close to seeing the quartet catch an impala.  Sadly, the one young male missed it my mere inches.

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

We also had a couple of visits from the wild dog hunting party, and Scotch and Jack managed to find them one morning and followed them until they caught and finished a small duiker, a mere morsel for a growing pack.  We joined as the dogs resumed their hunting, but lost them as they chased a herd of impalas around.

A large herd of 200-300 buffalos also spent most of the week within the central part of our concession, and their presence seemed to bring the buffalo bulls out too, as we saw buffalo daily for the first time in a long time.  Further west, there were also sightings of a slightly smaller, but still impressively sized herd.  Not to be outdone, our elephant herds also made a reappearance.  As the week went on, a change of weather with the arrival of a cold front brought the elephants out, and we enjoyed several lovely sightings of a grouping of some 60 or more of these pachyderms drinking in the last twilight of the day.

Buffalo cow with an Oxpecker on her nose and shoulderat Tanda Tula in the Timbavati Game Reserve, part of the Greater Kruger National Park, South Africa - Photo credit: Chad Cocking

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

What was probably most pleasing for me was the number of zebras and giraffes scattered around our central parts this week, and it felt like things had returned to the levels we expect from the central Timbavati with good general game being seeing around our concession.

So, despite the colder weather over the past few days that did cause things to slow down slightly, the hot action at the start and end of the week ensured that it was yet another goodie here in the Greater Kruger.

Be sure to check out our Facebook page for more photos from this week, and until next time, stay safe.

Cheers

Chad

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

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

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

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

Buffalo Bull 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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