Hello World! And no, you haven’t tuned into another episode Sofa Safari,but welcome back to your weekly fix of wildlife images straight from Tanda Tula Safari Campin the heart of the Timbavati.These weeks seem to be flying past for us here, and despite having no guests in camp, we are still keeping very busy heading out into the bush on a daily basis to keep tabs on what is happening with the animals out there. It was a week that started to feel very much like autumn with cool, misty mornings breaking into wonderful warm days before cooling off pleasantly again, as night falls. The rain and wind stayed away this week, and it was just one of those perfect weeks here!
The animals seem to be enjoying the peace and quiet that comes with having a closed reserve, and whilst we had good game viewing this week, there were many a drive that saw us chasing phantoms. Mostly, they were the spotted phantoms that some may call leopards. Luke and Britt found N’weti female doing her best to persuade a male to mate with her one evening on their way back to camp, but repeated efforts to find the pair over the coming days produced nothing more than tracks. Nthombi also left her tracks (and scat!) around, but despite all my searching, she just didn’t want to be seen. It was a little disheartening, but a great deal more bewildering, that despite the kilometres driven in search of these usually-not-so-elusive cats, that we didn’t so much as bump into one walking down the many roads that their tracks suggest they clearly walk… or one lying up a tree, or perched on a termite mound. Again, it makes one appreciate the work our trackers do to make sightings of these stunning cats a regular occurrence under normal circumstances. Anyway, it is still only a matter of time before they start showing themselves in abundance. Of slight concern is that there were no signs of a female leopard within Nyeleti’s territory, and whilst this itself doesn’t mean much with the lack of vehicle activity, it is a bit worrying that she has gone from being very evident to non-existent. Fingers crossed that this is more a reflection of my terrible tracking abilities as opposed to some misfortunate that may have befallen her.
Fortunately, I seem to be a great deal better at finding lions, and once more we enjoyed good sightings of the River Pride and Nharhu males in the central regions. The mating pair from last week remained as a union for a few days this week before they went their separate ways. As the week drew to a close, that same young lioness was found in the company of the Nharhu males (all three together for a welcome change), but she was much more interested in finding the River Prides lionesses. The mothers with the cubs remained in the general area, although they moved the cubs to a slightly less accessible location on the Zebenine River – maybe 300m from where Nthombi had her old den site. We got a couple of sightings of the cubs, but sadly they didn’t provide the photographic opportunities I had hoped for.
The week ended with the lion sighting of the week when the Nharhu males were found late one morning fighting over the scraps of a kill that they had made during the course of the morning. It is always entertaining to watch lions on a small kill, as it is guaranteed that there will be loads of growling, and with some luck, a bit of smacking one another around too! Luke and Brittany got to see the Vuyela Pride out in the western sections one afternoon, and one morning whilst out in the south-west, I found tracks for two lionesses in an area that would have been unusual for the River Pride girls to move in, and I suspected that the tracks may have been for the Zebenine lionesses – that might have been wishful thinking rather than a realistic assessment of the situation, but it is good to live in hope.
The elephants that I was so quick to welcome back last week clearly read my blog and decided to prove me wrong, and these gentle giants were relatively rare this week. Signs could still be found for them in the central and western areas, but these signs led to only a handful of sightings over the past seven days. The same could be said for buffalos, and although a small herd continued to walk around in the central parts of our concession, we saw more signs than we did of the buffalos themselves – this is largely down to the fact that I didn’t really put the effort in to tracking them down.
The zebras were around in very good numbers this week, especially in the south-east where we were finding groupings of more than fifty together, and we were also starting to see more and more giraffes in the acacia woodlands. Waterbucks were seemingly a much more common sight now than they have been for years, and along with our other resident wildebeest, nyala, rhino, steenbuck, bushbuck, duiker, warthog and many more, we were able to enjoy some of the diversity that the Timbavati has to offer.
We hope that you enjoy this selection of images for the week, and as always, be sure to stay in touch with us on our various social media platforms for all sorts of videos and photos to help you keep a smile on your face during these periods of lockdowns and self-isolation.
Until next time, keep well!