Brrrrrrr, it is cold! Yip, my belief that winter had arrived last month was clearly misled! With a night of unseasonal rain adding a further 10mm to our annual rainfall figures, the days that followed had a distinctive wintery feeling, and not the clear-blue-skies-and-mild-day kind of feeling! Some areas in the northern Timbavati got as much as 25mm – far higher than our average June rainfall. The cold weather did seem to have an effect on our game viewing, as it had no sooner arrived and it felt like the animals migrated to warmer climates! That being said, it was still an enjoyable week in the gorgeous surrounds of Tanda Tula Safari Camp, and this is what our animals got up to.
The leopards played along the best as far as the cats were concerned, with Nyeleti spending a couple of days around her impala kill from last week before moving back north. Interestingly, she went straight to fetch Xigodo and he spent the week in the area. We caught up with him stalking impala on a couple of occasions, and we got a report that he had been successful in catching an impala at a neighbouring camp’s waterhole, but despite it being midday, the hyenas still promptly arrived and stole it. A day later Nyeleti had a little more luck and both leopards were found feasting on an impala kill safely hoisted up a tree on the banks of the Nhlaralumi. I wonder why she didn’t bother to go and fetch her son for the last kill? Speaking of kills, we also found the pale eyed dominant male leopard with a kill one morning but decided not to go off road and cause him to run off. It worked, and despite being at a distance, we had a nice view of him feeding up a tree as some giraffes walked past completely unaware of the leopard above their heads. Ginger also found another unknown (but slightly nervous) male leopard in the south east at the end of the week. There were tracks for Thumbela on occasion, but she remained disappointingly absent.
It was our lions that were most absent this week, the River Pride kept on heading back east every time they returned to our concession. After following them to our eastern boundary one evening, we got news that they had killed a big male kudu some distance north-east of us but knowing that the closest water was within our concession, we followed up the next day and fortunately found the pride resting near the water. Surprisingly though, that evening, the pride got up and walked straight back east. My only explanation for this behaviour is that this was where the pride came from after there was evidence of some sort of fight, and with the old lioness having not been seen since then, perhaps the pride keep returning east to look for her?
The Nharhu males made a reappearance later in the week, but frustratingly spent the day resting in long grass. Following their interaction with the Sark breakaways last week, the young Sark pride didn’t return, and we didn’t even see tracks for them. Further west, the Hercule’s and Sumatra male lions spent a day in our concession, but despite my long trip to the area in the afternoon by the time we arrived to check on them, they were nowhere to be seen. This was the most we have struggled for lions for a long time, and we can only hope that this is some temporarily errant behaviour from the River Pride and that they will soon return to their old habits. Interestingly, there were also reports this week of the Mayambula Pride resurfacing to the south of our concession, and whilst the closest sighting was still 4km south of our boundary, it is good to know that they are still around.
The wild dogs popped in on a handful of occasions this week, but each time was very short-lived as the hunting members of the pack hunted in the area, fed, and immediately headed back north towards the den site. As the denning season progresses, we can expect the pack to have to move further afield to hunt, and we should hopefully be able to catch up with them a little more regularly.
The elephants were our saving grace this week and the east had daily sightings of some good size herds moving around the area of Machaton Dam. There were some reports of elephants moving into the western sectors too, but on my two trips to the west, they were not in evidence. That being said, the west did provide for regular sightings of some good-sized buffalo herds, yet again.
The general game also seemed quieter than usual this week, although there are always signs of them walking around – very puzzling! It does happen that in winter when the mornings are so chilly, that the game prefers to be more active later in the mornings and into the early afternoons, and we did notice this behaviour on the cooler mornings. However, even when the big game wasn’t always playing along, as you will see from the photos both here and on our Facebook page, we still saw a wonderful diversity of the Greater Kruger’s inhabitants, so be sure to check them out.
I won’t be doing too much driving this coming week, but I will still try and get out there to take some images for next week’s blog, so be sure to check back in at the same time next week. Until then, take care!
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Bookings can be held as provisional for up to 14 days, after which the booking is required to release or confirm. A 20% refundable deposit is required to confirm the booking.
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