Thumbela leopardess on the prowl in the Greater Kruger
Welcome to your last weekly update for 2019! Wow, can you believe that yet another year has come and gone? Over the next couple of weeks, both Luke and I will be sharing our best photos of 2019, so be sure to check up again next week for the first of our Year in Pics posts!
As for this past week, it was a week of me driving around and shaking my head in wonder as I tried to take in all the gorgeous greenery that is now blanketing the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve!It is almost as if the bush is getting greener by the day – literally! Although we only received 2,5mm of rain this week, there is still so much soil moisture, and combined with some sunny and warm weather, the vegetation has sprouted up everywhere! Despite only being on drive with guests for a few days this week, I found myself constantly drawn out of my room to go and wander around the reserve and enjoy this special time of the year.
The week started off with the ground still too wet to allow off-road driving without damaging the environment, but once the sun popped out, it began to dry sufficiently enough to allow us to follow the Big 5 animals off-road, and this gave some good viewing.
The River Pride lionesses were actually relatively scarce this week and were only seen at the start and end of the week. But between those sightings, their three males, now named the Nharhu males (simply meaning “three males”), were very active and could be found roaring on an almost daily basis to the north of Tanda Tula Safari Camp.I am not sure if the pregnant lioness has given birth yet, but I am almost certain that by the time we are back to our weekly reporting in January, she will have had her cubs.
In the far west, the Giraffe Pride were active, but as we had no guests at that time, we naturally didn’t venture out to see them. The Mayambula pride seem to have become a distant memory, and the only sign of the Zebenine Pride this week were tracks of the two lionesses in the east. The Mbiri males could be heard roaring, but they were not seen by any of our guides this week. I am sure that with the camp getting busier over the coming weeks and having more eyes and ears on the ground, we will get a chance to see these lions more often.
Despite the thickening bush, we had some fairly good leopard viewing this week. On three successive afternoons in the east, I managed to find leopards; Xidulu male resting in the long grass one afternoon, Thumbela then popped up the next afternoon, and two days later we found her just as she finished off a baby impala kill and started walking away to the east of our concession. Xidulu male was seen again in between these sightings when he was located all the way up near the northern boundary of our concession, indicating that he has taken over the majority of Madzinyo’s old territory. Where the Tamboti male has been hiding over the last few weeks is anyone’s guess, but his absence is Xidulu’s gain, and he is making himself very much at home in the eastern third of our concession. N’weti female was also found out in the east one afternoon as she set about unsuccessfully stalking a steenbuck. Neither Nthombi nor Nyeleti females were seen this week, and the absence of the latter makes me convinced that she has had her litter of cubs somewhere and is keeping close to the den. Hopefully we will get a better idea of where she might be hiding them over the coming weeks.
The large herbivores enjoyed the greenery even more than me this week, and there were plenty of elephants, rhinos and even some good herds of buffalos across the concession for most of the week. It’s remarkable to look back to photos taken only a month ago when they were eating dry branches and dead grass. Now, they are able to enjoy an all-the-green-you-can-eat buffet! The zebras also seemed to be loving the area, but with so much food around, the giraffes and wildebeest seem to have temporarily dispersed to the surrounding, under-utilised areas of the Greater Kruger Park.We still got to see them on most drives, but not in the numbers that we had been seeing only a couple of weeks back.
And that folks, is that! I trust that you have enjoyed our weekly updates over the course of the past year and look forward to bringing you many more photos and updates in 2020! May you all have Blessed festive seasons and a great end to 2019.
Until next time, cheers!