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A week of flowing rivers

Chad Cocking | A Week In Pictures

Greetings all, and yes, after a couple of weeks of a wonderful leave (that naturally included time in both the Kruger Park at the stunning Return Africa Pafuri Camp, as well as time in the northern Timbavati), I am back at work!  It has been a fairly quiet week with guests here at Tanda Tula Safari Camp, and whilst that meant I wasn’t out on drive much this week, it sadly didn’t mean that I could just kick my feet up and relax.  The good news is that I am back on drive for the next week, so I will be able to enjoy the spoils of a very green central Timbavati.  

Since my last blog we have received just shy of 100mm of rain, including a wonderful soaking 50mm last weekend that led to the riverbeds flowing for the first time in almost exactly a year!  The flow lasted a couple of days before the thirsty sands and return of the sun dried up the river, but it was still great to see the Nhlaralumi flowing past Tanda Tula Safari Camp again.  Whilst I speak of being on drive next week, with Tropical Cyclone Batsirai tracking towards the region, we might be heading out in boats as opposed to Land Cruisers!  That being said, it is still too early to predict the cyclone’s behaviour, and it could be very reminiscent of last year’s cyclone that was also forecast to head into our area and bring us loads of rain before it significantly changed its course.  Either way, we will have the umbrellas handy just in case! 

Regarding our sightings this past week – as well as the weeks that I missed out on – here is a quick recap.   

The Mayambula Pride have still been active in the east, with one lioness and the Skorro males leaving signs all around the den site, but as for the whole their whereabouts and movements remain a mystery.  Their visits to the area have been erratic at best, and we can only assume that the other lionesses have given birth to the east of our concession.  With these lions being far less active than expected, the River Pride have been free to roam back into the area and have been relatively regular visitors to the northern parts of our concession, with the pride popping in a couple of times a week, and spending a day or two at a time here. 

The Ross and Hercules lionesses have also been active to the west of camp, and four Vuyela males and one Sark lioness also showed up in the west this past week.  Guy also found the Sumatra male mating with a Giraffe Pride lioness on our access road close to the entrance to the Timbavati.  So whilst the lions have been far from a guarantee over the past three weeks, there have still been five different prides showing themselves over this time, and we look forward to more lion viewing over the coming weeks, including what will hopefully be our first view of the new lion cubs! 

The leopards have been showing themselves too, but with the long grass and dense cover the good summer rains have provided (we are on 431mm for the season so far – our average is about 450mm), they are able to avoid our prying eyes.  Nyeleti is starting to move around with her two cubs, one of which looks quite relaxed with the presence of vehicles, and as the cubs start growing quicker, she will have to be at the top of her game to keep them fed.  N’weti female was seen mating with the pale-eyed male, which sadly seems to confirm our suspicions that she lost her cub.  Thumbela continues to operate in the east, and she has some new male company in the form of Xidulu male who has again been seen wandering around far and wide.  It would be such a treat if he could re-establish himself in this area after his sojourns north.  Xigodo young male was also seen making a return to the area this week when he was found with an impala kill just to the east of Safari Camp. 

The wild dogs paid us several visits over the course of the past few weeks, including spending a few days in the area at the beginning of this week.  Before I went on leave the female cheetah was quite active in our eastern sections and she continued to use this area towards the end of the month, and the two dominant male cheetahs also popped up for a day in the same area, but we don’t know whether their paths crossed.  The east also started producing regular sightings of a secretary bird – a seldom seen raptor in this part of the Greater Kruger. 

Elephants seemed to abound, and even whilst typing this I can hear them trumpeting close by!  Buffalo bulls have been loving all the mud wallows in the area, but the herds have been far less active, with only one small herd being seen in the far west.  The lush conditions have been great for drawing in good numbers of zebras and giraffes, and the birdlife at this time of the year is still fantastic!   

I am very keen to get out again on drive over the coming week, and look forward to reporting back to you all next week, so be sure to check in again soon! 

Until then, stay safe. 





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