Photo credit: Chad Cocking | A leopard resting on a tree branch at Tanda Tula in the Timbavati Game Reserve, South Africa.
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A Week of Forgetting it’s Winter

Chad Cocking | A Week In Pictures

Photo credit: Chad Cocking | Leopard under the moon at Tanda Tula in the Timbavati Game Reserve, South Africa.

As we tore yet another page off our calendars, we could well have been forgiven expecting to see the September page of the calendar showing based on the temperatures we were experiencing.  A second look confirmed that we are indeed only in July yet experiencing mid-winter days of 34°C degrees!

That being said, it does feel alarmingly cool following Lytton in Canada’s record of 49,6°C recorded this week!  Rest assured though, just as we are starting to think that this will be a mild winter, the weather gods are sure to deliver us some bitingly cold days and nights.

As for the game, I think the cool mornings and evenings meant that, despite being hot, they still enjoyed life and carried on with their business.  At times this week it felt as though all of them were doing it out of sight, we had to work really hard for our sightings this week.  Fortunately, as the week drew to a close, the sightings did pick up and we got to enjoy some good viewing.

Photo credit: Chad Cocking | A Leopard walking through the grass at Tanda Tula in the Timbavati Game Reserve, South Africa.

The leopard sightings remain consistently good, with Xigodo our young male providing for regular viewing as he remains very sedentary in the same general area.  We did get to see him wandering around close to our bush breakfast spot one afternoon, but the next day he was back in the last spot that Nyelti left him several weeks ago.

Alarmingly, he just isn’t having any success with hunting (and if he is, the hyenas must be stealing his food), as he is looking very skinny.  In fact, we decided this week that until such a time as he is able to get a good meal and find his feet, he is to be left to his own devices and not followed if found walking around.  Luckily, leopards are adaptable animals, and I am confident that he will make ends meet soon enough – hey, if Marula Jnr and Xisiwana could do it at 10 months old, then Xigodo at over 18 months shouldn’t have any issues.  One good meal will restore his condition and hopefully kick start his life of independence.

Photo credit: Chad Cocking | Hyena's harassing a leopard with their kill up a treeat Tanda Tula in the Timbavati Game Reserve, South Africa.

Photo credit: Chad Cocking | A young Leopard feeding on a kill up in a tree at Tanda Tula in the Timbavati Game Reserve, South Africa.

Photo credit: Chad Cocking | A young Leopard resting in the grass at Tanda Tula in the Timbavati Game Reserve, South Africa.

We did have a brief catch up with Marula Jnr this week when she was feeding on a steenbuck kill hoisted up a marula tree along our access road.  On the same afternoon, we also found the pale-eyed male with an impala kill on the access road close to camp, and although we gave him lots of space and he didn’t run away when we viewed him from the road, by the time we checked up on him after dark he had sadly decided to move his kill.

Thumbela and her son provided the best viewing of the week, starting when we found a drag-mark for a kill and followed up to find the two of them up an apple leaf tree with the remains of the kill, as the hyenas prowled below.  The young boy then spent the next two days around Machaton Dam and Thumbela was also seen in the area; it is really nice to have her sticking around for a bit!

The fact that the leopards were out and about meant that the lions were not; we did however manage to eventually track down the pride’s sans the youngest cubs.  Sadly, my camera didn’t record any of the images I took and as a result, I cannot post anything from that sighting. The pride was looking hungry and in need of a meal, but sadly they didn’t have any luck with the impalas we were watching them stalk.  As for the males, they were around at the start of the week, and showed up later on a kudu kill that they appeared to have stolen from some hyenas.  Following this, they headed south and their roars remained very distant for the remainder of the week.

Photo credit: Chad Cocking | Portrait of a male lion at night at Tanda Tula in the Timbavati Game Reserve, South Africa.

Two members of the Sark Breakaways popped up on our western boundary one afternoon, and the Giraffe Pride with the Hercules and Sumatra males were seen on a zebra kill in the far west.  The most interesting news of the week was the finding of the 16-strong members of the Mayambula pride in the far eastern reaches of the Timbavati.  Their presence of the Mayambula’s in this area might account for the “mystery pride” in the east that resulted in injuries and the death of the oldest River Pride lioness!  Time will tell if they make their way back into their old territory.

Photo credit: Chad Cocking | A Buffalo at sunset at Tanda Tula in the Timbavati Game Reserve, South Africa.

Photo credit: Chad Cocking | A young elephant calf at Tanda Tula in the Timbavati Game Reserve, South Africa.

Once more the large buffalo herd was very active to the west, and we went to see them a couple of times – it is quite a sight to see 250-300 of these large herbivores mowing their way through the abundant grass loads in the area.  The elephant herds were slightly less active this week, but there were almost always a herd or two around.  The wildebeest, giraffes and zebras stuck around in the east a little more, but after some difficult weeks of game viewing, it is looking to pick up a little now.

Photo credit: Chad Cocking | A hyena at Tanda Tula in the Timbavati Game Reserve, South Africa.

Our wild dogs only popped in briefly, but by the time we got to the area the hyenas had stolen and finished their kills and the pack of dogs had moved back north.  Reports are that there are 14 pups at the den, and we cannot wait until they get more mobile and venture into our concession.

As always, enjoy these images and be sure to keep a lookout for more images on our other social media platforms.  Until next time, stay safe

Cheers

Chad

Photo credit: Chad Cocking | A leopard up a tree at night at Tanda Tula in the Timbavati Game Reserve, South Africa.

Photo credit: Chad Cocking | Portrait of a Zebra at Tanda Tula in the Timbavati Game Reserve, South Africa.

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