Tanda-Tula wild dog, Timbavati
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A Week of Hard Work in Pictures

Chad Cocking | A Week In Pictures

Hello all, and thanks for checking up on this week’s edition of the Week in Pictures. It was week that felt like a lot of hard work to get the sightings that we needed, but persistence paid off, and it was amazing what a good tracker can get you – three days of me searching for animals on my own for Sofa Safaris produced very little, but one day with Glen at the helm and we found a leopard and a pride of lions with kills! So maybe it wasn’t such hard work, I just missed my trusty aide!

Tanda-Tula River Pride cub, Timbavati

The lions had a busy week, but it seems as though they reserved their efforts for when I wasn’t around. The biggest event of the week was waking up to hear the limping Nharhu male roaring very close to camp as we were about to head out for morning drive, but it took us over hour to eventually catch up with him – not bad for a lion that hobbles around on three legs!  However, that morning was down to the fact that he had somehow picked up on the presence of the Balule females and Dundee male and prompt set out in search of them and from the tracks of both parties, he must have caught up with them because they were all going all over the show!  It was really the last thing we wanted to happen just as the small pride were starting to get settled, and with one female showing signs of being pregnant, they will be less likely to have cubs in the area if the threat of Nharhu males persists.  It doesn’t appear as though they had physical contact, and in the days that followed it was actually very positive to see that the Balule lionesses stayed within the area for most of the week.  They hadn’t reunited with the Dundee male, but his tracks and occasional roar could be heard in the west.  The Nharhu males moved around in the eastern sections, and they were seen together with the whole River Pride on our southern boundary one morning, but naturally they disappeared for a few days when I went out in search of them.  As the week drew to a close, Glen and I headed into the area to see what we could find and after some searching found tracks for a lone lioness going up and down the road. Then we noticed the tracks of the cubs, and counted three sets of tracks going back where she came from. We had seen hyenas milling around in the area, and when the lion tracks headed straight into that area, we knew we were onto something, and sure enough found the River Pride lionesses, the two older cubs, as well as our first view of the three new little ones!  It was a brief view, as we were the first vehicle they had seen, but mom soon coaxed them back to the area of the wildebeest kill. Sadly it was already getting warm in the late morning and another lioness dragged the kill into the thickets on the banks of the Machaton, and whilst we could hear the cubs, the grass was so long and thick that there was practically no view of them.  Fortunately though, we know where they are, so hopefully this time next week you will be seeing some new photos of them! In other lion news, the Sark-breakaways were seen on a couple of occasions in the west, but with so few game drive vehicles operating in the area, it was tough to keep track of them.

Tanda-Tula leopard female descending a tree, Timbavati

The leopards were not overly active this week, but one sighting I missed out on (because I was watching wild dogs) was of Thumbela climbing into a perfect knobthorn tree as the full moon rose to the east…as least that is how I imagined the sighting listening to it on the radio! During the middle of the week I noticed a bunch of vultures dropping down to ground whilst I was out on a run.  I went to check and found a dead male impala that didn’t have any signs of predation, but when I followed up in the afternoon, I noticed a fresh leopard track where the carcass had been.  I decided to rather fetch the vehicle to follow up and ended up finding that the leopard had dragged the kill into the bush right next to where I had been standing – only 6 or 7m away, and whilst positioning the vehicle the leopard moved off out of the same thicket!  The giraffes could see the cat, but despite searching we couldn’t get lucky.  Later in the evening Xigodo young male was seen leaving the area, so we can only assume it was him.  A couple of days later we found Nyeleti with a fresh impala kill close to Tanda Tula Safari Camp before she walked off to fetch Xigodo and bring him to the kill.  I also managed to identify the leopard that was mating last week – a new face to us in the south; a 14 to 15 year old female from the north known as Klakisa!  She had clearly wandered down this side in search of a male to mate with – which is interesting as Xidulu male seems to have taken over the territory where Klakisa is territorial, so I am not sure why she didn’t mate with him?

Tanda-Tula hyena by Chad Cocking, Timbavati

Tanda-Tula elephant, Timbavati

Tanda-Tula Field Camp, Timbavati, Greater Kruger

This week also started off with good wild dogs as the pack of 12 remained in the area for the first part of the week. I was down at our newly located Field Camp for the weekend and we found the pack close to Nkhari Homestead and spent the afternoon with them, as they went on the hunt, but darkness soon took over.  We then sat around the fire listening to the wild dogs, hyenas and elephants chasing one another around us right next to Field Camp.  The next afternoon we found them again and hoped for a repeat of some action, but sadly our patience wasn’t rewarded and having fed well in the morning they clearly weren’t in the mood to hunt.  Later in the week they were reported on our western boundary, but there were no further reports of them.

 

Tanda-Tula Field Camp, Timbavati

 

Tanda-Tula Wahlberg's Eagle, Timbavati

Tanda-Tula giraffe, Timbavati

Tanda-Tula wildebeest, Chad Cocking
Other than the predators, it was lovely to see that so many of our migratory birds were still with us – we saw barn swallows, Wahlberg’s eagles, European rollers, European bee-eaters, red-backed shrike and woodland kingfishers all still with us.  We also had fairly good general game with lots of wildebeest and giraffes around in the east, some nice groupings of zebras and even a small herd of buffalo crossed through our concession.  The elephant herds were around, but my favourite elephant sighting was of the impressive bull known as Classic – despite having broken both of his tusks, he is still a sight to behold and we had a lovely afternoon in his calm presence. This made our encounter with him on the way back to camp a little surprising, as when we bumped into him coming the other way down one of the roads, he did not look best pleased at our presence, and made sure we took a great, long detour by not letting us pass, and speedily striding in our direction!

Tanda-Tula zebra, Chad Cocking

Tanda-Tula wild dogs with Scotch, Timbavati

With a long weekend coming up, a full camp and more vehicles out looking for game, I am hoping that we have a good week of viewing ahead!

Until next time, take care!

Cheers
Chad

Tanda-Tula Field Camp, Timbavati
Tanda-Tula Field Camp, Timbavati, Greater Kruger

Tanda-Tula Field Camp, Timbavati

Tanda-Tula hippo, Timbavati

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