Chad Cocking | A Week In Pictures
Just when we thought our rainy season was past, we had another good downpour this past weekend, leading to 36mm falling in the western part of the Timbavati at Tanda Tula Plains Camp, and not too dissimilar amounts falling over the central regions around Safari Camp. Combined with the downpour the week before, it has led to a definite greening of the bush, and many small wallows have once again filled with water. The areas around Nkhari and Tanda Tula Field Camp are especially green, and the available water has led to some fantastic viewing in that part of our concession with loads of impalas, zebras, giraffe, wildebeest and elephants being seen.
The rainy conditions made it a little difficult out there for a few days as off-road driving wasn’t possibly in the soggy conditions, but the guides still managed to see some decent game, with the Mayambula Pride in the eastern sections providing for more consistent viewing. I didn’t manage to see the cubs this week, but they were reported over the first few days of the week before going AWOL. The pride members around the new cub den site in the south-east remained active for most of the week, and we got to see one of the Skorro males mating with a young lioness from the pride, although she didn’t look too interested. The highlight of the week was no doubt having the Giraffe Pride back in the area around Plains Camp.
Hearing roaring straight east of the camp one morning, Guy and Civilized set out to find them, and succeeded in locating on six lionesses and ten cubs. This was a great surprise as we only knew of the six older cubs, but the pride had their numbers bolstered by the addition of these new cubs who looked to be around four months old. They remained well hidden for most of the day before coming out after sunset as the bellows a nearby buffalo herd caught their attention. We left them before it got dark and followed up the next day and located the pride on a zebra kill; both the Hercules and Sumatra males had joined up and the pride made quick work of the poor equine as hordes of vultures gathered in the area. Although the hyenas arrived to try and get their share, the pride males ensured that they were not getting a single scrap! We are keeping our fingers crossed that as the cubs get bigger, the pride will start utilising our concession more regularly.
The leopard viewing was reasonably good at the start of the week with Civilized eventually finding Ntsongwaan male leopard in the west! This big male dominates a large area of the southern Timbavati, and has been seen regularly within our concession over the years, and we hope to spend more time with him whilst based at Plains Camp. Civ also had brief sightings of Savanna female, as well as what appeared to be Sunset’s daughter. Nyeleti female had the remains of a large male impala kill hoisted up a marula tree one morning, and had both of her cubs in the area, but she was joined by a nervous male leopard that we suspect had already eaten a fair share of the kill. Nyeleti and her cubs moved off that afternoon and were seen resting in the Nhlaralumi riverbed, with the male leopard not too far away. Guy also found two different young male leopards on Nkhari one morning; the one was a skittish individual with an impala kill, and the other was the more relaxed male that we have been seeing over the past few months. Sadly, we haven’t seen any signs of the mother leopard and her three cubs in that area for a while now.
Our good predator viewing for the week continued with several sightings of the northern pack of 20-odd wild dogs that spent much of the week in our concession, especially around Nkhari Homestead. It is always such a treat to have these endangered mammals in our area, and the excitement of following them on the hunt never gets old! The pack did successfully catch one impala whilst following them one afternoon, but by the time we managed to get back to the pack, they had finished it all!!! The hyenas also continued to be very present in the area, with the den site at Plains Camp providing daily entertainment as the cubs grow more and more confident by the day.
Once again, we had a number of return guests joining us this week, and my particular guests constantly commented on the amount of general game we were seeing not only around the plains, but also in the Timabvati in general at the moment – giraffes, zebras, wildebeest, warthogs, impalas and kudu are common sights, and they were also joined this week by the welcome return of at least two different breeding herds of buffalo around Plains Camp; one herd numbered in excess of 300 individuals, and the other was also over 100-plus members. Add to this daily elephant sightings and fantastic birds (with many migrants still in the area, including European rollers, woodland kingfishers and wood sandpipers) that include regular sightings of southern ground hornbills, secretary bird, white-browed sparrow weavers (very rare for the Greater Kruger) and vultures everywhere, and you can see why our guests are loving visiting us here at Tanda Tula.
I am heading on leave next week, but I will be able to post one more update before heading off for a couple of weeks, so be sure to check back again next week to see what our animals have been up to!
Until then, stay safe
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