Hello again, and thank you Luke for your weekly updates in my absence. As always, I am delighted to see that my departure from the reserve brought out all the animals!!! It was almost frustrating getting updates from my friends of the lions, leopards, wild dogs and cheetahs that were being seen as I enjoyed my break just to the north of the Timbavati. As lovely as my time away was, it was equally enjoyable to make a return to the place I call home and catch up with some of the old and new faces!
As seems to be the usual theme, we had yet more rain this week, adding 40mm to our already impressive summer rainfall figures. We enjoyed two days of soaking rain that eventually culminated in the rivers flowing for a couple of days, but the most incredible weather of the week belonged to the wind that blew in immediately after the rain, and we experienced 36 hours of some of the most intense winds I have ever seen blowing in the Timbavati – how we didn’t lose a number of the larger trees is beyond me, but it was a strong, relentless, blustery wind that is most unusual for this part of the Greater Kruger.
Well, I sadly didn’t get to catch up with the new face I wanted to see most, and that is the newest member of the River Pride. Just before my return to work the guides had their first sighting of the 6-week-old cub born to the youngest River Pride female, and if I am honest, we were all a little disappointed to hear that there is only the one cub. But as Luke reminded me, one cub is better than no cubs, and with the other young lioness in the pride expected to have her cubs soon (if not already), we will have more on the way. I, in fact, failed to see the River Pride this past week, with the most frustrating moment being when I saw their tracks on our southern boundary one morning, and reported this to Scotch when he came back on drive, and upon checking the same spot in the afternoon, found the whole pride resting in the same place!
The other lion news this week was the surprise arrival in the area of some members of the Western Pride from the northern Timbavati. Three of their five lionesses were seen resting in the Nhlaralumi one day, with tracks for the other two lionesses further east. I can’t recall this pride having come into our concession for many years, if ever. They aren’t the only new faces around, there has also been a small pride of three lions frequenting the western parts of the concession, comprising of a nice male (the Dundee male from northern Klaserie), and two lionesses from what we believe are known as the Balule Pride (also northern Klaserie). With the Nharhu males spending so much time to the south-east of the concession, it has left a gaping hole in the central and western portions of Tanda Tula, so it is not a big surprise to see some new lions moving in to fill the void.
On the leopard front, my first drive back saw five leopards being found; I spent the afternoon enjoying a sighting of Thumbela and her cub resting near their impala kill, followed by time with the gorgeous N’weti resting high up in a marula tree. Later in the drive, Nyeleti and Xigodo were also found on the Nhlaralumi – talk about being spoilt for choice. Thumbela was with her kill for a couple of days, and it was just what her son needed to help get him more habituated to the vehicles, now he seems to be coming along nicely. Thumbela was seen on a couple more occasions in the vicinity of Machaton Dam to the east of Tanda Tula Safari Camp. Scotch and his guests also caught up with Nyeleti leading Xigodo towards a kill made on the windy night and in the afternoon, Jack managed to track them down with a kudu calf kill, but sadly Nyeleti had hidden the kill in such a thicket that it made seeing them feeding impossible. Luckily they could be seen when they moved away from their dinner. Ntsongwaan was also seen in the far west during the week.
Sadly, our wild dogs only showed themselves when I wasn’t braving the rainy conditions, and although they spent more than three days in the area this past week, I managed to miss them when they were around; Luke however managed to find them running along our access road near camp when he was heading into Hoedspruit one morning. The cheetahs that had been so evident the week before (when both the relaxed female and two males dominant males showed themselves) were unfortunately not spotted again this week.
With there being good food growing all over the place, the general game and elephants were widely dispersed, but it was pleasing to see regular herds of wildebeest, zebras, impalas, giraffes and elephants on most drives, irrespective of where one drove, which is a wonderful feature of summer! It was also great to see our little ostrich family doing so well, and we are pleased to report that all eight chicks are still alive and well!
For now though, let me leave you to enjoy some of the images I managed to capture this week, and I look forward to sharing more news with you all again next week.
Until next time, take care!