Greetings, and welcome back to the last weekly update for 2020! It is a scary thought to realise how quickly this strangest of years has flown by, but as 2020 begins to wind down, it gives us time to reflect on the year that has past, so, be sure to check out both Luke and my upcoming blog posts of our respective highlights from 2020. Before that though, there is one more instalment of Week in Pictures from Tanda Tula Safari Camp. Following on from the previous week’s 50mm of rain, we received a further 22mm this week to ensure that the bush remained lush, green and full of life! Although this time of year is a little tougher when it comes to finding the spotted cats, the bush more than makes up for it with the bounty of other species on offer.
The wildebeest continued to calve this week, and I came across one young calf that was no more than an hour or two old – he was still wet from birth and mom still had the placenta hanging out! It’s always a special treat to see such a young animal, and it never ceases to amaze me at how quickly they are up and, on their feet, and running around keeping up with mom. We also got to see some youngish zebra foals, but there are still many more to be born over the course of this summer (as non-seasonal breeders, the births are not closely synchronised like those of wildebeest and impalas. Babies aside, there were just lots and lots of zebras and wildebeest about ensuring that game drives were filled with great general game sightings, and this included a good number of giraffes in the area again. Ginger also had a nice sized herd of buffalo in the south-central regions this week, and groups of buffalo bulls could regularly be found relaxing in the larger mud wallows on the hotter days.
Our lion sightings were relatively good this weekend, with the Nharhu males being particularly evident in the east this week. We mostly caught up with the two closely-knitted boys as the limping male was off with the River Pride to the north of the concession. However, when the pride did return late in the week, he re-joined his two partners as the females carried on south and settled in the area that we are increasingly suspecting one of them has given birth in. Although we haven’t been able to confirm this by seeing suckle marks, the behaviour of the males, the pride and the presence of tracks for a single lioness moving in the area are causing us to think that it is more and more likely that she has given birth in the Machaton riverbed in the east. We will be sure to keep you posted on any updates should this be confirmed, and should the cubs show (although, this will only likely happen early in the new year).
The Ross lioness showed herself after a long absence, but her continued singledom seems certain proof that she is the sole surviving member of the once large pride. She was looking in good shape for a lone lioness but didn’t get herself into my good books as it was her arrival on the scene that caused a pack of 20-odd wild dogs to run off and disappear as I was making my way towards the area one afternoon. That being said, it was a fair consolation prize to get to spend some time with the Ross female. The Monwana males were seen a couple of times in the west, but one male looked to have quite a bad limp with his hip muscles looking very withered away. That being said, Ginger didn’t seem him move, so we are only assuming he is struggling, but perhaps it was just the way he was lying. Members of the Giraffe Pride were also reported in the area this week, but I didn’t venture west to see them.
The leopards were a little tougher to come by this week, and only Nyeleti and her son gave us a good showing in the central areas along the thickets of the Nhlaralumi. Glen did find a relaxed young male leopard just outside Tanda Tula Safari Camp one evening when he was taking the Land Cruiser back to the parking bays, but he couldn’t be sure exactly who it was, although his suspicion was that it may have been Xisiwana? It would be great, as he hasn’t been seen for months. Thumbela only left footprints in the east, but at present we are not too sure where her den site may be. Hopefully she will reward us with an early Christmas present next week and show us the cub. Ntsongwaan was reported in the west on two occasions this week, but again, none of our guides headed in that direction to see him.
We enjoyed a large number of elephants in this part of the Timbavati this week, with a pleasing number of elephant bulls around once again – with the abundant food, water and breeding herds in the area, it is no surprise that the bulls are making this their home, for now. With some warm weather during the first part of the week, the waterholes and mud wallows were elephant hot spots and herds could be found visiting these spots every afternoon.
As mentioned, there had been a pack of more than 20 wild dogs hanging out in the central parts of the concession this week, and they spent three days around, starting off with a visit to Nkhari Homestead when Dale and Hayley spent the weekend there, and they continued to move around Nkhari for the next couple of days before heading back south. Although we didn’t have any joy with finding cheetah this week, the last morning drive I was on saw fresh tracks for one cheetah having walked on top of where I had driven a little earlier that morning, so they are still around at least!
And that, as they say, is that for this week’s updates, and indeed for 2020s updates! As always, we trust that you enjoy these weekly snippets into the happenings of the lives of the animals that call Tanda Tula home, and we trust that you will enjoy the next couple of weeks’ worth of photo highlights. Once again, it has been a pleasure to be able to share a little of what we get to see with you, and we are all sincerely hoping that 2021 will be a better year that will see us sharing these experiences with more of you, in person. A big thank you though to all of you for your support during 2020, from reading the blogs and commenting on our social media streams, to sharing our posts and being the reason that we go out there and capture these moments. May you all have a fantastic festive season over the coming weeks, be safe as you surround yourself with friends and loved ones and take care until we catch up again!
All the best,