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A Week of New Babies in Photos

Chad Cocking | A Week In Pictures

Welcome to a new work week, and we thought ‘what better way to start the week than to enjoy a taste of the Timbavati?’ by sharing our week in pictures with you on a Monday and to kick start the week dreaming of Africa.

I almost feel like I could copy and paste last week’s introductory paragraph about the weather, as it’s been similar to the previous week; a very hot weekend (reaching around 37°C was brought to an abrupt ending with the arrival of a cold front from the Cape which meant two days of windy and cool weather. Those cooler days soon became a distant memory as the warm weather returned, and looking at the forecast for the week ahead, we are in for more of the same – although next week’s cold front is scheduled to bring our first rains. The spring season continued to slowly add to its color palette; in addition to a few large weeping boerbeans that have burst into flower, drawing an array of birds to sip nectar from the profusion of red flowers, the tree wistarias have also begun showing off their purple flowers. A closer look at some of the trees reveals that a number of them are budding with fresh green leaves despite not receiving any rain. We didn’t add any more migratory birds to our list this week, but I am sure it won’t be long before we start hearing the cuckoos and European bee-eaters returning.

This week did see us enjoying the wonderful sights of a few new baby animals within the area. Closest to home, another hyena has given birth to a litter of cubs at a second den site on the doorstep of Tanda Tula Plains Camp. We had a few brief glimpses of the cub as it poked its head out of the den whilst nursing from mom, and the tiny tot couldn’t have been more than four or five days old. The other seven hyena cubs continue to grow in both size and confidence, and it remains a treat to spend time with them around the camp. Although we haven’t visited it yet, there is a second hyena clan’s den close to Tanda Tula Safari Camp that has also become active again after several years of inactivity, and from the radio report, there are a couple of very small cubs that have been born there too.

Another lovely surprise this week was getting to see the six newest members of the Mayambula Pride. Jack and I were looking for lions one morning and had tracks for a lioness coming and going from a thicket on the banks of the Machaton, and upon investigating found three small lion cubs – we had just spotted them when a call came through confirming two lionesses with three other cubs a few kilometers further up the road, so realising that the mother wasn’t in the area we left them and headed on over to see the other three bundles of joy. The other eighteen members of the Mayambula Pride were a little less cooperative this week and spent an increasing amount of time to the north of the concession. Jack did manage to track them down one morning, but they didn’t get up too much. Later in the week, the two lionesses with the six cubs were found with all the cubs together again in the northern parts of our concession, and they seemed to settle into a new den site in that area. In the west, the Giraffe Pride only popped into our concession once this past week and sadly didn’t spend much time in the area as their tracks crossed back south.

As so often happens, in the absence of lions the other predators came to play. It was another decent week of leopard viewing that began with Ntsongwaan male finishing off the warthog kill that had kept him in the area for a further two days. We spent time with him as he was finishing off the kill, and after the skull fell out of the tree to the hyenas waiting below, a second leopard – presumably his son – arrived at the tree and drew very little response from the big, dominant male. As soon as Ntsongwaan descended, the young male shot up the Boerbean tree to search for scraps, but there were none to be had. This is not the first time I have seen dominant male leopards tolerating their independent sons at their kills. A day later, again spoilt with two leopards in a tree; this time it was Savannah and her son finishing off an impala kill close to Plains Camp. Marula Jnr female made a return after many months of absence when she was found with a duiker kill just on the Klaserie side of the Timabvati-Klaserie border, and she was looking in great shape. A few days earlier another unnamed leopard also had a kill further west on the boundary before the Sark Breakaway lioness came and stole her kill; we managed to find the fairly relaxed female resting up a marula tree a few hundred meters from where she had a kill. Ntsongwaan again pitched up fat-bellied later in the week and spent the day resting off his belly near one of the dams before having a late evening drink and then heading off on his way.

It wasn’t just the leopards that were out, and we got to see a couple of packs of wild dogs during the week; the first was an unusually small pack of three members resting after a successful morning hunt, and a few days later the oddly name LP-BZ pack from the Kruger National Park (named by the EWT wild dog researchers) was found just outside Tanda Tula Safari Camp before heading off to a nearby waterhole and resting off for the day.

The buffalo bulls remained evident around the Klaserie River as well as a few other spots in the reserve, with only a small herd of around 50 members having a drink at Impala Dam. Similarly, the elephant bulls were very active around Plains Camp, and the sound of tree trunks cracking in half as these behemoths pushed them over could be heard at night. A few family groups were moving in the central regions, but most herds appear to have been most evident in the east.

There seemed to be even more plains game activity in the area this week, with plentiful giraffes and wildebeest across the reserve, as well as loads of kudus, zebras, and impalas.

We trust that you will have a great week ahead and will catch up again next Monday. Until then, take care.

Chad

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