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A Week of Nocturnal Cats in Photos

Chad Cocking | A Week In Pictures

Welcome back to another week in pictures – it was a short, but rather sweet week for me at Tanda Tula Plains Camp, as I was only on drive for three days, but they were a most enjoyable few days out there.  We had our first wintery day during the week when a chilly wind blew in and dropped temperatures from 35 degrees Celsius to a little over 20 degrees as a cold wind swept through us all day.  Aside from that day, the rest of the week remained warm and generally sunny with that typical autumnal feeling. 

Kicking off with the lions, the Giraffe Pride again took centre stage with regular sightings through the week.  It started off with guests that had come to Tanda Tula hoping to see one of the super prides, and they got what they wanted when the Giraffe Pride spent the first day of their stay on the plains and they got to spend time with them.  I joined drive a few days later and heard that some members of the pride were seen crossing off the concession in the morning, and thus we knew they weren’t that far off.  I was chasing leopards that afternoon, but we could hear the lions during dinner, and after desert I stood up and went to the edge of the patio and could hear the unmistakable sound of lions fighting over a kill.  I asked if the guests were keen to go and see some lions, and with an unsurprisingly unanimous decision to do it, we headed out in search of the pride, seeing a grazing hippo, black backed jackals and an African wild cat (not Nova!) before we eventually found the lions just off the access road.  It was the whole pride, but the young wildebeest they had killed was all but finished, with just the two pride males jostling over scraps.  Despite it being a small kill, all members looked fat and well fed, so I am not sure if they had caught two wildebeest and already finished both of them?  The next morning, we tracked them down into the Klaserie River, and it was evident that they had just finished yet another kill.  The pride spent the day resting in the shady riverine vegetation and stayed there until nightfall.  We picked up on the pride just on our southern boundary a day later, and they again spent the day resting on the plains before later in the week eventually moving to the eastern side of their territory – something that they haven’t done for weeks. In the east, neither the Mayambula nor Sark Breakaways showed face, but there were almost daily sightings of the River Pride lionesses and some of the Vuyela males in the areas immediately surrounding Tanda Tula Safari Camp – they spent one day resting in the Nhlaralumi Riverbed within view of the new Safari Suite 1!  There was also a report of a single lioness and a young male lion on Nkhari – the guides suspected it might be one of the Birmingham Breakaway males, but this was not confirmed. 

Despite the lion activity, there were at least a few leopard sightings to report on this week.  After finishing off last week having not seen a leopard myself, it was only natural that Nyeleti was found walking around close to Safari Camp the afternoon after my guests checked out.  Fortunately, they returned to Tanda Tula four days later for round two, and this time we got lucky.  It started with us having a brief sighting of an incredibly large male leopard in the central regions; he wasn’t completely relaxed with the vehicles but given space he appeared to be quite calm – we had a brief view of him before he casually walked into a thicket and we never saw where he emerged.  Earlier that afternoon Scotch had found another large male leopard on the Safari Camp access with an impala kill; he was up in the tree feeding later in the evening, so we decided to go and have a look and got a great view of this male.  Despite being close to Safari Camp, he is the same male that we have seen all the way over at Plains Camp!  He has a massive territory it appears.  Scotch continued his leopard luck later in the week when he found Mvuvu female and her daughter with an impala kill on the plains below camp; this time the duo managed to get the kill into a much better tree than their previous two sightings. The pair spent two days around the kill, and it was our best sighting of the youngster who we can now confirm is indeed a female.  There was a particular rock that I had driven past with my guests this week and said “I would love to see some lions or leopard on that rock”, to which Matt replied that I only had one month left…it appears I only needed two days, as Mvuvu and her daughter went and plopped themselves on that very rock the first evening I saw them.

Aside from the big cats, we didn’t have any wild dogs or cheetahs this week, but there were some good elephant herds moving through the area in both the eastern and western areas, including our long-lost friend Rhandzekile – the elephant cow with a hole in her head.  She has been seen as far south as Skukuza in the Kruger National Park (over 100km away) and has made her way all the way back to the Timbavati.  Buffalos remain scarce, with only the odd bulls being seen.  We got to see a few very young giraffe calves this past week – something that haven’t been in evidence since the Giraffe Pride have been in residence.  Add to that sightings of two caracals close to Safari Camp, a sighting of a civet near Plains Camp, together with the hyenas, jackals and African wild cats, there was a good week of nocturnal viewing out there.  

I am going to be heading on leave for a couple of weeks, and with the camp occupancies dropping off due to some maintenance work, there won’t be any drives out this coming week, and as a result, no blog next week.  But do keep a look out on our social media pages, as we will still keep the content coming your way. 

I shall be back soon to keep you all up to date with the happenings of the lives of the animals that call Tanda Tula home, so until next time, cheers!




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