Just when it was starting to feel like the rainy season was over, we received varied amounts of rain last weekend ranging from 20-40mm of rain across the concession; whilst the impact on the grasses wasn’t as immediate as I thought it would be, it was great to see the small natural pans once again filled with rain and hear the cacophony of frogs ringing out over the bush. Together with generally mild, cloudy weather, it made for a very pleasant week of weather, and this translated into some very nice game viewing too.
The weekend also saw a full house at Tanda Tula Safari Camp and Nkhari Homestead, and with many lodges having guests too, it meant that we had more eyes and ears out over the long weekend and the results were noticeable. Once most of the camps emptied out, it did make it a little more challenging finding sightings with only a couple of vehicles out – yet we still managed to give the guests some good sightings.
After a prolonged period of being split up and not behaving like a pride, or indeed barely showing themselves, the River Pride made a return. Following up on some early morning roars, we found all nine members together for the first time in ages – the females and youngsters were looking good, the limping male was still putting pressure on his injured leg, and the cut-nosed boy was in fine shape. Despite discussions amongst our guides that the third male may possibly have died, he re-joined the pride, but is sadly still looking in a very poor condition and is making me even more certain that it is not a lack of food that is contributing towards his condition, but rather some illness or disease. We are still no closer to knowing where the new cubs are hidden, but the pride’s movements and behaviour continue to follow the same paths, routes and areas that the Mayambula Pride did before they disappeared into to the wilderness of the Kruger Park. With these lions becoming less reliable, it was good to see that the two new prides continued to make themselves at home.
The Balule females and Dundee male were around for the majority of the time and were found resting in the Nhlaralumi throughout the week. They also got themselves another wildebeest kill not too far from camp and spent a couple of days feeding on that before returning to the cool, shady sands of the Nhlarralumi. It looks to me like one of the lionesses is showing signs of milk production, so I do suspect that she is pregnant – will they settle and give birth in the same area that the River Pride used a year ago?
The Sark Breakaway Pride also returned on our western sections during the course of the week and showed signs that they too had fed recently. So, while we are missing the River Pride, it is good to not be missing our lions too much.
The wild dogs also returned this past week, first with the large pack of 31 members making a kill off our access road on Nkhari, and then later in the week – with guests very excited to see these endangered carnivores – I made a long trip right to the far western parts of the Timbavati to see them for myself. It was quite a sight to see so many of these stunning canids walking across a large open plain and suddenly burst into a sprint as they pursued some unfortunate impalas. As Murphey would have it, as I was making the even longer trip home after the sighting, a colleague informed me that he had found another pack of a dozen wild dog active around Machaton Dam; so I could have travelled 3km to see them instead of 20km! Fortunately, the following morning we only travelled just over a kilometre before we came across the pack and spent most of the morning in their company.
Another highlight of the week was our first viewing of a newborn baby rhino – this cute little bundle of joy was very confident in our presence as she explored her world and her mother stood guard, and we can only hope that she is able to live out a full and fruitful life in a world that is more challenging for their species now than it has ever been in their entire history.
Speaking of new life, we also want to take this opportunity to welcome the newest member to our Tanda Tula family and congratulate Britt and Luke on the birth of their healthy son. We want to wish the three of them the best of luck for the next exciting chapter of their lives, and look forward to welcoming them back home in the not too distant future.
And that is it from us my side for the week – be sure to check out our Facebook page for more photos from the week and check back again next week for more updates on what has been happening here at Tanda Tula. We are pleased to say that we are picking up with our occupancies over this period, and whilst that is great news for all of our staff here, it does sadly mean that it has not given me any opportunities to get out and record an episode of Sofa Safari for this week. That being said, I will have one out on Easter Weekend, and I will do my best to keep producing them as often as my guiding schedule allows over the coming months, so be sure to keep checking on our social media feeds to see when the forthcoming episodes have been uploaded.
Until next time, take care!