Tanda Tula - Timbavati - South Africa
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A Week of Pups, Cubs and the Big 7

Chad Cocking | A Week In Pictures

I usually spend this time of year writing about how the bush is starting to dry out as we head towards winter. But after another 22mm of rain around Tanda Tula Plains Camp, the surrounding bushveld is actually getting greener by the week. It is probably as green as it was at the end of January!  Even a few migratory barn swallows and cuckoos seemed to have waited around a little longer due to the conditions.

It wasn’t just the rain that was great this past week, the central Timabvati really produced some excellent viewing for our guests as well.

Before the title of the blog gets you excited at the prospect of seeing photos of the Mayambula Pride’s new cubs, I need to say that we are still waiting for the new litters to be revealed, but that didn’t stop the older cubs from showing themselves a few times.  The pride remained active in the east, and our guides got to see them on a kill for a change!  With four lionesses missing and no males present, the three mothers and their eight cubs spent a couple of days on a zebra kill in the east before moving back towards the Machaton Riverbed.  The pride had been seen on successive days leading up to this kill, and the other lionesses were coming and going from this portion of the pride.  It will be interesting to see whether or not the mothers of the new cubs do rejoin this portion of the pride once the cubs are bigger?  That is however jumping the gun, as we are still waiting to see them!

Tanda Tula - Timbavati - South Africa

Tanda Tula - Timbavati - South Africa

The River Pride were also found with two zebra kills this week, and unsurprisingly, the pride is looking in great shape, despite missing the oldest lioness.  She was last seen mating with the limping Nharhu male in the northern Timbavati and hasn’t rejoined the pride.  A lone lioness was found with a young giraffe kill on the banks of the Nhlarulumi, but we suspect she is a member of the Sark Pride.  A few other Sark lionesses were seen at the sight of the buffalo kill made by the Vuyela males, and it was both encouraging and breathe-taking to see all five of these large males together again!  Needless to say, they made short work of the buffalo before heading back to Klaserie, but their tracks were found near Nkhari Homestead a couple of days later.  The Giraffe Pride also left us quite a few signs near Plains Camp, but sadly they returned to the south of our concession on both occasions.

Tanda Tula - Timbavati - South Africa

Tanda Tula - Timbavati - South Africa

Tanda Tula - Timbavati - South Africa

The leopards also had a successful week of hunting, and we saw Nyeleti and her cubs spending a few days close to Safari Camp with a large male impala kill; it is always special seeing a leopard, but to see three together is just magic!  I am going to go out on a limb and state that both of the youngsters look like they are female…but we also thought Nthombi’s last successfully raised cub was a female until he was around 9 months old and his boy bits began showing.

We also got our first sighting of the Mvubu female leopard on the banks of the Klaserie River.  She had made a kill inside the garden of the camp by the river, so the staff moved the kill to the banks of the river where this shy leopard could feed without being disturbed.  We had a good sighting of her the first morning, but the next day our early morning approach saw her descend the tree and head into the thickets…but she wasn’t alone, and we saw that she had a cub of around 6 months old with her!  We returned after dark, and although it took us a little while to spot her, we did find both mother and cub sprawled out in a nearby Jackalberry Tree. Neither leopard seemed to care about our presence, and we ended up having a fantastic sighting of the two of them resting.  Scotch also had a sighting of Sunset female close to our bush breakfast site earlier in the week.

A week of great predator viewing was completed when we got to spend time with a different pack of wild dogs around Plains Camp on two separate occasions this week; it was a pack of 13 members, and I still need to investigate who they are, but they paid us a visit right in front of plains camp on their first visit before hunting on the plains and crossing over the Klaserie River.  We then managed to complete the Big 7 for my guests when we heard a report that a cheetah had been seen crossing from Klaserie towards our Plains Camp property; I headed in that direction and told Glen “this is where the cheetah crossed”, and not 5 seconds later he casually raised his hand to point out a bush…but behind the bush was a male cheetah resting in typical cheetah fashion!  He was a very relaxed individual and after some time got up and walked off.  Sadly he didn’t make his way to the plains in the west…well, at least not that we saw!

Tanda Tula - Timbavati - South Africa

The elephants also started to get a little more active around Plains Camp, whilst the herds continued to be seen in the east.  Buffalo were a little more scarce, although there were at least two herds that moved through the area; one passed through the western parts, whilst the other was close to Tanda Tula Field Camp.   Speaking of, Formen was guiding a group at field camp this week and had a fantastic time; his guests’ walks included sightings of elephant bulls, a breeding herd of elephants, a herd of buffalos, the two Skorro male lions and also a sighting of a male leopard…all on foot, and all close to Field Camp!

Over and above the big game, the week continued to be filled with plenty of general game sightings that included herds of zebras, wildebeest, giraffes and impalas, pods of hippos, sounders of warthogs, clans of hyenas, kudus, waterbucks, white-tailed mongooses (including one that popped up in the day whilst following the wild dogs) and many, many species.  All in all, I think you will have to agree that it was another great week here at Tanda Tula!

Until next time, keep safe!






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