We are only a few days from spring’s official start, but as August draws to a close, the subtle arrival of the season has already begun. The Knobthorns (Senegalia nigrescens), long-tailed cassias (Cassia abbreviate beareana) and even the ivy grapes (Rhoicissus spp) have begun to blossom and sprout new flowers. The weather was also reminiscent of a typical spring with some summer-like days gracing us this past week, but it also felt like we experienced all seasons in one week from misty mornings and chilly nights to gusting winds and very warm afternoons. All in all, it did make for another good week of game viewing here at Tanda Tula.
The lions continued to provide us with good viewing, and after finding the limping Nharhu male with the Mayambula Pride last week, it should probably not come as a surprise that the week started out with us finding the pride in the presence of a different male this time around; one of the Skorro males had reunited with the pride and spent a couple of days mating with the lionesses. His roaring led us to a pair one evening, and the next morning the pair had joined the rest of the lionesses on a small zebra kill, which didn’t last long with seven lions.
Whilst resting off their breakfast, a breeding herd of elephants arrived to chase them off, but the pride soon regrouped and the Skorro male continued to mate with the lionesses. The limping Nharhu male found his voice again and could be heard roaring in the south-west where the River Pride seems to have set up base of late. The pride were seen a couple of times this week, and although the cubs were looking like they could do with a meal, the pride was in fair shape considering their circumstance. The week ended with the pride being found fat-bellied and resting a few kilometres west of Safari Camp.
We also got to see a portion of the Giraffe Pride in the west this week, but the most interesting development was the return of the long-lost last standing lioness of the Ross Pride, but this time she wasn’t alone! She has somehow managed to find and form a union with another long-lost lioness, the young Hercules female. The two have been reported together in the north for the past few weeks but this time made a return to the western parts of the central Timbavati – time will tell how long they hang around, and where they decide to set up base. Their return to our concession was followed a couple of days later by the two Sark breakaway lions also making a return to the western portions of Tanda Tula resulting in five different prides of lions being seen this week.
Perhaps it was the lion activity that kept our leopards a little quieter than usual this week, but we did manage to track down Xigodo and Nyeleti on a few occasions. Xigodo gave us the sighting of the week when he was found close to Tanda Tula Safari Camp, and we followed him as he made his way around the periphery searching for a meal. Some hyenas chased him but he outsmarted them, but in his quest for food, decided to yet again use the roof of my house as a look-out point! After descending the thatch, he promptly went and sat on the deck to get a great view of the river, and almost got more than he bargained for when two honey badgers came trotting along and also ran onto the deck, but fortunately they soon turned around and left the leopard in peace.
That same afternoon the N’weti female was also found on the prowl, but it soon became evident that she was sporting some fresh suckle marks on her teats, and this means that we have some new cubs in the area! We are not sure where she is keeping them, but based on her generally secretive behaviour (especially when it comes to hiding her kills), I am not holding my breath on her taking us back to the cubs any time soon, but it is still exciting to know that we have some new cubs around!
In fact, on the same afternoon as the above sightings, we also got spoiled with a cheetah sighting in the same area as the leopards! This time it was a young, lone male cheetah that was found resting on Giraffe Plains, and we were lucky enough to be watching buffalo close by when he was found and went to spend some time with him. He is not a male I recognise, but sadly we only saw him once before he disappeared off into the eastern wilderness areas. There was also a report of the relaxed female cheetah just south of our boundary this week, as well as the two males in the west – so it does appear that these stunning cats are becoming slightly more active of late.
We were also spoilt this week with the continued presence of not one, but three large breeding herds of buffalo! The herd with our non-binary, long-horned individual continues to be seen daily as they feed and drink in the areas around Safari Camp. Another slightly larger herd is still spending time close to Nkhari Homestead, but the biggest herd of them all was a little further to the west. I only saw the tail-end of the group, but Scotch reckons that there could have been close to a thousand herd members in it!!!
Our elephants were also very active around all parts of the central Timabvati, and as the temperatures warm over the coming weeks, we can only expect this activity to intensify as they move to and from the few remaining water points.
And lastly, we also completed the Super Seven sightings this week with a viewing of a small pack of wild dogs one morning. This was the pack that we were tracking last week, but their visit was a brief one. A day later we were also following up on tracks for a larger pack in our eastern sections but unfortunately they evaded us again.
With good giraffe, zebra and wildebeest sightings this week, more honey badgers, civets and even African wild cat kittens, this was yet again a week to remember, so we hope you enjoy these images (as well as those on Facebook)
I am heading on leave for a couple of weeks, but will be back soon enough to keep you all posted on the happenings of the animals of this part of Greater Kruger.
Until next time, keep safe!
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