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A Week of Super Prides in Photos

Chad Cocking | A Week In Pictures

It is getting to that time of the year again when I can’t believe we have just ripped another month from the calendar and in the blink of an eye we are already a quarter of the way through 2023. The days are getting shorter, the mornings cooler and despite all the rain we had in February, autumn is slowly starting to reveal itself in the vegetation of the central Timbavati as the grasses get a shade more golden with each passing day. I was on drive for only a few days of the week that was, but from the sounds of things out there, it was another wonderful week illustrating why this is such a great time to visit Tanda Tula.

For another week in a row, it was the lions that stole the show out there, with all three of our large pride playing along rather nicely. The stars around Tanda Tula Plains Camp continue to be the Giraffe Pride, and they again spent over half of the week on the plains below camp; sometimes it was only a few lost youngsters (they seem to frequently leave a few members behind these days), but the entire pride spent no fewer than three days in the area this past week – it is a sight I don’t think I will ever tire of seeing; 25 lions on the move together.

The Mayambula Pride also spent several days of the week in the areas east of Tanda Tula Safari Camp, and this is something we can only hope continues when we move back to our new home in a few months. The reason for their presence was once again linked to the fact that the Vuyela males had shifted their attention to the Sark Breakaways this week, pulling most of the males to the western sectors, and leaving the Mayambula Pride to roam freely in the east. My favourite sighting of the Vuyela’s was when the single male that had been on a buffalo kill on his own for almost four days was joined by another male one afternoon…then whilst we were watching, a third male joined, and this was followed by seven members of the Sark Breakaways and eventually a fourth male of the coalition. This latter member waited until the two males feeding were distracted by an approaching lioness and ran in and tried to grab his share of the carcass. The males continues to growl and snarl at one another whilst the pride knew that they were not going to get any of the maggot-infested remains. The rest of the pride spent a couple more days relaxing in the area and ended the week with one of the members spending the last few days of the week mating with one of the Vuyela males. Although we did not see the fifth male with the pride, all five males of the coalition were accounted for during the week when two members were seen with the Sark Breakaways, and the other three with the River Pride. My guests that checked out earlier in the week had enjoyed seeing a total of 58 lions during their stay – not bad going.

The downside was that with all of this lion activity, the leopards were not nearly as prolific in their presence, and it was a quiet week on the leopard front. Sunset female spent a day in the western areas with a young impala kill hoisted up a tree, but based on the fact that it was merely the rib cage left when Steven and Jack found her, we can only assume that she had already lost the majority of the carcass to the hyenas. Nyeleti was found close to Safari Camp later in the week too, but it was a quieter-than-normal week for our spotted cats.

The guests were once again treated to some great wild dog viewing during the past week with two different packs spending time in the western areas of the concession; as these areas also have good hyena populations, there were some wonderful interactions seen between the dogs and the hyenas whenever the dogs got active and began hunting.

Tristan commented that there were good numbers of elephants out and about across the reserve – but I know that the last time he told me that, I went out and drive and could barely find one. Fortunately, the radio reports that I heard confirmed his comments. With the smaller pans and wallows drying up in the absence of rain, the larger waterholes are going to start drawing in more and more elephants.

We are getting to that time of the year when our migratory birds start making the long trip back to the northern hemisphere; although we are still seeing European rollers, woodland kingfishers, and barn swallows, we can expect their presence to start diminishing as the weeks of April go by. Fortunately – although we will miss them – this is the time of the year when the calls of the migratory birds begin to be replaced by the less-appealing sounds of rutting impalas. We are entering an entertaining time of year for impala dynamics; although I doubt it is as entertaining for the males being chased away, and the females being chased around for mating.

I am back on drive later this week, so will return again next Monday with a full report of what has been happening out there in the Timbavati.

Until next time, cheers!




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