Welcome back to our weekly update of the happenings here at Tanda Tula Safari Camp! It was a wonderfully busy camp over the past weekend, with a number of families traveling to the camp to enjoy the long weekend, and with most lodges in the area being busy, there were a lot more eyes and ears out and about that led to some very good game viewing over the weekend, and even as things calmed down as the guests headed home, the game viewing continued to produce some wonderful big game sightings in the Timbavati.
The best Easter treat was our first proper view of the River Pride cubs! After last week’s zebra kill, Glen and I checked to see if we could find the pride, but with no tracks emerging from the block, we knew that they had spent the day sleeping off their fat bellies. The next morning, with the help of Scotch and Jack, we headed to the area again, and this time the pride had emerged from their slumber and Scotch radioed to tell me that they had found the whole pride out in the open. We joined a little while later to the joyous sight of the three new cubs looking much more confident than a couple of days ago, and the slightly older cub having a blast now that she had three new play mates with as much energy as her! The cubs look to be around 7-8 weeks old, and while we didn’t get to sex them, there do appear to be at least a couple of females. The only pride member that wasn’t present was the sickly Nharhu male. The evening before, Glen had tracked a male lion down near Tortillis Plains, and it was this very male – even though we couldn’t see him properly, we could see he was in a bad way, with ribs, vertebral processes and hip bones sticking out. It was a sad sight to see, and his struggle was brought home later in the week when we found him resting at a pan in the east with porcupine quills in his face. He is in a very bad way, and I think we have to face the realisation that he is unlikely to overcome this ailment. The fact that the coalition is weakened may already be showing in how far west the Sark pride have started pushing. The weekend started with the Balule females occupying the central areas around Safari Camp, but as the days pushed on, the Sark pride (now with a third female having joined them) started pushing deeper into the Timbavati, and they were found every day this week in our central regions. A third pride of unknown lionesses (also numbering three) were reported close to our Field Camp, but I sadly didn’t get down to see them, and try and identify which lions they might be. Regardless, with the Nharhu males having moved east, we now have three new prides moving in to fill the void, and this will no doubt make for some interesting lion dynamics over the coming months.
Despite the lion activity, the leopards were also quite active this week. We got to enjoy several sightings of Nyeleti and Xigodo together, as well as sightings of the young male on his own as he patiently waited for mom to return to take him to another meal. N’weti leopardess also showed herself again, but she was not playing along as nicely, and with her duiker kill hidden in the thick banks of the Machaton, she spent most of the time equally well hidden in the long grass. Thumbela left tracks all across her large territory, but eventually showed herself later in the week; in the morning we heard her roaring to the east of our concession, then in the evening she was close to Safari Camp, and the next morning she was way down south in a part of her territory that she hasn’t used for many months! There were no signs of the cub, so I am hoping that her wanderings are not in search of a male to mate with following the little one’s demise. Time will tell how that plays out. Glen also managed to track down an unidentified male leopard, but sadly we were unable to locate him with the vehicle. Marula Jnr was also seen towards the west of Nkhari on the weekend too, not far from the Sark Pride.
We were spoilt with two packs of wild dogs within our concession this weekend; both the big pack of 31 and the smaller pack of 12 showed themselves, and whilst I did go visit the large pack resting on our airstrip, I realised I didn’t take any photos of them!
The elephant herds were more in evidence this week, particularly to the west of the concession, where the most recent rains have left it looking considerably greener than out in our eastern parts. This also led to good giraffe, zebra and wildebeest sightings that side, but it was also great to see some of the open areas in the east filling up with general game too.
The summer migrants continue to remain present, but they are becoming more and more difficult to spot as the majority have started to make their way back north, and with the chill in the morning air, one can’t blame them for realising that the summer does now definitely appear to have left us!
I will be heading on some leave next week, but will be back the week after with some more updates about what sightings have been keeping our guests entertained!
Until next time, take care!