Leopard at Tanda Tula in the Timbavati Game Reserve, part of the Greater Kruger National Park, South Africa - Photo credit: Chad Cocking
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A Week of the First Rains

Chad Cocking | A Week In Pictures

Although we might not have experienced the same levels of rainfall at this point last summer, this week did see us receiving our first noteworthy rains of the season. Between 5 and 20mm fell across the central Timbavati, with Tanda Tula recording 14mm.  Whilst it hasn’t been enough to cause a sudden eruption of green, it has helped by settling the dust, cooling us down following last weeks heat, and triggering the budding of flowers on several off our tree species in the area.  We normally only expect our rains from November onwards, so I see any October rains as a real bonus.

The sightings this week were relatively good, although we sadly didn’t get to enjoy the bounty of wild dog viewing as we had been blessed with the week before; our big pack didn’t show themselves, but we did have an afternoon with a smaller pack of four wild dogs when they were spotted chasing kudus around Tanda Tula Safari Camp, and Monique radioed to tell us what she had seen.  The guides did manage to locate them, but keeping track of such a small pack was a real challenge last we saw of them was the pack dashing off after a herd of impalas in windy conditions that prevented us from hearing if they had any success.

Wild dogs at Tanda Tula in the Timbavati Game Reserve, part of the Greater Kruger National Park, South Africa - Photo credit: Chad Cocking

The windy weather that accompanied us for a few of the days of the past week led to some hunting success for our leopards; Xigodo spent four days on an impala kill hoisted up a Marula tree on our access road close to camp.  Marula Jnr also spent three days with two impala kills on the Klaserie boundary after a a good nights worth of hunting.  It’s the first time I have seen her in ages, and she really is a stunning leopard, even if she is somewhat shier than her late mother.  Nyeleti was very quiet this past week, as was the increasingly elusive Thumbela.

Leopard at Tanda Tula in the Timbavati Game Reserve, part of the Greater Kruger National Park, South Africa - Photo credit: Chad Cocking

The lions were hit or miss this past week with the Mayambula pride once again walking large distances on a daily basis, and their movements became more erratic after the pride split during the course of the week.  We found six lionesses and the two Skorro males close to a buffalo herd one morning, but when evening came, rather than pursuing the nearby buffalo, the pride walked off in a completely different direction.  The rain that night made tracking them down the next day more challenging, but after breakfast the trackers located on four lionesses, but goodness knows where the rest of the pride got to.  A few days later the two males returned to the area but other than a few tracks, there were not many further signs of them.  The two young members of the Sark breakaways were found fat bellied near a dry Reflection Dam one morning, and spent 36 hours sleeping in the same spot – not because they were lazy but rather due to their enormous bellies.

Male Lion at Tanda Tula in the Timbavati Game Reserve, part of the Greater Kruger National Park, South Africa - Photo credit: Chad Cocking

Lions at Tanda Tula in the Timbavati Game Reserve, part of the Greater Kruger National Park, South Africa - Photo credit: Chad Cocking

Lion at Tanda Tula in the Timbavati Game Reserve, part of the Greater Kruger National Park, South Africa - Photo credit: Chad Cocking

My favourite element of the week was an abundance of great general game across the area – plenty of giraffes, elephants, zebras, two breeding herds of buffalos and rhinos were there to keep us entertained even when the cats were on the scarce side.  Now that is saying a lot if one considers that this was an even greater highlight for me than seeing a pangolin, my first of 2021!

Pangolin at Tanda Tula in the Timbavati Game Reserve, part of the Greater Kruger National Park, South Africa - Photo credit: Chad Cocking

The last one I saw was with the very same guests I was driving almost a year ago. We had just pulled into position to sit and wait at an aardvark burrow until it emerged (as we also did with the same guests last year) when a radio call came through that a pangolin had been found not far from us, so we took the proverbial bird in the hand instead of the two in the bush (although it was technically a pangolin in the bush is better than an aardvark in a burrow) and raced over to see a creature that remains so extremely odd and out of place no matter how many times I see it.  The guests were delighted and we returned to the aardvark burrow and I couldn’t believe I was going to see a pangolin and an aardvark in the same drive…sadly though, that achievement was to remain a dream and nothing more as despite some time spent waiting, there was no sign of life emerging from the mound, and with Jack convinced it had left early in the cold weather, we decided to head home with “only” a pangolin to our names!

So that was it for another week here at Tanda Tula, so until next time, stay safe and keep well!

Cheers

Chad

Zebra Foal at Tanda Tula in the Timbavati Game Reserve, part of the Greater Kruger National Park, South Africa - Photo credit: Chad Cocking

Hyenas eating a kudu at Tanda Tula in the Timbavati Game Reserve, part of the Greater Kruger National Park, South Africa - Photo credit: Chad Cocking

Giraffe drinking at Tanda Tula in the Timbavati Game Reserve, part of the Greater Kruger National Park, South Africa - Photo credit: Chad Cocking

Elephants at Tanda Tula in the Timbavati Game Reserve, part of the Greater Kruger National Park, South Africa - Photo credit: Chad Cocking

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