Tanda Tula in the Timbavati - Leopard in a tree - Photo: Chad Cocking
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A Week of the mating Mayambula Pride

Chad Cocking | A Week In Pictures

Thankfully this past week warmed up a little bit following the previous cold snap, but there was still a very distinctive wintery feeling about the Timbavati this week.  Our winters are characterised by chilly mornings and brilliantly clear blue skies and then warming up nicely in the day.  We’ve had good game viewing and a landscape that is looking a little drier with each passing week.

Tanda Tula in the Timbavati - Beautiful Male lion - Photo: Chad Cocking

We will start off with some interesting developments in the lion dynamics. Last week I mentioned that I was hoping that the limping Nharhu male hadn’t succeeded in finding the Mayambula Pride and chasing them off, and thus unsettling them just as they started to move back into the area.  Well, it turns out that he must have found them, and indeed succeeded in chasing at least the younger portion of the pride away but this had the exact opposite effect on the four adult lionesses!  Rather than running away, these lionesses were found throwing themselves at the two Nharhu male’s last weekend!

It was the first time in close to a year that I had got to enjoy a sighting of these strong and beautiful females.  It was fascinating to watch how they were doing their best to flirt with and appease the new males and making sure that their attention was focused on mating, and not wandering off to look for the dozen sub-adults that would be at risk during the pride take-over.

Tanda Tula in the Timbavati - Beautiful Lioness looking straight at the camera - Photo: Chad Cocking

Tanda Tula in the Timbavati - Lion drinking - Photo: Chad Cocking

After watching them mating, we found tracks for the rest of the pride not too far away, but sadly for us their tracks went straight into the Kruger Park.  A few days later we did have tracks for what appeared to be a portion of the young breakaways, but sadly our efforts at tracking them were hampered by the fact that about 80 elephants had walked through the area and obliterated any sign of where they may have gone.

This does make for an interesting shift in dynamics; how much time with the Nharhu males spend with the River Pride now if they have new interests further east?  And will the River Pride still venture into the south-eastern parts of the territory with the Mayambula Pride returning?  As the week played out, the Nharhu males returned to the River Pride and spent the last half of the week with them, and the River Pride interestingly started using parts of their old territorial core to the north of Tanda Tula Safari Camp, an area that they have largely ignored for the past few months.

Tanda Tula in the Timbavati - young lion cubs playing - Photo: Chad Cocking

There is more than enough space for both prides to utilise the area, and we are all keeping fingers crossed that this is indeed how it plays out.

The River Pride were seen on a daily basis during the latter part of the week and were looking in good shape following a kudu kill.  The injured Nharhu male is still limping quite badly, but he managed to hobble around on all four legs when mating with the Mayambula ladies, so hopefully this is some encouraging news on a slow recovery for him.  We didn’t spend any time in the west this past week, so there were no reports on the Sark Breakaways during this reporting period.

Tanda Tula in the Timbavati - leopard in the crook of a tree - Photo: Chad Cocking

Tanda Tula in the Timbavati - Mother leopard and son - Photo: Chad Cocking

As for the leopards, Xigodo young male once again stole the show, and he spent three days with an impala kill about 300m from Safari Camp.  This gave us daily sightings of him both at the kill, as well as when he came to drink at the dam (as well as the bar!).  A very interesting sighting was also had of this young male leopard when he decided to climb the thatched roof of my house one afternoon to get a better view of his surroundings!  Thumbela and her son also showed themselves one day with the scant remains of a kill in the far southern reaches of her territory, and although there were some tracks for them later in the week, they proved to be a little elusive.

Tanda Tula in the Timbavati - Buffalo bull - Photo: Chad Cocking

The two buffalo herds were around for most of the week too enabling us to continue a good run of buffalo viewing.  We also had daily visits from a large group of buffalo bulls, which made Xigodo’s life difficult as they were invariably around when he wanted to come and have a drink.  It was also a week that saw several particularly large groups of elephants converging in the area, and we spent several drives surrounds by dozens and dozens of elephants.  The general game remained good, and one of my personal favourite sightings was coming across a very large grouping of close to fifty zebras and a herd of wildebeest gathered on a small clearing.

So, all in all, it was another fantastic week to end off yet another month in the bush!  I will be going away next week, so won’t be able to post about the latest sightings, however, be sure to check back again as I give a review on the highlights of the first half of 2021.

Until next time folks, keep well and stay safe!

Cheers

Chad

Tanda Tula in the Timbavati - brown headed parrot - Photo: Chad Cocking

Tanda Tula in the Timbavati - Zebra Herd - Photo: Chad Cocking

Tanda Tula in the Timbavati - Red Billed Oxpecker - Photo: Chad Cocking

Tanda Tula in the Timbavati - elephants drinks - Photo: Chad Cocking

Tanda Tula in the Timbavati - Giraffe - Photo: Chad Cocking

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