Chad Cocking | A Week In Pictures
It’s that time of the week.
Let’s take a look back at the week that just passed in the heart of the Timbavati. Yet again our guests at Tanda Tula were treated to another fantastic week of game viewing! It was another dry week here in the Greater Kruger, it is amazing how quickly the bush can start to turn a shade of brown in the absence of rain. Despite this, the bush is still looking great and with mild temperatures for this time of year, our animals seemed to enjoy the weather and played along fantastically. With only a few vehicles out in the reserve, we felt like we were alone most of the time, and had to find the game ourselves, which we did a brilliant job at, even if we say so ourselves. One day, the only member of the Super 7 that we didn’t find were some rhinos, but two prides of lions, two leopards, wild dogs, cheetah, elephant and buffalo meant we returned to camp with massive smiles on our faces!
The big news of the week was that Ginger got our first viewing of three of the new Mayambula cubs, albeit a brief one. I then spent the next week trying my luck at the den site and only got to see tracks, fat mothers, proud fathers and little lion cub tracks around the den. I could even hear their cuteness emanating from the bushes, but sadly they did not want to show themselves. It does appear that three mothers have dropped their cubs, with one of the lionesses having a den site just south of the accessible one we have been staking out. Contrary to last week’s frustrations of looking for the lions, almost every trip to the south-east produced lion sightings, including the two Skorro males. We will keep on trying, but it really cannot be long now before we get to see them!
The River Pride also helped fill in the gaps when the Mayambula Pride wasn’t playing along, and we got to enjoy their company on a couple of occasions. The first time we got to see them they had just finished a young wildebeest, but from the size of the bellies, it looked as though the Nharhu male got the lion’s share of the meal. A few days later the pride was back – sans male – and we watched as they went after some zebra, but they were not successful. Tracks for the Ross and Hercules lionesses also showed that they were still around, but they remained unseen.
Our leopards were a little bit more challenging, but we did get to see a few. The first was Nyeleti female who we found sleeping up a marula tree after a long morning out! We had no sooner left the River Pride when we found a hungry-looking male cheetah (seemingly a new one for us) on the prowl less than 500m from the sleeping lions. We followed him to Sunset Plains where he found a herd of impalas and started to stalk, but the windy conditions and open area meant that they were not moving closer to him, and he couldn’t get closer to them and so, they entered a stalemate. After more than an hour of waiting, we decided to call it quits and headed back to camp. A few hundred meters down the road, we spotted the leopard in the tree! Talk about a good end to the morning! That afternoon, whilst following a pack of wild dogs that we had tracked down, the pack led us to our young male leopard near Nkhari, and he had an impala kill up a tree. Most surprisingly, for only a slightly relaxed individual, he played along beautifully that evening and we had a fantastic viewing of him as darkness fell. We can only hope that this is a sign of things to come from him (although sadly when Scotch checked on him the next day, he was far more wary and moved off with his kill).
Ginger and his guests got to see the relaxed female cheetah with an impala kill early on in the week, but after that there were no signs of her returning to the open areas of the east, so we shall have to keep our fingers crossed that she returns soon. Two packs of wild dogs also visited us this week; the first was the southern pack of 23-odd members that were seen running around in the west on a couple of occasions, and then on an afternoon drive around Nkhari (looking for a newborn baby wildebeest actually!), we picked up tracks and tracked down the northern pack of 22-odd members. That afternoon was rather special as the pack got chased around by around 40-50 zebras and 40 wildebeest, and in chasing the dogs, led us to a leopard up a tree with a kill! They spoilt us for two days in the area before heading into the Klaserie.
In addition to great predators, this week saw good elephant viewing, a few buffalo bull sightings (as well as a herd of 120-plus buffalo in the west), plenty of zebra herds in the east and central regions, lots of wildebeest and giraffe, and even a few waterbuck sightings – not something too common in these parts! Combined with the continued presence of a load of migratory birds and stunning summer scenes (with accompanying sunsets), we just couldn’t help but have another wonderful week here in the Timabvati!
Will catch up again for another update same time next week – until then, stay safe!
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