Chad Cocking | A Week In Pictures
Greetings all, and as you can tell from the cover photo, my wait to see the new Mayambula cubs is over!
It was another very enjoyable week out there, but strangely for February, another very dry one. The bush is looking drier and drier as the weeks go by, a very dry February draws to a close, with only 1mm of rain added this week, taking the monthly total to a paltry 13mm. There is still no forecast for rains in the coming week, but fortunately the temperatures have remained comparatively mild with cool mornings and evenings and very warm days inbetween.
The first morning I didn’t do a game drive last week was one of those ones that rubbed salt in the wound – after a week of checking the den site of the Mayambula Pride and seeing nothing, Ginger took his guests there and they got to see five cubs out and about! If that wasn’t enough, that drive also saw two leopards less than 2km from Tanda Tula Safari Camp, two packs of wild dogs and lions on a wildebeest kill. The guides also had the two male cheetahs very close to the lion den site. I got back on drive eager to see the cubs and the cheetahs and ended up seeing one giraffe and a herd of impalas on my first drive!
Luckily, I got well rewarded in the days that followed.
It started with us finding fat-bellied Mayambula lionesses heading back to the den site with the two Skorro males in tow, but they didn’t bring the cubs out. The next morning though, with bellies still full, all three mothers were there, with not five cubs, but eight! What a sight to see after all the time spent checking and waiting at the den. The cubs were too cute for words and sat around for a short while before the mothers led them back to the thickets.
As the week pressed on, the remaining members of the pride spent time in the vicinity of the den and we got to see the cubs a few times, but on almost all occasions they were playing in inaccessible areas on the sensitive sodic sites, so we just couldn’t get closer to get a better view. We will however have many opportunities in the coming months to enjoy them, I am sure. The River Pride only stayed around for a couple of days during which time they were found finishing a wildebeest kill near Machaton Dam, but they headed back north of our concession where it sounds like they continued to feed well.
This week also belonged to the leopards; my guests that checked out last Friday sadly didn’t see leopard with us, despite three different leopards being found on their last morning (Ntsongwaan in the west, Kisimusi female on Nkhari, and N’weti just north of camp), time constraints meant we missed out on all of them. The next set of guests luckily didn’t suffer the same problem, and we saw seven different leopards in three drives with them.
The highlight was having Nyeleti and her two growing cubs on a bushbuck kill close to our Bush Breakfast spot. The cubs are gaining in confidence slowly, and we had a fairly good view of them, as well as of mom hoisting the bushbuck into the tree. That same afternoon we also found Xigodo young male close to camp, as well as Xidulu male a little further down the road! The next morning we missed a sighting of N’weti with a duiker kill close to camp, but got to see the young male on Nkhari with an impala kill, and saw N’weti in the afternoon. It really was such a treat to have all of these gorgeous cats around.
We had a few days without guests, and during that time another two cheetahs popped up in our concession, this time in front of Plains Camp. They were in the company of a pack of wild dogs that spent four days in the western part of the concession before moving into the central areas this morning. There was also a second pack of dogs found this morning, so things really were heating up on the predator-front this week.
The elephants took a few days off, and we had a number of bulls in the area, but only a few small breeding herds, but late in the week a report came in of 125 elephants drinking at Machaton Dam, along with 50 zebra and 30 wildebeest – what a sight that must have been! The general game remained good, with some good giraffe, zebra and wildebeest around, and sightings of these animals increasing around the waterpoints.
All in all, this once again rounded off a good week, but the real stars of the week had to be the cubs! Hopefully we will be bringing more news of them over the coming weeks and months!
Until next time, stay safe!
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