Not only are we crossing another week off the calendar, but also another whole month! And with the changing of the month, it was very apt that we got our first bit of rainfall for the summer. Not much though, about 4mm fell this morning to help cool things down and settle the dust. Last year, October was fantastic from a rain point of view, and whilst we are still a long way from having green shoots of grass emerging all over the show, it was nice to smell the petrichor following this first seasonal downpour. Despite the cooler end to the week, it was a week of early summer heat with several successive days in the low- to mid-30s, and the animals seemed to enjoy the reprieve from the heat. The hot conditions made for some stunning viewing around the waterholes in the late mornings and early afternoons, and we often saw impala, zebra, giraffe, hyena, elephants and rhinos in the same scenes.
After promising the return of our wild dog pack with their pups for the past few months, it finally happened! The other morning, Steven was driving out of Nkhari Homestead and checking for any signs of lions on our southern boundary when he caught a glimpse of a wild dog dashing past to the south. Fortunately, Steven showed some patience and was well rewarded when a dozen adult wild dogs made their way back north and crossed into our concession. If that wasn’t enough, another dozen much smaller dogs soon emerged – it was our “regular” pack making their first appearance in our area with their four-month-old pups.
That afternoon they showed us just why we love them so much. We followed the pack on a hunt and got to see them with an impala kill. The next day, Scotch had the pack chase a duiker into the side of his vehicle and dispatch of the poor antelope right there, only to have the hyenas then run in and try and steal the kill. The 24 wild dogs weren’t having any of it and chased the hyenas off. Later in the morning both hyenas and dogs settled around a rapidly drying pan as the day warmed up, but their rest was soon disturbed when a herd of elephants arrived and chased them off. The pack spent another three days in the area, including a day close to Tanda Tula Safari Camp before we lost track of them in a quieter region of the concession. I do still believe that they are in the area, and that this won’t be last time we see them.
The lions were far less active this week, and following their zebra kill last week, the Mayambula Pride cut straight through our concession in one day. They returned a few days later, but their actions were no different, and the six lionesses and one male marched with purpose through the area and headed off to the east. The two Skorro males were roaring last night, but it seems that they too followed the pride out east. The four Sark breakaway lionesses were present for a day in the west, and further west some members of the Giraffe lost a zebra kill to the hyenas, but none of our guides headed down to see them. The River Pride left tracks within our concession one evening, but they remained quite settled several kilometres to the north of our traversing area, and at present, there doesn’t seem to be any reason for them to return south. Hopefully the Mayambula lionesses do settle into more stable and predictable movements, at the moment their presence is seemingly less certain than it was a couple of weeks back.
This absence of lions did allow for a slight increase in leopard activity, and we managed to get some sightings of Nyeleti female, Thumbela female and Xigodo male over the past few days. The best sighting was one of Xigodo patiently stalking and catching a scrub hare, showing that even when the big meals aren’t forthcoming, he has the adaptability to alter his hunting strategy to make ends meet.
Our elephant herds were particularly abundant this past week, and with the warm temperatures (and even when it cooled down) the herds could be found at the few remaining water points on a daily basis – our camp dam became quite a hot spot for elephants this week too. The larger buffalo herd was only present at the beginning and the end of the week, but a smaller herd of about 80-odd members came in during their absence, and our large group of more than a dozen buffalo bulls seem quite settled around Safari Camp. There were also lots of giraffes active in the area this past week to add to another enjoyable week of game viewing here in the central Timbavati.
Be sure to check out our other social media feeds for more images, and we will see you all again for some more updates next Friday!
Until next time, take care!
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