Photo: Chad Cocking at Tanda Tula Safari Camp in the Timbavati - Lion Family drinking at night
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A Week of Winter’s Revenge

Chad Cocking | A Week In Pictures

With the northern hemisphere receiving record breaking warm weather this week, it is a nice change to be able to report on some colder weather in our country this week.  Although, based on the forecast for the coming few days, it is only going to get colder.  Johannesburg was a chilly -5°C this morning when I checked the weather!  This made waking up to forecasts of 18°C over the weekend so much more palatable.

The week itself was pleasantly warm and I spent a couple of days walking around in shorts and a t-shirt, not standard uniform, but then I did take most of the week off and relaxed in camp.  Fortunately, it was another good week to be in camp, and besides almost daily buffalos around the camp dam, we also had some more visits from Xigodo.

Photo: Chad Cocking at Tanda Tula Safari Camp in the Timbavati - Male Leopard on a termite mound

Xigodo was less reliant on hunting our camp nyalas this week and was seen moving between our camp and our neighbours to the north-west, almost following the same route between the camps every other day.  We saw him in camp on a couple of days, but the alarm calls of the bushbuck in the area suggested that he was around more frequently than we saw him.  One evening he was also seen feeding on a monkey in an Apple leaf tree opposite the tents.

Other than Xigodo, it was a little quieter on the leopard front than the previous couple of weeks.  Nyeleti’s tracks criss-crossed her large territory and despite several tracking attempts, she alluded our team. Late in the week we found her on a territorial patrolling mission to the south-west of Tanda Tula Safari Camp.  Scotch found Sunset female with the remains of an impala kill in the south-west, it is the first time our guides have seen her for many, many months!  Really encouraging to know that she is still around and doing well.  The pale-eyed male leopard was also found mating with Klakisa leopardess to the north, but this shy pairing makes it very difficult to get any views of them other than after dark.

 

Photo: Chad Cocking at Tanda Tula Safari Camp in the Timbavati - Lion Family drinking at night

Photo: Chad Cocking at Tanda Tula Safari Camp in the Timbavati - Young male lion

The River Pride started the week with their usual wanderings before they were found with a zebra kill not too far from Nkhari Homestead.  The male lions were absent (our trackers located one of them after their activities in camp the night before), but this didn’t stop the lionesses from successfully defending their kill against the two Sark Breakaway lions that arrived on the scene in the morning.  In the afternoon we had a wonderful sighting as the River Pride got chased off the kill by an elephant bull determined to show them just who is boss in these parts of the Greater Kruger!  Once the bull lost interest, the pride returned to feed, only to be met by around fifteen hyenas that wanted their share of the spoils.  Fortunately, the three River lionesses managed to keep them at bay and the hyenas soon settled down not far from the carcass.

Photo: Chad Cocking at Tanda Tula Safari Camp in the Timbavati - Male Lion at night

The next day the two Nharhu males had joined up with the pride and we spent time with them in the evening as they headed to Marco’s Dam for a drink.  That night the pride passed Safari Camp and headed off towards Machaton Dam before once more completing their circuit and heading back south.  They ended the week fat-bellied and drinking at a pan just south of Nkhari.  It is good to see the pride getting some more regular meals as they had been struggling a little of late.

Photo: Chad Cocking at Tanda Tula Safari Camp in the Timbavati - Hyena with a damaged eye

The Sark breakaways were around for a couple of days this week in the central regions, and the young male’s limp is getting much better. The same cannot be said for the limping Nharhu male who is really struggling with his leg since chasing the Sark and Western Pride lions away from a dead giraffe almost three weeks ago.  Despite this handicap, we found tracks for the limping male pursuing the scent trail of the Mayambula Pride off our southern boundary one morning!  It is the third time that the Mayambula’s have popped in to drink before leaving on the exact same route in a little over a week and a half.  Whether the Nharhu male caught up with them and if so, just how far he chased them remains to be seen.  Selfishly, I hope he tired before he found them. An encounter such as that could keep the Mayambula Pride away from us for a long time if they don’t feel safe in their old territory.  There were also sightings of a couple of male lions further to the west, but with good lion sightings close to camp, our guides didn’t venture that far to see them.

Photo: Chad Cocking - Tanda Tula - buffalo herd at Tanda Tula camp damhad Cocking - Tanda Tula - buffalo herd at Tanda Tula camp dam

A very encouraging sign was the fact that not one, but two large buffalo herds set up base in the central regions of the concession this week.  The slightly larger of the two groups also made Tanda Tula Safari Camp’s dam their waterhole of choice for the first half of the week and could be seen drinking from the comfort of the camp.  Another herd moved in from the south and pushed deeper into the concession as the week went by, leaving us with the most regular buffalo viewing we have had for a long time.  In addition, we had a bachelor group of buffalos that also made themselves at home around the camp and could be found in the vicinity on a daily basis; by the end of the week, there were eight of them moving around together.  The elephant herds were a little quieter this week; last week’s windy conditions seem to have caused some of the groups to move off, but as the week ticked on, we started seeing more herds around the central and eastern regions.

The general game viewing remained good, with regular sightings of impala, kudus, giraffes, zebras, wildebeest, rhinos and even some ostriches in the west – not a common sight away from the more open woodlands to the east of Tanda Tula.

And that was the week past; I will be out for a little longer next week, so be sure to check back then to see what surprises the Timbavati has for us, but for now enjoy some of the photos I managed to snap up this week, or at least during my three days of guiding in this period.  Until next time, stay safe.

Cheers

Chad

Photo: Chad Cocking at Tanda Tula Safari Camp in the Timbavati - Male Leopard in the grass looking very cross

Photo: Chad Cocking at Tanda Tula Safari Camp in the Timbavati - White headed vulture

Photo: Chad Cocking at Tanda Tula Safari Camp in the Timbavati - Kudu Bull

Photo: Chad Cocking at Tanda Tula Safari Camp in the Timbavati - Giraffe
Photo: Chad Cocking at Tanda Tula Safari Camp in the Timbavati - Wildebeest in the sunset
Photo: Chad Cocking at Tanda Tula Safari Camp in the Timbavati - Waterbuck

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