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A Weekend of Nocturnal Creatures in Photos

Chad Cocking | A Week In Pictures

Happy Monday folks, and I trust that all the moms out there had a wonderful Mother’s Day yesterday. I am back from another short leave stint (and yes, I do work…occasionally!). I was however on drive for a few days at the beginning of the reporting period, and the good game viewing from the previous week continued for the week, with our guests being spoilt with more sightings of the Super 7 during the week.

Our lions continue to hold centre stage, and throughout the week there were sightings of three of the four resident prides across the concession… interestingly, the fourth pride was seen, but way, way, way in the northern Timbavati. The Mayambula Pride were reported on a couple of occasions in the far north-eastern corner of the Timbavati; an area that they have not been known to visit in at least the last couple of decades. The herds of buffalos coming in from the Kruger National Park might be a draw, but it is also likely that there is a bigger push coming from the Vuyela males in the central regions. Nightly roaring from different fragments of the coalition is no doubt having the desired effect of spacing out the prides in our eastern regions, and with youngsters to protect, the Mayambula lionesses are not taking any chances. The Vuyela males continued to make their presence well known and were seen a few times this week, eventually reuniting with two Sark Breakaway lionesses in the west – although their arrival was unwelcome for the lionesses who had been enjoying an impala kill by themselves before the males arrived and stole it. The Giraffe Pride started and ended the week around the plains at Plains Camp, but were seen in fragments more frequently than they were as a united pride. We picked up a portion on our southern boundary last Monday afternoon before relocating on six other well-fed and bloodied members on the plains; they had gotten lucky in the middle of the day, as they were not in such a state when we left them in the morning. The River Pride lionesses were also seen several times last week, and whilst sitting at Tanda Tula Safari Camp last night, I could hear the roars of one of the lionesses not far from my house.

The leopards continued to show themselves, and on one sojourn east towards Safari Camp we had a choice of going to see a large male leopard with a kill near Machaton Dam or taking a chance with Nyeleti and the youngsters on our northern boundary; we opted for the latter and got lucky when Nyeleti decided to move south and deeper into our concession. I found it quite interesting that we found her and one of the daughters at the same spot we left the three of them a few days earlier. Not 50m or 100m from where we left them, but at the same spot. We followed the two as they missioned south, but as darkness set, we headed back to camp (and rounded off a very good night drive finding a male lion, hyenas, an African wild cat, two separate genets, and a Verreaux’s eagle owl). After I headed on leave, Scotch had a couple of sightings of Savannah leopardess around Plains Camp, as well as a sighting of her son. They also caught up briefly with Mvuvu female’s daughter by the Klaserie River.

Scotch’s last leopard sighting came on quite a morning; Scotch had decided to stop for coffee rather than rush to some lions, and bumped into the small pack of four wild dogs that were chasing a leopard away from a dam. The pack returned only to find that their kill had been stolen by the hyenas. Not far away from that, two Sark Breakaway lionesses were feeding on an impala likely chased into them by the wild dogs, and 500m further off were two of the Vuyela male lions. Later in the morning, the same relaxed female cheetah from last week popped up and was found not 100m from the two lionesses. So within 1km, there were two lion sightings, wild dogs, a leopard, hyenas, and a cheetah. A few days later (when I was on leave, naturally) Scotch saw this same cheetah feeding on a steenbuck in our western sections before she moved off. It is very encouraging to see that she is spending time moving through the same areas.

We also had the return of a large breeding herd of buffalo to the area, and this group of 300-plus individuals spent the latter part of the week enjoying the waterholes of the western parts of the concession. As conditions begin to dry, this will hopefully become a more common sight.
The elephants already appear to have made a return to the region, and for the first time in some time, the herds were again a common feature of the western woodlands. In the central regions, the elephants continued to be very evident, with the herds attracting the attention of one impressively tusked individual.

So, that was the week that was… and although mine was a short one on drive, it once again appeared that after I headed on leave, things only got better. Let’s hope that now I am back, the animals don’t decide to disappear on me!

Until next time!




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