Another day, another week, and yet another month has passed us by. We are still isolated here in the heart of the Timbavati.Although, isolated is a relative term, and this past week it once again remained a fact that whilst we were isolated from people, we were blessed to be sharing this space with a host of incredible animals!
If you have been following our episodes of the first season of Sofa Safari,you will no doubt have enjoyed the wonderful scenes that greeted us one morning when – after already finding two separate lion sightings – we came around the corner only to find two of the River Pride lionesses moving along the road with all six cubs! It was a joyous sight, and to see how confident the older cubs have gotten in a few short weeks made the sighting one to remember. They would confidently come trotting up to the vehicle whilst moms followed a short distance behind, but with such little exposure to exactly what a vehicle is, the smaller cubs were not as brave as their cousins.
The pride actually regrouped the next day, with all thirteen members being within 100m of one another (although, one male and female were busy making more cubs, so they weren’t as social as the other eleven). The following day all four lionesses spent time with the cubs, and the next day the three Nharhu males were also seen roaring together – it might sound like the usual way to find a “pride” of lions, but it is something that the River Pride and their males have not been particularly good at doing – being a pride!
The fact that the three Nharhu males are hardly ever together led to a slight oversight one morning when two male lions were found sleeping in long grass in the east, and it was simply assumed that they were two of the Nharhu males. Only later that day did we realise that the males that Formen had found on his debut on Sofa Safaris were actually the two Mbiri males!!! As great as it was to have them back, they were moving around within the River Pride’s territory, and there was a risk of them encountering the pride. Fortunately, they moved back to the south and the cubs and lionesses were not put under any pressure.
The last day of this week also saw me coming across two very unusual animals. They looked like lions, but were much smaller, sitting up their respective trees, and had spots. I consulted my books and was informed that these beautiful creatures are known as ”leopards”! I vaguely recall that when I had a skilled tracker, we used to see these cats on an almost daily basis, and I was just thankful that this time, Hlangana had hoisted his impala kill up a marula tree close to the road! It is the first time I have seen him since his independence over three months ago, so it was encouraging to see him with such a big kill. His kill had not only drawn in the hyenas, but also the young Xisiwana male, who ended up getting chased up a small tree next to Hlangana. There wasn’t a great deal of aggression directed towards the younger leopard, and in fact, Hlangana took more exception to a bird that landed near his kill than he did to the other leopard! Maybe their brief time as step siblings kept things calm? Hopefully, with the impala rut being in full swing at the moment, this won’t be the last kill we find over the coming weeks.
Although we failed to find them, we did find fresh signs of the African wild dogs running around on the western part of our concession, but true to their active nature, it appears as though they didn’t hang around too long. Fortunately, contrary to their behaviour of late, one species that did hang around this week were the buffalo herds – and yes, the plural is correct. Although there were more signs than there were of sightings, it appears as though at least three or four herds (most around 50-100 individuals) were walking around the central and eastern parts of the concession this week. It appears as though the lions were the least bit bothered by the fact that the buffalo were around all week, and seemingly made no attempts to trail the buffalo.
Elephants were slightly more in evidence this week, but their numbers will still grow as winter pushes on – the fact that the late summer rains are still falling sporadically across the Greater Kruger though, could delay the onset of the movement of elephant herds into the area. It has actually been impressive to see how the bush has responded to the rains from last week, and green shoots and even flowering plants popped up across the reserve. The zebras, giraffes and wildebeest were still sticking around, and helped round off yet another enjoyable week for us lucky few who were here to see and enjoy it.
Despite the fact that we are only able to share these sightings with you virtually, we do trust that you are still enjoying your little taste of Africa. We hope that you continue to follow us on all of our media platforms so that the sights and sounds of the bush can help you stay happy and positive during these periods of isolation.
Until next time, keep well!