Another week into winter, and another relatively mild one for us here in the central Timbavati.Although, based on this morning’s nippiness, and looking at the weather report for the week ahead, we are going to be seeing some relatively cold weather coming our way for the entire duration of next week. The warmer weather was once more accompanied by some pretty hot game viewing as you will be able to see from the photos and stories.
The question on everyone’s minds this week has no doubt been a concern regarding the fate of the two missing River Pride cubs. The day after writing last week’s blog, I did come across tracks for the two cubs walking around unattended, and my spirits lifted slightly in the vague hope that they could still be alive. The next day I received a report that one of the guides had found the two of them walking around near a regular River Pride haunt, and for the next three days the cubs stayed in the area of Nyati Pools, but on each of those days, there were no signs of the pride anywhere near that area. Almost a week after finding out that the two cubs were missing, we picked up on tracks for the pride, including some cubs moving to the east. We followed up and upon emerging from the Machaton Riverbed, were greeted by the welcome sight of two Nharhu males. Some nearby growling led me to believe that there was a mating pair of lions not far off, but as we made our way towards the sounds, I was rewarded with a much sweeter sight. Not only were the River Pride lionesses there with the cubs, but unlike last time, there were not only four cubs in attendance, but miraculously all six cubs were back together, and all of them were looking in great shape. Needless to say, there were big smiles from all of us! The pride had clearly fed well the night before, and it was a fantastic moment to see all thirteen members of the pride together at once. It might sound odd to say that bearing in mind that they are a pride, but this was the first time I had seen all of the pride members together since the cubs have been born. This union lasted a couple of days and we caught up with the rest of the pride the next morning with all members enjoying some family time together.
Another report this week was that of a possible sighting of the Zebenine lionesses seen walking along our western boundary. As we haven’t seen them for many months, and have no idea where they have been hanging out, it is entirely possible that they may have pitched up in this location. Unfortunately, this story did not have the joyous news we would have liked. It sounded like the young lioness had been involved in a fight, and with fresh wounds all over her body, she was not looking in good shape. Time will tell if this was indeed them, and whether or not the young lioness will make a recovery. As always, we will keep you updated with any further news.
This last week was another good one for leopard viewing and Dale managed to capture some fantastic footage of these spotted beauties moving through the camp on three occasions. Fortunately, it wasn’t only the camera trap capturing glimpses of these cats. Xisiwana was found with an impala kill on the weekend, but when we checked up on him the next morning, we were surprised to find that the slightly older Hlangana male had managed to chase him off and commandeer the kill. I don’t think Xisiwana moved too far from the area as we found him in the same vicinity the day after Hlangana finished the kill and moved off. At the same time, we were surprised by a sighting of Nyeleti and her growing cub! She had brought the cub back to a kill that she had hidden on the banks of the Machaton Riverbed. Despite not having seen this young male since the start of lockdown, you would have sworn that he had grown up around the vehicles as he was as relaxed as anything with us watching him. Sadly, we lost Nyeleti as she was dragging the kill through the dense riverbed thickets, but the two treated us to a wonderful morning of viewing.
It wasn’t just the leopards that Dale caught on his camera trap, but also a pack of wild dogs coming through camp! The pack of fifteen members arrived at our camp waterhole one morning and Foreman managed to catch up with them and followed the pack to where they settled for the day. I spent the afternoon with some fat-bellied dogs before they made some half-hearted hunting attempts, but without success. I still didn’t notice any pregnant alpha female in their ranks, which would be highly unusual for them not to den? Later on in the week, we also had a sighting of a different pack of five wild dogs running around in the east. As they were continuously mobile in the darkening dusky conditions, I couldn’t see if they were males or females, but do think that they may have been a small splinter group of males in search of females to join up with.
The elephants were around in good numbers for much of the week with regular visits to the camp dam and other waterholes in the central regions. The buffalo bulls also made themselves at home around Tanda Tula Safari Camp,but the large herd that had been in evidence the week before, did not return to the area this week. The only herd seen was a much smaller group in the west. General game was around in fair numbers too this week with regular sightings of wildebeest, giraffes, kudus, warthogs, zebras and steenbuck, and on the bird front, we enjoyed some good viewings of kori bustards and some nice birds of prey, including African hawk eagles with a kill, and an African fish eagle that spent some quality time at the waterhole by the camp.
And that is that for the week! I am going to go and dig up my thermals for the upcoming week of colder weather, but we trust that this blog has helped warm you up, wherever in the world you may find yourself.
Until next time, keep well!