A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A GAME RANGER by Chad Cocking

A WEEK BACK IN ACTION - 19th October 2018

Hello again!  

I must start off by saying that as wonderful as my leave was, watching the weekly updates from Luke made me really wish I had still been at Tanda Tula Safari Lodge enjoying the great game viewing that our guests were lucky enough to see. Fortunately for me, upon my return, the fantastic run of sightings has continued and it has been a most pleasurable first week back in the bush. 

The lion sightings dominated this week, with the Mbiri males making a very welcome return to the area. It appears that the nine River Pride lions killed a buffalo bull in the west, but were promptly displaced by the two Mbiri males, as well as the Zebenine lionesses and the two cubs. This gave us a couple of days viewing, firstly as they gorged themselves on the carcass, and then a few more days as they slept off their gluttonous efforts! Very pleasingly was the amount of time the males spent with the pride, allowing for some wonderful interactions between themselves and their cubs. Towards the end of the week, the males parted company and headed off back east towards the Mayambula Pride, three of whom were found seeking shelter from the cold winds in a Terminalia thicket in the eastern parts of the concession towards the end of the week. The Ross lionesses were seen once in the far west, and after spending the day at Reflection Dam, the River Pride moved north and didn’t return for the remainder of the week.

With some late Spring winds howling across the central parts of the Greater Kruger Park this week, it provided some ideal hunting conditions for the Timbavati leopards, despite the relative lack of cover. Several kills were found across the concession this week; Nthombi and her cub had an impala kill safely hosited up a tree until the River Pride stole it one night – fortunately mother and cub remained unharmed; the Tamboti male was found near camp with a male impala kill; and Thumbela’s daughter was with an impala kill in the east late in the week. This week also saw two new leopard faces make an appearance, which is always a bonus. The first was a young male leopard in the far west who chased a shy female leopard off her impala kill – he is in the limits of Ntsogwaan’s territory, so it will be interesting to see how much longer he will be tolerated for. 

The second leopard was a extremely relaxed female to the west of the camp; this female spends most of her time to the west of the Timbavati, but a number of vultures alerted the guides to the presence of a kill, and when they followed up they found Cleo female leopard with yet another impala kill hoisted up a Jackalberry. So whilst it was a good week for leopard viewing, it was clearly not a great week for the impalas! 

With the waterholes drying out rapidly (the 8mm of rain we received this week did nothing to change that situation, sadly), the elephants have been less abundant than the past weeks, but they were still seen in the concession on every drive. One warm morning, we saw more than one hundred elephants streaming into one of the pans, making for a truly magical sighting! The general lack of water in the surrounding areas has kept two separate buffalo herds within our concession for most of the week as they travelled between the feeding grounds and the remaining dams within the region; the biggest herd numbered in excess of 300 individuals and really was an impressive sight to see. 

Sadly, the wild dogs that spoilt Luke last week only popped up briefly, but fortunately the little rhino that got everyone smiling continued to be seen in the area much to everyone’s delight – he really is one of the cutest babies I have seen in a long time, and based on last week’s blog about all of our babies, that is saying something! 

As always, the general game was good this week, with the giraffes once again showing themselves in great numbers as they concentrate their activities along the major riverbeds at this time of year. There seemed to be a few more zebras than the past few weeks too, but you can be sure that they will return in abundance once the first rains fall at Tanda Tula. We also got to see a number of ostriches in the open woodlands of the east which was a treat.

We trust that you will enjoy all the pictures, so until next time! 

By courtesy of the Tanda Tula Safari Camphttp://www.tandatula.com/blog/

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