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

A WEEK OF WIND - 26th October 2018

If I had one complaint this week, it was that I didn’t see a wolf. Okay, I know they are not found in South Africa, but based on the conditions that we experienced for most of the week, I was convinced that there was a big bad wolf huffing and puffing, trying to blow my house down! To say it was a week of windy conditions would be a slight understatement. For most of the past week, we have had to batten down the hatches, pull out the blankets and blast the Land Rover’s heater in order to keep warm...in fairness, I was probably the only one that benefited from the latter though! Despite the less than ideal conditions, the game viewing remained very good as we moved one week closer to the green season. Sadly, only a few more millimetres of rain fell this week, but it can’t be too long now before our first proper rains arrive. 

Following on from last week’s excellent leopard viewing, we were treated to some fairly good viewing this past week. In the west, the so-called Cleo female leopard (apologies for the terrible name, but sadly we didn’t name her) spent a couple more days with her impala kill safely stashed up a Jackalberry before moving off; the same could not be said for Madzinyo male leopard who sadly had his not-so-safely stashed impala kill stolen by the two Mbiri male lions earlier in the week. Thumbela’s daughter provided good viewing for Anthony and his guests late one evening, and even Thumbela made a rare appearance to the east of camp in the latter part of the week –she is in great shape! In a week of returns, Sunset female was also seen after finishing off an impala kill, but there was a noticeable absence of Nthombi female, who was only seen briefly this week before she moved to the north of our concession. The best news was the return of Marula female leopard –I sadly didn’t get to see her when she was found, so cannot confirm whether or not she has given birth to her new litter of cubs, but we do hope to have an answer to that question quite soon! 

On the lion front, things calmed down a little after last week’s abundance of sightings. With the presence of the Mbiri males in the northern part of their territory, the River Pride steered clear of the area for the whole week, but we did see the two Ross females on one occasion in the far west. The Mayambula lionesses were found to the east of the concession after a couple of days of seeing signs of them following a buffalo herd in the area. As usual though, it was the Zebenine Pride and their two healthy-looking cubs that provided for most of the viewing, both with and without the Mbiri male lions. The pride disappeared off the radar during the rainy and windy weather, clearly having made a kill in an area that we just could not find, but as the week drew to a close, they showed face again and we found them some 500m from Tanda Tula Safari Camp after they spent the night roaring their dominance over the area. 

As has been the case for all of winter, the elephants were out in big numbers this past week, with herds of 50-70 elephants not being an uncommon sight; they seem to have shifted their activities to the south-east and east of the concession with fewer visits to Camp Dam than usual. Our once-great Apollo male elephant made a brief appearance following the breeding herds in from the Kruger National Park, but only time will tell if he decides to spend any extended period in the area. Two buffalo herds also came in and out of the concession this week, still making use of the good grazing in the south-east, but despite this, it doesn’t appear as if the lions had any luck in bringing one down. 

Over and above the Big Five, we were lucky enough to find the African wild dogs that eluded us last week. They made a couple of appearances this week with their pups in tow, and provided for some lovely viewing in otherwise tough game viewing conditions. The giraffe’s have been plentiful, especially along the drainage lines where they continue to enjoy the flowering apple leaf trees (philenoptera violacea), we have also been able to enjoy more and more zebra sightings following the little bit of rain last week. 

The forecast for the coming week is a calm, hot and dry one –maybe not what we are after, but it should make for another good week of game viewing, so be sure to check back in next week to see what we found on safari, but for now, I hope you enjoy the images from this past week. 

Until next time! 

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

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