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

A WEEK OF HEAT23November 2018

If last week’s cold weather lulled us into a false sense of security that this year’s summer would be a mild one, the last few days have quelled that idea with the mercury rising to the high thirties on most days. Sadly though, the rainy element of summer didn’t follow suit and the bushveld in this part of the Greater Kruger Park remains relatively dry, despite some trees in parts of our concession sprouting signs of new life.

Fortunately, things did not just heat up on the temperature front, but also on the game viewing side of things. Most impressive over the past seven days has been the fantastic leopard viewing in the northern and eastern parts of our concession. I personally saw no fewer than eleven of our resident leopards, and others were reported that I did not pay a visit to. Amongst the daily leopard viewings were several leopards with kills:Cleo female and a nyala, Marula and two separate impalas, Nthombi and her daughter with an impala, Nyeleti and her daughter with an impala, Tamboti male with a warthog kill, an unknown young male with two impala kills at the same time, and Thumbela and her daughter also with an impala. What is even better news for the future of the leopards in this area are the number of daughters mentioned in the list above; Thumbela, Nyeleti, Nthombi and (likely) Marula are all raising young female leopards that should remain in the area once they reach their independence over the coming year. This can only serve to strengthen the leopard numbers at Tanda Tula Safari Camp, especially as both Nyeleti and Thumbela’s daughters are now getting quite habituated to us despite their lack of exposure to vehicles over the past year. 

Speaking of increasing numbers, it appears that one of the Mayambula lionesses has also broken off from the pride to give birth to her litter of cubs in the east. Although no sightings have been had, audio of whining cubs and constant signs of a lone lioness returning to the same area tell us that this is almost certainly the case, which is exciting news. It also cannot be long before the other older female drops her cubs, as she too is heavily pregnant. The week of lion sightings was however, dominated by the Zebenine Pride and the Mbiri males as they continued to be seen on an almost daily basis, and almost always with full bellies. Further west, the two Ross lionesses continue to spend their time in our concession, although sadly the Black Dam male has not returned for some time. Once again, with the presence of the Mbiri males to the north of their territory, the River Pride remained beyond our borders, and only crossed into the concession once. 

For a change, I am not going to bemoan the fact that the buffalo herds stayed clear of our area as we actually had some good viewings this week! We had two large breeding herds of Cape buffalos spending time in the area. The biggest herd was around 400 animals strong which is always an impressive sight , so many large animals togethe. Even the elephants were more active this week, and several herds moved through the area, some even visiting Camp dam. 

However, if I had to moan about one thing this week, it was that I did not get to see any baby impalas, or woodlands kingfishers. Last year, both arrived on the 15th November, but this year it appears that both are somewhat late. Luke and his guests did see the first reported impala lamb within the central part of the concession on the 19th, its wet coat indicating that it had just been born! All the other ewes are looking frighteningly close to popping and I am sure that Luke’s post next week will contain some of the first images of the lambs that are sure to start arriving over the next few days. A report of a single woodlands kingfisher was made, but we still await their incessant calls to announce the official start of summer! 

I am off for the next two weeks, and I cannot wait to return to what I hope will be a green, kingfisher -noisy, impala-lamb- laden Timbavati Private Game Reserve, but as always, until next time! 

 

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

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