A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A GAME RANGER by Luke Street

A WEEK OF MORE SURPRISES – 18th January 2019

With the festive season now behind us, I thought the surprises would be over too! However, the Timbavati is just relentless with its offerings and the past few months have been extraordinary for Tanda Tula Safari Camp. guests in terms of sightings - this week was no different!

The recent and plentiful rainfall has definitely had an amazing affect on the area, with all the trees and grass really flourishing. In some areas the grass must be about 4 foot tall! This does, however, make things a little bit trickier to find and once found it makes it a little bit more difficult to actually get a decent view of said ‘things’. The wildlife seems to know this though and have been more than happy to come out and give us all a good show. This is not hard to believe when you think just for one second what else is now lurking in that long, thick grass... 

Let me begin by updating you all on the lions that share this area and the dynamics involved therein. It was a bit of a surprise for all of us a few days ago when the Mbiri males were found with some rather painful looking injuries. The smaller maned male seemed to have taken the brunt of the punishment and was nursing a really swollen face. So swollen that one of his eyes has closed up. We are not sure at this point if the eye is okay, only time will tell. The larger maned male seems to be nursing a couple of minor wounds. None the less the two males are still the dominant force in the area and have been frequenting both their prides, the Zebenine Pride and the Myanbula Pride. And on an even more positive note, we are all very excited that at least one of the Myanbula females seems to have given birth, apparently to three little cubs (unconfirmed by any of us though). Both prides seem to be doing very well though and the Mbiri coalition seems to be doing a great job at defending the pride lands! 

Another surprise this week was coming across the famous leopardess Marula. She hasn’t been all that active over the last few weeks due to her having to hunker down and den with her two cubs. Although we haven’t been able to get any images of these cubs yet, a few people in the area have been lucky enough to see them in full view and have confirmed that they are doing very well. I guess I will just have to settle for a very brief and grass filled sighting of one of the little fur balls....for now. It’s wonderful to know that Marula has succeeded in raising the two cubs this far, especially when you consider that she sadly lost her two previous litters to the harshness that is the African wild. 

The other leopard that was sighted was a young male, believed to be the leopardess Thombela’s, older son. This is not a leopard we get to see very often and so it was very exciting to see the youngster carefully moving around the lush landscape in search of his next meal. Eventually he ascended a nearby tree in order to get a better understanding of what was happening around him. A gorgeous “Tom” that I hope takes up more of a residence in the area – provided that the bigger dominant males allow him. 

The next surprise for me this week was coming across one of our local rhino bulls. This particular bull is very dominant in the area and was seeing off a younger imposter who just happened to pluck up the courage to challenge the old guard. What I loved about this sighting was that I was finally able to get a shot that I have dreamt about for a while now. That shot being one of a rhino running at full pace straight towards my lens. Now, it’s not the best shot ever, but I look forward to getting the perfect one in the future! 

The last surprise for me this week was successfully tracking down some African Wild Dogs, or rather I should say, listening very carefully for the iconic sounds that they make and then driving toward those sounds. It was such a great sighting as they had just made a kill and as the puppies tucked in, the adults moved on to a nearby natural pan for a swim. When you consider that the temperature can get up to 30 degrees Celsius by 8am on these days or more, it’s not hard to see why the mutts just couldn’t wait to take a dip! I also managed to snap a few reptiles this week and even got the dirty clothes to show for it as I had to lie down in order to photograph the terrapin just breaching the water. You may have to look a bit harder for other reptile, a monitor lizard, as his head was just sticking out of a tree cavity in order to survey his surroundings and sun bath at the same time. 

A great week as always here in the Greater Kruger National Park. 

Until next time, happy snapping! - Luke

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

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