Although I am not often wrong (the last time was in 2008…although my girlfriend is sitting next to me disagreeing), I am absolutely delighted to announce that Mother Nature has proven me wrong in a big way this week!  

It has been three weeks since we last saw the Zebenine Pride and sadly my last sighting of them was just the remains of the male cub. The weeks that followed saw us barely finding even a sign of our once resident pride, but luckily then we started seeing tracks for a lioness and cub, and eventually it appeared that there were tracks for two lionesses and the cub. Still, there had been no physical sightings of them for ages…until Glen began tracking the Mbiri male lions one morning after they returned from feasting on an enormous buffalo bull to the north of our concession. Whilst tracking the males, he noticed that they had been joined by not one, but two lionesses and a cub.  

My guests and I were having coffee not far from where the trackers were busy and had no sooner jumped into the Land Rover when one of the guests looked up and said: “There they are!”. And there, way in the distance, the larger Mbiri male was standing in the Zebenine riverbed staring at us. We drove around and relocated the two males, and one lioness, but frustratingly this still didn’t confirm for us what the tracks were saying about both lionesses being there. That afternoon however, the question was eventually answered when both Zebenine lionesses and the remaining cub were found together, and not only were they alive, but they were looking in fantastic condition, clearly, they had been feeding on a sizeable meal the past few days. In addition to that great news, the second lioness was showing signs of some teats swollen with milk and if they are creatures of habit, perhaps they have returned to this area for the arrival of some new cubs in the near future? With the Zebenine Pride back in familiar territory and our questions answered, the whole lion situation suddenly felt much more comfortable. Although only tracks for the three Mayambula lionesses were seen in the south this week, the single mother and her two cubs continued to be on show, and she again seems to be doing a good job with the growing male cubs and was seen with a nyala kill this week (Another thing I got wrong; I thought it was a boy and a girl!). Both of the larger prides (River and Giraffe) remained off the concession this week, but that just means that they are likely to return this coming week. 

Sticking with the cats, it was a better week for our leopard viewing, with more than just Marula playing along. Civilized bumped into Nyeleti as she caught a male impala, and we got to spend a few days in the company of her and N’weti as they fed on the kill hoisted above a group of patiently waiting hyenas. Ntsongwaan male made a rare appearance after a long absence from our list of viewed leopards, and from the sounds of it, he just keeps getting bigger! The Tamboti male is still active around the camp and can regularly be heard calling as he patrols his territory; he is also getting more and more relaxed with the vehicles during the night which is encouraging. Then of course, we have Marula and the cubs. This was another week of good viewing for her as she remained active just to the west of Tanda Tula Safari Camp, she was found on most days and even ended off the week leading her cubs back to a fresh impala kill she made during the night. Madzinyo also made a late appearance this week, but sadly we didn’t have any guests on drive that could get to see him! 

One of my highlights of the week was a morning spent with the pack of seventeen wild dogs. Although they had been around at the beginning of the week, they remained relatively elusive until fresh tracks were found one morning to the south-west. Another guide found them, but when the two Mbiri male lions pitched up to chase them, it got a bit chaotic and the pack disappeared. We persisted in the area, and some descending vultures soon led us to where part of the pack was finishing off a male impala as the vultures gathered for the scraps. Eventually the dogs gave up on chasing the vultures and ran off to join up with the rest of the pack, have a drink and then settled for the day after a good morning feed. 

Although the elephant herds were not as plentiful this week, when we did catch up with them, we were treated to some excellent viewing of some pretty large herds (usually between 40-70 individuals). I am still puzzled as to why the herds are moving as much as they are considering that there is still ample food and water resources in the area? The same could be said for the buffalo. The herd that came into the area last week spent only one day here before they too walked straight north and deeper into the Timbavati. Fortunately, there are more regular sightings of the buffalo bulls in the area, which has made our lives much easier when it comes to helping guests enjoy sightings of the Big 5. 

Other game viewing was pretty good too this week; nice baboon viewing, very good wildebeest and zebra herds out in the east, scattered journeys of giraffes, and even an elusive serval made their appearance. But with the rut in full swing, it has been the impala rams in this part of the Greater Kruger that have really provided for some entertaining viewing as they run around chasing off other male competition and doing their best to keep the females within their territory. Luke will be doing a blog about the rutting season soon, so do be sure to keep a look out for that too.

I am heading off for the next couple of weeks, but I cannot wait to return to this special part of South Africa to see what the animals that call this place home have gotten up to! 

Until next time! 

Cheers ~ Chad 

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

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