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

A WEEK OF SAFARI WITH SCOTCH AND LUKE – 17 May 2019

I’m back! And it’s been absolutely wonderful to get out into the bush this past week. I managed to join a number of safaris with my good friend and colleague, Scotch. It’s always great to join a friend and an absolute legend for a drive or two and (in true Scotch fashion) he did not let me or any of our guests down.  

The Timbavati is incredibly romantic at the moment as winter begins to take hold, although personally, I will definitely miss the lush green that summer brings. Winter tends to be our busiest time of year. A great number of people from around the world have come to know and love Southern Africa as it looks now. The winter sun is a gorgeous companion for photographers with the warmth, shine and of course the extended ‘golden hour’. To put it mildly, I am in love with the light!  

This week turned out to be a great week for lion viewing with both our resident prides being more than willing to allow us to get up close and personal with them. The Mayambula pride is, for lack of a better term, ‘killing it’ at the moment. All four females have recently joined up again and this means that all ten cubs are getting to know each other and in turn, we are getting to know them. 

Considering that only 18 – 24 months ago we had very little lion activity in the area, a pride of 14 is almost too much to bear. No, I am not complaining! I just don’t know where to look and where to focus half the time because as I point my camera in one direction, something happens in another. This pride is currently in the process of slowly moving their territory towards the north as they attempt to consolidate their area with that of the Mbiri males, the dominant force around Tanda Tula Safari Camp. Sadly, however, this means that this large and growing pride is putting more and more pressure on the shrinking Zebenine pride. As you may have heard, unfortunately one of the Zebenine cubs was recently killed, a common occurrence within lion society as the battle for territory constantly rages. This means that only three remain - the two lioness and their one female cub. Don’t feel too bad for them just yet though, they have been doing fairly well as a triplet having had a number of successful hunts. Another added benefit is that it’s easier to get one cub to adulthood than two, and luckily the remaining cub is a female which means if she can make it to adulthood, the pride will be vastly more powerful. 

I have not yet had the pleasure of properly meeting our most famous leopardess - Marula’s - cubs yet! I have seen them behind bushes a few times but never very clearly. Well, that all changed this week and I couldn’t be happier! The young male, is very shy and so I didn’t get any meaningful images of him but the young female is proving to be quite the model. She just lazed about on a nearby termite mound and enjoyed the sunset while her mom, Marula, fed on her recently killed impala ram - a really memorable sighting. 

Britt and I have been out and about documenting the incredible and very humorous impala rutting season over the last week (Keep an eye out for our Safari Science on this topic, coming later this month) and so I thought I should include at least one photo of these very over confident males. Impala don’t get much airtime but when one just sits with them for a while, they really do offer up some great game viewing. One of my favourite things about winter is the sudden influx of elephants. The Timbavati is a very popular winter feeding and breeding ground for the pachyderms and there can often be hundreds exploring in the immediate vicinity of our tented camp. This influx has already begun with many awesome sightings so far. 

I better not forget to give an honourable mention to the plethora of plains game that has been around recently too. Kudu, impala, zebra, wildebeest and even squirrels have, in their own right, performed beautifully! What an awesome week it has been in the bush and as we go further into winter, it can only get better. 

Until next time, happy snapping ~ Luke Street

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