Surely the third week of my work cycle couldn’t keep on delivering the quality of sightings that we have been enjoying over the past two weeks? Well, yet again, I can very happily report back that despite the cooling temperatures, the past week has been another cracker with yet more excellent game viewing at Tanda Tula Safari Camp.  

While we are still waiting for the very pregnant Zebenine Pride lioness to produce more lion cubs, this past week saw us being particularly spoilt by the Mayambula Pride and their ten growing cubs. The pride spent the majority of the past week within our concession and provided us with some quality time in the presence of this large pride. The little ones are unbelievably comfortable in the presence of the vehicles and go about their business of being lion cubs as if we weren’t there at all. The Mbiri male lions were far less evident this week, and in fact were only spotted on two days. Yet, what they lacked for in quantity, they made up for in quality! We followed them as they set off on their nightly patrol, roaring as they went. The scent of a rotting carcass then caught the attention of the smaller male lion, and he headed straight to a large tree on the banks of the Machaton riverbed; he was peering up into its’ upper boughs desperately looking for what he thought was a leopard’s kill. He made one failed attempt to ascend the tree before walking off roaring to his brother. It wasn’t five minutes later when he once more got a whiff of a potential meal, and yet again, he marched to the tallest tree and made a careful inspection of its branches trying to find the source of the odour. This time, his climbing effort was much better, and we watched in amazement as he hauled himself up into the tree before scrambling towards the outer reaches of the lowest branch. Still, he came up empty handed, and now, he was faced with the dilemma of having to get out of the tree that he had so carelessly climbed! Needless to say, his descent was anything but graceful but it didn’t matter to us much, as we couldn’t have enjoyed the sighting any more than we did. 

We sadly never found which leopard may have had the kill in that area, but that is par for the course, our leopards in the east once again failed to play ball this week. Fortunately, we had Nthombi and her son around for most of the week. She had another good week of hunting, and we found her with four different kills – we were even lucky enough to be following her when she caught a scrub hare one morning. Sadly, all of the kills were relatively small, and her somewhat greedy son ended up consuming the majority of them, leaving Nthombi looking far less well fed this week which belied her hunting endeavours. Interestingly, the week ended with the sounds of mating leopards in the heart of her territory. No one saw which leopards they were, but we can only assume it was Nthombi and the Tamboti male. Time will tell whether she was mating purely to appease the male or if indeed she has already come into estrus again, which would signal a very early end to the relationship she has with her son! Marula was much less in evident this week, but we ended the week with a great sighting of her fetching her two cubs and taking them towards her most recent kill; sadly though, it looks like the hyenas ended up getting their unfair share of the meal. The news of the week was a surprise sighting of Xidulu male leopard on a midday stroll right outside our camp. Without any sign of him over the past couple of months, I assumed that he had simply moved off in search of an available territory, but it appears that he is still using the central Timbavati as his home! 

The week started off with some lovely large elephant herds but ended off with a puzzling two-day absence of these gentle giants across the concession – something that is very unexpected at this time of the year. In general, the elephant numbers appear to be lower this winter than last, but this may likely still be due to the abundance of food still available for the elephants in the surrounding areas of the Greater Kruger. Although the buffalo herds remained confined to the west sections of the concession over the past seven days, the old dagga boys remained a more present element in the area. The week also saw a good number of zebra and wildebeest herds moving in and around the area, and the roads surrounding Tanda Tula Safari Camp were often seen littered with their tracks. We also enjoyed a few more sightings of ostrich this week, something that I’m sure will only improve as the winter months progress. 

Until next time ~ Chad

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

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