The oppressive heat of last week seemed a distant memory as this week’s weather tried to cram several seasons into just seven days. Hot days were interspersed with cooler ones, a dense misty morning preceded some strong winds, and no two successive days were alike. Although we still await the first flowering of the Knobthorn trees, we did have our first Long-tailed Cassia’s bursting into full flower this week.
Despite the change in weather, sadly there was not much change in our fortunes with the spotted cats, and the week was a very frustrating one on the leopard front. The highlight of the week was no doubt having the gorgeous Thumbela leopardess spend a few days resting up a stunning Marula tree with her impala kill before disappearing again. She had been located by our trackers a couple of days before and was seen in the presence of a male, but sadly we couldn’t get to view them in a vehicle. Nthombi gave us the run around, and all tracking efforts led to her tracks heading north out of the concession where it sounds like she was having a field day in the windy conditions and was found twice on kills there in the week.
I have no doubt, too, that the windy nights this past week made for such good hunting conditions that the cats, even our regular stars, Marula and her cubs, were kept preoccupied with their meals for days at a time, leaving little chance for us to find tracks and follow up on. The Tamboti male showed up in front of Tanda Tula Safari Campone evening, but other than that, there really was very little to talk of on the leopard front this week.
Fortunately, our struggles with the Mayambula Pride of last week were a distant memory and the pride were not only seen on most days, but they have made their way back towards the central and eastern parts of our concession, and returned to their old haunts for the first time in ages. The mothers have once more been providing regular meals for all ten cubs, and the week included no fewer than two zebra kills, and one buffalo kill (the latter being the only time they were off the concession). With a return to the east, I am sure that the large number of zebras in the area will mean us seeing a few more striped feasts!
The Mbiri males showed up once as a coalition (giving us a lovely roaring display when they did) before trailing the River Pride into Klaserie, but only the larger male returned to the Timbavati. His roars were answered by his brother, but at the time of writing this blog, they had not re-joined forces yet. Instead, this male spent the last few days of the week with the Mayambula Pride and enjoyed the spoils of their hunting successes. When the River Pride did show up for a day, the five members (excluding the three males seen last week) were found feasting on a kudu kill to the north east of camp before they moved back out of the area, pursued hours later by the Mbiri males .Both the Ross females and the Giraffe Pride were reported with various kills during the week, but with the Mayambula Pride providing such good viewing so close to camp, we didn’t make the journey out west.
Perhaps due to the presence of the lions, the buffalo herds that had been hanging around over the past month moved on during the latter part of this week, leaving only a small breeding herd and a few bulls in the area, especially around camp. The elephant herds continued to make good use of this part of the Greater KrugerPark, and were even seen at the Camp Dam on several occasions during the week. Their calm nature never ceases to amaze the guests and they always provide for really wonderful viewing. The general game in the eastern sections continues to be very good, with giraffe herds and many zebras moving around the open areas. It won’t be long before even more giraffes start moving into this section for the upcoming acacia-feast, and it will be interesting to see if our growing lion pride has the know-how to catch these always-alert giants.
Although it was too fleeting-a-sighting to get a picture, one of my personal highlights of the week was seeing a gorgeous caracal lying on a termite mound! Chatting to Antony, he commented that he had seen this same individual a couple of weeks ago, and to put the cherry on top, she had two kittens with her! We will definitely be keeping an eye open in that area to see if she makes a reappearance.
Until next time!