30 November 2018
A WEEK OF CATS AND DOGS

This last week has been full of predators and unbelievably, with ten individual leopards being spotted! Brian Jones, our multiple return guest, has been in camp, he has visited Tanda Tula Safari Camp for so many years now that he has actually lost count! Brian has seen some truly amazing things in the Timbavati, but this trip he proudly proclaimed to be the best week of game viewing he has ever had! Now that is saying something!

It was fabulous to see the young leopardess, Nyaleti, again. She was born and raised in the immediate area around Tanda Tula Safari Camp by her mother, Rockfig Junior, for two years before she left and moved further east. What’s more is that she has a cub and the two seem to be doing incredibly well. We managed to watch them eating their impala kill and when they were finally done with the feast they moved on to drink from in a nearby mud wallow.

Another mother and cub duo who are doing very well is Ntombi and her youngster. We watched these two cats as they lazed about on some rocks after enjoying a drink down in the riverbed below. Ntombi made one of the most impressive jumps I have ever seen from the rocks into a nearby tree. Funnily, her little cub thought about attempting to do the same thing, but climbing the tree trunk seemed like a far better option in the end.

We still haven’t seen Marula’s two cubs again but the evident suckle marks would suggest the little ones are alive and doing well. We had an incredible sighting of her as she tried to steal her kill back from a very fat and sleepy hyena, sneaking only mouthfuls at a time. However, the next day when we returned to the scene, there she was with the reminder of her kill up a huge tree. Then a day later she managed to kill a pregnant impala and this time she pulled the kill into a tree long before any hyena got wind of it.

The temperatures in the Timbavati over the last week have been scorching which has led to fantastic sightings of our local predators at various water holes. On one occasion we found the Zebenine pride lazing about in some shade. Knowing lions, I was sure this was all they were going to do, but then suddenly one of the females stood up and started walking towards a nearby waterhole, followed by her sister and two little cubs. Have you ever seen thirsty lions drink? It can go on for an eternity!

But the most memorable sightings were on Brian’s last morning safari. It was definitely one of the best drives I have ever had too. It started off as a rather chilly and windy day, but things heated up pretty quickly. Firstly we found a male leopard that I have not seen very often. He had managed to take down not one, but two impala, a very impressive feat! He was happily feeding away in the tree as it swayed in the wind. Next we encountered a pack of wild dogs who had also just taken down a pregnant impala, this time of year finds all the ewes heavy with young. We finally moved on from the wild dogs as I had heard over the radio that one of the Zebenine lionesses had been found with one of the Mbiri males. I was in no rush to get there (this paid off later) and along the way we encountered a sizeable herd of elephants and a rhino too! 

When we finally got to the lions, we discovered there were also some buffalo who were nervously trying to cross the dry riverbed in order to get to the waterhole on the other side. The smell of lion filled the air and so this made them exceedingly cautious, however, eventually their thirst got the better of them and after 45 minutes they began to cross. They started slowly and then suddenly very quickly, as the Mbiri male dropped down the riverbank and began to chase them, this created absolute pandemonium as the buffalo panicked and stampeded. Suddenly out of the right - hand corner of our view the lioness came running at an incredible pace, she had planned this perfectly as she hit a young buffalo calf hard from the side in a sudden cloud of dust. Almost immediately she was backed up by her pride male as he chased the rest of the herd off before returning to help her in ending the young buffalo’s life. Incredibly, two days later the Zebenine females again managed to pull down another buffalo cow in the same area. This young pride are really starting to assert themselves in this part of the Greater Kruger.

Until next time, happy snapping

Luke


 

 

 

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