22 February 2019
A WEEK OF COLOUR IN PICTURES

Greetings once again to our weekly update straight from the heart of the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve. Yet again we have been celebrating a good week of summer rainfall. Although we only recorded 37mm at Tanda Tula Safari Camp, other sections of our concession (less than 3.6km away) recorded 96mm! Despite this being a relatively big difference, the ground is so saturated at the moment that I don’t believe that this difference in rainfall would make any difference other than to facilitate the run-off flowing into the riverbeds. Amazingly, the Nhlaralumi riverbed in front of the camp has remained dry all summer, a testament to the great quality of rain that we have received; rather than running off and out of our area, it has all seeped down into the soils and ground water table.

The wet weekend did make things a little more challenging with the wet soils and limited off-road driving, but our viewing remained pretty good despite the conditions. As for the rest of the week all of the guests were treated to some really lovely game viewing. Let me begin by giving some inspiring news –all five Mayambula cubs were seen alive and well with their mothers the day after our last blog post went up; sadly, they remained elusive for the rest of the week, despite my daily visits to the area. Interestingly, there were tracks (and the odd sighting) of a lioness from the pride moving in and out of the same area on a daily basis. If my interpretation of the situation is correct, she is one of the other lionesses that has given birth to more cubs in the Machaton riverbed. Time will tell if this is true, or if it is simply the same mother from the existing litter of cubs. The Zebenine Pride enjoyed a wildebeest kill for a couple of days and remained in the area most of the week, but the long grass and wet conditions made keeping up with them a challenge even though our trackers managed to do so most of the time. The Mbiri males visited them several times during the week, but oddly failed to spend any time with the Mayambula Pride. I fear this decision may come back to haunt them following a report of three new, young male lions in the southern portion of their territory. In the west, we caught up with the Ross lionesses eating a warthog one morning, as well as a lone lioness wondering around in the same region. Neither the Giraffe Pride, nor River Prides ventured into the concession this week.

On the leopard front, we had a good week despite the amount of cover afforded to these creatures of camouflage. Nyeleti and her daughter were seen with an impala kill in the Machaton, right in the heart of Thumbela’s territory, which could be interesting in the coming months. We did see Thumbela exploring to the south of that area a few days later, before tracking her back towards that very site. Marula was found on a couple of occasions, and although the cubs were not found the tracks indicate that they are both still alive and well. Nthombi and her cub were more scarce than usual, but this didn’t mean they were not around, and their tracks criss-crossed the wettest part of the concession regularly. Cleo leopardess was also found a few times on the western boundary. I even got to see the shy leopardess known as Margaret (sorry, we didn’t name her!) one afternoon when we spotted her resting in a marula tree. As I was thinking it was actually Marula herself, I drove off towards her, but she descended the tree and sauntered off into a thicket where we decided not to pursue her.

On the male leopard front, Madzinyo spent a few days on a wildebeest calf kill in the north-east after our rainy weekend, and our new young male, now identified as Xidulu male from the Greater Kruger, also had an impala kill right next to camp. That same night he came casually walking through camp whilst Antony and his guests were watching some stars! So, all in all, it was not a bad week for leopard viewing.

The African wild dogs also graced us with their presence for a couple of days during the week when a pack of 18 spent some time in the concession.We were even woken up one evening when the hyenas and wild dogs could be heard having an altercation near Camp Dam!

On the large game front, the elephants ebbed and flowed through the concession this week; periods of plenty would be followed by little sign of them in the central parts of the concession, but the western sections sported good populations throughout the week. Our guests even got to enjoy their presence at Camp Dam on a few afternoons. Two buffalo herds were seen this past week; a smaller herd in the south-east, and a larger group that spent most of the week milling around in the western part of the reserve. A few bachelor herds of buffalo bulls have also started to take up residence in the area again which is encouraging to see; with the amount of grass around, they should feel as at home here as our guests do!

Lastly, we were treated to some lovely general game last week. The giraffes were very plentiful, and one beautiful scene we enjoyed was a sighting of a dozen giraffes, a herd of wildebeest and 40-odd zebras all feeding on the luscious green surrounds. This central part of the Greater Kruger has been an absolute joy to be in this past week. I look forward to seeing what next week brings, at the risk of cursing it, hopefully some sightings of lion and leopard cubs!

Lions in the grass

Rhino

Zebra in the grass

Wild dogs

Mum and baby

Bird in flight 


Rhino calf 


Buffalo 


Giraffe 

Tanda Tula Tanda Tula Tanda Tula