A week of 'firsts' in photos

This week was an amazing week of firsts for me. It started off with potentially one of the best drives I have ever had... and things just escalated from there. There is a reason that June, July and August are such popular months for guests to visit Tanda Tula and this week just reiterated that high level of animal activity. Although it is not always easy going, and some days Jack and I really have to work to find the game in the Timbavati, this was not one of those weeks!

After a slow start one morning, which consisted of tracking some lions who sadly never materialised, we picked up on some very fresh tracks for the leopardesses, Ntombi. We were on and off the vehicle numerous times looking at her evidence, but she was really giving us the run around, her tracks indicating her walking back and forth up various roads. I had just stopped the vehicle to point out a bird when one of my guests excitedly shouted, “There is something right over there and it has spots!”. He was absolutely right as there she was! We followed her for a while as she inspected each shrub and thicket with great care, an almost sure sign that she was trying to hunt scrub hares.

Suddenly she spurred into action and jumped head first into a thicket, at the very same time a scrub hare, in a cloud of dust, scrambled out the other side of the bush. But his escape was short lived as the scrub hare tumbled over some nearby foliage and the leopardess had him! It was my first leopard kill! Now to explain why this was so special for me: I have been coming on safari since I was nine years old and these days I spend roughly six hours a day on a game vehicle and yet this was my first leopard kill, and it happened right next to me. I know, I know, it was just a scrub hare! But I am going to go ahead and count it anyway.

After this incredible leopard sighting we came across a herd of elephants moving towards a watering hole. I sped up a little to get ahead of them, but as they approached the watering hole they decided they wanted to drink right where I had parked my vehicle. This allowed for an amazing experience for me and my guests as over forty elephants proceeded to peacefully walk all around us in order to get to the water.

Next,  we found a herd of buffalo just down the road as they finished having a drink. I then got a radio call from Jack, who had found a rhino cow and a young calf, so I turned the vehicle around and went back to view them.

Finally, the morning ended up with a call over the radio announcing the find that all avid safari goers wait for, not a Big Five animal, but rather the crowning jewel of African wildlife sightings: a Pangolin! My guests were completely thrilled, and even though it was my fourth sighting of one of the world's most poached animals, it was incredible to witness.

Another first of the week came in form of finally getting a glimpse of the brand-new cubs from the Zebenine Pride of lions! We have known about the den sight for weeks now and have all spent many hours there, waiting with baited breath for the small cubs to show themselves. We had already been sitting at the den for around an hour and we were just getting ready to leave when Jack said “Look, look the cubs are coming!”. And there they were, essentially barrel-rolling down the river bank behind their mother. We spent some time with them as they played around in the river bed, pestering their mother and their aunt with their classic lion cub antics. It was an incredible sighting and hopefully scenes like this indicate real lion stability in this area for the future.

A great week in a wintery Timbavati!


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