Greetings once again to you all, and welcome to another installation of Tanda Tula’s Week In Pictures. Following a wonderfully relaxing break, I arrived back to a completely transformed Timbavati Private Nature Reserve, and there was no question that summer had arrived during my two-week absence. During my first week back in the bush, things only got better! The 40mm of rain that fell during the previous period was well supplemented by a further 62mm during the past week, and the result is that the areas surrounding Tanda Tula Safari Camp have now taken on an emerald green glow which is the very reason I love summer so much!

Now despite the rainy season being seen by many as a less-than-ideal time to for game viewing, this week has yet again proven that it is anything but! Aside from the fact that it is stunning to simply drive around an environment that is so lush, vibrant and full of all sorts of life – from termite eruptions and countless dung beetles busying themselves in piles of poop to colourful migratory birds (Migration Season blog) and baby impalas bounding all over the bush – there was still a great deal of big game to be seen in this part of the Greater Kruger Park.

The lions of the area were very cooperative this week, and it started out with the Sumatra male and three members of the Hercules Pride on a buffalo kill to the south-west – it’s the first time we have seen them for many months! Then, following an absence of almost a week, the Zebenine Pride made a welcome return to Tanda Tula, and were found resting off their full, fat bellies one warm afternoon.Sadly though, we only saw one cub that day and I wasn’t holding out much hope for a positive outcome, but when Antony and Jack tracked them down the following morning, we were all delighted to hear that both cubs were still alive and well. We enjoyed an amazing sighting of the cubs and mothers playing around in a late afternoon thunderstorm which was a welcomed break to the oppressive heat that had enveloped the bush in the earlier in the week. The rain did wash out any sign of the pride for a couple of days, but waking up two days ago to the sound of the whole pride roaring just south of camp gave us the only clue we needed to go out and locate them. The smaller Mbiri male had picked up an injury on his front-right paw, but it doesn’t look too serious. The Mayambula Pride continues to move around in the eastern part of the reserve, and from most signs, the cubs are still alive and well, but it will be a few weeks before we get to see them. The two Ross girls were seen regularly in the west at the beginning of the week, but when the dozen members of the Giraffe Pride (with the impressive Black Dam male in attendance) showed up in that area later in the week, the Ross girls made themselves scarce.

Despite the bush having thickened up incredibly over the week, the leopards still showed themselves very regularly! Nthombi and her daughter were seen on two impala kills within out concession; the latter kept them around for three days. Thumbela female was found walking around in the east desperately looking for her youngsters to take them back to a kill – her daughter was eventually seen in the area later that evening. Cleo female was once more seen on the prowl near our western boundary, and Marula remained active around her suspected den site in the west. Based on the suckle marks and her behaviour, they are alive and well, but no further sightings have been had of the cubs. On the male leopard front, Ntsongwaan was seen one afternoon in the far west looking in fantastic shape. A slightly thinner Madzinyo was also tracked down resting in the Machaton riverbed and we had a good sighting of the usually shy Rothsay male not too far from the camp. All in all, the leopard viewing this week was rather good, and hopefully it is a sign of good things to come this summer.

The wild dogs only appeared once this week, but what they lacked in quantity, they made up for in quality and the guides that made the trip to the west to see them were not disappointed as they hunted baby impalas and chased off the ever-present hyenas.

On the large herbivore front, it was a week of plenty for us! There were giraffe all over the show, dozens of zebra herds that had moved into the area to enjoy the fresh new grass, and most pleasingly of all, a couple of large buffalo herds that spent the entire week within the area, and why not! With plenty of food and water all over the central parts of the concession, they have no reason to go anywhere else. The rhinos were seen daily, and our little two-month old calf made a welcome return to the area!As is usual for this time of the year, elephants were not as abundant as they are in winter, but we still had sightings on a daily basis. Toward the end of the week, several herds seemed to be setting themselves up in the area once more.

So, as you can see from the above, and the photos that follow, the start of summer has been a fantastic one and after a long wait for the rains, I am so incredibly delighted that they arrived to kick start what is without a doubt my favourite time of the year!

Until next week, take care!





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