14 September 2018
A WEEK OF MANY MOVEMENTS

This past week has just flown by, and it feels like we have had all four seasons this week! From sprinklings of rain (only around 5mm) last weekend and bitterly cold mornings to temperatures topping out in the high-30s, this week has had it all! At present, we sit under clear blue skies with the mercury rising, and this has once more made for very active waterholes across the reserve. 

Machaton Dam in the eastern part of our concession has played host to a couple of interesting scenes this past week. Firstly, a clan of hyenas appeared to have chased a large kudu bull into the dam, where we assume that the exhausted beast drowned in a deeper part of the water. It was truly entertaining watching the hyenas having to dive underwater to try and recover their quarry! Eventually, after three days of effort they managed to drag the carcass to a spot where they could feed without the need to go swimming. Another pleasant surprise was the return of the impressive Apollo male elephant. After spending time around Tanda Tula Safari Camp's waterhole, he moved out east where we found him cooling off with some mud on a warm Tuesday afternoon.Arriving at the same dam on Thursday afternoon, we were happy to see the imposing figure of Apollo walking away from the waterhole...but something was missing, and the tragedy quickly dawned on us that he had broken off one of his tusks! At some point during the 48 hours since we last saw him, he had either been involved in a skirmish with another elephant, or more likely, attempted to break too big a branch with his impressive ivory, and snapped the right tusk clean off. It was a sad sight to bear witness to, because although he is still an impressive bull, it will just never be the same looking at him again.

Aside from that sad news, some other interesting happenings took place also this past week. The Zebenine lionesses that had moved the two cubs to the Nhlaralumi a couple of kilometres south of our tented camp went on a massive walk around with them during the week. Alarmingly, after having moved them towards the southern boundary of our concession, they then proceeded to march the poor little cubs straight north across our concession and not only way beyond our northern border, but also out of the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve and into the Klaserie! We can only speculate that the return of the River Pride over the past week had something to do with their movements, but the direction taken headed straight into the same area that the River Pride had disappeared towards the night before. We now have a slightly anxious wait on our hands to a) see when they return, and b) if, when they do return, they still have two healthy cubs in tow, as moving such young cubs into neighbouring lion territories can be very dangerous for all parties involved.

Besides the River Pride returning, we also had a brief visit from three young male lions that killed a kudu on our northern boundary; some speculation was that they could be the three boys from the Western Pride, but sadly they had killed in such a thick area that we couldn’t see them well enough. On that same afternoon, a very scarred lioness also pitched up randomly in the central regions of our concession, and we weren’t able to ID her accurately either. The Mbiri males remained absent thisentire past week. On the leopard front, Nthombi brought her cub back south into our concession, and I got my first short glimpse of the little one! It is only 10-weeks old now and still needs a little more time to get used to the vehicles. Marula had a great week with a couple of kills, and was looking very fat and healthy when we last saw her. Thumbela and the two youngsters were found on a duiker kill on the far eastern boundary of our concession, and a seemingly new female leopard was seen on the western boundary, just to keep things interesting in the leopard world too!

Although we sadly didn’t get to see them, a mother cheetah and her three sub-adult offspring were reported coming in from the Kruger National Park towards the south-eastern corner of our concession. Unfortunately no more signs were seen of them, but it has been ages since we last saw cheetah, so we are definitely due a sighting or two!

Apart from the Big 5, the most astounding thing for me this past week has been the abundance of giraffes in the area – and it has been impressive to see just how much of the flowering portions of the knobthorn trees (Senegalia nigrescens) they have stripped off! From therebeing powerdery, yellow flowers everywhere, most of the trees now have been reduced to simply having flowers remaining only on the very tops, out of reach of even the tallest male giraffes! The Timbavati is reputed tohave the highest density of giraffes in the world and based on the number of giraffes walking around Tanda Tula at the moment, I can certainly believe that!

Until next time!

Chad




 

 

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