A WEEK OF GLORIOUS MORNING LIGHT

Lions, lions in the glorious morning light. That is the way my guests and I started this week - could one ask for much more? We set out early one morning intent on finding the Mayambula pride who has taken a fairly permanent residence towards the east of Tanda Tula Safari Camp. We knew where they had been the day before, it was just a matter of finding their tracks and tracking them down. 

Scotch decided to check the eastern side of the Machaton River and I would check the western side. It didn’t take long for the legend in the east to find some fresh tracks, its not too hard when you consider that no less than fourteen lions are moving about. He quickly called me on the radio to inform me that the tracks were heading straight towards where we were and as he said that a couple of birds started alarm calling on my left hand side towards the riverbed. I immediately stopped the vehicle, but of course, as I did so - the birds went quiet…typical. A few minutes later Jack, my tracker, and myself were slowly creeping around the riverbed on foot looking for a sign that the pride was near. We couldn’t find anything though and being on foot with four lioness and ten cubs is not the most comfortable feeling one could have! A few more minutes later and we’re back on the vehicle, just about to take a left hand turn, when suddenly some francolins to the right went crazy, screaming and shouting as if…well, as if a bunch of lions were walking past them. This was the cue! I quickly turned right instead and there they were, fourteen lions walking straight down the road with the warm early morning winter sun illuminating their faces. They casually walked past us making eye contact with all of us as they did so. We followed them for a while and watched the cubs attempt to drink water from a mud wallow, refusing to take the cue from their mothers that there was nothing but muddy faces to be had. 
 
The rest of the week proved worthy of following on from that glorious morning with a superb sighting of the Zebenine pride lazing about with the Mbiri males one evening. They stayed true to their usual habit of not doing too much, but seeing sleeping lions are still pretty cool in my books. We did see the Mbiri males again later in the week as they followed a herd of buffalo. Unfortunately, they messed up the hunt and the buffalo took off into the distance.

At the moment we are all holding thumbs at the prospect of a pack of African wild dogs denning in the area. We recently had a pack move through with a heavily pregnant alpha female, so we are really hoping that they find a den sight nearby where she can give birth. I most certainly wouldn’t mind seeing wild dog puppies on an almost daily basis. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get any photos of the mother-to-be but she is just about ready to pop!

The famous gentle giants of the Timbavati have been in no short supply with many breeding herds flocking back into the area for their winter feeding and breeding. The great thing about this, is that many of the big males also flock into the area in search of a lady or two. It’s a tricky time of year though as many of these large males are in “Musth”. This is essentially a hormonal imbalance that causes the body to produce far more testosterone than normal, which of course leads to some rather intense mood swings. These moods swings coupled with six tons of mass is not the most relaxing thing to see but seeing big bull elephants is always a treat, even if one needs to keep their distance!

Rounding the week off, we had a great sighting of Ntombi, the gorgeous leopardess of the north. It wasn’t easy tracking her down with a number of trackers and guides involved in the hunt. But, in the end it all paid off and we got see a stunning leopardess as she carefully moved through the bush in search of prey. We also had a brief sighting of one of Marula’s cubs but it wasn’t very close to the vehicle and we decided not to stick around to long as mom wasn’t present.

A great week out in the Timbavati! Its starting to get very chilly in the morning, so for those of you that are due to arrive at Tanda Tula Safari Camp over the next few months please remember to pack some warm clothes!

Until next time, happy snapping,
Luke

 

Rhino

Mayambula morning

Mayambula pride

Mayambula cub and lioness

Mayambula pride

Mbiri male

Elephant

Ntombi

Stripped reflection

Elephant

Wild dog

 


 

 

Tanda Tula Tanda Tula Tanda Tula