CHAD'S HIGHLIGHTS OF 2018

It is hard to believe that another year has come and gone just like that. But, having spent the last couple of days going through some of the images that I took over the past 12 months, I realised just what a special year it has been!

For me, 2018 was my first year as a member of the Tanda Tula Family. Besides being part of a truly superb team, I also had the pleasure and privilege to be able to share countless moments of wonder in the bush with an array of guests from all across the world. Trying to condense a year’s worth of viewing into one blog post is almost as impossible as trying to whittle down some 22,000 photographs into a selection of my dozen favourites so I won’t even try! However, I would like to just mention some of the more outstanding moments that we shared together, and I am so looking forward to what 2019 will bring!

The past few years have been anything but stable for the lions residing around Tanda Tula Safari Camp, but it appears as though 2018 was the year that this all changed. A large degree of stability returned to the central Timbavati, thanks largely to the two Mbiri male lions, who have not only settled down and sired cubs with two of our resident prides, but also help subdue the once dominant hyena clans of the area.

Who can forget the sighting of these male lions charging in and killing a hyena early one morning! (read more about the lion dynamics in the Timbavati). The two Zebenine lionesses had mixed fortunes with their cubs but watching both cubs from the second litter growing week by week has been such a privilege and we really hope that these two will make it to adulthood in 2019. We are also expecting the second lioness to have a litter of her own in the early parts of 2019.

To the south-east of our camp the Mayabula Pride had also stabilised under the guardianship of the Mbiri males. While we have not seen any of the new cubs, we know that at least two lionesses have litters safely hidden in the Machaton Riverbed, and it won’t be long before we get to see them. Late in 2018, the Giraffe Pride, now 13 lions, also made a welcome return and with the Black Dam male looking after them, we hope too that they will continue to grow in numbers and strength.

Last year started off with so much promise for the leopards of the area – Marula had just had a litter of cubs, as did Nyeleti and Thumbela, but as the months passed, Marula lost her litter and the other females just kept their cubs out of view; we were struggling with our leopards!

Fast forward to the end of 2018, and things have eventually started to look up. Marula has had her third litter, and we are keeping fingers crossed that this time they make it; Nyeleti’s daughter looks like she will take after her mother with her relaxed disposition, despite hardly any exposure to vehicles whilst growing up. And at last, Thumbela’s now almost-independent daughter is as calm as her mother. Add to that the fact that Nthombi’s daughter is growing up quickly, 2019 could be a year that sees the establishment of territories of several of these young female leopards within our area. My two leopard highlights were no doubt seeing Marula moving her new cubs to another den site (read more about Marula's surprise), as well as Madzinyo male leopard making a warthog kill right next to my vehicle (view the video).

Other than the cats, the year provided for a continuous stream of elephants, rhinos, giraffes and zebras – the sight of the eastern open areas filled with these animals during the summer months is something I will never tire of! The wild dogs were fairly active throughout the year and always provided great viewing when they were around, but their rarer counterparts, the cheetahs, were disappointingly absent this year, with only a handful of sightings recorded during 2018, we can only hope that 2019 will see a return of their speedy spots to our concession.

For now though, please enjoy the selection of my favourite images from 2018; thank you for being a part of this journey, for reading these blogs, and for making Tanda Tula Safari Camp your safari destination of choice.I look forward to sharing whatever 2019 has to offer with all of you!

All the best for the year ahead...

Cheers,
Chad

The year started off amazingly with me recording my first black rhino sighting since 2008!

Black Rhino

The larger Mbiri male lion quenching his thirst at a dam with his brother, they have helped stabilise the lion dynamics in the area.

Lion drinking

Late summer and along with herds of wildebeest and zebras in the east, we were treated to hundreds of thousands of red-billed queleas flocking over the area.

Red-billed queleas

The Mayambula pride in the east with a litter of cubs; sadly these two didn’t make it, but this lioness is presently hiding a new litter of cubs that we will surely get to see early in 2019.


One of the Mbiri male lions catching a hyena that had allowed him to venture too close.

Hyena kill

Madzinyo male leopard dragging his freshly caught warthog towards a marula tree.

Warthog kill

The elephants were a constant presence at Tanda Tula Safari Camp this year, and here is one of the many, many elephant herds marching towards a nearby waterhole.


A black-backed jackal with breakfast; an unfortunate dwarf mongoose.

Black-backed jackal

Marula leopardess moving one of her 2-3 week old cubs to a new den site.

Marula leopardess

Nthombi leopardess’s young daughter will hopefully grow to adulthood to take over her mother’s territory.

Nthombi cub

Thumbela’s as-yet-unnamed daughter has been one of the best aspects of the end of 2018; her transformation from a shy leopard to a completely relaxed individual over the past couple of months has been remarkable.

Thumbela's daughter

My very last drive of 2018 produces this sighting of the aptly named Marula female leopard descending the very tree she was named after!

Marula female

 


 

 

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