THE LAST WEEKS OF 2018

Welcome back to your next instalment of the week in pictures. This week looks at the closing week of 2018 and what was on offer, and I can assure you, it was a lot! Let me begin by first wishing everyone a Happy New Year, and wishing you all the best for 2019. If 2019 continues with the incredible sightings we witnessed at the end of 2018, then we'll all be in for a real treat!  

The summer started in full swing, with temperatures rising to the early 40's, but ended off on a cooler note with a small amount of rain falling. This heat and lack of rain led to some of the areas in the Timbavati looking a little drier than they were two weeks back, but the bush is still in a very good condition across the concession.

The star sightings at the end of 2018 for Tanda Tula guests have no doubt been the big cats, with the lions being particularly cooperative of late. The two Zebenine lionesses have been concentrating their activities in the central region, even popping in to Camp Dam in front of Tanda Tula Safari Camp for a drink of water a few afternoons back. Unusually, they have been leaving the two cubs in hiding over much of the past week and venturing out to hunt on their own. Perhaps, with the cubs growing so quickly now it is a little more difficult to control their energetic behaviour at a time when they are needed to sit still! The Mayambula pride remains active in the south-east, and at least two of the females are tending to cubs hidden in the Machaton riverbed. We are still waiting for their first public appearance which we hope will be in the not-too-distant future. The nine members of the River Pride ventured south into our concession, but incredibly, missed out on an elephant which had died of old age. They were less than a kilometer from where the hyena and vultures were feeding on it!The pride made a hasty retreat to the north when the Mbiri males could be heard roaring in close proximity.In the west, the two Ross lionesses were scarce, but with regular visits from the thirteen members of the Giraffe Pride, this is no surprise!This large pride is pushing deeper and deeper into our concession, so we are hoping for more sightings of them as the new year kicks off.

Despite the lush, green surrounds of the central Timbavati, the leopard viewing over the past few weeks has been really good. Nthombi and her daughter show up every couple of days, and the little girl is growing up quickly. Cleo female has been seen on a weekly basis in the west of our concession, and Marula female has been seen regularly too. Indications are that at least one of her cubs is still alive at around 10-12 weeks old. I am sure that it won’t be long before Marula starts bringing it to kills that she makes. Thumbela female, and more importantly, her now completely relaxed daughter, have also been seen very frequently in the east, making good use of the Machaton riverbed for their hunting. Even Sunset female has been seen out in the east after a period of absence. Surprisingly, Nyeleti female and her daughter (who now is also amazingly calm with the vehicles) made a couple of appearances near our eastern boundary. On the male front, Madzinyo has been seen a couple of times patrolling the east, and the Tamboti male is still viewed occasionally as he struts around in the central regions. Great news for us is that the relaxed, unnamed young male (the one who killed two male impalas a few weeks back), has also hung around, and always provides us with some stunning viewing when he is found. With so many young and new faces around, 2019 has the potential to be a rather good year for our spotted cats!

It was also wonderful to have the pack of 20-odd wild dogs back within the concession, both in the western sectors, as well as to the central region. With the abundance of baby impalas around, the pack doesn’t usually need to travel too far to find a potential meal.

Speaking of impalas, it is simply stunning to see the massive herds gathered around the reserve with babies everywhere. I’m always amazed at just how fast the young ones grow! The giraffes and zebras seem to be following the localised rainfall and have thus, been seen in fluctuating abundance over the past couple of weeks. The wildebeest herds are now also sporting a good number of newborns, and their tiny brown calves can be seen following closely behind their mothers in the east.

Closing off on the sightings, we have continued to see many elephants in the area, with some groupings still numbering 50-60 members per herd. The rhinos have also been quite plentiful across the reserve and many a hot afternoon would reveal these behemoths resting in some cooling mud wallows. The buffalo herds that were seemingly quite resident just two weeks ago have now moved on but are seen crossing in and out of the reserve every few days.

And that, I believe, is that! Please be sure to check out the Best of 2018 blog posts that will be posted over the coming week and be sure to keep a look out for more blogs of our sightings as 2019 kicks off!

Until next week, take care!

Cheers

Chad

 

Elephants walking

Leopard cub

Giraffe and rhino

Impala

Wild dog

Wildebeest

Leopard

Rhinos

leopard in the tree

Rhino baby


 

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