The Machaton pride is back (and a special sighting of a rare Ostrich!)

Freelance wildlife guide and photographer, Patrick O’ Brien, recently visited our safari camp and was treated to a number of spectacular sightings. Read his short report and view some of his great images below.

Tanda Tula would like to thank Patrick for sharing this with us.

The Machaton pride is back!

By Patrick O’ Brien, Freelance wildlife guide and photographer

Tanda Tula Safari Camp’s resident lion pride, known as the Machatons, made a welcomed return to Tanda Tula’s traversing area during the last few days. This once notorious pride was divided into two by the takeover of the Mbande males who subsequently became the dominant males of the area. The takeover occurred over a year ago and since then the pride has divided, but still frequent their natal range. The good news is that there are numerous signs indicating that Tanda Tula Safari Camp will more than likely see the pride regrouping soon.

One morning during game drive, the pride was located very close to the camp in the Nharalumi River, just below Tanda Tula Safari Camp. Later during the morning, as we made our way back to the camp for Tanda Tula’s bush breakfast, tracker Isaac said that he thought he heard the lions attack a buffalo on the opposite bank on the river.

We quickly made our way to the area and in less than 5 minutes located the pride on the embankment of the river with a young buffalo bull that had just been caught. The sub-adult males started playing with the carcass before the female tore into the flesh and feeding started. Feeding lasted until the early hours of the next morning before the renowned resident clan of hyenas made an appearance and drove the underpowered small pride off the kill. That feeding session did not last long with no less than 12 hyenas present.

Once the dust settled life returned to normal and the pride lay for the next 2 days at the bush breakfast site, making it impossible for us to have our most important meal of the day in the bush. The efficient staff moved breakfast to the camp which was just as enjoyable and may I just say probably safer too.

The sightings kept on improving as ranger Scotch located a male cheetah two days later at almost exactly the same place where the lions killed the buffalo. A truly rare and magnificent sighting of this animal which is a rarity in most parks today. The male cheetah was feeding on an adult impala ram which he caught late during the day.

Feeding lasted for a few hours and I assume that he later abandoned the carcass for safety as it got darker. The carcass must have then been located and consumed by several hyenas during the late evening.

A lonely and unusual sighting of a female ostrich was sighted south of the camp. The female appeared to be very relaxed and allowed us good viewing. It is very seldom we see these animals in the Timbavati! 

Elephant herds are abundant as usual. Several small elephant calves were seen within the larger groups, spending most of their time feeding around the camp during the afternoons.

One particular small calve caught my attention due to his behaviour.

He mock-charged the vehicle, trying very hard to intimidate us which almost worked.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this short report.

Take care,

Patrick O’ Brien

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