Blog: Ranger Diary
Ranger Diary: June and July 2011
During the last couple of months, guests of Tanda Tula Safari Camp have witnessed some amazing sightings.
Even though the mornings are fairly fresh, we have been quietly warmed by the expectation of seeing something really exciting during our game drives. After the initial early chill, the days are just magnificent with temperatures in the mid twenties.
Everyone has been enjoying the sun’s rays, including this family of hippo photographed above!
We have had an amazing array of game in and around our safari camp.
This female cheetah was found recently early one morning on a fresh impala kill. We must have arrived shortly after the actual take down had taken place, as the cheetah had just started to feed. It was on high alert and was continually scanning the surrounding bush for a possible threat from another large predator. This is very typical cheetah feeding behaviour – eat as much as you can, as quickly as you can, to avoid being chased off by a larger adversary.
The white lions gave us quite a show a couple of weeks ago when they managed to kill a large buffalo bull. The entire pride feasted for three solid days and this provided for some fantastic interaction between lions and hyaena’s, as the pride fought off large groups of these prowling scavengers. In the images you can see the remnants of the buffalo and one of the large lionesses keeping watch as the hyaena lay down close by.
There is no love lost between these two large predators.
In the photo you can see the young lioness crouched low, with back legs bunched as she prepares to charge at a hyaena who ventured too close. No matter how often I see the white lions, I can’t help but stare into those pale blue eyes and take in how fortunate we are to have these magnificent animals around us. The hyaena’s patience eventually did pay off, as the lions later left the carcass and headed further to the north to sleep off their large meal.
These are some the hyaena who were patiently waiting for the white lions to finish off their buffalo. At one stage we managed to count 16 hyaena in and around the kill site. This is an amazing amount for the lions to keep at bay.
The dam in front of our safari camp has provided an excellent opportunity for viewing game, all from the comfort of a pool lounger. Large quantities of animals continue to come into camp to quench their thirst. Elephant can be seen from camp most days as they feed on the riverine vegetation, and slowly make their way to the dam for a drink and perhaps a wallow.
Rhino usually wait until dusk to come in and have a soothing drink. This way they avoid the hustle and bustle of other animals pouring in. This young bull painted a beautiful picture, as the sun slowly set behind us and lit him up in lovely shade of orange. Another tough day at the office as we say.
Buffalo have been seen in large herds throughout our traversing area. These large herbivores have been heavily targeted by our lion prides and we have been fortunate enough to witness a couple of successful hunts. Take a look at our recent blog entry which talks about the Machaton pride, who managed to take down a huge bull, right next to Tent No1!
A young male leopard, ‘Umfaana’, is a juvenile just over a year and a half old. He is now much larger than his petit mother ‘Ntombi’, and is literally eating her out of house and home.
He is now wandering further and further afield and will soon have to fend for himself. Interesting times lay ahead for this bold youngster.
Sighting of the Month
Naming the sighting of the month has been particularly tough as we have had so many amazing sightings recently. I would have to go with the Machaton pride squabbling over a small buffalo carcass. The sheer tenacity of the young cubs to try and grab a bite of the carcass, fighting for every morsel, whether that means biting or scratching your own mother, or mauling your other siblings to get it. The sounds that accompany this frenetic feeding, the constant growling and snarling, is completely breathtaking. You begin to really appreciate their daily struggle for survival and that any weakness will be quickly punished. By the time these young cats reach maturity, they have been put through their paces and are the very best specimens nature has to offer. To watch and witness their trials and tribulations is a real privilege, and we hope to share some of them with you soon.
Don’t forget to enter our new Facebook Friday competition where you can win a two night stay at our safari camp. Simply visit us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/tandatula
Compiled by Dale Jackson