Ranger Newsletter: April and May 2012

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Winter is here, and it is slowly taking hold of the bushveld, turning the once bright greens into deep yellows and soft oranges. There is now a definite nip in the air during the early mornings and late afternoons.

Magnificent Male Lion


What a magnificent time of the year to be on safari as we are blessed with amazing sunrises and even better sunsets.

The game viewing seems to be getting better by the day, as the bush thins out and natural water points start to slowly dry out forcing game to travel to larger dams to quench their thirst.

Large herds of buffalo can be seen throughout our property and you can almost follow their progress by looking out for the dust cloud a herd of this size creates. They also frequent camp on a weekly basis, making getting back to your tent in the evenings rather exciting.

The older bulls who can’t keep up with herd anymore are calling Tanda Tula home now and can be seen slowly grazing along the river banks or taking a mud bath in camp dam.

Machaton Pride

Pictured here is the Machaton pride in March of last year with all nine cubs present. They have unfortunately lost three cubs since between the two litters and are down to six, all males. They have taken a beating over the last month from two nomadic males who have taken full advantage of the Timbavati male’s absence.

The nomadic males not only chased the Machatons off two hard earned carcasses, but killed a young male cub in the process. We are not completely sure where these males have come from, but it is going to put an interesting spin on the lion dynamics in our area.

Timbavati Male

The Timbavati male rushed back in a few days later and proceeded to roar and mark his territory trying to chase off the intruders, but the damage was already done. The two nomads have not been seen since.

Another large predator that we have been seeing extensively is the wily hyaena. On these cool winter nights their lowly whoops can be heard throughout the camp. We recently discovered a new den site not far from camp and we hope to get a look at some of the youngsters soon!

Young Umfaana Male

Leopard viewing has been exceptional over the last few months, with some guests seeing up to four different leopard in a single drive! The young Umfaana male is being seeing more frequently in the eastern section of the property.

He initially battled after being pushed off to fend for himself by his mother, but now has grown into a very successful hunter.

The Ntombi female has a new cub and is doing very well. This very relaxed female can often be seen relaxing high in the branches of well placed trees or using termite mounds to scan her surrounds for potential prey.

Our large grey neighbours, the elephant, have been wide spread and can often be seen while relaxing on your tent deck. They have been digging for water in the dry river beds trying to extract water buried below the surface. The sand acts as a natural filter and elephants are a big fan of clean water. Their diet is slowly starting to change to more fibrous materials such as trees and shrubs as the grass slowly dries out and becomes less palatable.

Sighting of the Month

The Very Rare Black Rhino

This is always a tough one when it comes to deciding on one sighting in particular, as there are just so many good ones. This month it was made slightly easier with the rare sighting of a black rhino. This is truly a special sighting as they are just so rare. One of our guests who was lucky enough to see the animal, has been coming to Tanda Tula for the last ten years and this was a first for him!

They are highly endangered and although the Kruger National Park has a small but healthy population, a sighting of this animal may take many years of safaring to achieve. We can only hope that this is not a once-off sighting and that we get lucky again soon!

Here are a few pictures taken over the past few weeks:

Until next time,
Dale Jackson