The last few days have produced a number of exceptional sightings.
We received word of a pack of Wild Dog not far from camp, so we set off in their direction to hopefully catch a glimpse of these rare animals. With recent rains within the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve, the bush around our safari camp has been a little thick so we knew it would never be easy to find them.
As we got closer to where they were last sighted, we heard what sounded like a fight between the pack, and later learnt that they had come across a Hyena who did not like their presence at all!
A few minutes later we came across the pack as they moved out of the bush and made their way along one of our roads. One of the females looked very pregnant and we suspect that the encounter with the Hyena was a result of the pack looking for a den where the female could give birth and raise the pups.
Wild Dog can give birth to up to 21 pups, but generally the average is 7 to 10 so It will be interesting to see how many little ones appear over coming weeks. An interesting fact is that Wild Dog time their denning period to coincide with the end of the impala rut (breeding season). We watching the pack for a while, until they moved off the road and back into the bush. As we were moving off, we saw a rather frustrated looking Hyena walk out onto the road after them as if to say, ‘Yeah, you better run!’. Encounters such as this are always special.
As you may have read in our previous blog posts, our local lion pride, the Machatons, made a welcomed return to our safari camp’s traversing area and are now making their presence known more often. Shortly after seeing the wild dogs, we received word that the pride was in the area so we made our way towards them to catch a glimpse.
As we arrived the pride was setting off in search of food, so we followed them for a while before it was time to head back to camp for a warm cup of amarula hot chocolate and of course to indulge in Chef Ryan’s exceptional dishes – no-one ever goes hungry in camp that’s for sure! Now that we are creeping closer to winter, temperatures in the bush are dropping, and everyone was soon huddled around the fire in our boma enjoying their beverage of choice.
The next morning we encountered another special sighting; a large herd of elephants with a few little ones running around, one which appeared to be only a few days old!
Even with the youngsters around, the herd was very relaxed with some walking right up to the vehicle for a closer look. Eager photographers were offered exceptional photo opportunities.
The youngest of the herd was still learning how to use his trunk, looking very comical with it flopping around as though it had a mind of its own.
We watched it stumble over its own feet, but Mom was there in a second to help it back up and the other members of the herd very quickly gathered around to make sure the little one was safe.
It was very cute to watch and the interaction between them reminded us how close a herd such as this is, and how they all look after each other.
On the way back to camp our tracker, Isaac, who had been tracking a leopard, came across the Machaton pride who had moved a fair distance from where we had seen them the night before.
As the morning sun was warming them, we watched the playful interaction between two of the sub-adult males while the rest of the pride was winding down from the previous evening’s events.
Young lions are known for being playful and to watch the interaction between the younger members of the pride is very entertaining. Their manes are starting to come along nicely, and we’ll be watching the pride dynamics very closely over coming months as these boys continue to mature.
On our way back to camp we caught a very brief glimpse of a Ground Hornbill, but the large bird was too quick for our cameras and disappeared into the bush before we could get any snaps.
We have had a few rhino sightings over recent days which has been fantastic for our guests. Here you can see a male who had just been rolling around the mud.
We’ve included a few additional images taken over recent days and you can view these below (click on each to enlarge it).
If you’ve been to camp and would like to share your images, please feel free to email them to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll upload them and of course credit you.
Words and images by Rob Baird
Tanda Tula Safari Camp is one of Africa’s premier luxury tented bushveld safari camps. The bushveld lodge and tented camp is situated in the Timbavati Private Game Reserve part of the Kurger National Park. Home to a wide selection of animals including Africa’s big five. Enjoy a true South African safari adventure.