Happy Monday all, and welcome back to your weekly update from the heart of the Timbavati. It was another dry week here in the central Kruger Park region, and although we had some very warm days topping in the mid-30s, the crisp mornings and pleasant evenings are a sure sign that autumn is slowly approaching. The bush is still in incredibly good condition with lush green surrounds dominating the landscapes, but if you look closely, you can see a few areas that are drying out now that we have not had rain for over three weeks. I doubt the animals are noticing this, and we had another fantastic week of summer viewing, dominated by one main sighting close to Tanda Tula Plains Camp.
I was off drive for a couple of days and could hear the roars of the Giraffe Pride as they continued to move around the plains; when I returned to drive later in the week, I was greeted with the news that the pride had killed a massive male giraffe less than a kilometer from camp, and I knew that we would have some good lion viewing for a day or two. What I wasn’t expecting was five days of viewing of the pride on their kill before they eventually moved back to the plains to sleep off their well-fed bellies. The pride all feasted for a full four days before they started to peel off, but even then, they stayed close enough to keep the hundreds of vultures that had gathered in the area at bay. When the lions eventually gave up on getting any more from the now putrid remains of the giraffe, more than a dozen hyenas descended upon the carcass to get stuck into the bones, hide, and inaccessible meat that the lions could not reach. As amazing as the scene was, I couldn’t help but feel for the vultures that had spent six days waiting for their turn and were now unlikely to get anything from it. What was wonderful to see were many of the endangered hooded vultures hanging around the kill, as well as at least four or five of the rarer Cape vultures in the area.
When the lions did leave, they gave us a day of wonderful viewing as they played and hunted on the plains in both the morning and the evening. The next day the pride had moved a few kilometers to the east but remained on the property for the entire week. I just hope that this doesn’t mean that they will soon be spending an extended period away from our concession.
If they do, it seems as though the lions in the east will have to be some good substitutes – and that is not a bad thing. Steve tracked down the nine members of the Sark Breakaway pride one afternoon in the central region as they too rested off fat bellies on the cooling sands of the Zebenine riverbed. The pride spent another couple of days in the area as the week ended. The three River Pride lionesses were seen on consecutive days with a kill closer to Tanda Tula Safari Camp, and two of the Vuyela males also spent much of the week with a buffalo kill just off our access road in the central region. The Birmingham Breakaway males were also found east of Safari Camp, meaning that the only lions that didn’t contribute to this week’s viewing were the Mayambula Pride – but with the River Pride pushing back into their old territory with the formidable force of the five Vuyela males, I do suspect that we will be seeing less and less of the Mayambula Pride.
The great lion activity was sadly not matched by great leopard sightings, and we had to work hard for the few sightings that we had – Ginger and Given found Savannah female stalking impalas east of Plains Camp one morning, but she soon moved south before settling in a knobthorn tree on our boundary. A few days later these same guides found another female leopard on the property, but sadly she didn’t hang around and soon left the tree that she had been resting in and disappeared. In the east, it was wonderful to hear that the guides found a Thumbela female looking in a good condition just east of Safari Camp; after a couple of months of no sightings, we were beginning to think that maybe she had passed away without us knowing. Nyeleti and the two daughters were on an impala kill in a thicket north of Safari Camp one day, but sadly when Scotch was watching them one that afternoon, a hyena ran in and stole the remains of their impala kill.
The wild dogs also took the week off, and after last week’s abundance, only the pack of four showed themselves briefly towards the end of the week.
Our guests got to enjoy another week of good general game sightings around the west – giraffes were plentiful, and the zebras and wildebeests were on the plains in good numbers (content that the lions were feasting well close by and didn’t pose a threat). We also had a very large herd of around 250-300 buffalos spending several days in the central area, and to round things off, there were also some very nice sized elephant herds moving around in the western areas.
So, it was another wonderful week of game viewing here at Tanda Tula, and with me scheduled to be on drive for at least the next seven days, I look forward to seeing what else the bush will bring for our guests. Be sure to stay tuned to the latest sightings on social media and check back again next Monday to see what our animals have been getting up to.
Until next time, cheers!