If I moaned about last week being somewhat “unsummery”, that now seems a distant memory as I type this week’s blog under a pumping aircon to try and get some respite from the heat that has suddenly descended upon the Greater Kruger – looking at the forecasts, these are conditions that we are going to get quite used to, with most days reaching the high 30s Celsius (so, over 100 Fahrenheit) for the coming week. This is quite a change from how the week started with ponchos, blankets, and a raging fire burning in the bar area to warm us up after a couple of cold, wet, and windy days. After a few days of ‘Goldilocks’ weather, the heat arrived and did not leave. This will mean busy waterholes, refreshing dips in the pool, and lots of ice in the G&T’s to end off the days! This week saw a load more baby impalas being welcomed into the world, and besides many single mothers walking around with their babies, the first-born lambs have started joining up with the herds. The woodland kingfishers were much quieter than expected, but I added the Eurasian golden oriole to the list of arrivals, and it won’t be long before they are joined by the European bee-eaters.
On the lion front, the River Pride and their cubs gave us the run around at the start of the week, but without much sign of the lionesses or the cubs in the area where we tracked them into before the rains, we suspected that they moved off, but a day later, four Vuyela males were hanging around the same area, so we were clearly not the only ones being bamboozled by their movements. Three of the Vuyela males then headed to the far north of the Timbavati for a few days, while the male with the limp didn’t quite make it that far and spent the week roaring for his brothers. The lionesses eventually pitched up at Tanda Tula Safari Camp one evening, and we got to see them watching a herd of wildebeest on Nkhari the next day. The great news is that all three lionesses were present, so it was clearly not one of them that the anti-poaching team found last week. After that, the pride went AWOL, but eventually returned to the banks of the Nhlaralumi close to Tanda Tula, and most pleasingly, all three cubs were running on tow! These little ones are just over 3 months old, and we were all relieved that they too survived whatever went down on the eastern front. The same day, seven members of the Mayambula pride were found in the east having a feast – they had killed both a zebra and a giraffe calf within 80m of each other! Thinking there would be loads of food on offer for a couple of days for the seven of them, it was a surprise to find nothing mut lion tracks in the area the next morning – although based on the number of tracks, it appears as though the whole pride reunited during the night and polished off whatever was left. The Sark Breakaway Pride paid us only one brief visit on our western boundary, moved into Nkhari and then moved back west to Klaserie. The Giraffe Pride was reported in the far west, and our staff saw them on the access road a couple of times too, but we didn’t head down to see them.
With the good lion activity in the area, it was good to still have a few leopard sightings during the week. That being said, there were a few days of struggle in the windy weather, but when I was taking some of our guests to their next lodge, we found N’weti resting up a marula tree and watched as she showed interest in some impalas before going up another tree. That afternoon, we were able to relocate her on drive, once again posing up a tree. Nyeleti’s daughter was found with an impala lamb kill, and Nyeleti herself showed herself a couple of times during the course of the week, always giving us a great sighting. Mafufunyane female was once again called in as a young male leopard, and showed her true colours as we got closer and she came changing out the bush in our direction – seeing she was not in a mood for company, we let her be. It appears as though her cubs are still in the same area along the banks of the Machaton. Although, with her aggressive nature, I cannot see her letting us get anywhere near the cubs when they get older; hopefully though, a few more months of positive exposure to the vehicles will help instill a bit more trust in this young relationship.
The cheetahs that graced us with their presence last week now seem like a distant memory, but we did get to have a small pack of wild dogs for a brief time—sadly, we only got to see them late on a gloomy evening, and without much light on our side, we soon had to leave them to their own devices as it got too dark to view them – it was a pack of six to five adults and one pup. There was one report of the large pack making their way towards our concession in the middle of the week before they turned back north, but maybe next week they will make an appearance.
Elephant numbers fluctuated a little this week, with periods featuring numerous pachyderms followed by a couple of quiet drives on the elephant front. The heat of the latter part of the week did lead to some good sightings around the watrerholes and mudwallows, which will hopefully continue into next week. On the buffalo front, although a big herd of buffalo did arrive in the western sections during the middle of the week, we were kept entertained by a group of buffalo bulls that visited Tanda Tula’s camp waterhole a few times. This week also saw a hippo taking up temporary residence in the shallow water body and allowed some lovely viewing as he did his best to keep his exposed back well hydrated by rolling over periodically to keep it wet.
And in the words of chef Ryan, “that was all we had time for.” Enjoy, and be sure to check back again next week to see how we fared in the summer heat!
Until next time!