A Week of Battle Scars in Pictures

Another week has come and gone, and it has flown by so quickly that I almost forgot it was a Monday! We had another mild week of weather in the Timbavati, at least for the most part, but there were some days where the temperatures reached into the low-30’s. For the second half of the week, a cooling weather system moved in, bringing in a little bit of moisture (24mm, of which 17mm of those came in one short-lived downpour). It was not the massive rains that had been predicted last week, but that cut-off low ended up forming over the central part of the country, bringing wide-spread rains and localised flooding – after seeing that, I was quite relieved that it missed us here at Tanda Tula!

It was a week that saw some good lion viewing returning to most parts of the concession; the River Pride and the Vuyela males returned to the areas around camp, and it was quite something to wake up in the early morning and hear male lions roaring in three different directions around camp. There were six days of guaranteed lion viewing as one Vuyela male spent almost a week around a large male wildebeest that he caught to the north of camp, and without any vultures arriving until day 5, it drew no attention from his coalition partners, despite his nightly roars from the same place. He was satiated, and the only effort he ever put into being a lion was running away from the elephants when they came past and chased him off a couple of times. The other males spent time between the Sark Breakaways and the River Pride, and we had a very interesting sighting after that rain bucketed down on us when we tracked down the pride and found them drying themselves off next to the road. They had been joined by three males, but one of them was not welcome; each time he approached the youngest female (coming into estrus again), she would growl, but then the mother of the three cubs got involved. She charged out at the male, swatting at him – hearing this, the other Vuyela male jumped up and came running in to see what the commotion was about, but upon seeing that it was just his brother, he backed down; they all roared and then went back to sleep. Exactly why the lionesses were not happy with his presence is uncertain. The next day, when three males were found near the wildebeest kill, one of them was sporting very fresh bite marks and claw marks on the face; I am not sure if that was from a continuation of the earlier altercation, or rather from a fight over the estrus female. The third lioness does look to be pregnant again, so we hope that she has better luck with the cubs this time. The pride were seen feeding on another wildebeest this week too, and there was evidence that they snacked on a zebra one evening as well.

The Sark Breakaways were more active in the central region and spent a couple of days with some Vuyela males close to Nkhari, but they then moved back west, and later in the week split, and a portion was found in the eastern part of their territory again. The Giraffe Pride were in and out of the western sections – Glen probably got the best sighting of the week when he was returning to camp one evening and found 21 members of the pride trying to catch a buffalo from a breeding herd on the tarred access road. Based on the size of their bellies the next day, they did succeed. With bellies full, they didn’t move too far over the next couple of days before venturing south. There were no signs of the Mayambula’s or Birmingham Breakaways in the east this week.

The lions weren’t the only ones sporting battle wounds; the last remaining cheetah brother showed up for the first time after the loss of his coalition partner. He was walking around with quite a bad limp, but the guides that found him the first time said he was full-bellied and looking healthy. He showed up several days later, but I only saw him lying down, so couldn’t personally assess the state of his limp, but it sounds as though he will hopefully recover.

The rosettes were fairly good this week too; N’weti and Dzindza made up most of our sightings, with these two girls being seen a couple of times in the central regions. Dzindza continues to relax and gives us hope that she will continue her family’s long lineage of stunning leopards within this region. She seems intent on taking over the western parts of our area, in what was once Nyeleti’s abode.

The large buffalo herds that were very evident last week temporarily moved onto greener pastures, but towards the end of the week, at least two large groups moved back into the area. The elephants continued to be seen daily, with their visits to Tanda Tula’s waterhole becoming almost daily affairs, as is typical of the dry season. We hope that this rain will bring a flush of green to further draw the elephants, buffalos, and plains game back into the area. It was a good week for plains game around Tanda Tula, and each drive had sightings of giraffes, zebras, and wildebeest. The impalas are also beginning to show signs of the rut starting…one of our favourite times of the impala calendar year!

That is it for now, we will update you all again next week!

Until next time!