A Week of Enigmas in Photos

Next week promises to be a warmer one, so we look forward to seeing what sightings it will bring!” was how I ended off last week’s blog…it is true, my weather app did say that it was going to be warmer, hovering around 24-26 degrees Celsius for the whole week – amazingly consistent for this time of year.  The only problem was that my app was set to check the weather at Vilankulos in Mozambique, having helped some guests before they flew out.  The early weather forecasts for a location some 300 miles to our north-east matched a wonderfully warm weekend here at Tanda Tula Safari Camp, but failed to account for another cold front that blew in from Cape Town, and although this one did not bring snow, it did bring some more rain, and a couple of rather chilly days!  I was only out on drive for a few days of this week, which happened to coincide with the arrival of this weather system, so needless to say, I was soon digging out the winter warmers and heading out in conditions that made all of our guests extremely grateful for the warming fireplace in their safari suites!

The early part of the week provided some good game-viewing, and after finishing off their zebra kill last week, the Mayambula Pride made their way up to Tanda Tula Safari Camp and our trackers located them on the ridge just behind Safari Camp.  Sadly though, the roars of the Vuyela males to the north sent the Mayambula Pride all the way back south, and they were tracked into the Kruger Park the next morning.  Fortunately, the Giraffe Pride were around, and had moved into the very eastern parts of their territory.  Ginger got to enjoy the marvellous sight of 19 members of the pride walking down the road and past his vehicle.  Four other members were seen a few times in the western part of our concession, but there was no sign of the Hercules male this week.  The remains of a male lion were found in the south-western Timbavati, and it is assumed that these remains were of the sickly Sumatra male, a lion who had done well to avoid the inevitable for so many months.  I headed off to see the Giraffe Pride after drinks on my first evening drive, but as they had been left unattended, I needed to relocate them; we picked up some tracks, but the closest we got was listening to the pride chase after a herd of giraffes in the middle of a very thick block, in the dark.  A couple of days later we did get to see six members of the Sark Breakaway pride resting up out of the wind in the same area, but the bulk of the Giraffe Pride didn’t show face.  The Vuyela males could be heard roaring most nights, but they continued to move around north of our concession where the River Pride lionesses have a den.

The windy weather had a hand in providing us with our leopard sightings for the week when the shy Kisimusi leopardess was found with an impala kill up a Marula tree. The guides had found the kill in the morning, but there had not been any sign of the leopard.  I headed past the area after dark, in a light drizzle, and was surprised to find that it was a female that had hoisted the fully-grown impala up the tree!  We needed to make a slow approach, but we ended up having a good sighting of this leopardess.  You may all recall that she was found with three cubs at the beginning of 2022, but as we had no further sightings of the leap, we assume that she was not successful in raising them.  Still, it is always a surprise that these leopards can live in our area and we almost never see them!  With the miserable weather the next day, my guests and I opted not to go out in the rain early in the morning, and rather set off after breakfast to see what we could find.  We popped in to the leopard’s kill, and were surprised to find an equally elusive male leopard now up in the tree.  He was a large boy, and an individual I last saw some 18 months ago; he was reasonably relaxed, and with a slow approach, we got to a good viewing distance from him.  I do have a suspicion that he is the same semi-relaxed male that has been walking extensively in the eastern sections over the past few weeks, but time will tell if we do begin seeing this impressive boy more regularly.

I was fortunate that my guests had two achievable requests when they arrived; rhinos and wild dogs.  We headed towards where the small pack of wild dogs had been found and watched the now-five members as they headed off on a late afternoon hunt.  The pack went to sleep just within visual distance of a herd of impalas, but soon got up and headed off in their direction, stalking far closer to them than wild dogs usually do (perhaps due to it being a smaller pack?), but sadly for the wild dogs, their chase was unsuccessful, and after that, we only had the odd brief glimpse of the pack before they disappeared for a few days, returning once the weather improved!  I say that, but we usually have some of our best wild dog viewings in cold, cloudy weather.  When the pack returned later in the week, we found them all huddled up trying to stay warm on a crispy, misty morning, but they soon got up and headed off on the hunt, closely followed by five hyenas that were eager to steal whatever the wild dogs caught.  The pack did cross into the Klaserie before they had any success in hunting.

This week saw that one of our large breeding herds of buffalos continue to make the central regions of our concession their preferred grazing area and spent the entire week within our concession.  As it was the herd with the large-horned non-binary buffalo, they were always worth a visit.  A second large herd of buffalo were also present in the western sectors from what we could hear on the radio.

The elephants continued to be present around Tanda Tula Safari Camp, with some good activity in the eastern sections.  The east also produced regular ostrich sightings of both a single male and a pride of three, as well as some fair zebra and wildebeest herds; they were all a little trickier to find in the windy weather though, as they headed into the thickets to get away from the cold winds!

I am not going to make any predictions about next week’s weather, but with us having a full camp and some well-trained eyes and ears out there, I am sure we will be able to once again show our guests many of nature’s wonders.

Until next time!