A Week of Let’s Call it Autumn in Pictures

After another week of the weather deciding whether it wanted to be summery or wintery, it settled on what I guess is best described as Autumn!  With only a 1mm sprinkling of rain, cooling evening temperatures – yet warm during the day – and a slow drying out of the vegetation, it was a week that actually felt like autumn.  That might sound logical to our readers from the northern mid-latitudes that have very defined seasons, but for us here in the Timbavati, the season of autumn passes by very quickly, and sometimes unnoticed.  But without much rain forecast for the foreseeable future, it would be safe to say that we will begin noticing the changes of the seasons as the last grip summer had on the landscapes of the Greater Kruger slowly give way to the dry, wintery landscapes of the bushveld.  On the coldest morning we have had so far this year, one could see the typical winter morning pattern of a beautiful start to the day, with the animals only starting to stir once things warmed up a little; quite different from the heat of summer where the animals try and get as much activity under their belts as possible before the days warm too much! 

I was not out on drive all that much this week, but the days I was on a drive were rather enjoyable.  We are still seeing daily buffalo, elephants, zebras, nyalas and impalas around the camp dam, but some guests enjoying dinner in our bird hide one evening not only got to see some rhinos, but also had the massive Xiwumbana male leopard came and join them for a drink!  Nyeleti female made a reappearance early in the week looking like she was in desperate need of a meal; catching up with her again at the end of the week, it appears as though her experience did indeed help secure her a much-needed meal.  Dzindza female continues to hang around the north-west of the concession and was seen a couple of times over the week, including one sighting where she caught herself a large water monitor lizard. 

Having spoilt us the week before, the lions were not quite as cooperative this week, but were still present through most of the week.  The Mayambula Pride returned one morning with a total of 15 members together, making us ponder on just what is happening with the pride dynamics.  The roars of the Birmingham Breakaways can be heard most evenings from the far south-east, but with the Vuyela males replying in emphatic fashion with their booming roars, it appears as though both coalitions are content with one another’s presence in the area, as long as both parties stick to their respective territories.  Sitting with two Vuyela males one evening as they listened to the not-all-to-distant roars from the Birmingham Breakaways to the south, they replied with some roars of their own, but seemed happy that they had announced themselves and got up and slowly sauntered off back to the north.  The River Pride girls were seen several kilometres to the north of our boundary but made a random appearance in the south of our concession towards the end of the week, however they did not have their cubs with them, so goodness knows where they left them!  The Sark Breakaway Pride was also around for a  few days this week in the central and western regions, and from the reports I got, it seems as though all 13 members were present (excluding the Vuyela males) – this is good news as there had been reports that one of the young males was no longer with us; I sadly wasn’t on drive during that time, so didn’t get to see them myself, but I am hoping that they spend more time in the area next week. 

The wild dogs showed themselves very briefly this morning as I once again caught up with them right in our north-eastern corner, but with their fight with the hyenas drawing in one of the Vuyela males, his roars sent the pack moving east and further away from our boundary.  The small pack of three were seen a couple of times this week, but as always, this pack are all but impossible to keep track of when they move, making them difficult to follow!  Sadly, there were no reports of cheetah this past week. 


The elephant herds continue to be very evident, especially on the warmer days where they frequent our last remaining water points.  The impressive Orbit, a large bull, continues to investigate all the herds in the area looking for females in oestrus.  This week saw the large breeding herd of buffalo in the western half of the concession stick with their usual patterns of movements, visiting the larger bodies of water in the west on a daily basis, and evidently not drawing too much attention from the Sark Breakway Pride. 


The zebras remained very much in evidence this week, with one landowner commenting that in his 50 years here, he had never seen so many zebras after coming across a herd of over 100 members close to our camp one afternoon.  The impalas are kicking off their rutting season at last, and we look forward to a few predators making best use of this time period to snag themselves an easier-than-usual meal! 

I will be on drive for the next few days, so will hopefully have some more good sightings to report on next week. 



Until next time!