A Week of Lovely Lions Pictures

It is hard to believe that we have already ripped the first month off our 2024 calendars!  As February rolled in, it was good to be back out and about on drive and enjoying what the central Timbavati had to offer.  It was another rather pleasant week of weather, with warm – but not excessively so – temperatures and dry conditions.  It has been over two weeks since the last rains, so the more exposed grasses on the sandy hill crests have begun to dry somewhat, but along the shaded banks of the drainage lines, the dense grasses remain green and nutritious, and have kept the herbivores of the region most happy. 

For yet another week, the lions dominated sightings, with the River Pride and all five Vuyela males making the areas just east of Tanda Tula their base for the week.  The youngest lioness of the pride that we had believed had recently given birth to a litter of cubs sadly spent the week mating with the Vuyela males; “sadly” because she would only be mating if the cubs were no longer alive.  As a first-time mother, perhaps some inexperience led to their demise, but there are so many factors that could have worked against her that it is impossible to say what happened.  Hopefully though, this week’s mating will be successful, and she could have cubs again towards the middle of the year.  Due to her readiness to mate, this drew the Vuyela males into the area and all five members were in the general area (although, as usual, they were not all together – we did however have a lovely sighting of three of them on the move).  Their presence meant lots of roaring, and despite having been in the bush all these years, it is a sound that just never gets old!  One downside of their constant presence was that this meant that the Mayambula Pride remained out the area, with only their tracks being seen crossing through the south-eastern corner.  The Giraffe Pride were reported on a few occasions in the west, and Steven headed down to see the majority of the pride one morning, but after that the pride seemed to be in smaller fractions for most of the week.  The Sark Breakaway pride somehow avoided detection this past week – possibly due to the fact that the River Pride were so active, and we didn’t check the south-west as much.  This morning, however, we did see 14 members of the pride make a return, but more on that next week! 

For a second week in a row, Nyeleti female leopardess was found near Nkhari.  I did get to see her this time, and it does appear as though she is no longer lactating and nursing – more sad news for the big cat cubs, as I am now certain that she too has lost her litter.  Mafufunyane female appears to be having better luck, and despite avoiding us this week, tracks for her and the cubs were seen along the Machaton riverbed this week.  I also got to catch up with the relaxed daughter of Nyeleti when she was found resting up a tree just outside Tanda Tula one afternoon.  She is definitely more relaxed now than when I last saw her, and this gives me some encouragement for the future!  N’weti female was also seen in the southern part of her territory one afternoon to help make for a decent week of viewing of these spotted beauties. 

As expected, with me being back on drive, the slenderer spotted beauties (read: cheetahs) didn’t show up, although this morning there was a brief sighting of the two dominant brothers in the south-east.  It is the first time these boys have been seen this year, and we hope that next week they make more than a brief appearance! 


One species that did make themselves well known this week were the elephants, and we had regular sightings of many herds across the Timbavati, with near daily visits to the Tanda Tula waterhole too.  As is typical of summer, the buffalo bulls could be found in the wallows on most days, and another large breeding herd of a few hundred members also spent the latter half of the week grazing around the western parts of the concession. 

The zebras and wildebeest continued to be a constant presence in the general area, although I did notice fewer giraffes this week than we normally see…perhaps I was just looking at too many lions? 

Be sure to check up again next week for some more photos and updates from the heart of the Timbavati! 



Until next time!