Hello hello, and it is great to be back at Tanda Tula Safari Camp after a most relaxing leave (naturally I spent it next door in the Kruger National Park), and even more wonderful was hearing about all the great sightings I missed out on. I don’t think any bookmaker would have opened up bets on the fact that cheetah and wild dog pups would have been seen in my absence. The wild dog pack with the pups had been hanging out tantalizingly close to our concession just prior to my departure, but I was actually surprised that it took them just over a week to eventually cross into our area with close to a dozen and a half pups in tow; and this was made even more bitter sweet to hear about when I heard that Formen saw a female cheetah close to the pack of wild dogs that same morning!
Nyeleti leopardess had a kill close to Tanda Tula, N’weti and her cubs were out and about, the Mayambula Pride even popped back in and killed a male nyala one morning (and promptly left as soon as I returned to the Timbavati). The Giraffe Pride were active for an extended period in the west, and the Sark Breakaway pride with their four small cubs were also seen. Elephants abounded, giraffe and zebras were all around our eastern sections, and it was, all in all, a wonderful two weeks of game viewing that I missed out on. Luckily, I did get to enjoy the wonderful expanse of wilderness that is the Kruger National Park, and besides seeing more leopards than I usually do (although nothing like the sightings we get at Tanda Tula), I was most delighted to find some cheetahs of my own, so it did hurt a little less hearing that the cheetah had been around in my absence.
The weeks that have passed seem to suggest that the weather creators have forgotten about spring, as temperatures have gotten rather warm! There was one cooler spell, but for the most part the daily temperatures have sat in the early- to mid-thirties. The Knobthorns continue to flower, and the sweet scent of the Cassias catch our noses as we drive past. The shades of fading green blades in amongst the otherwise dry grasses seem to have all but disappeared now, and the smaller water points are drying up more rapidly as the days lengthen and get warmer and warmer with each passing week. Medium-term forecasts do suggest a drier than normal start to summer, so the animals might have to wait a little longer until a green flush returns this summer.
Just prior to heading on leave, I was also lucky to share some great leopard sightings with my guests as both Nyeleti and her two daughters had a bushbuck kill close to our bush breakfast (I had actually just stopped the vehicle to watch a rhino when we heard the unmistakable bellow of an antelope being killed, but sadly the leopard dragged it straight into an impenetrable thicket – fortunately the next day all three leopards were still there, and much better behaved), as well as some lovely time spent with N’weti and her more-relaxed cub when they too had a kill not far from Tanda Tula. One of the River Pride lionesses was getting some unwanted attention from a Vuyela male thinking she was ready to mate, but based on her behaviour, she wasn’t getting the same signals he was, and had to do her best to bat off his advances; fortunately, she found that simply lying down was enough to get him to lose interest!
Heading out on drive after my break, it was great to see that the lions were still very active in the area; a portion of the Sark Breakaway Pride with a Vuyela male spent a couple of days around Nkhari before being found with a wildebeest kill yesterday morning. I missed that as I had headed west but did not mind too much as we got to spend time with 18 members of the Giraffe Pride. The limping Monwana male lion also seems to be quite active on the plains in the west, but there has not been any sign of his young Giraffe male companion; with his back left leg being all but useless to him, it is always fascinating to see how the Monwana male survives on his own.
The elephant herds that had been very active around the area were a little less so, but we still enjoyed sightings of a few herds and impressive bulls in both the eastern and western parts of the concession. The same cannot be said for the big buffalo herds, but at least there are a few groups of buffalo bulls still active in the area.
The one thing I did not manage to get to see with my guests (yet) was leopard; Glen spent yesterday afternoon tracking a leopardess near camp only to hear that she walked into Tristan’s sundowner spot; they followed her for a while but by the time I got to the area she had moved through some thick bush and disappeared…but, I will let you in on a little secret, we did manage to find a duiker kill of hers this morning…so that might be motivation enough to check back next week to see how that sighting unfolded!
Until then, enjoy this quick selection of images taken on the couple of days before I headed on leave, and my first couple of drives upon my return (as well as one sneaky cheetah photo from the Kruger Park). Be sure to check back next week for a full week of updates!
Until next time!