Hello once again from a lush, green and summery Tanda Tula. The first baby impalas have started dropping, the woodland kingfishers’ calls are ringing out across the Timbavati, and at last, we can officially say that summer is here!
Temperature-wise, it has felt a little un summery, in fact there have been a few days where we have been grabbing for blankets (and ponchos – another 5mm of rain fell last week, in addition to the 33mm that we had after we published the last blog). There have been some very mild days, the odd hot one, and everything in between. Of course, with me having been on leave and off drive for a little over a week, there was no doubt some good game viewing, and arriving back and chatting to some regular guests of ours that spent a week with us, it sounded like all the big cats had been on offer, even a couple of cheetah sightings…not that I should be surprised they showed up in my absence!
Just as I was getting ready to head on leave, a message was posted on our guides group informing us that some of the guides had found where the River Pride had moved their new cubs into our concession after a long absence in the north; typical. Although, by the sounds of it, despite having the den site back in the area, the cubs were not on show much, and just as I arrived back, Glen informed me that they had tracked the lioness and cubs off our eastern boundary. A few days later a large wake of vultures indicated that the lions had indeed made a kill in the area, and this morning we found tracks of the lions coming back into our area.
Alarmingly though, when the anti-poaching team was following up on the vulture activity, they found other lions around the remains of what looked like a lioness. As this area is frequented by the Mayambula Pride, there is a concern that this large pride got drawn into the area by the vultures and surprised the River Pride, killing one of the lionesses in the process. It is too soon to tell, but we sincerely hope that this is not the case, as with only three lionesses, it is not ideal losing one of the adults. The Mayambula pride appeared to have popped in and out of the area in my absence, but they left little more than tracks; even one of the Skorro males made a return this week! However, the Vuyela males remained very active in the central areas, and I am sure with their nightly roaring, no intruding lions are going to come near them. The Sark Breakaways were around just before I headed on leave, but it sounds like a double giraffe kill in the Klaserie kept them busy and well fed for most of the week, but hopefully once that is done, they will return to our area. In the west, the Giraffe Pride were reasonably active for most of the week and had their two new cubs on display for the guides that made the trip west.
It sounded like a good week for leopards too; if I was surprised with where I found Nyeleti in the last blog, she went one better and wandered even deeper into N’weti’s territory this week, but eventually lost her kill to the young Thumbela male. N’weti was also around a couple of times, but it sadly appears as though she only has one of her two cubs left. The Tamboti male was seen along the Nhlaralumi Riverbed north of camp, but he is not looking in great shape, with his limp clearly hampering his ability to hunt.
Although I was quite envious of the guides getting to enjoy a couple of sightings of the relaxed female cheetah while I was away, that was quickly forgotten when I heard that the two dominant male cheetahs were found just east of Tanda Tula Safari Camp on my first morning back out. Although they were in a thicket in the morning, we managed to find them resting out in the middle of a large open area in the afternoon as a herd of over 100 impalas grazed in the distance. Despite their empty bellies, the two cheetahs spent the entire afternoon simply looking longingly in the direction of the impalas, and even when the herd came closer, they opted not to blow their cover.
Shortly after finishing off with guests before my leave, Scotch and his guests had a couple of great sightings of a pack of wild dogs in the eastern sections, with some fascinating hyena interaction to boot – he had some scenes of hyenas and wild dogs feeding on the kills together; not something that happens too often. Before I went off, Scotch also found an unknown pack of four wild dogs with four pups – based on how shy the pups were, they appear to be a pack that has come in from the wilderness areas of the Kruger, and pups that have not been exposed to too many vehicles. The large pack of 30 was also seen in my absence.
The elephants have been loving the greenery, and appeared in good numbers across the reserve, and paid regular visits to the camp waterhole, especially on the hotter days. For the past week though, they have had to share their waterhole with a friend; a single male hippo has decided to make our dam his temporary home!
And that folks is that for this week. A short blog, but now that I am back out on drive, hopefully I will be able to share more stories and images of what we get to see out there.
Until next time!