Welcome back to another week in pictures at Tanda Tula Safari Camp!
For those of you that have been here recently or even those that are here at the moment (welcome back Barry and Lindsay), you’ll know just how green and lush the bush is. It’s such a stunning time of year to be in the Greater Kruger;the green backdrop just adds that little something extra to photographs, although on occasion, the greenery does like to take centre stage when you notice half of an animal’s face is blurred out by the abundance of grass or leaves hanging in the foreground. None the less, this time of year brings cooling weather and stunning scenery, not forgetting the wildlife, which has been extraordinary!
Sadly, I wasn’t able to get out there on every morning and afternoon drive, which means I missed the amazing wild dog sightings that you may seen posted on our Instagram page. It’s great to have these canines in the area again as months can go by without seeing this highly endangered species. A number of our guests were very lucky to see them interacting with the infamous hyenas. This is the interaction I enjoy most between species as it seems to be the only way a hyena gets taught a lesson. I was, however, lucky enough to see a host of other characters and one particular sighting that was by far the best sighting for me this year. Stick around to find out what that was!
We were treated to a few leopard sightings this week, although oddly, they weren’t the normal leopardesses that we usually talk about. This week it was the boys who showed up in abundance. I was very glad to see Masinyo moving back into the area as we haven’t seen him in a fairly long time. He is a gorgeous tom cat that just oozes character (he is the leopard with his tongue sticking out). Shame, the poor guy was born with a bit of a skew tooth, in fact “Masinyo” means tooth. This slight deformation means that his tongue hangs out of his mouth and when his tongue is not hanging out, one can easily see his name sake characteristic.
The other male leopard I had the pleasure of viewing was Nstongwaan (young boy). This male is also a sizeable tom that we don’t get to see all that often. He was busy feeding on his warthog kill when I got to the sighting, which made him a little harder to get images of, but eventually he did look up from his plunder and for just a split second, he locked eyes with me. Of course, when there is a kill around, it’s bound to attract a nosey hyena or two…I just loved the way the one looked around the bush in order to see me!
The lion dynamics continue to keep us all intrigued. The Narhu males have all but made this area their territory. Interestingly, the Mbiri males did come back north for a day or two but didn’t stick around too long before heading south and back into the Kruger. I think for the time being they are playing it safe and sticking with the 14 lions of the Myanbula pride which includes 10 of their cubs. I wasn’t able to get round to seeing this impressive pride this week, but they were seen very briefly one morning. I was glad to hear that all 10 cubs are alive and doing well – this is seriously incredible as lion cubs have a very low survival rate.
Last week I had the pleasure of viewing one of the Nahru males attempting to mate with one of the River pride females and while it never officially happened then, I can confirm that he has now managed to come right with the lioness. I found the other two Nahru males late one evening this week (only because a couple of irate elephants had chased them from their hiding spot). None the less, it was fun pushing my camera and technique to its low light limits!
Now, let’s get onto that highlight that I promised you all. When you spend as much time in the Timbavatias we do, you begin to look for truly remarkable things and that doesn’t always mean lions taking a buffalo down or aarvarks digging holes. Sometimes, something as simple as coming across a family of slender mongoose has the capacity to capture your full attention. The slender mongoose is not an animal that most people would even be aware of and that’s exactly the point, we hardly ever see them and when we do, it’s usually a very fast-moving brown blur running across the road ahead of your vehicle.
Well, on this occasion it was very different, Britt and I just sat in awe as we watched the baby slender mongooses running, playing and tackling each other! There were three of them in total and we spent over half an hour with them. The photos could never do this sighting any justice, but I was able to snap a few as the youngsters got increasingly interested and dared themselves to come ever closer to us to investigate. Eventually, all three of them moved back into the long grass and left us beaming. It’s these little moments of magic that keep us so addicted to safari.
Let me not forget the plains game, who played an absolutely massive role this week in the beauty that we witnessed out there. Reminding ourselves to never overlook the common guys, appreciate every moment in the wild spaces.
Until next time, happy snapping,