Tanda-Tula elephant in the Timbavati
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A Week of Feeling Like Summer in Photos

Chad Cocking | A Week In Pictures

After last week’s disappointment that the summer feeling of lush green surrounds and abundant water was becoming a distant memory, a somewhat unexpected downpour of 50mm fell came out of nowhere and almost instantly transform the central Timbavati landscape back into its full summer glory. Quite literally, within a day of this heavenly mana falling over the thirsty landscape, the bush had shed its brown coat and donned the emerald green attire that makes me love this time of year so much.

Tanda-Tula zebras in Timbavati, Greater Kruger

I was out with guests last weekend, and we had a very enjoyable couple of days which included sightings of two of the Nharhu male lions and a lovely sighting of Nyeleti leopardess. She was on the move just to the east of Tanda Tula Safari Camp as we headed out for the morning and came to settle in a marula tree before carrying on with her mission. In the afternoon, we added a breeding herd of buffalo, a crash of rhinos, a lone elephant bull and then a large breeding herd were waiting for us upon our return to camp. The clouds even cleared and we ended the day with a wonderful sundowner as a rainbow coloured the sky to make a picture perfect scene as zebra, wildebeest and impala grazed in the distance. All of this will now sadly have to live on in my memory bank inside my head, as I had clearly lost my mind a couple of days later when I stupidly formatted my memory card before I got to download the images!

Tanda-Tula leopardess and her son, Timbavati

Tanda-Tula young leopard in the Timbavati

The rest of the week was spent out and about filming some Sofa Safaris (yes, they are still coming out on a weekly basis in case you haven’t been checking up on our YouTube channel!), and other than just driving around and loving the summer landscapes, the week included some good viewing. Nyeleti was seen a couple of times during the week, but at opposite sides of her growing territory! The best of the week was when she was found with her year-old son as the feasted on a very well-hidden impala kill, just off the access road to Tanda Tula. In the evening, I went to check up on them and found that they had finished the meal and mom was moving her son to a new area. Earlier in the week Ginger had found Thumbela prowling the banks of the Machaton Riverbed in the east, and the next afternoon she was found resting in the riverbed with a baby impala kill near Machaton Dam. N’weti was again seen early in the week, but as the week pushed on and the temperatures rose, the spotted cats became a little more elusive.

Tanda-Tula male lion drinking, Timbavati, Greater Kruger

On the lion front, the limping Nharhu male was found with the older River Pride lioness one evening, and then a couple of days later Ginger was doing a bush walk with his guests in the east when they came across him on foot!  In typical lion fashion, once he saw the people, he got up and moved off to some cover. The other two Nharhu males were found one afternoon with a zebra kill to the west of Safari Camp, and the next morning they were sleeping off their fat bellies in the Nhlaralumi Riverbed, south of camp. Once they roused themselves, they moved back east in search of the rest of the pride. There was also a report of a portion of the Giraffe Pride in the west this week, as well as the Monwana male lions who seem to have now settled as the Giraffe Pride’s dominant males.

Tanda-Tula buffalo herd, Timbavati

It was very pleasing to see and hear that a couple of buffalo herds (one numbering over 100 individuals) were spending some good time within the concession; their numbers are still sitting at only about a third of what they were five years ago (before the drought) but given time and the promise of good rains over this summer, the conditions will remain ideal for their numbers to grow. Once again, with abundant resources across the Greater Kruger, the elephants are less concentrated around Tanda Tula than they are in summer, but there were still several herds in the area, and a pleasing number of elephant bulls in attendance too – no big bulls, but still nice to see small bachelor groups for a change!  As the marula fruiting season draws near, we can expect a few more bulls to make this area their temporary home.

Tanda-Tula red-backed shrike, Timbavati

Tanda-Tula impalas in last light of the day, Timbavati

Tanda-Tula impala lamb, Timbavati
There were no new ‘summer’ updates as such, other than the days following the rains saw the winged alates (reproductive) of the various termite species of the area erupting much to the pleasure of the insectivorous predators. Driving around, there were many large birds of prey (tawny and Wahlberg’s eagles) on the ground feeding on them, and something I hadn’t noticed before, but an enormous amount of giant plated lizards that had come down from the safety of their rocky abodes to feast on the nutrient rich termites. Rain frogs, eastern tiger snakes, thick-tailed scorpions and a variety of bugs and beetles seemed to relish their presence too and made for a very interesting micro-safari of sorts! In addition, more and more baby impalas are running around the area, but the majority of the wildebeest cows are still pregnant and should be dropping their calves in the next week or so. I got to see my first European rollers this week, having missed them at the end of last week, and the Woodland kingfishers are becoming more and more vocal.  Combine this with some nice hot weather, and it created a week that felt truly like summer!

Be sure to check back next week for more updates, but until next time, take care!

Cheers

Chad

Tanda-Tula honey badger, Timbavati

Tanda-Tula ruby gnidia close up, Timbavati
Tanda-Tula baboon troop, Timbavati

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