A week ago, I would not have imagined that we would have already received close to a quarter of our average annual rainfall in parts of our concession. However, this past week has seen this part of the Greater Krugerbeing blessed with some fantastic rains (rains that would have been fantastic in mid-summer). To kick off our rainy season with such amazing rain is almost unheard of! Over the past week, the central Timbavatihas received between 84mm (at Tanda Tula Safari Camp) and 135mm (recorded less than 4km to our west). The transformation from dry to wet season is now taking place before our eyes, with the bush getting greener by the day. Mud wallows that have been dry for many months are now full of water, frogs and terrapins! Millipedes are crawling around all over the place, dodging the shoots of grass, sprouting lilies and annual flowers that are starting to pop up from what was dusty earth last week. Watching things change as quickly as they have this past week is always a reminder of just how magical nature is.
Sadly, I didn’t manage to get out to explore too much of the transforming bush, but as the days ticked by, the changes became more and more pronounced much to the delight of the many species that call the Timabvati ‘home’. The elephants remained very much in evidence with herds spread across the area, and other than enjoying all the mud wallows, they became particularly destructive this week – the evidence of their uprooting of trees and digging for roots could be seen everywhere. With the soil being so soft (and the leaves still not having sprouted yet), the elephants used their size and strength to simply push over the trees (Marulas, Knobthorns and Bushwillows were the hardest hit) and eat the nutritious root systems that were starting to move moisture and nutrients to the branches. We also enjoyed the company of a large breeding herd of buffalo for the first half of the week as a group of close to 300 individuals grazed around the central and southern parts of the concession. The rhinos also seemed to relish the conditions this past week, although there was no further sign of the black rhino that our Nkarhi Homesteadguests spotted a couple weeks back.
The two cheetahs that had been seen briefly last week also remained elusive, but a couple more leopard sightings were enjoyed with the highlight being Nyeleti and her son who were found with a kill in the thickets opposite Safari Camp’s veranda. Later in the week, Civilised also got to see a male leopard with a kill after the rains had stopped. The lions were a little trickier, and despite hearing distant roars of the Nharhu males throughout the week, it was only on the very last morning that we were able to locate the pride with the cub looking as good as ever. They were resting – fat-bellied – on the very southern boundary of our concession in an area that they have seldom ventured before. Their erratic and unusual movements have made keeping track of them very difficult over the past few weeks, so we hope that they start to settle into more predictable routines soon. As always, when gaps are created, lions find ways of filling these, and the young lionesses of the Giraffe Pride ventured into parts of their territory (and deeper into our concession) than they have done for some time. We caught up with the pride on a couple of occasions this week as they seem to be avoiding the attention of the pride’s new dominant males, the Monwana males.
Other good sightings reported in the area included a pair of black-backed jackals with four pups on our entrance road, a pack of wild dogs seen by our staff, running around close to Tanda Tula Safari Camp.
So, despite not having been out with my camera a great deal over the past week, it was once more a very enjoyable week here at Tanda Tula. I look forward to watching even more changes take place once the sun decides to pop out again and energise the new life that is sprouting all around us!
Until next time, take care