It feels like a lifetime since I wrote one of our “Week in Pictures” blog posts, so please forgive me if my writing is a bit feral, for lack of a better word. Britt and I have been in the bush now for going on five consecutive months, so actually, I think feral is exactly right word to apply – and have you seen my hair in the latest Sofa Safari?! None the less, we couldn’t have asked for a more meaningful and inspiring way to lockdown and this last week has been absolutely beautiful out here.
Towards the beginning of the week, we went out in an attempt to shoot our next episode of Sofatography, but I hadn’t been on camera for about 3 weeks and I kept jumbling my words and talking like a caveman. We decided to scrap filming for the day and just enjoy the bush, a decision that proved very wise as we had an awesome sighting of a large herd of buffalo. Currently, we refer to a herd as ‘large’ when they number around 150 individuals, whereas in years gone by, a large herd would have been around 600. This is mostly due to the rippling effect that we are still feeling from the drought over 2015 – 2017. I was very chuffed to snap some portrait images of a few of the beautiful bush cows.
Next up, we managed to find one of my absolute favourite leopardesses, Thombela, near Machaton dam in the East. It had been a very long time since I last saw her, so you can imagine the excitement when I locked eyes with her stunning blue ones. I must admit, however, that it was all thanks to team Jackson for pointing us in the right direction, and Hayley for telling me there was a leopard calling in the area in the first place. It was a fantastic sighting of the now ageing leopardess, even if the light was a little dim!
The next day, I got my nonsense together and we finally filmed Sofatography. It was a great afternoon spent with zebra running in the dust, a big male leopard, Tamboti, who was on the hunt, and, an extraordinary African sunset to round things off.
The following morning, Britt and I were up before the sun and ready to head out to shoot a Sofa Safari. Britt hadn’t even got her camera mounted yet when the action started! Immediately on our driveway, we encountered a rather suspicious band of fat hyenas. Now, it’s not uncommon to see fat hyenas or even bands of them, but I could tell something was afoot straight away. They were all very giddy and excited, so we decided to follow them as they moved through the bush. Suddenly, there were 5 of them, then 6, then 7, then simply too many to count! I knew there must be a kill nearby, which may have meant that lions or even wild dogs were in the area too. Alas, I didn’t take the right turns and we couldn’t find the kill site. Then, suddenly, the noise stopped and the hyena disappeared into thin air. Extraordinary! Eventually we gave up and moved on to explore other areas for the morning and found a lovely herd of elephants, with one even walking right up to us and giving us the once over and making a great opportunity for some up-close-and-personal photos.
Later that morning we had a fabulous time with Nyaleti the leopardess and her cub. We know that the little cub is a male and that he’s very confident and ridiculously cute, but we’re yet to name him. We’ll get there soon! It wasn’t really a great photographic sighting until the little one jumped into a tree, giving us a 10 out of 10 visual. Amazing.
That very afternoon, Eric, a professional tracker at Tanda Tula, went off to investigate the area where the hyena had been causing such a scene. Of course, being the professional that he is, it took him all of 10 minutes to find a dead buffalo! After a brief chat with him on the radio, I was off once again to see for myself. Eric and I ended up sitting there for over three hours and saw one hyena, then two. Not much else happened for a while until Dale joined us. Once he had turned off his engine, we noticed a licking sound coming from behind a dense bush. Dale decided to move closer and, low and behold, there was a very fat male leopard sleeping on his back, having enjoyed a free buffalo meal. Essentially, Eric and I had been sitting there for about an hour not knowing that a leopard was a mere five metres from us… A little while later, the leopard was chased away from the kill by three new hyena and soon after that, more and more hyena began to arrive and the typical laughing, whooping and chittering filled the air. The vocalisation got more and more pronounced as two rival hyena clans started to vie for the carcass, and a hilarious back and forth ensued. Then, just as suddenly as it all started, the hyena scattered with the arrival of one of the Nharu male lions who made himself comfortable and tucked in.
The next morning, we revisited the scene of the previous evening and found two Nahru males, both fat-bellied and passed out. They stirred once or twice, and I managed to snap a couple of good images, but the highlight of the week came when we found the River Pride females, along with their six cubs, lazing in the dry riverbed. It had been a while since we had seen them (as you’ll know from our Sofa Safaris), and I was incredibly excited to spend some quality time with this beautiful pride.
And with that, another great week of wildlife viewing comes to and end at Tanda Tula. I really hope you enjoy going through the moments I caught on camera.
Until next time, happy snapping,