A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A GAME RANGER by Chad Cocking

1 June 2018 - A week of green landscape in photos

After a little over two weeks of leave spent exploring some of Zimbabawe’s national parks, it was wonderful to return to the wilds of the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve and see what had been happening at Tanda Tula whilst I was away. One thing was quite apparent upon my return, summer was still not willing to let go of its grip on the landscape, and quite unlike the Kruger National Park, just north of the Timbavati, the bush was still infused with a great deal of greenery. Other than some yellowing grasses, the shades of autumn remain absent.

It might seem like this is a central theme in our weekly posts, but the idea of a green landscape as we enter June is something almost unheard of in this area. It is not something I have personally  experienced in more than a decade in this reserve! The animals are no doubt making the most of it and in my first few days on drive, we were treated to some good game viewing.

The Mbiri male lions could be heard roaring every night this week. One night they even woke up all of the guests at around 3am when they were roaring right opposite the camp! The behaviour of their lionesses suggest that the lion cubs are still alive and well, and still hidden safely along one of the dry riverbeds in the central part of our concession. We reckon these cubs are now about three weeks old, and I am sure that within the next week or two we will be lucky enough to have our first glimpse of them! The pride of lions in the south-east popped up a couple of times, but we are still waiting to see if they too have cubs in our concession.

On the subject of cubs, the sad news is that it appears that Marula, the female leopard, has lost her most recent litter before any of us even had a chance to see them. We viewed her walking around,  showing no clear signs of lactation. Despite this, she has been seen mating recently, so maybe some more cubs will be on the way soon. Nthombi, another leopardess, was also seen during the week, and I have a suspicion that she might be pregnant again – her fat belly hung in a way that suggests that there was more than just food in there!

Aside from the cats, it seems as though the wild dogs may have settled on a den site to the west of our western boundary. If this is the case, we should be getting some more regular viewing of the adults as they go out hunting each morning and afternoon.

Besides the predators, the elephants had a few days of absence during the week, but soon returned to the area to enjoy the abundance of food presently available.

A couple of buffalo herds moved through the area too over the past week, and although they drew the attention of some lions, there were no kills made. Giraffe, impala, kudu and other general game sightings remained plentiful, but the zebras seem to have made a move out of the area for the time being, possibly chasing the last flushes of green grass before winter sets in, but with the large amount of water available within our area, they will surely be back soon. I trust that you will enjoy this week’s selection of photos, and be sure to keep a look out on the blog for more upcoming posts.

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