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

29 June 2018 - A week with prominent elephant sightings

If I were a betting man, I would have put my money on the fact that this week we would have been featuring the new lion cubs from our resident pride; but alas, luck has not been on our side! The two lionesses continue to move around and hunt in the area on a daily basis, but most mornings we track them back to the dense thickets on the banks of the Zebenine river bed, and the first view of the cubs eludes us!

However, that is not to say that the cubs are still in hiding as we have been seeing their tracks around the den site, and one night, the mother even took them on a long, long walk, possibly in search of a new den site. From the tracks there appear to be either two or three cubs in this litter. Even this morning we were following the lionesses at 10am (very late for lion activity) as the mother marched in the direction of what we thought could be a possible new den site, but sadly they went to sleep before getting to any place where the cubs could be hidden. So, I guess we will have to wait one more week before we can present you with some images of them!

Elsewhere, the Mbiri males were quite absent for most of the week as they continue to explore areas beyond the lionesses territory. After killing a hyena in the west, they ventured to the far east where we found them on an active patrol early one misty morning; the next day their tracks made it to our south-eastern border in the heart of the Mayambula pride territory which is not good news for their new cubs. The Hercule’s pride spent some time in the far west, and the two Ross females were also active in that area during the week.

Our spotted cats were also very active this week; the usually shy Tamboti male was found with a warthog kill and spent three days on it before the lionesses evidently got the last bits of it. We found him walking around the next morning and amazingly he had become extremely confident with the vehicles and he barely paid any attention to us which is a great sign for the future. That afternoon, after locating Marula female opposite Tanda Tula Safari Camp, we followed her until she met up with the large Rothsay male. Marula was roaring and scent-marking all over the place and clearly coming into estrus, but despite her efforts with the Rothsay tom, no mating was seen. Thumebela and her offspring continue to frustrate us. Yet again,  we found signs of them on an almost daily basis around Machaton Dam, but actually locating them proved a much more difficult endeavour! We will not give up though, and it’s only a matter of time before we get to see them again.

The week however belonged to the elephants; they were out in force across the central regions of the Tanda Tula concession, and the herds have become a daily feature at Camp Dam, sometimes several herds would visit during the course of the afternoon providing for some wonderful viewing from the comfort of the camp. The large buffalo herds seem to be returning from the Kruger National Park, and several different herds (some numbering 200-300 individuals) could be seen across the Timbavati this week. Luckily for the buffalos, we did not record any lion kills, but the herds do seem to be drawing in the large pride of eight lions from the north who usually remain just north of our concession.

As always, the general game viewing was also very good this week, and besides lots of giraffe, zebras, impalas, wildebeest, nyalas and kudus around, we also had some lovely bird viewing with the two of the largest species in the area - the ostrich and the kori bustard.

For now though, enjoy this week’s collection of images and be sure to check the blog again next week to see what has been happening in the lives of our animals. Until then, cheers.

By courtesy of the Tanda Tula Safari Camp http://www.tandatula.com/blog/

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