Hello all, and it is great to be back on blogging duty after a wonderful two weeks of leave (spent in the Greater Kruger, where else!). 

What struck me most about my return to the central Timbavati was just how quickly the grasses were turning into their variations of their golden shades, and together with a week of considerably cooler weather, there was a distinctive autumn feeling about the bush. For once – considering the great summer we have had – I am not too sad to see the greens of summer slowly starting to give way to the more usual palette of savannah colours, as hopefully, with the bush thinning out ever so slowly, our job of finding animals will be made that bit easier. 

That being said, the past week didn’t need any help in terms of providing for better viewing, and it was a great week of game viewing around Tanda Tula Safari Camp. Even better for me was that with this time of year being quieter on the tourist front, it meant that most game drives were spent barely seeing other game viewers out there! Despite their being fewer eyes and ears out there, it didn’t hamper our sightings, as can be seen from this week’s selection of images.

Although the week started off slowly on the leopard front, a windy night provided for ideal hunting conditions for the cats of the Timbavati and it was not a surprise to find several leopards with kills the following day. Nthombi and her growing daughter spent three days around their impala kill, whilst N’weti and Nyeleti spent a day with a steenbuck kill safely hoisted up a marula tree. Speaking of which, Marula spent the week giving us the run around – leaving tracks on our sandy roads, but never quite showing herself – but at the end of the week, we found her and her fat belly resting at a dam in the western section of our concession. Although her cubs were there, they were sadly staying out of view, and as a result, I am still awaiting my first proper sighting of them! Late in the week, we also found Nkaya female sitting up a fallen marula tree as we were leaving an elephant sighting and watched as she stalked and caught herself a red-billed quelea (all 19g of it!). Apart from the female leopards found, there were constant signs of male leopards criss-crossing the concession, but sadly none were seen. 

After the great leopard viewings, the highlight of the week was no doubt the stunning scenes around the red-billed quelea colony as these birds flocked to and from their nesting site close to the camp (Red-billed Quelea blog). To see the murmurations leaving the breeding grounds each morning was truly a spectacle to behold. Having been there for over a month already, it won’t be too long before the chicks are independent, and they return to their nomadic lifestyle.  

Less of a highlight were the lions this week. The Mayambula Pride remained very elusive, with only one sighting of a lone lioness. The lioness with the youngest cubs was reported at a new den site, but despite keeping an eye on the area, she was not seen. Adding to the frustrations was the fact that almost every day, we were finding tracks for what is presumably a portion of the River Pride to the east of camp, but the pride didn’t show themselves once. Fortunately, the Zebenine Pride were a little more evident, and were seen on a few occasions in the south-west – an area that now seems to be their preferred hunting spot. After leaving them setting off on the hunt one evening, they were relocated the following day on yet another wildebeest kill, resulting in some fantastic looking fat-bellied cubs! The Mbiri males started the week off with a buffalo calf kill to the far west of their territory, but then remained out of view for the week until they were found crossing off our western boundary at the end of the week; this after they covered around at least 16km worth of territorial patrols in the eastern section of their territory. With such big distances covered each night, no wonder we are having trouble keeping up with them! 

Lastly, it was a great week of general game viewing, and after the lull of the past few weeks, it seems that the zebras and wildebeest herds have made their way back into the area with these species once more becoming a common sight across the concession. The week also saw the return of a large breeding herd of buffalos making a return to Tanda Tula; in typical fashion, they showed up about a minute after I had just explained to my guests why we were not seeing many buffalo herds in the area! With the mud wallows and small pans starting to dry, the elephants seem to be making more and more use of the larger water points across the reserve, and this led to daily sightings of the multiple herds of these gentle giants across for our guests. 

For the rest, we will let the pictures do their job of letting you know what our week was like. So please enjoy, and be sure to check the blog again next week to see what has been happening here at Tanda Tula! 

Cheers ~ Chad

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

You can also follow Chad on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/chadcocking

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