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

A WEEK OF MORE CUBS IN PICTURES – 19th April 2019

Despite the title of this weeks’ blog, it was a week that brought with it sad news. Unfortunately, we have one fewer cub here on our concession within the Timbavati. But it was not all doom and gloom, there were many magical moments on safari too. Here is this week’s update.  

I was out doing bush work when I saw a large wake of vultures taking off from deep inside a block near our southern boundary, before they descended in a hurry again. Knowing that the lions’ tracks had been in that area, I decided to go and check what had very obviously died. Arriving in the area, I had a bad feeling, and I could see that whatever the vultures were eating was not a large animal. As I moved closer, the vultures took flight and the sinking feeling hit when I saw the unmistakable sight of four lion paws lying scattered on the ground as the dust settled. The previous night, we had seen the female cub and the “aunt” in the company of the Mbiri males, and I was immediately concerned as to where the young male cub might have been. This find may well have explained where he was, but it was a long way off explaining what had happened to him. More concerning for me was the absence of the mother lioness, and as the week passed there was still no sign of her. Only time will tell what her fate is, but we obviously all hope that she is alive and well and can continue to raise her daughter to adulthood. As for the Mbiri males, the day we found the dead cub they were found in the far west having a go at the young males from the River Pride; hopefully this will be a message enough for the River Pride to stay out of the Mbiri’s territory. On a more positive note, the Mayambula Pride spent much of the week within our concession (albeit largely out of view), and all of their cubs are doing very well, and growing quickly! The fourth lioness still hasn’t joined the pride, and appears to have moved den sites, as we haven’t seen any sign of her this week.  

Carrying on with more positive stories, Marula and her cubs remained very active in the central regions this week, and the little boy is relaxing nicely with the vehicles, while his sister remains a little shier. Madzinyo male leopard made a rare summer appearance as he walked around the southern part of his territory. Also in the east, Thumbela and N’weti females made the odd appearance, which was very welcome as our northern regular, Nthombi, was absent the whole week. However, with Marula’s little family providing such good viewing, we weren’t missing her too much. 

Closing up with the predators, we had a couple of packs of wild dogs visiting the concession this week; the pack of four remained in the area for most of it, but it was the surprise arrival of a pack of 16-odd wild dogs that was the highlight – always wonderful to have these extremely rare apex predators gracing us with their presence. 

Unlike previous weeks, we can report on not one, but two, buffalo herds moving into our concession this past week. One herd remained in the east for the latter half of the week, whilst the other herd popped up in the central region as the week drew to a close. The odd buffalo bull hung around, but life is much easier when there are a few hundred of them! The elephants are also starting to move towards their winter trends of gathering in larger numbers around the permanent water points, this provided some spectacular viewing of these gentle giants during the late mornings and early afternoons as the autumn temperatures remained warm. 

So, despite the sad news of this blog, there's still a lot of positive news coming from this part of the Greater Kruger region. Be sure to check back next week for any further updates on the changing dynamics of the Zebenine Pride, as well as whatever else may unfold over the course of the next seven days. 

Until then, keep well!

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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