It seems difficult to believe that last week I was complaining about how cold the morning temperatures were, and now it is the complete opposite! This past week has felt like anything but winter, with daytime temperature’s reaching 30C (high 80s for our North American followers) on most days, and by the looks of things, this will be mild compared to next week’s forecasted temperatures. Fortunately for us, it was another hot week of game viewing here in the Timbavati, so please feel free to enjoy some of the week’s photographic highlights. 

Marula female leopard and her little family were the centre of attention this past week, and despite moving to all corners of her territory in search of hunting opportunities for herself and the two youngsters, we still managed to catch up with her on most days. They got lucky one evening when they came across a female kudu that appeared to have died as a result of the cold snap last week. Mom and cubs took turns feeding on the carcass whenever the lone hyena that was in the area took a break from gorging itself; as soon as it walked off, the cubs would sneak up for another nibble! Being the consummate scavenger though, despite its bulging belly, the hyena would soon return to chase the leopards off and stuff some more meat in its belly.

Although Marula ended the week with an impala kill, the highlight of our leopard sightings for the week came when we were following her in front of Tanda Tula Safari Camp one morning and she opportunistically pounced on a baby nyala that happened to be hiding in the bush. She proceeded to drag the kill for over a kilometre before stashing it and going to fetch the cubs. Other leopards that showed face this week included the gorgeous N’weti who we tracked down near our Star Bed’s hide, Nthombi and her boy who were seen enjoying a scrub hare one afternoon, Ntsongwaan male resting at a waterhole, and a couple of slightly nervous new faces. 

Our lion sightings were once more dominated by the impressive Mayambula Pride who yet again proved why they are having such great success with raising their cubs. They started the week with enormous bellies, and this seldom seemed to wane, with their most notable kill being that of a large male buffalo. Incredibly, together with the Mbiri males, they consumed the entire kill within 24 hours and left the remains for the patient scavengers. This did mean that for the next couple of days they didn’t do a great deal, but it did keep them posted out in the western side of our concession. Towards the end of the week they were found on the remains of a warthog, but as the buffalo has been digested, it does mean that a bigger meal will be on the cards soon. 

The Mbiri males spent a few days with the pride, but didn’t neglect their territorial patrols and could be heard roaring close to camp from time to time. We also managed to catch up with the Zebenine lioness and her daughter as they searched for the remains of a leopard’s kill that they could smell. Although looking a little lean, they were both in reasonable shape, and tracks indicated that they did make a kill the night after we saw them. However, were displaced by the hyenas and we just hope that they got their fair share before being chased off. Once more, the River Pride and Giraffe Pride remained absent from our viewing list, as did the “new” pride in the south. 

Pleasingly, the buffalo herds remained for a second week within the concession, and with water and grass still available for them, it was not a surprise. Guests at Tanda Tula Safari Camp even got to see a few herds of these large ungulates coming to drink at the waterhole in front of camp on at least four occasions this week; combined with a bachelor group of male buffalos that have been sleeping near camp every night, it means that this member of the Big 5 has been the easiest to tick of the past week. We also had a few visits from some elephant herds at the camp dam, and these pachyderms were also seen daily even if they are not being found in as big a concentration as this time last year. 

My wish of seeing cheetah this past week was sadly not granted, but I am not giving up hope just yet! Our wild dog pack was also absent from our concession, but with their fifteen pups growing by the day, it won’t be too much longer before they start moving around with them and increase their chances of a return to the area. 

You will just have to check up again next week to see if my wish comes true this time around. 

Until next time ~ 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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