Photo of the Day
|The beautiful Nthombi|
(Chad and Herald)
3 x lions (Unknown Pride – 2 females, 1 sub-adult male) – Peru, Wild West
1 x leopard (Nthombi female with impala kill) – Vielmetter, Western Nhlaralumi
2 x buffalo bulls – Argyle, Vyeboom Dam
1 x elephant bull – Vielmetter, Hide Dam
1 x elephant bull – Jaydee, Argyle Rd
1 x elephant bull – Scholtz, Kudu Pan Rd South
(Chad, Herald and Marka)
9 x wild dogs – Rockfig, Argyle Rd
3 x cheetah (3 females) – Tanda Tula, Shortcut Rd
1 x leopard (unknown male with impala kill) – Tanda Tula, Giraffe Plains
2 x buffalo bulls – Vielmetter, Western Cutline
1 x breeding herd of elephants – Mbali, Aardvark Rd
1 x elephant bull – Tanda Tula, Vulture Crossing
1 x elephant bull – Peru, Voel Dam Northern Access
It’s amazing how on some days, everything just works out. Today was one such day. Considering the quiet run we have been having of late, I wasn’t really expecting to see as much as I did.
The morning started off relatively quietly, with some giraffe, impala and hippo before the radio started to crackle to life. First I was informed that Nthombi leopardess had been found at her kill with her cub, and not long after that, some lions were radioed in. With the ‘pressure’ off, I bumbled about in the quieter eastern section hoping to find something of interest. While following tracks for a herd of elephants, I got sidetracked by a small group of zebras, and then a lone elephant bull.
|White-backed vultures at the dead giraffe|
While following the elephant we noticed the smell of death and a whole lot of vultures gathered in some nearby trees, and upon investigating found one hyena run off into the bush. A bit more search revealed a dead giraffe, but there were no signs of any lions having been in the area, so it is not certain how the giraffe met its end; but either way, there was very little left, and the smell was enough to put me off breakfast for the next couple of hours!
I then decided to head to the south to go and see Nthombi. It was a bit of a drive, but worth it to see this beautiful leopard perched up in a large Jackalberry tree, with what little remained of her impala kill stashed in the upper bows. Her cub had earlier run away when the hyena that was still around approached, so sadly we never got to see him.
|Nthombi making sure she looks good for the camera!|
After some coffee we headed back north, past some more giraffe, impala, warthogs and another elephant and towards where the lions were. There were three of them – 2 females and one young male – but they are unknown to us; possibly from the long lost Voel Dam Pride, but that is difficult to confirm. In any case, they were very relaxed, and just slept off the heat of the morning in some shade as we made our way back towards camp.
|Unknow lion pride|
My plans for the afternoon were to make an even longer trip down south to look for the wild dogs that had been in the same area for the past 4 days. Not long into the drive, with the heat still beating down on us as we ticked off impala, warthogs and giraffe, we were informed by the southern stations that they had found three cheetahs on Giraffe Plains, and we were welcome to go and view them. We didn’t need a second invitation, and carried on heading south.
There was another large elephant bull, hippo, impala, a herd of wildebeest, a herd of giraffe, and eventually a pack of 9 wild dogs on Argyle Rd! It was once again wonderful to see them in area. It was earlier in the afternoon than I wanted to see them, but they got up and moved about a bit before settling down once more in a shady spot. While I was keen to spend more time with them and possibly watch a hunt, there were three other creatures that were in need of my attention!
|Wild Dog's on Argyle Rd|
I headed back into the central part of the reserve, passing yet more giraffe and some zebra along the way before joining Herald with the three cheetahs! It was even more wonderful seeing these rare creatures back in the central section of the reserve.
|Return of the Cheetah|
Despite being late in the afternoon, I am pretty sure that the three sisters had enjoyed a bit of a meal in the morning, and the heavy breathing and hot conditions left them static for most of the afternoon; yet still, to see them resting in the grass was magical for all of our guests.
Herald and his guests exercised a bit more patience, and not long after I left the cheetahs awoke and they followed them as they headed towards a small mudwallow for a drink in the fading light before carrying on east towards Tortillis Plains. I took some consolation in the fact that I went to check on a nearby impala ‘resting’ in a tree, and saw the leopard responsible for putting it there! I have my suspicions that the male leopard merely stole the kill from the cheetahs and hoisted it up the appleleaf. Sadly he was not very relaxed and started climbing down as we approached. As he had also earlier charged one of the vehicles, I decided not to press the issue, and once he jumped into the long grass below, I left the area.
|a large elephant bull enjoying the summer growth|
|A rare treat - a blue wildebeest!|
|Unknown, nervous male leopard|
|Resting peacefully...sort of|
Heading back to camp, I ticked off some buffalo bulls and best of all, an African Wild Cat that was stalking something in the grass before pouncing into it and running off with an unfortunate quail in its clutches!
|Spotted eagle owl|
To top off a magical day, the guests enjoyed dinner in the bush under a myriad of sparkling stars before heading back to the lodge for a well deserved rest, but not before seeing two hyenas resting on the airstrip!
So, with lion, leopard, cheetah, wild dog, hyena and wild cat al featuring today, it was definitely a day for the predators of the Timbavati...i just hope they all stick around for a while longer!