“Nothing but breathing the air of Africa, and actually walking through it, can communicate the indescribable sensations.”- William Burchell
Winter has drawn to a close and spring has sprung. Temperatures are beginning to climb, and we have already had a fair amount of rain. The dull browns of winter are slowly changing into the vibrant greens of the wet season. September is considered one of the best times of year to go on safari as the bush still isn't thickly vegetated yet, and the chill of winter has begun to subside. Game viewing has been top notch with many excellent sightings being had by our guests while out on their safaris.
Not only has the big 5 been seen in abundance, but some of the other local inhabitants have made several appearances too. From Wild dogs to Ostriches, the Timbavati has been the place to be for quality safaris. Here are our highlights in photos for the month of September.
The month kicked off with an amazing Marula sighting, she was in the company of the big male that she was mating with last year. After losing her cub, she will be mating again and hopefully, her next cubs make it to adulthood.
Marula typically posing for a few photos. The male, not being the most relaxed leopard, especially whilst mating, kept our guides busy as he moved through the thickets, only allowing a brief glimpse of himself.
Although not a rare bird, Ostriches are not commonly seen in these parts. However saying that we have been lucky to have numerous sightings of them this month, and they have become a regular sight on our safaris.
A male Ostrich taking a timeout between bouts of feeding. As can be seen from his bright pink bill, he is on the look out for a potential mate. Hopefully we get to see some chicks in the not so distant future.
Nthombi female has a new cub that she is stashing North of our traversing area. We hope that as the cub grows, she brings it our side and we get to see the little bundle of joy. In the meantime, we will settle for sightings like this of Nthombi as she moves far and wide in search of a meal.
Nthombi was found using the branches of a Marula tree as a vantage point. She managed to spot a steenbok and the stalk began. Unfortunately, this time she missed. But to be able to see a leopard hunt is a remarkable sight for any guest out on a drive.
Coming across a kill sight is always an interesting, especially when there is a lot of interaction involved. This was the case when our guides found the carcass of a zebra that was teeming with vulture and hyena activity.
We were very fortunate to have a pack of African Wild dogs move into the area, and in tow was a whole bunch of youngsters. They set themselves up at one of the old abandoned hyena dens and we enjoyed daily sightings of these rare and endangered predators before the Hercules pride moved through the area and the dogs decided to go find a safer place to spend their time.
When it comes to lions sightings, we have been lucky to have had numerous sightings of Africa's most iconic species. We have seen a lot of the two Ross pride lionesses of late, and the Hercules pride has also been seen moving through our traversing area. It seems that now that the Machaton lioness has passed and there is a void open for the taking that the Hercules lions may be looking to fill the gap.
The Mbirri males have also laid claim to the central Timbavati, making it their own scent marking and roaring to announce their presence. They also caught one of the young males from the Hercules pride and gave him a severe beating; a clear sign that they are wanting to mate with the lionesses. We hope that having a stable pride in the area with two big males will bring cubs and even more regular lion sightings in the future.
Elephants have been seen in abundance. Being in the height of the dry season, herds join up to create mega-herds that can reach over 100 elephants which is always a magical sight to see.
We had another visit from Makhombo male leopard, however, since this sighting it seems he has moved back down to his origins in the Sabi Sands. Hopefully he preferred it here and he comes back.
The large buffalo herds have been scarce this dry season. Perhaps with all the lions that we have had around they have decided to stay away. On the odd occasion we have seen them moving through our area on their search for water.
General game viewing has also been top notch this month, with there being plenty to see in between sightings of the big 5.
That is all for the September highlights, seeing as we are a bit late with this blog I can tell you that October has already been incredible, so keep an eye out for the next highlights blog.
Photographed by: Oliver Lane
Written by: Greg McCall-Peat
Originally published on the Umlani blog