Greetings to All Kings Camp followers and nature lovers
April has been another great month in the bush. At the beginning of the month, we had about 35mm of glorious rain spread over 3 days which is a blessing, as it will help us through the dry winter months which is just around the corner. The rain was followed by 10 days of pure blue skies, with warm to hot days, clear nights full of stars and with a hint of a chill in the air. Here in the Timbavati, the winter is slowly starting to make its presence felt, but not only with the chill in the air. Migrant birds have already gone, Bush Willows are starting to turn yellow and the Mopani trees are also beginning to shed their leaves. The approach of winter here in the bush also offers lots to look forward to, with the grass turning different shades of gold, the Weeping Boer Bean trees flowering pink and with it, attracting many different species of brightly colored sunbirds. The long, lush grass that we have seen during the summer months is also starting to thin out, which means we are more likely to get some fantastic sightings of the animal species that elude us in the tall summer growth, with guests sometimes getting to spot, genets, porcupines and the notorious favorite, the honey badger.
With a look back over the months gone by, it is clear that we really have had a summer packed full of outstanding wildlife viewing. Sightings of each of the Big 5 were common, leaving people who have stayed with us here at Kings Camp with truly special memories. Huge herds of buffalo were in the area, with one numbering in excess of 800 animals, from tiny calves, barely able to stand, right through to the massive bulls, and it was a real treat to just sit quietly among them in the vehicle as they went about their day to day business. A favorite for a lot of guest were the outstanding elephant sightings, with their sophisticated social structure, and sheer size making them a joy to spend time with and observe, from the large family groups, to lone bulls. We were lucky enough to spot a gigantic bull that we believe had crossed through from Kruger looking for females, which is one of the nice things about being in an being part of an open ecosystem, as the animals are often new ones. We have also had many lion encounters with the” Machatton” pride female and sub adult male cub, along with the 2 “mabandi” males, who have been covering huge distances, but still frequenting our area on a fairly regular basis. Our leopard sightings of the “Marula female” and “Rock fig Junior” have been outstanding, with many close calls and excellent opportunities for our guests to get their fill of some really beautiful leopard photography. But maybe our biggest news, is that our local leopardess “Ntombi” has given birth to 3 strong and healthy cubs, so we are making sure we are giving them plenty of space and alone time. Our rhinos are always a joy to encounter. We have also been blessed with great sightings of the stunning and endangered wild dogs, with a pack of 28 and 6, that have both moving through the Timbavati and in and out of Kruger and Klasserie. There has also been some cheetah sightings in recent months, albeit few and far between, a special sighting of a lone male on an open plain, which was enjoyed by everyone one the reserve.
Guests have also been treated to fantastic sightings of hyenas at their den, with up to 18 individuals at one time, including some young cubs. Hyena will often change their den site if they feel threatened or disturbed, so it was a real privilege to watch them at home, and massive thanks to all guides for showing them respect and consideration. The mothers have a high success rate in rearing their cubs if you compare them to many other predators, as they provide a secure and stable home with cubs often staying at the den site for up to 2 years. On one particular morning my tracker Albert noticed some drag marks in the dirt so he got me off the vehicle, and showed me the mark with the hyena track and said “misi khaya” which means hyena home. This suggested that a hyena dragged an animal they had killed back to their den, which was at least 1km away. We drove to the “mhisi kyaya” to see more drag marks and as we approached, sure enough, there were hyenas everywhere enjoying the spoils of the kill, what a great mother! The cubs regularly even came to inspect our vehicles and their inquisitive faces were too cute for words.
I wish everyone great times and everyone here at Kings Camp is looking forward to welcoming you soon, to share a piece of our world, here in The Timbavati.