Spring at last. Almost overnight, after a good splash of water hit the dry, thirsty land of the Timbavati, now enveloped with a carpet of crisp green vegetation, dotted with the vibrant yellow of the Sjambok trees (Cassia Abbreviata). There is a sweet smell in the air with all of the new blossoms and an atmosphere of sheer joy as the herbivores breathe a sigh of relief after finally breaking through the barren days of winter.
One of the symbols of spring is the male Red-crested Korhaan’s seemingly suicidal mating display. 15 to 17 clicks of the beak followed by a high pitched crescendo and the bird launches itself high into the sky, usually from a termite mound, then wings tucked in, it plummets vertically to the ground, but before contact it spreads its wings and lands to safety, all to advertise its territory and attract the ladies.
A great deal of excitement stirred up when one early morning we discovered a fully grown buffalo cow with the two Ross males on top of it. Two days later the carcass was bare and the lions had left the remains for the patient and ravenous hyaenas. It was true pandemonium as these frothy mouthed carnivores tore through the carcass. The sound of bones crunching reverberated through the still evening air.
The rest of the Ross pride has been hanging around as well. One of the young females even had a small case of Foot-in-Mouth with the hoof of a buffalo wedged in her teeth. Something I have never witnessed before and definitely an experience she will learn from as that could not have been pleasant!
On a more sombre note, the old female of the Ross pride has become part of the earth now as she didn’t make it through one of Africa’s harsh nights. However, we can take solace in the fact that she did not go before her time.
The 12 lions of the Avoca Pride also made an appearance down in the south. These lazy cats were heaped together throughout the day until the night carried them away. They were gone as quickly as they came. We also had three lionesses with six cubs that are just shy of a year old in the north. This pride has made a few appearances.
There have been some fantastic wilddog sightings lately. We saw 9 pups and 7 adults trotting along the tarred Argyle road until an impala caught their attention and they shot into the bush at a high pace. Remember also spotted a male and female with their two pups having a nap next to a watering hole until the youngsters had a burst of energy and decided to explore their vast new world.
We also saw a cheetah take down a steenbok on the airstrip. One’s eyes could barely keep up with the scene. One minute the cheetah was looking fairly relaxed soaking up the day’s last rays on a termite mound and the next it was on top of the helpless antelope. The scene got more exciting as the day went on, as Grant witnessed the hyaenas closing in on the cheetah only half-full. The cat leapt at one of the hyaenas and swiped it across the head in defence of its well-earned prey. This was to no avail as the scavengers’ numbers grew too great for this slender female.
There has been an interesting development on the leopard front. Rockfig Junior and her cub of 16 months, Nyalethi, have been in the company of Marula’s male cub around the same age as her. After Rockfig Junior’s apparent adoption of this nomadic male, she left to go on her own mission, leaving a disgruntled Nyalethi to be closely tailed by the young male. She, being quite the diva, doesn’t seem too impressed with the whole situation. Every time she gets up in the heat of the day to get a bit of space, he ignores her blatant snarls and moves to the same little patch of shade as her. This continues all day.
The thought behind these peculiar leopard dynamics are just speculation, but it seems that because of the disappearance of the young male’s sister a few months ago, in addition to Marula’s less than tentative mothering, he is perhaps trying to fill a void and is still too young to feel comfortable being on his own. Or perhaps, I am seeing the situation through human emotion and maybe he is just looking for an easy meal. One of the beauties of the bush is that we will just never know.Well that’s all the news that I have for you for now. We will keep you posted with any updates regarding the trio of leopards and the various prides of lions roaming the Timbavati.
Thanks for reading,