Wildlife report for April 2011

By Patrick O’Brien on May 19, 2011

The Timbavati is still amazingly green and lush for late April and this is due to excellent rain that we received at the end of March.

Cloudy and cool conditions dominated most of the month of April with a few very cold days experienced. The migrant birds have all started to gather and congregate in preparation for the migratory journey to the northern parts of Africa and as far as Europe.

The wildlife sightings were plentiful and it was especially pleasing to see large numbers of giraffe and zebra herds daily in near vicinity to the camp. As we left the camp on drive at 06h00 in the morning, we were frequently confronted with no less than 12 giraffes standing at the entrance of the camp. A great way to start anyone‘s day! Large herds of buffalo are currently moving in the area and it is not impossible to see many as 600 during a single game drive.Sunrise at Makulu dam
The Machaton pride still produces the majority of our lion sightings especially now that they have 9 cubs in the pride. Both lactating females are looking good and manage to provide for the ravenous cubs with no problem. Game is abundant at the moment and the lionesses are working non stop to feed the family. Prey killed included several impala, one zebra and one wildebeest.
Timbavati male and cubs with Zebra kill
The most astounding sighting for the month was when the pride was located one very cold morning resting in the open plains on the Eastern side of our reserve. Only a few vehicles responded to the sighting as they were not doing much at the time. Later on in the morning, a vehicle went to check on them only to find that they had killed a Zebra and were feasting. They must have just killed it that morning after the last vehicle had left them. When I arrived twenty-five minutes later, every lion member in the pride including one of the Timbavati males were feeding. The lionesses together with the cubs fed from the one side of the carcass while the big boss feasted on his own on the opposite side of the Zebra. After about twenty minutes, one of the lionesses suddenly got up and moved away from the kill leaving the remaining two lionesses and the cubs continuing to feed. This immediate change in number of adult females at the kill allowed the male to exert pressure and dominance over the other two and in a flash he yanked the remains of the Zebra away from the pride. He dragged it off a distance to the cover of a nearby tree to feed. Amazingly though the unperturbed male allowed his 9 offspring to feed happily with him on the carcass but the lionesses were not welcome. This kind of behaviour is not commonly seen amongst male lions. Most of the time male lions will claim all rights to a kill and prevent other members of the pride including cubs from feeding from the same carcass with him. I have seen this behaviour before in a male we knew as Woza Woza that once controlled the Kings area as his territory.
Intense feeding
Mother and cub relaxing after the meal
Ntombi leopardess and her sub adult son were frequently seen on our game drives. He had his first birthday last month and is thriving having equalled the body size of his mother already. The growth rate of a male leopard cub is astonishing equalling his mom size at just over a year and continuing to grow rapidly until adult size. He still lacks confidence around the game drive vehicles and I am sure that he will remain slightly nervous in the future. The only reasons I can think of is that we are all have different personalities even the leopards do. Extra caution is taken when he is viewed as not to stress him. He did however impress us all at the end of the month when he claimed his first large kill, a young impala. What really impressed me the most was when he took his kill up into a tree. Not only is he proving to be a competent hunter but also a fast learner.

Another piece of valuable news is that I am convinced that our most precious female leopard, Rock fig Jnr is pregnant again. I noticed that she looked as if her tummy was distinctly distended at the last sighting of her near to the camp. If this is correct then it would be safe to say that we could have new leopard cubs shortly.
Xinoppe male leopard
Large breeding herds of elephants moved in and out of the area daily. On certain days we had to search for a long time in order to find them and then the next day as you leave the lodge for the drive you bump into them on your doorstep. Large numbers of calves were seen in the herds and my feeling is that we are seeing different family groups mixed together to form larger breeding herds at this time of the year. I also think they are benefiting from the green vegetation found along the Nharalumi River after the good rains I mentioned earlier.
Winter is around the corner now and shortly the veld conditions will change making life more difficult and challenging for the animals to sustain peak condition.
As mentioned in the last report, buffalo herds are back in our area in large numbers and it is quite a sight to see more than 300 bovines feeding around a land rover. Occasionally the guests feel a bit nervous to be surrounded by such a large number of animals but we reassure our guests that all is fine and that they don‘t have to be anxious.
Breeding herd of Elephant
Breeding herd of 300 Cape Buffalo
Female buffalo and calf
That is all for this month‘s dear friends and guests. I hope you enjoyed the report.

From all of us at Kings Camp, have a great month.

Warm Regards

Patrick O‘Brien.
Head Guide of Kings Camp
Photography: By Patrick O’Brien.

16 thoughts on “Wildlife report for April 2011

  1. Dear Patrick,

    I totally agree with Warren: All pictures are great – as usual! 🙂 – but the one with the male lion and the cup is extraordinary georgeous!!!! 🙂 Can?t wait to see Rockfig Juniors?cubs on the blog… and the young adults in April next year! Lot?s of love to all of you!!

    Take care…


  2. Hi Patrick,

    I need to echo Warren & Verena’s comments, the photo of the male lion and the cub is priceless!

    Well done!


  3. Hi Patrick,

    As always, your pictures are awesome! And reading your updates about the animals is so interesting…Can’t wait to be back in September!

    Best Regards,

    Karen & Jeff

  4. Hi Patrick, another vote for the most favorite pic "Greeting"….could not get any cuter or heart-warming!

    Stay well, stay safe.

    Kindest regards.


    ps…all the other pics were appreciated also.

  5. Patrick, AWESOME images! Glad to hear Rockfig Jnr is pregnant again, the more leopards the better. There is nowhere on earth like Timbavati!

    Love to all


  6. really good pictures – so good to see the updates every month and looking forward to our next visit next week.

    love to all


  7. Thank you for sharing the photo of the beautiful Timbavati landscape, as well as the amazing moments you are capturing of the animals. As always the narrtive is interesting informative, insightful and inspiring.

  8. I always look forward to your reports. I enjoy the way you repot/stories on the animals. It’s like they are part of the family. Love your photo’s too. How about a few more?

  9. Great stuff. Cannot wait to return to your wonderful camp. So glad all the cubs are bouncing aloag and are healthy and looked after.Your monthly newsletters are really looked forward to.WE will return asap

    All the very best

    Dave & Vicki Price


  10. Hallo Warren and Lisha.

    Thank you a lot to remember me and I`m always

    very happy about you.

    I always think about your paradise Lodge with

    my wounderfull experience there.

    Thanks also about your wounderfull pictures it

    give me a lot of happyneses.

    I do everythink to return and I hope next year at the same period.

    Thank you so much, I remember you always.


  11. Patrick, your photos are truly breathtaking. Apart from your empathy with the animals and your skill as a photographer, you also have an artist’s eye. Wonderful. Greetings to all at Kings Camp from Dublin . Geralyn

  12. Hi all!

    So happy to learn that the leopard ladies and Ntombi’s boy are doing well.

    Anything on the white lions? Am reading Linda Tucker’s book about them and their significance to our planet..Patrick, wish we could talk about this.

    And, as usual, your pics are over the moon!

    Hugs to everyone.


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