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Rangers Bush Diary

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Kambaku Wildlife Highlights - September 2014

Another fantastic month in the bush has passed, and true to form the sightings have been fantastic. The bush continues to get drier by the day and we are patiently waiting for the first rains, although the first signs of springs are here. Brightly coloured flowers can be seen around almost every corner. The Tree Wisteria “Bolusanthis speciosus” are most conspicuous, flushing the bush with beautiful clusters of purple mauve flowers. The species name “speciosus” literally means beautiful!


Zebras Hippo

The spectacular sprays of a Sjambok pod “Cassia abbreviata” are also in flower!

The Lions of the Timbavati

Ross Pride

The “Ross Pride” made many appearances on both of our properties this month and every time we saw them they were either on a kill or showing signs of recently feasting! We are also very happy to report that the four cubs in the pride are in excellent condition.


Zebras Zebras Zebras Zebras

Giraffe Pride (The White Lions of Timbavati)

The pride finally introduced four of their cubs to us. There are three white cubs and one tawny cub. Normally only one in seven cubs makes it to adulthoods so the chances of all of these cubs surviving through to sexual maturity is low – but in the meantime we are looking forward to watching them develop. The pride is quite large so we are hoping that they manage the very difficult task in raising these iconic cats for which the Timbavati is so renowned for!

Zebras Zebras

The Mabundi coalition of two males

We ventured further north a couple of times to admire these two very large males. After a brutal pride take over in the north of the reserve they finally took charge of the last remaining “Machaton Pride” female. She hasn’t been sighted for a number of days so we think she that may be baring cubs and looking for a safe place to give birth. We’re rather excited to see what’s going to happen with this pride structure in the near future!


Zebras Zebras Zebras

Southern Males

These three males suddenly appeared about four months ago and we believe that they are definitely here to stay! We were very fortunate to see them on a number of different occasions traversing through both Kambaku River Sands and Kambaku Safari Lodge properties. We also saw them mating with one of the “Ross Pride” females, but they soon left to patrol their very large territory! They always seem to look in better shape every time we see them and a real treat for all Kambaku guests.

Zebras Zebras Zebras

Machaton males

Due to way too much competition they have ventured way further south, so we haven’t seen them around very much recently. They did however make an appearance once as we found them following a large herd of buffalo, but unfortunately for them no luck came their way! They are looking in good condition, so let’s hope that they stay out of the way of the large males long enough to establish a proper territory one day!


The Leopards of Timbavati

Marula and her cubs keep on providing our guests with excellent viewing opportunities. As a first time mother she is doing phenomenally well in raising these two cubs. Here she is giving one of her cubs some motherly attention.


Zebras Zebras Zebras Zebras
Rock Fig Junior and her cub

Rock Fig Junior has graced us on countless occasions this month. Her blue eyed cub is doing very well and growing bigger by the day. She is slowly moving further east.


The Machaton male coalition

They made a number of appearances on both our properties following large herds of Buffalo we’ve had around lately! They are growing bigger every time we seem them. Who knows, maybe they will be a strong force to reckon with in the next few years to come.


Zebras Zebras Zebras Zebras

Avoca Ghost

Our very large resident male has made his usual appearances, always surprising us when we least expect it. We found him with a nyala which he had killed and hoisted high up into a Marula tree. This was truly amazing as we could actually spend more time admiring this huge male leopard.


Twins Dam cub
Zebras Zebras

This youngster is on the verge of becoming an independent male leopard. He is often seen at Kambaku River Sands. With just a little bit of patience comes a great reward with this young male leopard and he is becoming more and more relaxed around vehicles.


New Leopards to our area
Zebras Zebras

This new relaxed female leopard has been seen just further north of “River Sands”. We are not quite sure exactly where she came from, but she has given us some pretty fantastic sightings. Let’s hope she continues to make her unexpected appearances!


Elephant sightings have just been fantastic at all the waterholes, especially in the late afternoons. After sightings of elephant bulls have proven to be rather scarce we finally managed to find quite a few around. It’s always great to see the large bulls around. There have also been a lot of very small calves too which always gives a fantastic atmosphere on the vehicle as they often tend to mock charge us!


Zebras Zebras


With the bush getting drier and water getting more scarce Buffalo sightings have been countless. Whenever the large herds weren’t around we always had the “Dagga Boys” to entertain us. These two Dagga Boys did well in that department as they gave some great action sorting each other out!

Zebras Zebras


Wild Dogs

If there was ever a time to see wild dogs it was this month. We were very fortunate to find the new denning site. The four pups are doing very well. Even the pup with the dislocated leg is managing to keep up with the rest of the pack. It looks like the pack has moved on now as we found the whole pack far away from the denning site.


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Cheetahs are the most endangered predators in Africa due to too much competition with other predators’ cheetah are rarely sighted, but we did however cross paths with two brothers quite close to Kambaku River Sands camp. It’s always such a treat to come across these highly endangered predators!


We were very fortunate to find a new hyena denning site! This has just been fantastic as cubs of all sizes entertain Kambaku guests with their strange and curious behaviour!

Zebras Zebras

Interesting Birds
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The clear blue skies we’ve been having have revealed some fantastic raptor sightings. This endangered Lappet Faced Vulture surprised us early in the morning as we found him awaiting the first sign of warm sun rays.

Here’s also a Martial Eagle in flight, giving our guests some fantastic photographic opportunities! Martial Eagles are the largest of all eagles in Southern Africa and it’s always a delight to cross paths with these impressive raptors.

It’s always good to pay close attention to things that may seem very common. You never know what you may find. We found these rarely seen Yellow billed Oxpeckers perched on the back of a Buffalo. The Red billed Oxpeckers are mostly dominating this area!


Zebras Zebras Hippo


Other Interesting Sightings

These two Hippo males in dispute created some excellent viewing for a few days as we found them close to “River Sands” lodge battling it out for dominance. This small herd of Elephants had front row seats!

Other Interesting Sightings

Our camera traps caught a lot of visitors to camp. We had frequent visitors like Waterbuck, Kudu and Zebra.

Even the Wild Dogs made a few visits running past the lodge Waterhole!


Zebras Hippo Hippo

The Red headed weaver’s is nesting in camp this year. Here are some great photos of the male hard at work constructing one of the impressive nests they are so well known for. Let’s hope that the male exceeds the female’s expectations, so that they can stick around for us to admire them at brunch time!


Zebras Hippo

Kambaku Wildlife Highlights - August 2014

As the year progresses, the bush dries out day by day, but this definitely didn’t deter some fantastic sightings this month. Temperatures have been going up into the thirties and we had some very unexpected rain one night, so all our waterholes have provided great game viewing. This Hippo made great use of the warm afternoons we’ve been experiencing!

Zebras Wildlife Hippo

The Leopards of the Timbavati

Marula Female

Marula finally introduced her two cubs to us this month - one male and one female. So far she has proven to be a good mother - hiding the cubs very well. Luckily, we managed to successfully track them down on more than one occasion!


Leopard Leopard in tree

Rock Fig Junior

Rock Fig Junior has once again given birth to a blue eyed cub and has been making a lot of appearances lately. We are very happy to report that both her and the cub are in excellent condition and they have been presenting Kambaku guests with phenomenal sightings! Let’s hope she continues with a job well done in mothering this cub!

Leopard on mound on sand

Leopard cleaning

Ntombi and her two cubs

A new cycle has been completed as Ntombi’s two male cubs are now independent. There are reports of her mating again so we are looking rather forward to welcome more cubs in our area of operation in the next few months to come.

Leopard cub Leopard Mother Leopard grasslands

She has proven to be an excellent mother in raising these two males.

Leopard Walking

Avoca Ghost

Now that we are in the peak of the dry season spotting this very large and secretive male has been a lot easier. He’s made many appearances lately around “River Sands” camp. We even had him coming through the camp
a few times.

Leopard tree close up Leopard tree

Thumbela Female and her two cubs

Due to too much competition from her mother, she has been pushed a lot further to the east. Sightings of her and her two cubs have been scarce, but she did however grace our guests with a sighting or two! So far she has proven to be a very resourceful mother as well!

Lion eating
Lion attacking a Buffalo Lion after kill

The Lions of the Timbavati

Ross Pride

After months of no tracks or signs, the whole Ross pride made their return in more ways than just one! The pride is about 12 strong and we are very happy to report that they are all in top shape! We also found them on a Giraffe kill that kept us entertained for a few days! Let’s hope the keep on making more appearances!

White Lion Female White LionLion couple
Giraffe Pride (The White Lions of Timbavati)

We have great news! We had reports that three White and four Tawny cubs had been welcomed into the pride! Unfortunately we don’t have photos to share yet, but we can’t wait for them to surprise us soon! The whole pride seems to be doing very well and in excellent condition!


Young Lion Lion sunsetYoung Lions
The Machaton male coalition

They made a number of appearances on both our properties following large herds of Buffalo we’ve had around lately! They are growing bigger every time we seem them. Who knows, maybe they will be a strong force to reckon with in the next few years to come.


Male Lion Male Lion restingMale Lion late afternoon

The Mabundi Males

They have now formed a pride with the last remaining female of the “Machaton Pride”. We headed up North a couple of times to admire these two males and Lioness. We are very eager to see what happens with this new structure and gift to our traversing area!


Buffalo Buffalo river bank

Since the temperature climaxed into the thirties, all our waterholes have proven to be rather productive with Elephants.

Both properties have provided some excellent Elephant viewing as we virtually found them around every corner. We even had a few sightings of very large herds consisting of more than seventy individuals!


Wild dog

As always our waterholes attracted a lot of very large herds of Buffalo. We have also crossed paths with quite a few “Dagga Boys” as the old males are often nicknamed. In the late afternoons they can often be found at Kambaku dam wallowing in the mud to cool them down and soothe their skin from the old battle wounds!

Wild dog and pups Wild dog pups

African Wild Dogs
Wild dog pup

After weeks of patiently waiting, the pups finally came out of their den. This is the first time in years we’ve been lucky enough to enjoy this wonderful gift to our area. Unfortunately one of the pups injured his leg quite badly, but he is still in very good condition. It looks like he is slowly recovering! Another pack has also made a few appearances at “River Sands” as some very lucky Kambaku guests found themselves right in the middle of some great predator and prey interaction!


Cheetah sitting Cheetah

For the first time in more than three months we were finally blessed by this Cheetah far on the Western sector of our traversing area. It’s always such a delight to spend time with these endangered predators. Let’s hope next month will provide more Cheetahs to our area!


Other Interesting Sightings

Bird sightings have also been unreal this month. We can already see some of the African migrants like the “Wahlberg’s Eagles” returning for the summer ahead, including the pale morph form. This Crowned Lapwings made for some phenomenal photo opportunities!


Crowned Lapwing Eagle and Black Mumba Brown Snake Eagle


We came across this very interesting sighting of a Brown Snake Eagle tangled up in a tree with the Black Mamba he tried to catch. It’s not always the predators that end up on top!

The night drives on the way back to camp is always very exciting as we get in touch with the more secretive nightlife.
This rarely seen White tailed Mongoose was more than happy to pose for a quick photo!

With help of the rangers and trackers Bush Babies can be found jumping from tree to tree to entertain everyone.
There’s usually a lot of laughter involved!

We were also quite fortunate to get a snap shot of this African Civet
foraging into the night!

Bush Baby Civet