New Kids On The Block: Timbavati Tales #7
So, after my 10-week break from the bush, I am finally back where I belong in the Timbavati! And wow, what a difference from when I left in February! The reserve is starting to take shape again after the damage floods caused at the start of the year, and the bush has finally started thinning out enough to make for better game viewing – the April rush is also over, so it is nice and quiet out there, and we could often do an entire drive without seeing another soul, which is always special.
Being back in the bush, I was dead keen to “meet” some of the new faces in the reserve, in particular the two young leopard cubs belonging to two of our resident leopardesses. While both were born at the end of 2011, our rangers always showed respect to them as small, vulnerable cubs, and thus didn’t get much proper viewing of them; however, at 5-months old now, they are very happy to be around the vehicles and put on a show for the guests and guides alike.
It was thus with great delight that the morning before my first game drive we stumbled upon a fresh impala kill (and being the middle of the impala’s rutting season, it is no surprise to see just how many of these bad boys ended up as leopard fodder!), and over the next few days I was treated to a couple of sightings of Rockfig Jnr’s new blue-eyed boy! Now, that is not just an expression; he really has gorgeous grey-blue eyes, just like his older sister and grandmother had! His playful demeanour and stunning beauty took all of 2-minutes to work their way into my heart, and he has already cemented himself as a firm favourite in my books!
Luckily for this cub, his mother is an excellent hunter, and only a couple of days after finishing the first kill, we were able to follow the two leopards as they made their way back to (yet another) male impala kill that Rockfig Jnr had made in the morning! This kill was totally opportunistic, as she had in fact already been on her way to fetch the young cub to take him to another kill when she stumbled upon an impala herd and grabbed another one!
It was not only this young boy that was enjoying a bounty of food, but a couple of kilometres to the west, his soon-to-be-adversary was also relishing the rutting season. Nthombi, another successful mother and accomplished killer, too has a young male cub of the same age as Rockfig Jnr’s boy, although he has the usual, gorgeous, golden eyes that seem to stare straight through you! These two leopards were also found making their way back to a male impala kill, and spent about 4 days feasting on it, providing us with more lovely sightings and interactions of these leopards; I always find such sightings a wonderful treat, as one usually expects to see leopards as solitary cats with little interaction.
So with those two boys having shown themselves so nicely, we now await Argyle Jnr’s young boy to start playing along too in the north; while she has sadly lost one of the cubs, being the good mother that she is will no doubt give the young boy a chance to grow to adulthood...although, our long-lost dominant male of the north made his first appearance in over three months, and as he is not the one that sired this latter cub, his return to complicate issues for the mother! Luckily, the leopard that did sire this boy, Machaton male, has too been seen feasting on – you guessed it – another male impala, so with his ever increasing size and grip on the northern portions of the Timbavati, I wonder just how long the old ruler, Argyle male, will still be allowed to wander in and out as he pleases!
I guess only time will tell, but don’t worry, because when it does, I will he here to tell you all about it!