Warmest greetings to all of you in this very last month of the year!
We hope that you have had an awesome holiday, a blessed Christmas and that the New Year will bring you lots of love, adventure and prosperity!
December has been a very busy month for us here at the Lodge, and although we have had a wonderful Christmas ourselves, this festive period is always a lot more ‘Oh, oh, oh!’ than ‘Ho, ho, ho!’ for us bush babies living at Tuningi!
It goes without saying that our guests get to join in all of the astounding sightings and wonderful adventures we get up to every day!
In December we still saw every animal on every guest’s wish list, but it was all mostly about the new born baby animals found around every corner and the astounding way in which the abundance of colorful birds are building nests everywhere. There is the most wonderful cheerfulness in the air, as most of them have found new love and have started extending their families, too. In short; Nature is setting the mood at the moment, and that is one of pure joy and excitement!
I asked Grant to tell you in his own words how they found the new born baby lions:
“As most of you probably know it is the rainy season and that means there are plenty of little hooves (and 20 little paws…..but coming to that) running around. At the moment there is an explosion of baby impala and wildebeest. When we go out early mornings and we stumble into a herd of impala or of wildebeest the first thing you see is the babies all clustered together in a crèche almost on top of one another to keep warm. There will be one or two adults to keep an eye out while their young are sleeping.
Now for the big news! We have been missing the two Tshabala females for quite some time now. We have seen no tracks or signs of them. Until one morning I found one of them walking towards Phiri hill and I could see something was different in her behavior and appearance, she was clearly lactating with dirty nipples. That only means one thing…..NEW CUBS! After that morning we haven’t seen any trace of them anywhere. At least we knew they were still alive and with a few new additions to the pride. That got us all buzzing and more determined to find them. The morning of the 10th of November myself and Gavin decided to go south and see if we could get lucky with some lions.
In the distance I could see a few small figures running around and bouncing up and down. At first I had no clue, when a large tawny shape appeared from underneath a Buffalo Thorn with ears flat, snarling lips and tail twitching up and down when she saw us. Then I knew it was them!! I started counting 1,2,3….and there were 5 cubs with the 2 females. And I quietly said: “Well done girls”. I could see they were very skittish and aware of the vehicle. It was probably the first time these cubs have seen a land cruiser.
I got on the radio and called Gavin to come and join. We didn’t really follow them because the mothers are so overly protective. So we gave them space and they went back to the hill where they were born. Gavin and I and even the guests were so excited! Because I was the first ranger to find them I got to name them as well, so I decided on Maropeng youngsters. That means Place of origin. Before lionesses give birth they leave the pride for a few weeks and seek shelter on a rocky outcrop or thick cover where she then gives birth. After the birth she moves the cubs to a safer place. The reason for this is to get the cubs away from the scent of the birth; hyenas and other lions pick it up very quickly. When the cubs are strong enough to keep up she will go and introduce them to the pride and the males. The Maropeng youngsters’ fathers are the Kgala Etali males.
On the 27th of December I went out to look for a leopard the guys had spotted the previous night on the Western airstrip. We drove along slowly scanning every Marula tree and bush. My eye then caught fresh lion tracks on the road. I followed them for a while and they went off on an elephant path. I left it there and then Malcolm spotted a Red Hartebeest. We stopped to view him and we could see he was focused on something, so we waited a few minutes. Then I heard it to our right. Cubs fighting over food! What a sound those little ones can make. I got out of the vehicle and walked in about a 100 meters. I stood behind a tree where I could see clearly how the cubs were dominating one another over the fresh wildebeest. The lioness saw me and kindly asked me to back off in her own loving way. We then went in with the vehicle. The lions backed off from the kill and I switched off. It wasn’t long before the hungry cubs returned and gave us a sighting of a lifetime. What a Christmas present!! Hope you guys enjoyed the big news!
Bush greetings from Tuningi Grant
Well, there you have it from a Ranger’s heart!
All of us here at Tuningi want to thank you for your continued support through the years, and want to assure you once again that it is the highlight of our year when we see you guys coming back on a return visit!
Please don’t stop coming and send your friends, because your friends will be our friends in a minute! We can’t wait to see you all in the New Year!
I am sending you photos of all of us to remind you of the warm and friendly people who make up the UNFORGETTABLE TUNINGI TEAM.
We are busy setting up our Tuningi profile on Facebook and thus would love to change the ‘one way’ newsletter into a ‘two way’ conversation. Please be on the lookout for that!
Until we chat again next year.
With warmest regards
Heidi and the T-team
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