The Month of March

by on March 28, 2012

in Leopards, Photography, Wildlife

As March comes to an end, so do the blisteringly hot days of summer at Londolozi. The season has definitely eased into the early annals of Autumn and the once overgrown grass of the January floods have steadily been grazed down by the herbivore species. March has provided fantastic game viewing, interesting lion dynamics and constant change as always. With Easter around the corner and the excitement of the Winter Calendar almost upon, its time to reflect on the month that was before we look forward into the future. Enjoy this month in pictures..

Full Moon at Taylors Crossing - Rich Laburn

Once a month, the full moon rises just as the sunsets on the opposite horizon. This time we caught it at Taylors Crossing, easing its ways into the night sky whilst the Sand River flows beneath.

Master Tracker Freddy Ngobeni - Rich Laburn

Going out on a game drive with Master Tracker Freddy Ngobeni on the front left trackers seat is always an inspiring adventure. Along with Talley, the two of them seem to track and find animals out of thin air, spot tiny birds nests in the dense scrub and generally impart with you with an enlightened understanding of this vast wilderness.

Dark Maned Majingilane Male - Rich Laburn

The Majingilane Males spent alot of time with the Sparta Pride this month. Very exciting to see this previously diminished pride go from strength to strength. With all the mating taking place, we hope to see numerous cubs born into what is now a very stable territory in central Londolozi for these males.

A fresh new scar - Rich Laburn

A fresh new scar for this warrior. We speculated for day what could have cause this and still have no answers. Whether it was a branch that caught him whilst running or a bite from a female, the pinpoint scar on his forehead will serve as yet another key identifying feature of the Hip Scar Majingilane Male.

The Marthly Male - Rich Laburn

The Marthly Male continues to hold a massive territory through much of Marthly and just south of the Sand River. His torn ear indicative of his aggressive and domineering personality, this male leopard is never far from the action, particularly when there are females around.

Mashaba Female in the Long Grass - Rich Laburn

The recently renamed Mashaba Female idles in the long grass as she patiently watches a nearby herd of impala. As she continues to be successful in her newly established territory, the next phase of her life will see new challenges and threats as she steadily matures into motherhood.

Sparta Lioness watching cubs - Rich Laburn

A lioness from the Sparta pride watches her growing cubs. With the Southern Pride taking over territory in the western sector and the two remaining Mapogos on the run, she will be grateful that her cubs hold the genes and protection of the dominant Majingilane Coalition.

A view of the Sand River - Rich Laburn

Marthly has been very wet and inaccessible since the floods of January 2012. Access to Marthly River road was finally opened this month and with it returned this spectacular viewing point of the Sand River.

Saddle Billed Stork looking for frogs - Rich Laburn

The endangered Saddle Billed Stork is a frequent visitor to Londolozi. A mating pair is often seen around the pans looking for frogs and small fish. In 2009 it was estimated that there are approximately 60 of these birds left in the Kruger National Park, a fact which makes us appreciate how lucky we are to continually experience and appreciate this magnificent bird.

Saddle Billed Stork taking off - Rich Laburn

The female Saddle Billed Stork taking off after feeding along with the above male.

Sparta Pride Cub - Rich Laburn

One of the Sparta pride cub stares at the approaching Majingilane male with a mischievous glint in his eye. The relationship between these cubs and the Majingilane is reassuring and entertaining to watch. Unlink the tension between the males and the Tsalala pride, these cubs are playful with the males, who will humor them up to a point.

Sparta Lioness close up - Rich Laburn

One of the Sparta lionesses offers a close up photograph of her face. The big scratch between her eyes will be used as a key identifying feature whenever she is spotted.

The Vomba Female - Rich Laburn

The Vomba Female in all her beauty. If you look closely you will see that her right eye has a distinctive line in the iris. I am not sure how she received this feature or if it was an accident of sorts. I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below if you do know or have any theories about this.

Male Lion at Sunset - Rich Laburn

The Scar Nosed Majingilane male watches the horizon at Sunset. A short distance away, the Dark maned male mates with the Sparta Lioness whilst the Hip Scarred Male listends to his vocalisations, obviously perturbed by the entrenched hierarchy. Perhaps this is what dominance and power actually is - glorious, striking and bold on the outside; yet jealous, maligned and insecure on the interior.

Storm Brewing - Rich Laburn

A final send off. The powerful thunderstorms of an African bushveld summer are incredible forces of nature to witness and offer amazing opportunities for photography. This particular electric storm has all but surrounded us before we packed up our gear and raced home, just in time to avoid being completely drenched.

A ray of sunlight - Rich Laburn

After the darkness...light. A golden ray of sunlight bursts through the clouds at sunset. Perhaps its another reminder, another metaphor that with the bad, comes the good, with the nights so to days and the with seasons the years. The natural world is fixed into a constant cycle of change that can be cruel in its chaos yet beautiful in its rebirth. The change of this season signalled the change of an era and the ever shifting trends and counter trends that make this wild world so dynamic. As the balmy winter approaches, one can only wonder what the future will hold for all of us as we continue to live in our own changing and chaotic worlds...

Photographed by: Rich Laburn


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  • Paul

    The two mapogos Mak and PB look to be in great shape.

    • Rich Laburn

      Thanks for the update Paul.

    • Rich Laburn

      Thanks for the update Paul.

  • Sheena

    Beautiful Rich, what a stunning world we live in, lets take care of it.

    • Rich Laburn

      I agree Sheena, thanks for your comments. rich

  • Stella

    What frantastic photographs. Just makes me want to be out in the bush. Thanks.

    • Rich Laburn

      Thanks Stella, I hope to see you at Londoz in the near future. rich

  • Juan

    Hi Rich

    Great photo’s

    I just want to know what your take is on the chances of the Matimba’s moving south to Londolozi ..?

    • Rich Laburn

      Hi Juan,

      One can only speculate about the movements off the Matimbas south, which I would rather not do at this stage. Perhaps in time, once new dynamics come into play, we will do a write up with some thoughts. We will keep you posted, rich

  • Patrik D.H.

    Dear Rich,
    Fantastic collection of photographs! Thanks for sharing.
    The picture with the male lion in front of the horizon at sunset is incredibly intense.

    Well I also have some questions, which I put on the Londo-fb-page, but maybe noone noticed it.
    It was on the posting dt. 21st March 2012 on the subject of the weekly sightings, referring on the sightings of the 10-14 days prior to the 21st March, so here again the questions, hope you are able to answer some:
    Dear Londolozi, dear Adam and Rich, could you please specify with which Majingilane BB was mating ? Seems that Dark Mane was away recently with the Styx-pride, so just wondering whether he is back, or which other guy took over with BB ? Also the Majingilanes were mating with 2 Sparta lionesses ? Can you tell us which one, or were all 3 taking happy turns, thus Golden Mane also getting his share ?

    Thanks, Patrik

    • Rich Laburn

      I am not sure which Majingilane BB was mating with.
      The Dark maned male is still north of the property with the Styx pride as far as I know. He may have moved last night, however that remains to be seen.
      The males who were mating with the Sparta Lioness can be seen on a post we put out a few weeks ago: http://blog.londolozi.com/2012/03/majingilane-mates-with-sparta-lioness/

      Thanks for your interest,

      rich

  • James Tyrrell

    Hi Rich,
    a great series of pics. A minor correction to the Saddle Billed Stork photos, though- the first photo is a male while the second is a female, and therefore not the same bird. Males of the species can be identified by the yellow wattle hanging from their bills near the base, whilst the females are identified by the yellow ring around their eyes.

    • Rich Laburn

      Thanks for that correction James, I have amended in the post. Will remember this fact for the future,

      rich

  • Kate Albert

    Thank you Rich for the lovely photos. I particularly liked the saddlebacked stork about to take off.

    • Rich Laburn

      Haha, I thought you might Kate. I actually thought of you when I saw this pair. :-) Thanks for your comments, rich

  • Anna

    Once again, we are so lucky to have you out there with your camera, passion and talent Rich! We are so beyond fortunate to live in such a beautiful place.

    • Rich Laburn

      I completely agree Anna, its a wonderful privilege to be able to share the magic of this place in photographs to the rest of the world. rich

  • Paul

    I have heard that BB are injured?

    • Rich Laburn

      Yes, she was mauled by male lions north of Marthly. We are not 100% sure if it was the Matimbas or Majingilane’s who are the cause of it. This is all the information we know so far.

  • Judes

    Just love all the “moody” skies in the pics, only in Africa!!!!! :)

  • Patrik D.H.

    Dear Rich,

    Just some additional questions came up, hope you don’t mind:
    - the side portrait of the male lion, is it the golden maned: well then his mane is darkening significantly
    - the other one with the wound on his forehead, isn’t it the hipscarred lion (pale eyes)
    In general, did you observe that DarkMane was absent a lot recently ? We read he is spending a lot of his time with the Styx-pride. This would mean that the other 3 are the ones mainly occupied with the mating sessions with the Eyrefield-females. In a week-in-pictures I think from end February, there was one lioness also pregnant, any news on this ? And finally, do these 3 Majingilanes have contact with BB and the 2 sisters ? Have their relations with the Tsalalas improved, or are the females still all on their own ? Thanks for any additional informations you can give us.

    • Rich Laburn

      The side portrait is of the Dark Maned Male, not the Golden maned male
      The male with the wound on his forehead is the hip scarred male, you are correct my apologies
      The dark maned male has been spending time with the Styx pride and has thus been absent. The mating sessions with the Sparta pride ended a while ago.
      The lioness who was pregnant has had cubs, however we have not been viewing this lioness and her cubs owing to the fact that we wish to be sensitive to them whilst they are at such a young age. We will keep you updated once they are old enough to be viewed properly.
      As I mentioned to a couple of the other comments, I am not entirely sure of the full story with the Tailless Female and her injuries. Whether they resulted from the Majingilane Males or the Matimbas remains to be seen.
      The Majingilanes have not spent much time with the Tsalala pride recently as they have been preoccupied with the Sparta Pride.

      It is also important to remember that whilst we report on the movements and activities of these lions, it is impossible for us to witness everything and provide information on all movements at all times. Our reports are compiled on what rangers and guests have seen as well as what we may have heard from neighboring properties. We strive to be factually correct in our reporting, however as with any story, the facts can at times get misrepresented owing to human error. We will try our best to share as much as we know with you, however please bare with us if we cannot provide you with all the answers and stories that you are desperately searching for online. At time we also like to let the story unfold before we compile a post which contains a broader overview of the situation and happenings.

      Thanks again for your interest,

      rich

      • Patrik D.H.

        Dear Rich,
        Thanks for all your explanations and clarifications. We really appreciate and love these blogs and reports, even more knowing that your main business is taking people out into the wild, and that writing reports is just a slim part of all activities at Londolozi. I hope you don’t mind too much me asking as lot of questions. Best regards,Patrik

        • Rich Laburn

          That’s a pleasure Patrik, I dont mind you asking the questions at all. rich

  • Devin

    The scar on the dark maned Majingilane looks like a bullet hole. Is he the dominant male lion in the Majingilane coalition?

    • Rich Laburn

      Hi Devin, he appears to be although it is difficult to establish if there is just one dominant male in the coalition or he shares the dominance with the scar nosed male. rich

  • Syl

    Interesting that the Majingilane has the new scar. BB is badly injured. I wonder if there’s any connection?

    • Rich Laburn

      I dont think so Syl, this image was taken before BB got injured.

  • Teneale Holley

    Awesome pics!!!!

    • Rich Laburn

      Thanks T, glad you like them. I hope they come to good use in your presentation. rich

  • Kerry Coats

    Wishing JV a speedy recovery!!!

  • http://ardenzal@yahoo.com Arden Zalman

    Thank you again for the magnificent pictures. Will be back next March & hope to see the babies all grown up ready for action!

    • Rich Laburn

      Awesome to hear Arden, looking forward to seeing you back in March. If things continue to go well for these cubs, they will be much bigger when next you visit. We will keep you posted until then, rich

  • Judy Guffey

    I have a closeup, full face photo of Freddy from Nov. 2010 that is just about my favorite photo out of 1500 that I took while at Londolozi. Freddy was/is fantastic! Can’t wait to see him again this December.

  • Rich Laburn

    And we cant wait to see you again Judy. You are right, Freddy is fantastic both in the bush and on camera. I will pass on your regards. Thanks for your comments as always, rich

  • Keith Cox

    Hi Rich ,fantastic pictures , and good news on the lion front it seems that in the Majingilane territory piece reigns ,it would be great to some cubs raised to maturity. Thanks again .Keith