It’s going to be strange seeing a change in the patterns of animals as the drought starts to break. A lot of animals tend to be creatures of habit, and when conditions are necessarily limiting, as they have been for the last while, creatures will often become well established in their movements.
When tracking the Tsalala pride, for instance, we know they have been spending a lot of time in the boulder fields of the Sand River because of the ease of hunting in the area, so one of the ranger-tracker teams will invariably go and check up ahead around the rocks whilst the others stay on the tracks. And quite often, there they are, and a whole lot of tracking time can be saved.
That’s not to say it’s always that easy, but there has been a fair amount of consistency in the predator movement on the reserve.
As the season changes (it’s pouring with rain as I type this and thunder is rumbling overhead!) the amount of predictability will disappear, and we will have to work far harder to find the lions in particular, but the seasonal shift is riveting, and life is already bursting out which ever way we turn. The resilience of nature is remarkable.

While we await the birth of the first impala lamb of the season, enjoy this Week in Pictures…


The Tsalala pride have been spending an inordinate amount of time in the Sand River lately, and the large granite boulders opposite Tree Camp have become a favourite spot of theirs. Here one of the cubs looks towards where one of the Matimba males was lying nearby. f5, 1/1250, ISO 800


Signs of the times. A lot has been written recently about the excessive amount of lion-buffalo interaction during the drought, but on this occasion the buffalo bulls were able to fend off the attack by the Mhangeni breakaway pride. Had the pride not been full from a buffalo kill the previous night, they might have been a bit more persistent in their attack. f5.6, 1/1250, ISO 1250


A whitebacked vulture perches atop a buffalo carcass. f5.6, 1/300s, ISO 1000


Another whitebacked vulture at the same kill uses the last of the evening light to find a roosting spot. f5.6, 1/4000s, ISO 800


With around 30mm of rain having fallen in the last couple of days, the pans are starting to fill up again, and the elephant herds have been taking full advantage. f6.3, 1/400, ISO 320


A young Mhangeni cub looks towards where its sibling was approaching to steal its portion of buffalo meat. Cubs are competitive from an early age at carcasses; especially with male cubs, this rivalry will help them establish a hierarchy which will sometimes remain throughout their lives should they stick together in a coalition. f7.1, 1/400s, ISO 800


Getting low can accentuate the size of an animal when photographing it. This giraffe was quite a young one, but appears much larger due to the angle of the shot. f5, 1/640, ISO 320


A black-backed puff back finishes off his display in a tree just outside our top offices. The bright orange eye watching the nearby branches. ISO1250, f/11; 1/2000 Photograph by Amanda Ritchie


It is not often that you will get two litters of wild dogs surviving; the alpha female is usually the only one to birth a litter, and will often kill the pups of the beta female should she also give birth. The Sands Pack this year have had a successful season, birthing two litters of which a large number of the pups are still going strong. The size difference between the individuals of the two litters can clearly be seen here. f5.6, 1/1600, ISO 640


The Mashaba female has been spending time north of the Sand River, which is posing numerous questions about the female leopard dynamics in the area. We had waited with her for an hour on this evening while she lay under a thicket, but eventually, just as the light was fading, she climbed up into this knobthorn tree. f5.6, 1/1600, ISO 1000


With only a zoom lens at my disposal, I had to make do with the stitching function available in Lightroom in order to piece this photo together from about 15 individual shots. 5.6, 1/1600, ISO 1000


The Tsalala pride cubs with a Matimba male, in yet another sighting on the same boulders mentioned earlier in the post. f6.3, 1/1000s, ISO 800


The Nkoveni female pauses to listen as she hears another leopard calling nearby. f5.6, 1/1250, ISO 320


One of the newest faces around the Londolozi camps. A nyala calf, only a few hours old, glances back towards its mother. f6.3, 1/320, ISO 640

About the Author

James Tyrrell

Photographic Guide/Media Team

James had hardly touched a camera when he came to Londolozi, but his writing skills were well developed, and he was quickly snapped up by the Londolozi blog team as a result. An environment rich in photographers helped him develop the photographic skills ...

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on The Week in Pictures #257

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daddy matimba seems happy with his cubs

Senior Moment

Are the Sands Pack becoming resident in Londolozi?

James Tyrrell

Hi Ian.

We wish! They have really big home range so move around throughout the whole Sabi Sands. Sometimes they will spend a good few days on Londolozi at a time, but the frequency of their visits tend to be quite unpredictable.

Bev Goodlace

So pleased to hear it is raining as you write your blog. Thank you for sharing your beautiful photos with us – we can always rely on the blog to make us feel better especially after the very strange, awful, odd week we have just had.

Judy Guffey

Rain….so glad to know it’s falling on Londolozi. I hope Freddy is seeing the nyala calf. I know how he loves nyalas…. AND Amanda’s black-backed puff. What an incredible picture. I’m not a ‘birder’ but this photo is magnificent.

Jill Larone

Great pictures James and wonderful image as well Amanda, of the Black-Backed Puff! It’s so great to see the rain falling there and the Sand River filling up again — the Elephants look so happy!! I love seeing the little Nyala calf and hope she/he stays safe. Thanks for a great week of beautiful pictures!

James Walker

Hello all,
We too have seen an easing of drought conditions in the Great Southern Land.We have seen some out of season serious flooding on the East Coast which has been bad.
You comment about, as you were typing you heard the rain pouring down lifted my day !

Even in California some rains have come but not enough .

Thanks for your great comments and pictures which make me so home sick that I want to expedite my next trip “home”


James Walker ( Sydney.)

Wendy Hawkins

Thank you James for the great news about the rain, such a Blessing it is to one & all! The pictures are stunning too. Have a great weekend & week ahead 🙂

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