As Leo Tolstoy said, the two most powerful warriors are patience and time. Having only two nights and three days at Londolozi I was worried I had the patience but not enough time to experience the sightings and wonders of the bush but in the end patience rewarded us with more than I could have imagined.
Other than those who live and work there, most of us experience the bush in narrow slices of time. A fragment of a week that is part of a whole that makes up the circle of life in that part of the world. The months preceding December were reportedly tough since the area was experiencing a drought until late November when the rains arrived. All around us, there was evidence of the harshness of the terrain with buffalo carcasses and bones strewn around. The drought had severely weakened the buffaloes and the lions had had a feast.
With the rains, came bush babies. I was impressed with the number and speed of impala calves. Some only a few hours old who could run and keep up with their mothers.
I did not have any specific sightings in mind that I was hoping for, other than that I wanted a few good photographs and I was prepared to take in whatever nature had in store for us. As we left camp on our first game drive in the afternoon, the radio cackled and Alfie told me that the Tsalala pride had been spotted by another vehicle.
We headed in that direction. As we drove, the radio cackled once again. The Mashaba female leopard had also been spotted with a baby impala kill. Choices needed to be made. We chose to detour and spend some time with the leopard, the pride would take some time waking from their afternoon slumber anyway and we would catch it later.
The Mashaba female leopard gave us an incredible sighting, pulling the baby impala up a tree and allowing us some incredible photographic opportunities. We must have spent an hour with her, seeing several vehicles come and go, and it was then time to make our way towards the Tsalala pride.
As we approached, the pride was on the move. The sub-adult cubs were in a playful mood, but the heat was still oppressive and they would sit down for some time every now and again. We drove forward and decided to wait near the water hole that Alfie believed they were going to headed towards. Alfie drove around the water hole and positioned the vehicle with the sun behind us and facing the direction of the pride. We must have waited an hour before the pride decided to have a drink. It was an incredible sighting with the cubs all in a line drinking water at the same time with the sun going down. My first evening in Londolozi was already incredibly rewarding.
Over the duration of my short stay we saw a number of white rhino but one particular cow and tiny calf stand out for me. We also saw the Inyathini male leopard mating with the Tatowa female, the Matimba male lions with a break away pride of six lionesses, and the cubs from the Mhangeni pride playing in the rain while the adult lionesses were away hunting somewhere.
It seems Leo Tolstor was right, patience indeed proved to be a powerful warrior.
A series of photographs from our afternoon with the Mashaba female leopard as she fed from her impala kill between periods of rest in the boughs of a Weeping Wattle Tree.
The Mashaba female is currently Londolozi’s best known leopard. Her relaxed nature means she is comfortable around the camps and vehicles.
One of the white rhinos that we encountered during my stay. It was really encouraging to see a bit of the grass cover returning since rain has fallen on Londolozi, something so necessary to the survival of these bulk grazers.
A Wahlberg’s Eagle perches on the limb of a dead tree. These birds feed on other smaller birds, reptiles, small mammals, frogs and insects. With the summer rains, there is an explosion of these food sources on Londolozi, one of the major reasons these birds return to breed here during our summer months.
The youngsters of the Tsalala Pride arrive at a small pan to drink. Although it required some patience for this moment to present itself, it was so worth the wait!
The Tatowa female that we watched intermittently resting and mating with the Inyathini male leopard.
The Tatowa female was one of a litter of three females born in early 2012 to the Ximpalapala female of the north.
Another leopard who originated in the Kruger National Park, he has established a large territory in the south eastern areas of Londolozi.
The large and regal dark- maned Matimba male lion, who we were fortunate enough to see during my stay. These males have been exploring east of Londolozi for about the last month so I felt very lucky that they returned during my two days there.
Written and photographed by Jitendra Sharma, Londolozi Guest