Not since George W. has there been a re-inauguranation of the self-same. This week the Londolozi Specialist Photographic vehicle went on its second inaugural safari – the first a frolic with the press and the second edition just finished an hour ago.
It was down to business in safari terms and we were rewarded with a very productive week in the bushveld. Our patience was rewarded with elephants slurping water meters from the vehicle and on two occasions a female leopard and her cubs led us to impala kills in secret locations. We spent time with wild dog on the hunt and watched as hyena robbed them of their hard earned impala kill in the dusk. There were many, many special sightings and moments and whilst it may have been a hard week for impala, the soft August light was easy on the shutter.
Undoubtedly the highlight, for me at least, was the 3 Tsalala lionesses on the hunt yesterday morning. It took as an age to find the three girls as their tracks wound in and out of the dry Manyeleti River Bed whilst they snaked their way through impala rich country. When we did finally catch up with them they were intently watching Nyala and Impala feeding in the thicket on the far bank of the Manyeleti, and having appraised the scenario they moved in. We looped quite far to the east of them and sat in the shade of giant Albizias knowing that the hunt was headed in our direction. Between the predators and us a hundred baboons mingled with warthog, impala and 2 impressive Nyala bulls.
A snort from an impala gave away the presence of lion. Baboons went berserk and raced for safety in any tree available as one lioness charged into the previously peaceful scene. The racket caused by the baboons sent the antelope in all directions and this galvanized the 2 remaining lionesses into action. In a split second one lioness had grabbed a young female neatly by the throat and the other plucked a ram from the air and dumped it to the ground. She hadn’t bothered with the throat but rather paralyzed it with a bite to the back.
She dragged this with supreme strength past the vehicle and down into a donga. We worked our vehicle in there and watched as 8 cubs began the noisy battle for a meal.
We often come across scenes like this in the bush. Almost always they leave a powerful and indelible impression on me. I’m not quite sure what the messages from the bushveld are – but I do know that observing natures’ simple and brutal ways isn’t as easy as photography…