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Home of leopards
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I always find it interesting to look back at what the bushveld presents to me on a weekly basis. On some occasions I will spend hours with just a single leopard, watching its movements, behaviour and delighting in the spectacle which it puts on for my guests and I. It is easy to forget about everything else until that animal melts into the bush and I have to find another to replace their presence. It seems as though the Dudley 5:5 Male was a regular feature of my weekly post, however this last week I have barely seen him. Instead my love affair with the Camp Pan Male has been rekindled as he has treated my guests and I to various spectacular sightings and interactions. I guess it is the unpredictable nature of the bush that makes guiding at Londolozi so exciting and our relationships with these animals so special. Although I have long since learnt never to be certain as to what a drive will present, I do know that it will always be special. Enjoy this weeks pictures…
A White-bellied Sunbird feeds on nectar from an aloe flower. This beautiful little bird is a common site in the winter months when the Aloes flower in abundance throughout the Lowveld of South Africa.
The Camp Pan Male glances over his shoulder to investigate some rustling in the bushes. He had been crouched and staring intently at a warthog burrow on the side of a termite mound, waiting for its occupants to emerge. We tracked him to the exact same termite mound two days later, where he again waited until the warthogs finally darted out - too fast for him to catch.
A Tsalala Lioness - the mother of the older cubs - looks in the distance at a herd of impala, with two of the cubs in tow. This marked the first time we had seen the females actively hunting with the little ones. Even though the cubs did not participate in the hunt, as they are still far too small, it is interesting that they were brought along to watch!
One of the older Tsalala cubs watches his mother hunt.
Meanwhile, the other Tsalala Lioness was back at the densite with her four little ones. They are venturing from the densite more often now, and whereas some rangers and guests have been lucky enough to catch a close glimpse, I am still waiting my turn! We were extremely fortunate even to get this long-distance view of them at the densite.
The other two younger Tsalala cubs wait for their siblings to climb up the koppie to their hiding place. Their mother left shortly afterwards to hunt with her sister. Luckily they were able to kill an impala for them to share with the four older cubs.
The Vomba Young Female peers at us from her termite mound perch. She had been using the height to scan the area for impala, concealed by the grass tufts, but instead decided on a nap.
Suddenly, some impala started alarming in the distance, and she quickly sat upright, knowing it could mean trouble for her. The impala were too far away to be alarming at her, so she knew there had to be another predator lurking.
The disturbance turned out to be her father, the Camp Pan Male, who was also concerned at first when he saw her silhouette on the termite mound. He surveyed carefully, making sure she was not another male vying for his territory.
After seeing her retreat, Camp Pan rushed to chase her. He stopped to get her scent on the termite mound, and upon realizing she was a familiar leopard, started 'chuffing' - a voluntary sneeze-like sound leopards use to indicate peaceful recognition of another individual. Regardless she continued to flee, perhaps remembering all those times he has stolen her kills...
A Martial Eagle calls to its mate. The largest eagle seen in this area, this striking bird will even hunt small antelope.
A zebra foal snoozes in the morning sun while it mother keeps watch.
The Vomba Young Female. Her mother, the Vomba Female, was seen north of the Sand River this week, which was perhaps one of the reasons we were treated to frequent sightings of this beautiful three year old leopard south of the river.
In this sighting, she showed interest in a flock of guinea fowl, but unfortunately they moved off in the wrong direction. She then had several attempts at a scrub hare, who managed to get away each time. Still a young leopard, she has a lot to learn in efficient hunting.
After her failed hunting attempts, she started calling. Leopard 'rasping' can best be described as a deep, saw-like sound, and is usually a proclamation of territory. This was the first time we had heard this leopard call, which is very exciting as it potentially means she is establishing territory here. Great news for the rangers and trackers, as she has become a favourite amongst the team.
A Yellow-fronted canary sits amongst the Long-tailed Cassia tree blossoms.
A young zebra rests his legs and enjoys the morning sun, while still remaining alert for potential predators.
The Camp Pan Male is coming back strong. His condition has vastly improved over the past few weeks. His battle wounds from the run-in with the Dudley Riverbank 5:5 Male are healing, and he has been keeping well fed. Luckily, we have been seeing much more of him lately, after a period where he seemed reluctant to make his presence known.