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Last week we had rain, and this week another crucial element of life in the bushveld – fire. Several controlled burns were conducted on Londolozi, which are essential to the nutrient cycle of the soil and making room for new, green growth. Fire is an important process which would naturally be created by lightning strikes. Post-fire, the burned areas brought us sightings with interesting colours as well as behaviours – the birds hunting on the exposed ground, and the herbivores feeding on the greenflush. I have purposefully left leopards out of this Week in Pictures (except for the Maxabene Young Male’s tail, below), mainly because David Dampier’s post earlier this week in Leopards of Londolozi contained such stunning images and the latest updates. More next week on leopards, but in the meantime, enjoy this Week in Pictures…
A nursery herd of giraffe play in the morning light. All of these youngsters will be less than a year old, and are generally kept together with one or two females keeping an eye on them nearby.
The South Pride is back, and all four males are looking incredible!
All trying to share the small patch of shade, one of the males rests on his brother, looking up to the sky at a circling vulture.
After our first rains last week, there was a considerable green flush of grass. A crash of White rhino enjoy the nutritious fodder after months of dry bushveld.
A White-backed vulture waits its turn at near the buffalo carcass - the one that the Tsalala lionesses killed last week. The pride was only on the kill for about a day and a half until they were 'pushed' off by an unknown young male lion. We imagine it was more a case of they saw another lion coming and just ran off, because the youngster seemed a bit small to have been able to stand up to the tough Tsalala girls!
As summer unfolds, the creepy crawlies come out! This bark scorpion was spotted by Freddy on the way back to camp one evening, and posed nicely for us! They are mildly venomous but quite shy, posing no real threat for people.
One of my favourite spots at Londolozi is the Causeway - the gateway to the north. In particular, the birding on a summer afternoon is brilliant! Here, both a hammerkop and a Goliath heron share fishing space.
This week we had controlled burns on parts of Londolozi. Fire is a very natural - and necessary - element in this environment, and as long as our controlled burns are carried out responsibly, they are of no harm to people, mammals, reptiles and birds. Here, the Maxabene 3:2 Young Male pokes his head in a warthog burrow as the fire burns behind him, clearly not affecting his hunting regime!
Vervet monkeys are a fixture around camp, playing in the trees and sometimes trying their luck in stealing the odd piece of fruit from the breakfast buffet, and they always make for good entertainment between game drives! I spent some time this week sitting with a troop relaxing in the shade during the heat of the day.
Sometimes the individuals doing the least are the most entertaining! This sub-adult was so tired from all the morning's shenanigans that he passed out on a rather uncomfortable looking pillow!
This tiny youngster was very wobbly on its feet, most likely only born the previous night.
After another female jealously snatched the baby up to cradle it, its mother grabbed it back to nurse.
We were visited by the 'Tslalala Five' this week: the Tailless Lioness (the mother of the two Tsalala lionesses we see with the cubs) and the other four young females from the Tsalala Pride. We found the four young ones lying next to Nyeleti Pan, and when they got up we saw that one has quite a bad injury to her leg, and was hopping along using the other three legs. Lions are resilient, however, and we anticipate she will recover from this injury.
A phallynx of Ground hornbills cruises one of the burned areas, looking for food. After fire has been through an area, it often gets a plethora of insect- and reptile-eating birds, such as these Ground hornbill, as the earth is more exposed for hunting.
When we returned to camp along the high dam wall and were admiring the hippos in Camp Dam to our left, a rustling close to us in the bushes to our right grabbed our attention... this relaxed male giraffe was feeding on the bush next to us, virtually at eye level!
The Wild dogs also paid us a visit this week! As they trotted across Nyamakunze Plains, instead of looking for impala to hunt they searched for millipedes on the ground. Not many animals can tolerate the mild and distasteful toxin in millipedes, but the dogs seem to make do in order to get sufficient nutrition.
A breeding herd of elephant crosses the Sand River, with a Saddle-billed stork fishing in the background.
In one Wild dog sighting, they found the rocky outcrop in a recently burned area very comfortable. The colours of the environment seemed to match their mottled coat patterns. This pup looks as though he was either laughing - or growling - at us, but he was merely finishing a yawn before trotting off into the sunset.
A Martial Eagle gazes down at some prey - in this instance, a squirrel on the ground. Fortunately for the squirrel, another squirrel nearby spotted the eagle and sounded an alarm before the bird could make its attack.