This week, the rains really came. We had several days where there was little break in precipitation, resulting in thickening green growth, vibrant colours, a rising river and many animals refreshed by both the water and nutritious vegetation. Most evenings carried the soft lulls of thunder the whole night through, with lions roaring intermittently and the frogs competing for their calls to be heard. As David Dampier mentioned in his post this week, rain brings a challenge to photography… but we luckily had some breaks where we were able to capture a few shots. Enjoy this Week in Pictures…
When we found the Vomba female lurking around the northern side of the Causeway, we tried not to get our hopes up. To see a cat cross the river is extremely rare, particularly a leopard! This leopard's territory is in and around the Sand River, so presumably she crosses often. However, she normally uses crossing points in thick bush where she can hop from rock to rock. So to actually witness such an event, out in the open like this, would be unlikely.
She was definitely hesitant to cross, presumably because of crocodiles and other predators. The fast-moving water makes it very difficult to hear a potential threat closeby. She appeared to contemplate crossing for a few minutes.
Her first steps in! Clearly cat-like in her attitude towards water, at first she shook her paws off after every step.
Still not loving the water! What amazed me the most about watching this crossing was how she kept her balance and grip. Having crossed the river here myself on foot, I can attest to the fact that although it looks shallow, the water moves very fast and creates a lot of pressure across some very slippery rocks. I almost got swept away several times, and I weigh much more than this leopard!
Along the way she often paused to have a quick check for crocs.
Upon hearing the exhalation of a nearby hippo, she looked around to have a look. She eventually made it to the other side without incident.
A Side-striped jackal runs across Tu Tones clearing. It appears that this individual and its mate are setting up a densite here! Baby jackals are notoriously shy and difficult to see, but we will definitely be keeping an eye on this area.
A business of dwarf mongoose keeps watch into the sunset. These animals live together in deserted termite mounds and only come out during the day. They are very sensitive to cold, so here they were soaking up the last rays of sunshine before retreating to their burrow.
A Hadeda ibis - not the most popular bird in Southern Africa due to its harsh, loud call! However, a closer look at this individual reveals that with its iridescent wing feathers and multi-coloured bill, it is still a beautiful bird.
One of the Majingalane males takes a break close to Mondza Road. This week saw the return of the male lions! They had been broadening their territory elsewhere, but luckily have decided to return to Londolozi recently. All four of these males are looking healthy and on quite a few nights this week, one could hear them roaring throughout the night.
Three of the older Tsalala cubs groom and play at the same time. Once again we were lucky enough to see them on the granite rocks in the Sand River, presumably enjoying the warmth still lingering in the rocks in the early evening. This time, the females were also with them, so they were a little more relaxed and playful!
One of the younger cubs seems bored by 'grooming' getting in the way of his playtime!
Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil?! Every precious moment we get to spend with these cubs is enchanting.
One of the younger cubs bites the tail of his mother.
However, she did not appreciate it very much!
One of the Tsalala females grooms her cub, who clearly enjoyed the pampering. Tactile interaction between lions in a pride like this is extremely important to reaffirm the strong bonds between individuals.
Red-billed oxpeckers look for parasites on a buffalo - one of a large herd of about 400 individuals. This buffalo has a particularly good coat - normally buffalo are known for their typically mangy skin condition.