Summer is now in full swing at Londolozi. As Adam mentioned on Wednesday, there are babies everywhere hiding amongst the thick green vegetation. The cascading call of the Woodlands kingfisher competes with the shrill Red-chested cuckoo’s song with the constant buzz of Christmas beetles during the day, and at night a chorus of frogs emanates from the Sand River. As well as these ‘small’ summer wonders, this week also brought us a huge amount of activity from the larger mammals, specifically lions. We were visited by several different prides and males, plus, the leopards did not disappoint! Enjoy this Week in Pictures…
Upon returning to Londolozi this week having heard about the discovery of the new Sparta cubs, we couldn't wait to see them. On our first game drive, despite the rain, we found the two youngsters with their mother and another Sparta lioness sleeping, but quickly woke up to suckle, then play.
The first offspring of the Majingalane Coalition of male lions and the Sparta Pride, these two youngsters are already extremely relaxed with the vehicles and, when in the mood, put on an adorable show!
As with many baby animals, the feet are priceless... as well as a playful set of eyes looking out from behind mom's protection.
Other babies around this week, though a little more common than the lion cubs... impala! They are absolutely everywhere and, being just as agile and fast as their parents, are fantastic to watch as they acrobatically run and play amongst the nursery group on their spindly legs.
The Woodlands kingfishers are back! These very vocal birds can be heard calling throughout the day, and display their bright blue colours beautifully by spreading their wings when in the presence of others.
The Camp Pan male peers out at some impala from his hideaway under a fallen bushwillow tree. He had already killed a baby wildebeest and stashed it under there while he rested. It is not uncommon for successful leopards to create 'larders' at this time of the year with so many baby antelope around, whereby they have more than one carcass hoisted or hidden at the same time, often in different locations. The summertime brings thick cover making it more difficult to get a 'clear' photo in situations like this, but it is also easier to portray how well these animals blend in to their environment.
More cover also creates a challenge to capture a more interesting shot. Here he had lazily turned away from the potential prey nearby to resume resting under the bushwillow.
We returned to the sighting of Camp Pan later that afternoon to find him feeding on the wildebeest carcass, having dragged it out from under the tree. Two mornings later, we found him elsewhere, very full and showing signs of having killed and eaten a baby impala. Clearly Camp Pan is enjoying the lambing season!
A very interesting sighting of one of the 'Little Five', the leopard tortoise. When we first spotted the white shell, we thought it was an old skeleton of an animal that had died. Upon closer investigation we realized it was still alive and very healthy, despite having lost most of its scutes. Freddy thinks this most likely occurred during the fires we had a few months ago.
The Maxabene 3:3 Young Male comes down from a termite mound. Taking advantage of the elevation, he scanned the plains for prey as he stalked though Open Areas. Now that we know he is in this unlikely area, we have been viewing this male more often.
The Maxabene 3:3 Young Male peers at impala on the plains from his perch in a false marula.
A Sparta lioness gazes at some kudu in the distance. Most easily identified by her pale colour in comparison to the rest of the pride, she has other distinguishing features such as the scar above her eye as well as a large notch in her tongue and a lack of hair on the 'tuft' of her tail. She has been helping to take care of the two cubs, but they are not her own. She and the mother of the cubs seem to be watching the cubs independently of the other 3 lionesses in the pride, for the time being at least.
One of the new Sparta cubs curiously gazes at us from behind a bushwillow tree. Both cubs are female.
And of course what would the week be without several visits to the hyena den site! They are getting much bigger now, and even more curious. The mothers were never present during our visits this week but the cubs still came out to see what was going on.
The den site, a reconverted termite mound, provides excellent protection and cover for the youngsters in the clan. They are extremely well behaved and do not stray far from the entrance when the mothers are not present.
One of the four runs towards us in a playful move to get to its sibling.
This week the Ottawa male lions made an appearance amidst a Serengeti-like scene. This beautiful young male and his brother were found because some nearby giraffe were staring at them. There were also many zebra, wildebeest, 3 elephants, 200+ buffalo and a rhino in the scene around them. The terrain was too open for them to consider any hunting in the daytime, however.
The Vomba Female walks towards us after having been spotted by the impala she was hunting. Amidst the alarm calls, she walked along the road and then disappeared in a thicket near the river. We still think she might be close to having cubs, and are patiently awaiting their arrival!
A herd of buffalo drinks and wallows during a muggy morning.
My favourite sighitng this week by far was of the Tsalala Pride. Here the cubs drink from Fluffies Pan. The photos I took after this will be posted on Monday, when a full update on this pride will be given by Adam. Be sure to check it out!