This week brought slightly less ‘kill’ action but more diversity amongst the species, and interesting behaviors. We are still embracing summer with all the youngsters, migratory birds, and reptiles around every corner. We saw a few familiar faces amongst the predators, and also had a few return visits from some long lost friends. Enjoy this Week in Pictures…
The Maxabene 3:2 Young Male. You can see from this picture that his left eye still has a slight abnormality, but it does not seem to be affecting him too much. Here he was stalking monitor lizards around Shingalana Pan. He is quite often seen within the same vicinity as his father, the Camp Pan Male, although this is most likely because this young male is not yet territorial and Camp Pan's territory provides a 'safe' zone from other dominant males, rather than either leopard seeking out the other.
There are loads of wildebeest calves this year! The young wildebeest is a different colour to the adults for the first couple of months of their lives, presumably to help conceal the youngsters while they are lying in the grass.
At first glance, this newborn calf is enjoying the morning sun happily with its mother, herdmates and some cattle egrets. However, the 'mother' behind it is too young to have produced offspring. After some time watching the little one follow its friend, we figured out that the herd had been split the night before by a pride of lions, and that this calf was, at least for now, abandoned. Luckily for him, those lions had not killed that night, and hopefully the mother found him later.
A Long-tailed Paradise-whydah displays atop a torchwood branch. Like the Pin-tailed whydah featured last week, the male of this species grows a beautiful tail for the breeding season.
A warthog piglet races, tail raised, to catch up to its mother. It will have to be careful as it grows up, as many of the Londolozi leopards seem to have a taste for baby warthogs...
The Tsalala older male cub takes a break from the females to catch some sun. In this sighting, he was with his mother, her sister (the new Tailless Female) and two (younger) cubs. The older Tailless Female was presumably somewhere with his 3 female siblings. They were separated for a few days, with no sign of the others... but we weren't terribly concerned, as after watching the older Tailless raise so many cubs both of her own and of her offspring, we knew she would be taking good care of them. Indeed they were all found together a few days later, fat and happy on a wildbeest kill.
Two buffalo bulls wallow and ruminate in the afternoon heat.
I think this crocodile might become one of the familiar faces of Londolozi... or at least the Week in Pictures! Last summer, it was usually in the Sand River at one of our crossings, in the same spot, mouth open in the rapids, seemingly waiting for a fish to pop in. This summer, he's back, and gives us up close and personal views of a deadly predator which is normally quite shy and elusive.
The Tutlwa Female watches a warthog run into its burrow. Tutlwa made a few appearances this week, and in this sighting we found her because of her rather dramatic entrance into another sighting. We were watching impala, wildebeest, zebra, giraffe and warthog all in large numbers on a open plain, and all of the sudden they started alarming and ran past our vehicle on all sides. Tutlwa then ran by, hot on the tail of a warthog who managed to escape. Afterwards we followed her while she continued to hunt. There have been a few sightings of her two cubs, but unfortunately they are still quite shy.
A group of Red-footed kestrels settle in for the night on a dead knobthorn. These birds are often found in large flocks at this time of year: beautiful to see so many raptors all at once!
A Rhino bull wallows on a muggy morning.
Another one of our interesting sightings of the week was of some female nyala fighting, head butting and chasing each other quite aggressively. Usually female antelope (most species) do not fight with one another, and this was a first to see even for Freddy! All we could guess was that, because this was a particularly large group of female nyala, there was increased competition and perhaps they were trying to branch off into smaller groups. Thoughts?
We haven't seen the Secretarybirds in a while, but at least one seems to have returned recently.
While watching the large herd of buffalo, one cow came quite close, and I tried to get a shot of her eye. What I didn't realize at the time was that you can actually see the reflection of our Land Rover in it. We are approaching what is generally the peak time for buffalo calving, so we are looking forward to it!
Two young hippos play fight at Taylor's Dam. Hippos mainly rest during the day, but as the evening falls they start to become more active, particularly youngsters like these. Regardless of their age, you can see the menacing tusks.
The Leopard orchids are in flower at the moment, and bring a bit of life back into many of the tree skeletons around Londolozi.
A Majingalane Male sits in the spotlight. This was taken in very low light and, although not a good photo, preceded an incredible sighting. Two of the Majingalane Males got up and pursued the two Tsalala females with their six cubs, seemingly with friendly intentions as after all, they are the fathers of the cubs and do spend a lot of time with them. However, the Tsalala females were not in the mood for the visit and ran at the males, erupting into a huge fight that lasted for about twenty intense and loud minutes until the females finally ran off with the cubs. Luckily noone was injured, but it was a very strange event that left most of us wondering why the females had reacted so aggressively.
A family of Egyptian Geese decide to divert their route to avoid the 'business end' of a sunbathing crocodile.
The Southern Pride Males made an appearance on Londolozi this week. Here they lazily enjoy the afternoon sun, following an exciting evening of buffalo hunting. We had watched them make several attempts to separate a few individuals from the herd of over two hundred, only to be chased away each time.
Three White-backed vultures, crops full, settle in for the evening.
The young Tsalala females (the four that are no longer with the tailless lioness) also paid us a visit this week, and we had the opportunity to watch them hunt. When I took this photo, they first saw something that interested them ahead, so we switched the light off. We waited and listened to their soft movements in the dark as they stalked. Unfortunately they did not catch whatever it was they had seen.
The week finished off with a visit from the Wild dog pack! The nine dogs swept in and killed an impala lamb in the typically fast-paced, chaotic style.
Afterwards, they had a drink and a rest at a nearby pan. They were playing at the edge of the water, trying to cool off, but all the while clearly worried about crocodiles. Each time there was a ripple in the water they leapt away quickly!