What a week for photography! The sun was out and the animals were everywhere. This week saw the return of the Tsalala Pride, as well as the continued emergence of a new leopard to Londolozi, and three particularly interesting sightings which highlighted the immense amount of competition in the bush. Enjoy the Week in Pictures…
The Tsalala Pride has come back south across the Sand River! We were treated to many sightings of them this week, but unfortunaetly have faced the reality that two of the four older cubs seem to have gotten lost in the floods. Now, the pride makeup is the two adult lionesses, two year-old youngsters and one nine month-old cub. Occasionally they are joined by the Older Tailless female, who we suspect is hiding cubs at the moment around Ximpalampala Koppie. Stay tuned...
Meanwhile, back across the river on the northern side, the four younger Tsalala (adult) Females have been seen frequently around the Ximpalapala area. Here they were looking to hunt some impala, and are relatively successful daytime hunters. However, on this day they missed, and retired to the shade shortly afterwards.
Another image of the youngest Tsalala cub (nine months old). After not seeing them so long it is really special to have them back! They were quite successful in hunting this week, as they were found on several occasions feeding on wildebeest.
A White fronted bee eater shows off his brilliant rainbow colours in the morning light.
Another regular this week was the Tamboti Female leopard. She seems to be shifting her territory west onto Londolozi, which is wonderful news for us but perhaps not so nice for the Maxabene Female whose territory she is encroaching. As a result we had a couple of sightings of Maxabene lately where she was rasping territorially. However, as far as we know, the two have not yet had a physical altercation!
Anyone who has spent time with the Tamboti Female's father, the Short-tailed Male (or Tugwaan Male), will undoubtably see the resemblance! She also seems to have inherited his confidence, as she is never shy to come close to the vehicles and give us a stunning view.
After a bit of late-afternoon scent-marking, she stopped for a drink in the last light.
Upon spotting vultures in trees, it is easy to assume there is a kill or a carcass in the area. These large birds, however, tend to roost in trees, sometimes in groups within a species. Perhaps more reliable is the presence of different species of vultures and eagles congregating in one spot. When we saw this Hooded vulture and White-backed vulture staring down, amongst many others around them, we went to check it out.
Closer investigation revealed the four Majingalane Males on a buffalo carcass, as well as many other individuals trying to get in on the prize! The lions had already fed and were sickeningly full, but still not keen to share! Here one of the males gives a dirty look to a rather bold Hooded vulture.
When the vultures came too close, the lion was not very happy. He spent most of our sighting chasing the birds off the carcass. They were very persistent, though, and kept coming back!
The vultures were such a distraction to the lion that he didn't even seem irritated by the swarms of flies on him and the carcass. Every day as we watch these animals, we are reminded of the hardships of living in the bush, and these flies can perhaps be added to the list of annoyances!
Vultures are famous for their 'ugliness', but even they have a beautiful side...
Londolozi's newest superstar! This very relaxed little rhino put on a huge show for us one afternoon. Full of energy, he kept playfully running back and forth to the vehicle. It is extremely rare to see a white rhino cow so relaxed with the presence of the vehicle. Usually, a sighting of a calf is only a fleeting glimpse as the mother is so protective and usually herds it away.
One highlight from the week was this sighting of the Camp Pan Male. He had robbed his son, the Maxabene 3:2 Young Male, of his impala prize and fed on it in a marula tree while his son lay nearby on the ground. If that wasn't enough, a third leopard appeared, apparently having heard the scuffle. It was the Mashaba Female - also offspring of Camp Pan, but the daughter of the Vomba Female. She seemed to know her place, and laid down in a thicket nearby.
All the while, the Maxabene Young Male laid in the long grass nearby, looking up and waiting for a scrap to fall. If his situation wasn't bad enough, there was also a (more persistent) hyena lurking beneath, who eventually managed to steal half the carcass when Camp Pan dropped it.
He kept trying to move the kill in the tree, seemingly uncertain of what to do with it after he had had his full. As he pulled it, it eventually split and half dropped to the ground beneath. Perhaps he knew exactly what he was doing though, as when the hyena ran off with it, the other 2 leopards followed, allowing Camp Pan space to bring the carcass down from the tree.
After getting the kill to the ground, he started walking quite a ways. The only reason we could imagine for this was to try and get it away from the other leopards and stash it elsewhere.
In his effort to get the remainder of the carcass to the thick vegetation near the river, he even took it through a rather deep puddle. Interesting to see, but the photographer in me of course was very frustrated having been on the wrong side! Unfortunately there was no way around...
We were overdue for a Ground hornbill sighting, and we were thrilled to see a group of five on Londolozi this week. This individual was collecting insects from the long grass, storing them in his bill. Interesting behaviour, and he shortly flew away seemingly to a nest site some distance away.
Perhaps the biggest highlight of the week for Freddy and me was seeing two enormous crocodiles fighting. One had come up from the Sand River to Taylor's Dam overnight, and the resident croc was clearly upset by the intruder. Here one bites the other and 'croc rolls'.
A juvenile Gymnogene or African Harrier Hawk alights from its perch.
Lion sightings were plentiful this week, from the Sparta Pride as well. The two cubs are looking very healthy, and still no sign yet of the other cubs. It seems like this one is waiting for some new playmates!
An impala looks towards some francolin alarming in the distance. Our most abundant antelope, impala are beautiful and graceful creatures nonetheless.