This week, in addition to the abundance of exciting predator and large mammal sightings, the reptiles were also in the mix. The Sparta Pride is settling back into their territory after the tragedy of two weeks ago, and the Tsalala Pride is at bay for the time being. We had some memorable leopard sightings, including one young male who is relatively new to Londolozi. But perhaps the most interesting sightings this week involved the unfortunate demise of a python, as well as the good fortune for a crocodile. Enjoy this Week in Pictures…
Last week we left off watching Camp Pan drag his kill away from the lions. This week began with further sightings of him – very full – with his wildebeest prize. He managed to finish the entire carcass over a few days, without any challenges from the lions or hyenas, despite leaving it on the ground.
The lions Camp Pan was avoiding had their own distractions! The mating pair was still busy at the beginning of the week, and here had a close call with a rhino bull, who stopped by to investigate but then wandered slowly away, unimpressed.
A Giant eagle-owl prepares for nightfall from its roost in a Jackalberry tree.
The Tutlwa Female looks at a herd of impala in the distance. Her two sub-adult youngsters are still seen occasionally with her, and seem to be getting more used to the vehicles. This stunning leopard can be difficult to find because of her territory being in and around the thick vegetation of the Sand River.
A procession of caterpillars crosses the road. The creatures fall into formation like this when navigating across an open space to appear like a snake and hence deter predation from birds.
One afternoon, we heard the Tsalala Tailless lioness roaring from about two o’clock, which surprised everyone as lions generally only call at night or in the early morning. When we found her in the Sand River, she finally got a response – from a male we estimated to be about 100m downstream. But instead of trying to find him, she laid down and remained quiet. She slept for a while and then got up, moving in the opposite direction from where the male had been calling. Once far enough away, she called again, clearly in search of her pride and not the males, but didn’t find them that night.
A wildebeest spies a rare bird: the Ground hornbill.
Sightings of the male cheetah continued this week. Here, he had killed a small kudu and was watching for other predators nearby. Luckily for him it was already late in the morning and any hyenas would have already settled for the day.
Unfortunately, however, cheetah must be cautious of a diurnal scavenger: the vulture. It is unclear whether these vultures ended up stealing his kill, but regardless the cheetah was very concerned about them.
One of our more interesting discoveries this week was finding an African Rock Python which had been killed by honey badgers. Freddy found the tracks from the struggle between the two honey badgers and the 5m-long snake, and literally walked us through it. When we found the snake in the late morning, the nocturnal honey badgers had left for the day, but had fed on a small portion of the outstretched snake. Upon closer investigation, the snake was still breathing! When I pointed this out to Freddy, I’ve never seen him hop back on the vehicle so quickly. Indeed, when we returned that evening, the snake had coiled itself, so clearly it had still been alive and was either too weak to move or ‘playing dead’ as some snakes are known to do. The next day, however, it was definitely dead – the honey badgers had come back to consume more of the carcass.
If you think this male nyala looks strange – you are correct. His rare colour morph is such that his coat is the rust colour of a female and not the chocolate brown of the ‘normal’ male.
The Tsalala Pride youngsters stare off into the sunset. These are the two remaining cubs from the eight born last year. They are getting very big, and at 18 months old, are starting to resemble their mother – the only lioness in the pride who still has a tail.
A giraffe towers over a bachelor herd of impala.
Three of the Majingalane Males settle in for the day near camp. All four males stayed together this week, patrolling the entirety of their territory.
A Black-shouldered kite peers below from its perch.
The Vomba Female runs towards a herd of impala after a brief roll in the dust. In this photo, you can clearly see she is lactating and cubs have been suckling. They will surely be too small to view at the moment, but nevertheless an exciting development!
Even though this female frequently walks through camp, she is not a leopard who is found on drive often, because she prefers the thickets. One night this week, the monkeys alarmed throughout the night in camp. Looking at the tracks the next morning, she had killed a bushbuck and dragged it through the camp, hoisting it nearby!
The Mashaba Female, the daughter of the Vomba Female. We bumped into her at sunrise, and she went on to kill a young kudu. Unfortunately it was too big for her to hoist into a tree, which would have unfortunate consequences…
A crocodile feeds on the young kudu killed by the Mashaba Female. Judging by the tracks, the giant croc had come out of the water overnight and stolen the carcass from the leopard. So it’s not only hyenas, vultures, and lions these cats have to worry about…
A White rhino joins us for sundowners, silhouetted by the sunset.
The African jacana, among other things, is known for its ability to ‘walk on water’ – actually walking on vegetation just below the surface, using its very large feet.
A very full Sparta lioness tries to get comfortable. The four lionesses and the cubs had fed on a kudu that morning, and we were excited to see them in anticipation they would be in the same place that afternoon. The lionesses were, but the cubs had gone into hiding in a donga nearby.
The following morning, despite still being full, they were again ready for action. A large herd of buffalo had passed overnight, and the lionesses wanted to take the opportunity for a hunt. One lioness after another sharpened their claws on the same tree, and followed the buffalo for the morning. They were unsuccessful, but luckily well-fed from the day before.
The hippos around Londolozi appear to be getting more relaxed with the vehicles when seen out of the water. It used to be quite a rare sight without them fleeing back to the water, but recently we’ve been treated to longer glimpses of these giants as they sunbathe, or forage for grass.
The Ravenscourt Young Male sleeps in a False marula tree. He had an impala kill hoisted in the tree, but was not interested in feeding on it at that time. There were two elephant bulls lingering beneath, preventing him from staying on the ground for his nap, so he balanced himself very carefully on the thin branches.
On closer investigation, he was actually sleeping on part of the carcass! It was almost finished, so could have easily fallen out the tree.
Once the elephants were a safe distance away, he looked to come down. We had a fantastic sighting of him negotiating his descent.
Leopards have incredible agility in tree climbing, and the rare moment to witness such a feat is always exciting!
The sun sets through a Marula tree on Sparta.