This week was most definitely centered around the cub activity on Londolozi. I’ll admit to favouring the little guys, but at the moment it’s almost difficult to view a female leopard, lion, or hyena that doesn’t have youngsters! We are incredibly lucky to be in the midst of a springtime nursery, and hope that despite the high mortality rates among young predators, these precious creatures will all survive their challenging first stages of life. Enjoy this Week in Pictures…
One of the Sparta cubs climbs on its mother while the others try to suckle. With five cubs in the pride currently competing for nursing rights, things sometimes get a bit feisty!
All five of the cubs eventually managed to find a place to feed without argument. Early in the week, there was very heavy rain for a few days, and it was interesting to watch the little ones as they encountered this weather phenomenon for the first time in their lives.
Even the birds are participating in the baby boom, as this protective Blacksmith plover guards her batch of eggs.
As we waited outside the Xidulu hyena densite one rainy afternoon, one of the sub adults emerged to everyone’s delight. However, a few moments later we were greeted with a waft of the stagnant water she had been sleeping in – so pungent we had to move the vehicle!
It was worth sticking around, however, to catch a first glimpse of the newest addition! This tiny cub stuck its head out for a few moments, but without the mother present, was a bit shy.
Tugwaan Male walks into the first sunshine of the week. He was patrolling his large territory, with a hyena in tow who was perhaps hoping the big male leopard would kill something he’d be able to steal.
Our ‘kill’ sighing of the week! A Stripe-bellied sand snake tries to subdue a skink by constricting it.
The Younger Tailless Tsalala Lioness mates with the Dark-maned Majingalane Male. These lions spent their honeymoon close to the main gate of the Londolozi camp, which meant that for 3 days anyone coming to Londolozi by road was treated to a sighting of them!
In between bouts of mating, the pair posed nicely for us while resting.
A large elephant bull walks towards us curiously.
One of the most intense sightings of our week was when we found the Mashaba Female one afternoon by the Sand River, close to her densite. She was lying near a small kill stashed under a bush, and went down to the river to have a drink.
Meanwhile, however, the Marthly Male appeared from the east and upon spotting the female, had a drink as he watched her movements.
After ‘chuffing’ as they approached one another, there was a brief encounter before she trotted off to her kill. We think that the Marthly Male is the father of her two cubs, which are still too small to leave the densite and have only been seen once at a distance by the rangers. This means that the big male is likely no threat to the cubs, but regardless she would not want to risk him coming across them.
When we first saw her carrying her kill from a distance, my heart skipped a beat. Because the size of the cane rat carcass was roughly the same size and shape as her cubs, I initially thought she was carrying a cub! But upon closer investigation it was the cane rat, still intact. The fact that she moved it quite some distance after seeing the male made us suspect that the cubs were somewhere near the initial position of the kill, but we did not see them.
She rather openly displayed her kill with the Marthly Male nearby, another clue that she was trying to lure him away from the cubs. Perhaps cane rat isn’t too tasty, though, as he was uninterested and carried on his way.
A Burchell’s Glossy Starling gleans in the sun after a few days of rain.
Camp Pan makes a welcome change from stealing kills to trying make one of his own!
Unfortunately he was a little out of practice and gave up a little too easily
……..and eventually settled on termite mound
Some lone buffalo bulls chew their cud in the rain
The Tsalala break away pride bask on the rocks at Taylor’s Crossing
Tsalala lioness portrait
A pair of Egyptian geese have a drink at Maidie’s Dam
There is always action at the newly discovered Maripsi densite. Here a young cub gets a good grooming from its mother.
Happy hippos take in the sun at LTA dam
Another huge moment this week was the appearance of the Tsalala Pride one morning on our airstrip – complete with the Older Tailless Lioness and her brand new cub! This was the little one’s first venture out from its densite, and with the confidence of her mother behind her, was relaxed and playful with the rest of the pride.
After suckling from her mother, she became restless and went to find playmates. Unfortunately the rest of the pride was not in the mood, and it seemed wherever she went she was irritating someone!
Then she found a new plaything: tails!
The young lioness seemed resigned to her fate…
… but then decided she’d had enough!
She then chose a new target, her sister from another litter! The mother of the two sub adults was not impressed with this game, which was of course made more fun for the cub as she irritatedly flicked her tail.
An elephant gives itself a dustbath.
A curious young elephant investigates Andrea, with whom I had the pleasure of working this week while Freddy was away.
Of course, the highlight of the week for me was finding the Dudley Riverbank Female and her young cub. This was the first sighting I’d had of the youngster walking around out in the open.
Admittedly, this photo was taken with my arch rival James Tyrrell’s fantastic shot of the Ravenscourt Female, her cubs, and the rhino, in mind. He nailed it, I didn’t! Nonetheless it was incredible to see both the leopards and elephants going about their business in the same sighting!
The little cub often ventured away from her mother confidently exploring her surroundings
It is always an incredible treat to see these two beautiful animals.