The week started off really well when we discovered the 4 Sparta lionesses, their 7 cubs and 3 of the Majingilane coalition all feeding on an adult giraffe. With their numbers growing, the Sparta pride seems to be focussing on larger prey species. After a couple of zebra kills in recent months, they made this giraffe kill.
While on the subject of ‘big’ kills, we found the Maxabene 3:2 young male feeding on a zebra foal that he had killed and hoisted into a Lowveld milkberry tree. The Maxabene 3:2 and 3:3 males are not shy of pushing their boundaries as far as prey size goes. Between them, they have killed zebra, wildebeest and a young buffalo.
We had a couple of rainy days, but all in all, the game viewing was great. The highlight, for me, was seeing my favorite female leopard, the Dudley riverbank female, and her 8 month old cub. Despite sometimes finding tracks, they have managed to elude us for weeks now and it is always a privilege to find them in the beautiful, dense bush along the Tugwaan drainage line.
This week, I also managed to capture some of the other aspects of the natural world at Londolozi, including a painted reed frog and one of the dramatic sunsets we’ve had following all the rain.
I hope you all enjoy the slightly different angle on this week in pictures.
Taking a break from feeding on the giraffe, a Sparta cub suckles from one of the lionesses. I love the facial expression.
The lionesses were all extremely lethargic after feeding on the giraffe for a few days, but this didn’t do much to discourage the cubs’ playfulness. I managed to catch this cub just as he straddled a lionesses head in an effort to induce a reaction.
A juvenile bateleur captured in amazing morning light. These raptors have this brown plumage for 7 years before they develop their beautiful adult plumage.
A couple of weeks ago we established that the tailed female from the Tsalala pride had cubs that she was keeping in a den along the Manyeleti River. This week, however, we found her mating with the dark maned Majingilane male. In all likelihood this means that she has lost all the cubs, as there would be no other reason for her to come back into oestrus. We also haven’t seen the cub of the original tailless female for some time now, so we assume that it has unfortunately suffered the same fate.
This was my favorite find of the week! As we rounded one of the final corners on the way back to camp, I had a glimpse of something out of the corner of my eye. It turned out to be a painted reed frog perched in the fork of a buffalo thorn branch. These frogs are responsible for the high pitch ‘pinging’ sound that one often hears at waterholes on summer evenings.
My other highlight of the week was seeing the Dudley Riverbank female and her cub. We haven’t seen her for quite some time and this week she eventually turned up. As we arrived at the sighting, she called her cub, who came bounding over and sidled up to her, clearly happy to be reunited with its mother.
The Maxabene 3:2 male sitting in the lowveld milkberry tree in which he hoisted a zebra foal. This isn’t the first time he’s killed a zebra and his brother has even killed a buffalo calf before. Clearly, these young male leopards aren’t afraid of a challenge.
One of the most spectacular birds, a saddle billed stork, forages in a pan. These birds show clear sexual dimorphism, with this being a female due to the yellow eye. The male has a dark eye.
An inquisitive rhino calf leaves its mother’s side for a second and stares at our game drive vehicle, providing a great photographic opportunity.
The beautiful, lantern like, flowers of the sickle bush which can be seen all over Londolozi at the moment.
A buffalo cow looks up while wallowing with other members of the large herd of buffalo. I like the effect of all the flies around her head.
A male tree agama lizard, with the exception of his blue head, shows excellent camouflage against the bark of a torchwood tree. The female would be similar to the male, but without the blue head.
A breeding herd of elephants feed alongside a fig tree. I love the effect of all the green that surrounds the elephants.
Another one of my reflection images. An elephant drinks from Taylor’s dam with its trunk fully extended.
A dramatic scene as the sun sets over another day at Londolozi. One can see the Drakensberg mountain range on the horizon.
Written and photographed by James Crookes