It’s Christmas in May and filled with anticipation I wait impatiently for 6:00 and the first game drive of the day. Be it a giraffe in the grey mist or lions in the golden rays of first light, a Londolozi morning never disappoints.
The unmistakeable roar throughout the early morning hours meant just one thing – a lion.
And as if Santa had decided we had been very, very good, another gift of the morning was the first sighting of the Tsalala pride’s newest cubs. Not wanting to get too close as the cubs were clearly wary of us, we kept our distance.
The cheetah was at the top of my Christmas list this year. In our past two trips in 2008 and 2011, there had not been any in the area. Finding sightings of them listed regularly on the blog throughout April gave me great hope.
We were then to follow him for nearly 2 hours. A most cooperative fellow, he gave us classic cheetah poses everywhere he stopped. Alas, the morning ended with a failed kill.
A magical sighting of Cape Buffalo in morning light. Tracker, Enoch Mkansi, estimated the herd between 900 and a 1000.The road funneled a steady stream past us while hundreds spread through the forest on either side. It reminded me of the Rye Cooder song, “You Can’t Roller Skate in a Buffalo Herd.” Nor can you push past one when the sighting of a new leopard cub comes over the radio.
As James Tyrrell writes in another post this week, his group had also been watching the buffalo and sharp eyes had followed tracks where they discovered the Campbell Koppie female with a new leopard cub.
One of the many great gifts at Londolozi is the ranger. There is so much to learn and Ranger Helen Young’s infectious enthusiasm about all creatures large and small adds a welcomed dimension to each drive. Here, she educated us on the hunting strategy of this species. The pair of eagles mates for life. They hunt as a team, one swooping down low over a group of prey, and the other picking one off as the prey scatters.
We were fortunate to have our the brilliant tracking team find a pack of 5 wild dogs late one evening.
And, by the way, the Cheetah did get his dinner.
As I write, I hear the deep roar of the Majingalane resounding across Londolozi. My gear is by the door and Christmas morning begins again tomorrow.
Written and Photographed by Jolynne Jones – Londolozi guest