Today was an unbelievable day. It was a day I have been waiting for since the first time I lay a foot on the soil of Londolozi. For some, this time will never come and for others it is an opportunity that repeats itself, and in each case it poses different threats and troubles. For me, this was a first, and hopefully, a first of many more to come. I have been through some of my Bucket List before on the blog, Pangolins, Leopard Cubs, Pythons etc. However, there are a couple I failed to mention.
I remember when I fist arrived on Londolozi, more than a year ago now, and being told that it was some sort of right of passage to see a high profile animal on Plaque Rock. Be it a Lion or a Leopard, you were not accepted in the team until this was fulfilled. Well lets just say that deep down, I now feel accepted. Possibly the most beautiful setting on the reserve and our Sand River frontage. Plaque Rock also holds many memories, happy and sad, where there have been ashes spread and rings exchanged. Today, I had the privilege of seeing a massive male Lion, lounging, and roaring on this iconic granite rock.
I mentioned troubles could be experienced too, whilst fulfilling one of these bucket list sightings. The rain began to fall heavily on the already well groomed coat of the Dark Maned Majingilane, as this happened, he roared one last time, listened, and to our ears had no reply, then set off along the river toward the causeway. Could this be the moment I had been waiting for? A male Lion crossing the Sand River? Our senses were excited and electrified. Camera settings ready and hearts beating, we followed the male as he made his approach to the crossing. Just before he reached the crossing he turned south away from the river, in this brief moment we managed to get past him, reached the causeway and reversed the length of the crossing and waited patiently. Like a ray of light bursting through the eye of the storm, he appeared from the dense thickets and walked directly toward the strong current flowing over the causeway. Patient and cautious at first, then without hesitation and as proud as a male Lion can stroll, he entered the water, faced off with Hippo and a Crocodile and made his approach directly toward our lenses, which were now working in overtime. A few hundred frames later and the clear memory of this occasion is now strongly imprinted in my mind! What a feeling!! Now I wait eagerly for the next time I see this rare sighting.
Has anyone experienced this before on Londolozi or elsewhere?
Written and Photographed by: Mike Sutherland