Believe it or not, the highlight of the week for me was actually capturing a photo of a banded mongoose. These little critters almost never stay still long enough for you to take out your your camera. The dwarf mongooses are a different story. Sit quietly for long enough and inevitably they’ll poke their heads out of their holes or dead logs again. The bandeds are different though. For some reason they have never grown used to the vehicles in our area. I know of other parts of Africa where they launch daily raids on campsites, and I still have bitter memories of them stealing a packet of Niknaks from me at a place called Serondella on Botswana’s Chobe River, but on Londolozi they are generally scurrying for the thickets as soon as a vehicle is in view.
Elsewhere the Majingilane were back after an extended sojourn with the Mhangeni pride. The Sparta pride have been emulating the leopards by climbing trees, and after being able to cross the river again after the level of the Sand River subsided, we had a pack of wild dogs visit us around Ximpalapala Koppie.
Enjoy this Week in Pictures…
The Sparta pride in one of the most playful moods I’ve ever seen them. Mike Sithole had just found tracks, and as we were out the vehicle examining them, an impala started alarm calling from the opposite hill crest. A minute later, Don Heyneke had found the pride about 100 m from the impala. As we approached, Mike suddenly exclaimed “In the tree!”, and I hit the brakes, thinking he’d seen a leopard, but it was the lions who had decided they wanted to be like their spotted cousins. An amazing half hour followed, with the whole pride climbing up and down, tackling each other and providing amazing viewing!
Two of the young males tussle at the base of a fallen marula.
One of the Sparta lionesses takes a time out from the pride’s antics to relax on a marula trunk.
A lone bull giraffe enjoys some attention from a pair of red-billed oxpeckers while feeding on a knobthorn tree.
The Camp Pan male out on patrol. We had found piping hot tracks of his and decided to divert from our original plan to look for the Tamboti female to try and track him down. Melvin Sambo was just up ahead and with the incredibly talented tracker Milton Khoza on the bonnet he had found the leopard within six or seven minutes about a kilometre away.
The Makhotini male, son of the Camp Pan male, stares after the buffalo herd from Tuesday’s post.
The two buffalo on the right of the picture were making their way back into the herd after chasing the Makhotini male leopard off.
Mike Sithole and friend.
The Mashaba female stares back at us as she takes a break from an evening’s stroll. A great track-and-find by Mike Sithole found her stalking a herd of impala near the airstrip. She was unsuccessful.
Banded mongooses stand still just long enough to get off a shot.
The dark-maned Majingilane. Up close and personal.
The cub of the Tamboti female is getting big, and the games of stalk and pounce she plays with her mother are getting ever rougher. The leopards had been found on an impala kill by jerry Hambana and Tom Imrie the day before after Jerry spotted a drag mark across the road and followed it to a freshly killed ewe. We went to see if they were still there the next morning and were all alone with the two leopards for 45 minutes as they played in the fallen knobthorns.
The Tamboti female in the same sighting.
The Wild dog pack of 12 gave us a wonderful sighting, chasing giraffes and zebras and being chased in return. Eventually they hunted impala on the clearings opposite camp, and as so often happens with them, the next day they were gone.
It just wouldn’t be a Week in Pictures without a shot of the Mashaba young female, here seen up in one of her favourite marula trees near camp.
Photographed by James Tyrrell