This week featured some of the most intense and dramatic sightings it has ever been my privilege to be a part of in my time in the bush. Ok I’ll take back that phrase ‘be a part of’, as I was merely an outside observer. But sometimes the action was so close that I couldn’t help but have a massively elevated pulse and adrenalin surging through my system.
The main sighting is going to be featured in next Monday’s post, complete with video and all photographic highlights, but there are one or two teasers of it in todays feature.
The elephants continue to flock to the Sand River as the dry season draws to a close. One can sense the desperate need the bush has for rain as dust blows in the dry air, and the impala move through the grasses with bony hips as they await the first proper flush of spring. The heavily pregnant females are eagerly awaiting the rains that will sustain them through the births of this seasons batch of lambs.
For now though, enjoy this Week in Pictures…
I read recently that an adult Cape Buffalo can have between 15- and 20 000 ticks on it!! An enormous amount; no wonder the oxpeckers love feeding on the large buffalo herds. This beautiful young bushbuck ram is much smaller than a buffalo, but I’m sure also suffers from his share of parasites. One can see a large tick dangling off his chin. Otherwise he is in pretty good condition, and is eagerly awaiting the rains to thicken up the bush and provide him with better browsing in his home along the banks of the Maxabene Riverbed.
A white rhino bull emerges from a wallow with his face absolutely covered in mud. Few mud wallows remain at this late stage in the dry season, apart from one or two hidden gems like the one at the heart of this male’s territory.
The Mashaba Young Female seldom disappoints. Still with the exuberance of youth, she isn’t shy of climbing a few marula trees in the afternoons. She descended soon after this photo was taken to stalk some impala.
The resident ostrich of the Open Areas enjoys a splendidly colourful morning on the day after the big fire. Smoke still hanging in the air lent a lovely orange glow to the light on this day, allowing for fantastic photographic opportunities well into the morning.
Up close and personal.
The second and third biggest land mammals share one of the few permanent pans near camp. A hippo dozes in the shallows while a white rhino and her calf drink and wallow in the background.
The Marthly male had stolen this kill – an nyala calf – from his daughter the Mashaba Young Female, who was still perched up at the top of this leadwood tree, watching her hard-earned meal disappear down the trunk.
I committed a cardinal sin in this photo, and cut off the legs of this wild dog. The action was so quick that I just grabbed my camera and started shooting! These two wild dogs had been split from the rest of the pack during the hunt, but from the blood on the face of the one in the foreground, we can tell they were successful. The pack made a total of three (!) kills from a single herd of impala, and when one considers that there were only 7 adults in the pack, one can clearly see how they are one of Africa’s most successful hunters!
One can see how vulnerable a giraffe is when it leans down to drink. This one had taken a good 10 minutes to scan for danger before it cautiously approached the water.
The wonderful wrinkles and crease on an elephant’s face are story-lines into their lives. Water trickles from the mouth of this cow as she grabs a drink at Finfoot crossing.
After her drink, she followed two other members of the herd across the river to feed in the thickets on the northern bank.
We are seeing many very small elephant calves at the moment. When they can fit under their mother’s stomach, and still have fluffy heads like this one, they aren’t more than a few months old.
Looking upstream in the Manyelethi riverbed from where the wild dogs had made their kill a few photos previously, we were treated to a glorious sunset over Marthly Pools.
The hyenas are back. With a vengeance. These two were lurking around near where the Sparta pride had a kill, hoping for an opportunity to steal a free meal. Their eerie whoops on the morning air summoned reinforcements…
The dam about to break. Two iconic and age-old enemies of the African bush stare each other down. Moments after this photo was taken, all hell broke loose! Log on to Monday’s post to see what unfolded…
Photographed by James Tyrrell