Hot and then rainy and then hot again. The summer rhythm is in full swing at Londolozi, with some lovely cooler conditions on the cloudy days keeping the action going a little longer into the mornings. The full moon has just come and gone, and the prides have been taking advantage of the dark conditions in the early hours of the night to get hunting.
The Mhangeni pride were agonisingly close to taking down a big waterbuck bull in front of us the other day, and the Sparta pride were found with full bellies on central Londolozi this morning.
Elephants have been all over the place, unusually for summer, when they normally disperse back into Kruger. Long may it last!
Enjoy this Week in Pictures…
A zebra and her foal peer out from their dazzle.
Hot conditions drew a large herd of elephants to the Sand River, and Finfoot crossing, being nice and open, always provides an amazing point from which to view their riverside antics. The herd that these two belonged to had churned the sand of the bank into a wonderful mud wallow in which to roll.
The Mashaba female watches a herd of impala and their lambs from the cover of a saffron tree.
Verraux’s Eagle Owls, Africa’s largest owls, are heard far more often than seen. During the day they roost in the canopy of densely foliated trees, staying hidden in the shade before coming out to hunt again in the evening. We were alerted to the presence of this one and its mate by the alarm calls of a flock of grey go-away birds.
This gaggle of goslings belong to the pair of Egyptian geese living at LTA Dam. From an original clutch of 18, their numbers have sadly been whittled away by various predators over the weeks, and there are only about 10 left at the moment.
The Mhangeni pride goes on the hunt. The females just missed an enormous waterbuck bull on this evening. In my opinion, they moved into position too early, and one of the lionesses was spotted by the waterbuck before they were within striking distance. Had they waited another 15 minutes for the pitch darkness to descend, I think they might have got him.
An elephant cow watches us warily as she leads her calf across the Sand River. Spreading her ears like this is a display technique, showing off her size and warning us to keep our distance.
The Tamboti young female leopard in hot pursuit of a side-striped jackal. Its constant alarm calls had irritated her and her patience snapped; she tore after it and only gave up after about 200 metres.
There have been a number of tiny elephant calves seen around the reserve recently. This one was so young its umbilical cord was still attached, which can actually be seen in this photo.
The Dudley Riverbank Young female stalked a female bushbuck and her lamb for a good 20 minutes before wisely selecting the juvenile as her quarry and tearing after it. We were up on the side of a drainage line and had front row seats of her hurtling down the slope, up the other side and in a wide arc as she closed with her prey. A swat with her front paw while at full pace brought the bushbuck crashing down and she instantly leapt on it, going for the classic suffocating bite.
Another small elephant calf moves across a gap in the herd as they make their way towards our vehicle.
One of the Tsalala lionesses glances up towards where some whitebacked vultures were circling. Lions will watch vulture’s movements, moving in to investigate if they see these birds dropping from the sky.
Sandros Sihlangu, one of the most experienced rangers in the Sabi Sands, drives across one of the rivers that gives the reserve its name. Hint: it’s not the Sabi.
A pair of whitebacked vultures launches into flight. There were around 40 vultures in the trees around this area, but despite an extensive search, we couldn’t find any sign of either predator or carcass.
The sun goes down over the Lowveld, with the western koppies of the Sabi Sands visible in the distance.
Photographed by James Tyrrell