The week dawned with the heavy promise of nourishing rain for the bushveld. Being encircled by the thirsty Sabi Sands, with views of growing aridity on every rise, we have all naturally been excited to dance in the much-needed rain. Instead, a haze of humidity sunk low and heavy across the reserve, giving way to dull grey skies. Skies that promised much, and delivered little. This, however, could not be said for the wildlife this week.
April may see changes in lion dynamics and continued progress of certain leopards’ territorial establishment. We have started saying goodbye to some of the migrant birds as they depart for their long journeys up north, and are already enjoying the new surrounding colour of contrasting Combretum leaves preparing to fall to the ground. Whatever your surroundings consist of, take note of its presence, celebrate its vibrance and enjoy its significance this week. We have done so here at Londolozi, and look forward to what is to come. I hope you enjoy the Week in Pictures.
Every morning this past week, a single jet stream has been seen over the eastern horizon during sunrise. My tracker, Rob, and I are still in a heated debate as to where the flight is coming from and where it is going. Any suggestions? 1/3200 at f/2.8; ISO 1000.
More enjoyable, though, was this nomadic male Hyena searching the clearings at dawn for any scent of a predator; their tracking abilities are astounding and they often like to trail leopards with the hope of stealing a meal which was caught a few hours before. 1/640 at f/2.8; ISO 320.
Also frequenting the sunrise hour was this large Hippo bull making a return to the water. He had most likely been grazing a short distance away and it was now time to relax in the weightless and cooling water for the remainder of the day. 1/800 at f/2.8; ISO 1600.
The dark-maned Majingilane male spent a day and night on the property at the start of the week, and neither him nor his coalition brothers have been back since. Despite being excited to see one of these powerful lions, I could only manage a sleeping photograph; not much movement was made under the sun… 1/40 at f/2.8; ISO 2500.
A subject I have dreamt of photographing for a long time. This ‘big tusker’ has been seen only a handful of times in the last few weeks. I have had just one brief sight of him and feel no photograph will do his tremendous size any justice. Here is my portrait of him, though; shaded and wrinkled with history. 1/500 at f/2.8; ISO 1000.
One of the Mhangeni Pride lionesses momentarily pauses as something far in the distance catches her ear. From this low angle her strong stature is revealed and the rising sun illuminates her golden eyes. 1/2500 at f/2.8; ISO 100.
A Lilac-breated Roller rests atop the airstrip’s windsock as it swings from side to side during this gusty afternoon. A moving or rotating perch is hard to come by in the wild, unless you’re an Oxpecker… 1/3200 at f/5.6; ISO 250.
The overexposure here makes this a very different edit. The Tamboti female and her golden coat is emphasised in this clean and crisp backdrop. 1/1000 at f/2.8; ISO 2000.
Note to self: The dark bill of this juvenile Malachite Kingfisher should not excite one into thinking it is the regionally rare (and personally never seen before) Half-collared Kingfisher. Closer inspection confirmed the former, and therefore not a ‘lifer’ for me this week… Next time. 1/1000 at f/2.8; ISO 1600.
Before the sunlight fades, Rob has one last look around a waterhole for any evidence of the elusive Cheetah. Perhaps one will move through the area soon, and the skilled trackers can point us all in the right direction. 1/200 at f/2.8; ISO 2500.
This young Styx Pride cub was seen a week ago after sharing in a Wildebeest kill with the others. We have not seen the pride since and are fearing that the damage to her eye could be permanent. The infection is unlikely to kill her, and as long as she continues to remain within the pride she may still develop into a successful lioness; only time will tell. 1/1600 at f/2.8; ISO 400.
This fairly mature Kudu bull flaunts his pair of what are often considered the most impressive horns in the antelope world. By covering them in mud and leaves, he may believe he looks even larger and more intimidating to any younger bulls. 1/320 at f/2.8; ISO 250.
In expanding (or possibly only shifting) his territory southwards, the Gowrie male is seen moving across the large Granite boulders which shape the Sand River. It is presumed that he crossed the water to scent mark on the southern bank before returning back north. 1/1000 at f/2.8; ISO 200.
After a very large and long feed, one of the Tsalala cubs tries to rest through his uncomfortably full stomach, with the Tailless female doing the same in the background. His slowly developing mane is looking very promising. 1/1250 at f/2.8; ISO 400.
The week comes to an end with a Hooded Vulture iconically perching on a dead tree. Foiling this harsh index of death, the setting sun casts bands of colour across the horizon; a prism of the wilderness. 1/400 at f/2.8; ISO 2500.
Celebrate together, be safe and have a phenomenal weekend.
Written and Photographed by Sean Cresswell