It’s tough to look back through the year and pick out the highlights, as we really are spoiled for choice at Londolozi, but now that we are nearing 2016, we thought it only right that we should take a little look at what the year has brought us, and select some of the most exiting stories that played out on the Londolozi blog.
These are in order of date, rather than in order of most exciting or wildest, as many people’s criteria will differ as to what makes for an incredible sighting.
Without further ado, here we go:
Two Leopards Fight For Survival Over a Warthog, January
It’s not often that the highly competitive rangers here give each other full credit for a great photograph. Most of the time there’s a fair amount of good-natured ribbing when critiquing each other’s pictures, with criticism being aimed at the composition, the focus, or whatever we can think of on the day. It’s all in good fun, and we are constantly learning from each other.
If, however, you show a set of pictures to the ranging team and they are simply speechless, you know you have a winner. Such was the case when Simon Smit presented his series of photos of the sighting of the Marthly and Tu-Tones male leopards cooperating to subdue a huge warthog in January. I use the term ‘cooperating’ fairly loosely, as leopards are solitary animals; it just so happens that the first priority in the situation was to take down the prey, and worry about the mutual animosity afterwards. Click on the heading above for the full story…
Wildebeest vs Crocodile vs Hippo: A Tug of War, February
This was definitely one of the craziest stories on the blog this year, if not ever.
An adult nile crocodile, in the act of taking down a wildebeest at a waterhole, was interrupted by the arrival of an enormous hippopotamus. While everyone present expected the hippo to intervene on the wildebeest’s behalf, they couldn’t believe their eyes when the hippo rushed in and killed the wildebeest itself with a vicious bite of its enormous canines.
Click on the link to read ranger Nick Kleer’s account of the incident…
Lion vs Wild Dog: Their Innate Conflict Exposed, March
As sightings go, this must have been one of the more difficult ones to watch; nature at its most brutal. The Tsalala pride killed a wild dog on a sandbank in the middle of the Sand River. A large part of me is very glad I was not there to witness what took place.
Ranger Sean Cresswell gives a very honest and heartfelt account of what took place that afternoon…
A Hyena Goes in for The Kill and Astounds Everyone, June
May and June are exciting months in the Lowveld, if only to witness the impala rut. Males are flush with testosterone, sparring 24/7 to try and win control over harems of females. The females are in oestrus at this time, timing their pregnancies in order to time the subsequent births with the coming of the rains in November/December.
The impala rams are – unfortunately for them – so focussed on fighting and mating during the rut that the amount of energy and awareness they can dedicate to watching out for danger is significantly lower than normal. As a result, predators find them relatively easy pickings during this time. Not only the lions and leopards, but other opportunists as well, as was witnessed in this sighting of a hyena rushing in to surprise two rams mid-combat…
Tsalala Pride vs Buffalo Bull: Rounds 1 and 2, July/August
Winter time is difficult for the buffalo of the Lowveld. Poor grazing conditions mean a general losing of condition, and the lions respond by shifting their focus more towards these great bovines.
The Tsalala pride, regular buffalo hunters up and down the Sand River, had an unsuccessful attempt during July this year when they took on a big bull from a large herd, but during the rematch a month later, they managed to surprise a solitary bull in the reeds in front of Pioneer Camp, bringing him down after a long struggle.
Buffalo vs Lions will forever remain an iconic African rivalry, and for this reason both sightings are deserving of a place in the Year’s Highlights…
Lion Warfare: Majingilane Chase Matshipiri Male, August
The lion dynamics over the last year can be defined under the banner of male coalitions. With the Majingilane leaving and a number of different males moving through the property, instability it seems, has been the order of the day.
In this sighting, the Majingilane decided to bare their teeth once more, chasing a Matshapiri male for his life.
I was fortunate enough to be present in this sighting, and it certainly ranks up there in the top 10 most exciting things I have ever witnessed in the bush…
Sparta Male Joins Tsalala Pride, September
I have included this story because although Sparta young male was ultimately destined to join the Mhangeni pride (and we’ll have to wait and see how that turns out), the incident in this blog post was the first step in the young male’s move to ingratiate himself with another group of lions, after being separated from his brothers.
The encounter the three young Sparta males had with the Majingilane that split them up, we believe took place just before the incident described in this post…
Leopard Plummets From Tree, October
Definitely one of the wildest things to be witnessed at Londolozi this year, as the diminutive Tamboti young female leopard sent the much larger Piva male flying from the branches of a knobthorn acacia.
Click on the link to view Londolozi guest Rebecca Green’s photos of the event, and to read her exciting take on exactly what happened…
For me as a birding enthusiast, this was the highlight of the year (strictly from a birding point of view, although I have to say not much topped this during 2015!).
I don’t think anything I’ve seen during my time at Londolozi has seen me lunging for my binoculars as quickly as the sight of a Broad-billed roller perched atop a tree near the Sand River. For pure ‘Wild Sightings’, this one had to be included, as the rarity of the event put it up there with anything else we’ve had on the blog this year. The first documented nesting pair of Broad-billed rollers in years? Amazing. Just to put it into perspective, I’d seen more pangolins at Londolozi than Broad-billed rollers. Call me crazy, but I felt it worthy of inclusion…
Those then, are my wild stories from 2015. Please note that this is my personal selection of blog posts, because as mentioned at the start of the post, people’s criteria for judging the excitement of a sighting or its wildness will vary.
I hope you enjoyed the posts…
Written and Compiled by James Tyrrell
Filed under Leopards Lions Photography Wildlife
Exciting blog, James! It was brilliant to revisit some of the most memorable events of the year!