Wildebeest calves strike me as particularly stupid little creatures. They’re hilarious to watch as they gambol around the clearings with their funny “Meep” sounds, and their expressionless faces with those droopy cow eyes are incapable of concealing any malice, so it’s natural for one’s heart to warm towards them. For an un-photogenic species that doesn’t get as much time devoted to it as some of the more prominent inhabitants of Londolozi, December and January – the birthing season – is the wildebeest’s time to shine.
Which doesn’t mean to say everything else has been forgotten. Life continues to burst at the seams, and a cast back over the past few months will reveal a striking increase in the vibrancy of the photographs in each successive TWIP; no photo at the moment is without its splash of green.
Enjoy this Week in Pictures…
Two elephant bulls play in the shallows of a waterhole while guests enjoy a front-row view. Warm conditions summer means we see far more elephants actually immersed in water than in winter, when they tend to avoid getting too wet.
A dazzle of zebras moves away from a waterhole under louring grey skies.
Guides Greg Pingo and Andrea Sithole share a laugh.
The Xidulu female leopard’s cubs pause for a moment in between bouts of play. They spent the morning bouncing from this fallen Marula tree to chasing each other through the long grass, keeping themselves entertained while their mother was out hunting. Photograph by Amy Attenborough
One of the Xidulu female leopard’s youngsters takes a moment to rest on this fallen Marula perch. Bright, clear mornings like this are providing some amazing early morning light at the moment. Photograph by Amy Attenborough
Shaun D’araujo, Elmon Mhlongo and their guests enjoy a sighting of the Xidulu female leopard’s cubs. Just two months ago these ridge crests and rocky outcrops were barren and it would have been difficult for these cubs to camouflage themselves. Now though, they are able to disappear in the long grass should they wish. Photograph by Amy Attenborough
Stormy conditions often make for successful hunting. These Mhangeni lionesses had spotted a wildebeest on a distant clearing, but were moving through a very rocky area, and as night fell we were unable to stick with them, so don’t know what the outcome of their hunt was.
The Causeway’s resident Giant Kingfisher, possibly the most photographed waterbird on Londolozi at the moment.
The best sightings are ones in which no words are necessary. This very large elephant herd was drinking, swimming and playing around the waterhole for the better part of twenty minutes. We sat in silence the whole time, just watching…
Two young bulls grab a last drink as the sun rises behind them.
A composite of seven images taken in portrait mode of three of the Majingilane. This is a useful technique if one doesn’t have a wide enough lens. We’ll run a post soon to show you how to do it in Lightroom.
A Mhangeni breakaway lioness glances nervously behind her from the carcass of a wildebeest the pride had just taken down. They had grabbed its calf too, and had finished feeding on before moving onto the adult. The Matshipiri males were in the area, and tracks nearby told of a huge scuffle during the night, possibly even with the Sparta pride, which may have accounted for this female’s nervous disposition.
One has to be up early to catch the sunrise at this time of year, but as we move steadily towards Autumn, the days are shortening and the golden light of morning is sticking around for longer and longer.
Not a great photo, but a unique record of a Denham’s bustard, a bird I have never heard of recorded on Londolozi, although I’d be very interested to know if anyone has seen one in the Sabi Sands? We found this one on two consecutive drives down in the grasslands.
The Flat Rock male leaps into a Jackalberry, possibly to escape the constant attentions of the Nhlanguleni female, lying behind him. Lying up in the branches didn’t help him though, as she climbed up after him and contuned to try and mate. We believe she may have been in false oestrus; only engaging in amorous behaviour to try divert attention from the fact that her male cub was possibly in the area. With the Flat Rock male establishing himself in the area, we don’t know how long the cubs will survive…
A brief pause by the Flat Rock male in his climb up the Jackalberry.
Two adult leopards in a tree together. Not a common sight. The Flat Rock male (right) and the Nhlanguleni female, both relatively full bellied (we believe the male had robbed the female of a kill) rest briefly before she attempted yet another precarious mating bout.