The exciting news is that we think the Tsalala Tailless lioness might have given birth to cubs. She has not had much luck in raising litters over the last five years, for what are probably a variety of reasons, and the fact that she is getting into the twilight of her life may also stand against this litter’s survival.
We are yet to see the cubs, but ranger Nick Sims and tracker Bennet Mathonsi heard the mewling of at least one coming from Ximpalapala Koppie while the lioness was lying up on one of the prominent rocks. The pride has been spending a lot of time in the area, so we await our first sign.
The reality however, is that the older a lioness is, the fewer cubs she will usually birth in a litter, and if she only gives birth to a single cub, she will usually abandon it, as the stresses and effort of attempting to raise that single cub to maturity when it only has an outside chance of survival anyway are not worth the energetic investment. Having said this, the original Tailless lioness gave birth to a single cub in what was almost her dotage and did try to raise it, although it disappeared after about three months, so there is no telling what will happen here if it is only a single cub that has been born.
All that is in the future, so for now, enjoy this Week in Pictures…
A female Egyptian goose leads her goslings across the glassy calm of one of Londolozi’s waterholes. Both the male and female goose are involved in the raising of the chicks, but the female can be distinguished here by her slightly thinner neck. Photograph by Kevin Power
A distant break in the clouds illuminates the far northern foothills of the Drakensberg mountains, forming the border of South Africa’s Highveld interior. The hills in the middle distance mark the edge of the Sabi Sand reserve.
Each stain, scratch, nick and chip tells of a branch snapped off, a root dug up or bark gouged out of a trunk.
From the biggest to some of the smallest. A pair of mating ladybirds get amorous amongst the lush green grasses of summer. Photograph by Rob Crankshaw.
Staying on the macro theme, here we see a golden orb-web spider beginning to feed on a bee that it had entangled in its web. This photo illustrates perfectly how this particular spider got its name; from the colour of its web. Photograph by Rob Crankshaw
A martial eagle scans the surrounding bush for the last time before the sun sets over Londolozi.
A pair of giraffes stand out clearly in the wide expanses of the south-western grasslands. Although giraffe aren’t normally associated with grassland, the area is bordered extensively by acacia thickets, which form a large part of giraffe’s diets.
Purple rollers are a bird species associated more with open terrain than their lilac-breasted cousins. This one had just been engaged in conflict with some Burchell’s starlings, possibly over a nesting site in a hollow tree.
The male ostrich. It is safe to use the word ‘the’ these days, as the second male in the reserve was sadly killed by the Mhangeni lionesses a few weeks ago. Photograph by Kevin Power
The manes of zebra foals are disproportionately large, being almost the same length as their parents form almost the time they are born. Looking like 70s punk rockers makes them rather endearing. Photograph by Kevin Power
Three female waterbuck graze amongst a herd of impala rams. Its amazing to think that just a few short months ago, at the height of the drought, one could drive almost the length of Londolozi and hardly see an impala, and now every clearing is brimming with general game.
The ever-elusive male cheetah; much harder to find these days due to the long wavy grass that has sprung up as a result of the rains. Luck has a large amount to do with finding him, and the sure knowledge that eventually he will jump up on a fallen tree as he did here, to mark territory and scan for prey or danger. Photograph by Grant Rodewijk
Callum Gowar, Freddy Ngobeni and their guests enjoy sublime viewing of one of the Xidulu cubs. These two cubs are invariably never far apart, often being found on different termite mounds within 100m of each other, but on this morning there was no sign of the other youngster.
Callum’s guests get front row seats of the same cub. It had moved off the termite mound and started stalking a large female kudu but soon realised that the prey was far too big for it to handle, so decided to settle on this fallen apple leaf tree for the time being.
A magpie shrike flew over, briefly attracting the cub’s attention.